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A Better Application Model

By Steve Jones,

Amazon introduced a Cloud Reader for the Kindle, and the Financial Times pulled their iPhone app out of Apple's store and introduced an HTML5 web application. All of these moves point to the fact that companies are finding Apple's 30% fees for revenue to be a bit onerous and want to find a way to reduce their costs. That makes sense, and my suspicion is that Apple will ease their terms at some point as companies move to their own web model of building and deploying applications instead of building native iOS apps.

I don't think the AppStore model is dying, however. One of the things that I have noticed in the apps between the iPhone and the Android devices at the ranch is that the quality of the iOS apps is higher. It's rare that I have crashes, there is more consistency between the various interfaces, things work as you expect, and they run well. It's not that Android apps are horrible, but outside of the large company apps, the quality of any particular app is likely to be lower. That's expected because there is no gate that prevents someone from building a poor quality app and deploying it in the Android marketplace.

However there's another thing I take from this. The most important part of the app is the data or the content. Companies are arguing over who gets how much of the profits from various content delivery methods. Some companies think 30% is too much, some don't. However, it doesn't change things for the consumer since many of us will pay the same price, though I suspect we might pay more in an open market. If they could, companies might give away apps for free, but then charge a small amount for the information, which will add up over time to be more than the cost of an app right now.

One of the things I like about the AppStore is that quality control check. While anyone can submit an app, Apple has been slow, and sometimes inconsistent in how the approve or reject the items. That's good for quality, bad if you want an app that doesn't meet Apple's vague standards. I'd like a more open market, but I also want some quality standards. Windows has been open in that we've been able to download applications that anyone has written and install them. Windows has also suffered from the proliferation of malware as well as the poor quality of so many pieces of software that are available for download.

In my ideal world, we'd have some secure application models, essentially app stores that were run by different companies. Amazon has an Android store, but I wish they had an iOS one as well (and WP7). Microsoft could run a store, but so could any other enterprises that had the resources to vet the software, manage a marketplace, and gain the trust of consumers. I could even see eBay getting into the game, allowing developers to auction off their software after it had received some stamp of approval from the company. 

That's the direction I hope we are moving in, but I'm not sure if we'll get there.

Steve Jones


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