App store vanity URL’s aren’t going to help

While it’s great to have 800,000 apps in the iOS app store (and a similar amount in the Google Play store) it’s damn hard to find anything useful or really, really great.

Apple has now launched a new system using vanity URLs for app developers on its iPhone and iPad iOS platform. The URLs are linked after the address

Apple already has distinct URLs for its apps so that users can look up the details on a website, but the new system promises to be much easier to access from a consumer point of view simply because it’s more memorable. Apple recently revealed that there are over 800,000 apps on the iOS app store, so app discovery is a critical part of the business from a developer point of view.

We’ve got a problem here, a vanity URL might make it easier for a consumer to type into an address bar but it solves very little problem for developers that aren’t Rovio to get users to find their apps. There’s been a study that lowering prices helps to increase revenue and this might push you higher on the iTunes lists but again, you’ll need to give a lot of free or nearly free versions of your apps away to make any dent on the iTunes bestseller lists.

The problem is discoverability not accessibility and neither Apple nor Google have worked out what to do here. As an app developer you could get a major blogger to punt your app or put money into mobile advertising but this is time consuming or expensive.

The solution to the problem is technically fairly simple: take the Pandora approach. Pandora uses a music “genome” to tag a song based on almost 400 different criteria and characteristics. This could theoretically apply to apps as well: an automated engine goes through your current apps and makes recommendations based on similar apps or apps that other users with your apps have downloaded. Yes, iTunes Genius is supposed to do this but there seems very little logic or consistency in how the apps are recommended. When an app is submitted to the app store the person who handles the submission can easily add these tags manually based on a certain amount of criteria they have been given. These criteria can be something totally inane such as a game that can be played with one hand or a productivity app that allows you to highlight text with a red colour; the options are endless.

Until such time as apps are easier to discover I feel sorry for developers trying to make a living off apps.


No to hankies, socks and soap! Try these Father’s Day gift ideas instead

Shameless lack of enthusiasm to blog today so here’s a post I did for the awesome “Rattle & Mum

It’s always tough buying a gift for my dad for Father’s Day. He has lots of stuff, and I’ve faced that disappointing look a few times when I haven’t quite hit the mark with shirts, books and Body Shop toileteries. This year I’m getting savvy and getting the gift that won’t disappoint – an iTunes voucher, with a list of these app:

1)   Weber’s “On the grill”

As a good South African male your dad probably likes a bit of a Sunday braai. However, if you’re tired of charcoal chops and salmonella chicken you might want to get him this app. Providing over two hundred and eighty recipes, a useful timer, instructional videos and the ability to share a shopping list via email (Mom will appreciate this) you can’t really go wrong. It’s $5 and available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

2)   Hundred Pushups and Two Hundred Sit-ups

Realistically ever since he had you, your Dad has let himself go a bit and has developed an adorable belly. Help him regain his dignity with the “Hundred Pushups” and “Two Hundred Sit-ups” applications. The apps take you from zero to a hundred pushups in eight weeks. It’s $2 per app and is available for iOS and Android. Just remember not to call him fat.


3)   Zinio magazine subscription

Your dad might have a tablet but still reads his favourite magazines like Car, The Economist or GQ in paper. Bring him into the twenty first century and buy him a subscription to his favourite magazine on Zinio. It’s cheaper than the paper version; more eco friendly and he can carry various magazines around in one device. Download the app on his tablet and go to the Zinio website to purchase a subscription.

4)   8500+ Drink and cocktail recipes

Your dad probably doesn’t drink whiskey Mad Men style but enjoys making a drink behind the bar he built in the back of your house. Help him impress his friends even further with his knowledge of almost every drink and combination available. With 8500 potential drinks he’ll be the favourite bartender at any party from now on. While you’re at it, give him the greatest gift and stop stealing his booze.

5)   iHandy Level Free

While Dad probably never notices Mom is a stickler for straight pictures and shelving. Help your dad become Mom’s knight in shining armor; with this app all you’ll need is to put your phone to the wall and you’ll see exactly how straight your surface is. Available for free on both the iPhone and Android platform for free you can’t go wrong.