Five Fixes for Apple's App Store

From the Google voice fiasco to this week's Pepsi pick-up line app, Apple's vaunted app store is showing its weaknesses.'s Tom Kaneshige suggests five steps Apple should take to make the store better for users and developers.

3. Stand by your apps

Apple prides itself on simplicity. So what is the App Store's simple refund policy? There really isn't one, as the New York Times points out, except if you have problems with the electronic delivery of the app. If you buy an app on the App Store and it downloads correctly but doesn't work, then you're out of luck.

Just ask David Coursey of PC World who bought a $US1.99 communication app that didn't work. Coursey says the developer blames Apple for ignoring requests for help, promises a fix, and yet continues to sell the broken app and take people's money.

In order to stand by the 80,000 apps in the App Store, Gartner's Baker says Apple would have to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with developers. "Additionally, [a refund policy] assumes that the applications are Apple products, and this is not true," he says. (Unlike, say, a hardware retailer who actually buys products from manufacturers and resells them.)

4. Provide a better way to search for apps

With 80,000 apps on the App Store's virtual shelves, says Baker, "it's hard to find an app if you are not sure exactly what you are looking for."

The App Store showcases the top 25 apps, apps in various categories and featured apps, which are a drop in the bucket of the total apps available. Websites like Macworld and InfoWorld have created a list of top apps in various categories, and books reviewing apps have also come to market.

Nevertheless, finding apps has become a challenge. The App Store does have a search function, which works best only when you're looking for a specific app name.

5. Prevent App Name Squatters

The App Store requires all apps to have unique names, but a developer doesn't need to develop the app before registering the name. The App Store's cavalier attitude towards the registration of app names has led to developers snapping up app names, reports Macworld.

Thus, a bunch of app names don't have apps yet are off limits to developers. Another problem is that app names add to the confusion because apps on the App Store have similar (but not exact) names.

Macworld's Ayush Arya writes: "The fix, to me, seems rather simple: Apple could have iTunes Connect (the backend of iTunes, which allows developers to interface with the App Store and submit their apps) only allow developers to register application names once they've submitted the binary for it."

Got a different take? Send me an email at Or follow me on Twitter @kaneshige.

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