Saturday, June 08, 2013

App store credibility

I'm thinking out loud here. If I wander I'm sorry. If I cause you to jump to conclusions, please don't attribute them to me if they're your conclusions rather than mine.

Do apps that get featured in the marketplace/app store matter?
It's been well documented that being featured in the store directly leads to an increase in downloads. In that respect, being featured matters to the person who owns/created the app. But I wonder...

Do they have a bigger impact?
Do featured apps impact more than just those who created or downloaded the app?

Does the quality of a featured app impact opinion on other apps?

If it's the featured app I'd expect it to be either highly popular or (and hopefully "and" as well) of a very high quality.

If a featured app isn't very good (however that's defined) isn't it reasonable to assume that, as a consumer of apps, I should not hope for very much from other apps either? Afterall isn't the purpose of a featured app to highlight something I may want to install and use? Why would something that isn't very good be featured?* You want me to install crummy apps that aren't as good as others which do the same thing?

I see many featured apps that aren't very good, do not give me confidence in the general quality of other apps, are buggy or otherwise very poorly designed. :(

And a related question:

Does the credibility of the store affect apps? and the platfom?
Let's take, as an example, a recently featured app.
I'm anonymising the app in case my comments are taken as being focused directly at the app. That's not my aim. I'm trying to look at the wider picture.

It had no description (just the default text of "Check out this Featured App of the Day!") and a single rating.

That's right the app that the store thinks I should know about today, because it's good, relevant to me or in some other way useful has only ever had a single review. That's not encouraging, because we konw that ratings are a two part feedback mechanism. The number of ratings is an indicator of the number of people who have also used that app - there are very, very few apps with large numbers of users and very few ratings. The average (mean) value of the the ratings (subject to skewing from a small sample size) gives an indication of the quality of the app.

So, from that we can infer that the "best" app in the store today has a small user base. But maybe that's because it's new. Nope. It's had 5 updates and the last of which was 8 months ago.

Maybe the featured app is being targetted directly at me based on some heuristics or algorithm based on my other app and device usage? I doubt it and I hope not because if that's the case the algorithms are way off.

And what of that review:

I've anonymized it because the app in question doesn't count and the review included three potentially offensive words which weren't filtered or masked by the store.

I find the ratings count potentially confusing. It says there was one 4 star rating but we can only see one review. There's lots of potential here for confusion. Can't the store count? And if not what confidence should I put in it?
Actually zero star ratings aren't included in the average. If they were there would be 2 ratings with an average of 2 stars. This would bring average ratings down and so, while potentially misleading, ignoring them improves the overall perceived quality of apps. - I'm not sure what I think about this.
This is a consequence of there not being a way to actually give a no star review because the interface for leaving reviews and ratings doesn't have a way to distinguish between a rating not being left and a rating of zero. Ignoring no star ratings may be preferable to including the scores from reviwers who forget to give a rating though. I don't have the figures to say if this is an issue. I bet the people who are genuinely wanting to leave no star reviews (like the one above) are disappointed their rating is ignored though. Do people realise that zero star ratings are ignored and if you want to rate an app badly you must give it a 1 star review?
Anyway, I think I'm getting off topic.

If the store doesn't look great (i.e. doesn't appear to be able to count) then won't your opinion of the apps it sells be tainted? When you buy something from a physical store does that affect your opinion of the products you can buy in that store?

And what about the store as an app. The quality of it, like any app, impacts the perception of the platform. It's easier to say "that phone's rubbish" rather than "app X on phone Y is rubbish" or "it's hard to find good apps on phone Y".

Am I against apps and their developers getting promotion?

No, I want people to create successful apps. But I'd rather they had an awesome app that was successful, offered real value, helped people and showed what was possible with an app.
The quality of apps impacts the whole ecosystem and that in turn affects all of us, both the consumers and creators of apps.

* I'm aware of some of the finer points about what is featured and the business deals and implications that impact marketplace promotion. I've just chosen to ignore them for the sake of this post. They don't impact every featured app and would just serve to complicate the above thoughts. Anyway - my blog, my rules. ;)

1 comment:

  1. I really like the way you presented here about app store credibility, you are on the right way and the you are not annoying
    any windows 8 mobile developer, Its not enough to develop an user credibility app and feature it on windows store, I would say the excellent end user interface app
    should be promoted on all ends. Yes there are plenty of windows 8 apps are not worth to get featured there, I always think of secured entry. A product with high reviews push its value, but I suppose there will be no genuineness in placing reviews. Good views, as Microsoft look for secured apps these days, windows 8 mobile application development are
    concentrated with high perspective. Think we need to wait few days for better results.



I get a lot of comment spam :( - moderation may take a while.