App stores are all the rage, and it’s no secret that Apple is the current king of the software developers fruits and vegetables stand. But as PC World points out, Apple didn’t invent the store, and there are many possible variations from Apple’s blueprint that would advantage developers and customers.
Here are three ways that app stores, in general, could be improved for developers:
- More transparency in curation. Apple’s acceptance criteria is a notorious black box. In goes the app, and either it is accepted, or a cryptic refusal is sent back. All app stores should make the rules obvious and transparent, and apply them even-handedly.
- Independent management. One of the virtues of Microsoft’s age-old model for licensing the “Designed for Windows” logos to third parties was simply that Microsoft had very little to do with the actual licensing. Yes, they set the rules. But then an independent organization – the Windows Hardware Quality Labs – managed the testing and acceptance process.
- Variable royalty rates. Most stores, including Apple’s, apply a flat percentage royalty rate to all products passing through the store. That works fine for low priced items, but might not make sense for higher priced items. In fact, when measured in bandwidth and transaction costs, a $1 item is much more expensive to sell than a $100 item. So how about giving the sellers of higher priced items a break by building in a sliding scale for royalties?
What do you think? Are there other ways to improve the App Store model?