It's a staggering number: 1,000,000,000.
The iPhone App store launched in July of 2008 and grew faster than most anticipated - both inventory and adoption. The App Store's 25,000 apps will reach one-billion downloads sometime in the next 48 hours. That's an average of 40,000 downloads per app.
So what's next for Apple's App Store? The iPhone 3.0 OS that will launch this summer will create a new wave of applications and inspire a new series of innovations. But equally important, the App Store needs to change. It needs a total overhaul.
The App Store is overwhelmed by the flood of content - which is sorted in only three ways: - recency - popularity (which is somewhat of a black box) - featured content
The result is that users are left downloading already popular applications or sifting through new content (25 at a time). It is akin to buying music from either the Billboard Top 25 or being placed in front of a rack of everything else - sorted only by release date. Shouldn't my recent purchases play a role? Better yet, my reviews and defined preferences? How about my social graph and their selections?
Another great example is the difference between shopping on Amazon and on eBay / Craigslist. They both have seemingly unlimited inventory - but Amazon's shopping experience is efficient because it is based on recommendations and user history / data. Meanwhile, you have to sift through listings on eBay and Craigslist to find the right product, seller and price.
The other constraint is that the App Store is most conveniently accessed on the iPhone / iPod Touch - which makes search-based navigation even more cumbersome.
I think there are two clear solutions:
1. Integration into the Social Graph
Ideally, iTunes would integrate Facebook Connect. I want to know what apps my friends have downloaded and how they were rated (and it's in the developers' best interest to share that information). Furthermore, most applications are more engaging if connected to the social graph (whether socially or directly through Facebook Connect).
2. Premium App Store
I believe editorial can and should play a role. Whether it's featured content or paid placements (a revenue opportunity for iTunes) - there is an opportunity to expand on what they already do for music (Editor's Picks, lists, etc). A pay-for-placement (or performance) marketplace could arise as well.