Does the size of the app store matter to you?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| Published: December 20, 2012

Our smartphones are made of apps – a lot of apps. My iPhone has 61 apps in total, the most I’ve ever had on any phone at one time. It might seem like a lot because honestly - who uses 61 apps that often? Not me, but that doesn’t stop me from downloading something that looks interesting anyway. 61 apps from Apple’s App Store holds no light when compared to the 700,000+ apps available in their market, and I don’t even use all of them that much. So compared to app stores that have less apps in terms of numbers, is the number of apps in a store really a big deal?

In October of this year, the Google Play Store for Android officially hit 700,000 apps. This puts it almost on par with the Apple App Store, which hit 700,000 apps just a month earlier in September. Apple still currently has the lead with the most apps in the market. Following quite a long shot behind them both is the Windows Phone Store with 125,000 apps as of October, and even more so behind both of them is the BlackBerry App World with “just” 105,000 apps as of September. Honestly, 105,000 apps sounds like plenty to me considering I don’t really use that many, yet it also sounds so little when compared to Android and Apple’s gargantuan markets. It’s strange to think that we were once content with much smaller markets to choose from.

Naturally app stores with a bigger selection of applications are going to be able to offer you more choices. Say you’re looking for a navigation app because you don’t like your native GPS. You’ll certainly find more alternatives in the App Store for iOS vs a smaller selection from the Windows Phone Store – but which one has the app that works the best? The main issue is figuring out which store has better quality apps, rather than simply throwing a bunch of apps with the same idea into a market just to build numbers. Not to say the bigger market doesn’t have the best app in this case, but we can’t assume that it does, either. Seeing as I’ve only ever owned one of the two platforms, I can’t say whether one has better selections over the other.

I will say that I’ve never been a big fan of BlackBerry’s market, but their numbers had nothing to do with it. It seemed that it was definitely targeted for a more business oriented crowd rather than the angsty teenage crowd I was a part of at the time, but I’m hoping with the release of BlackBerry 10 that they can reinvent their app store to be able to cater to multiple crowds. Even if they won’t get up to 700,000 apps, just adding in a few mainstream apps, I feel, could really boost their ratings.

Regardless of what platform you choose to use, when we’re talking about applications it all comes down to quality over quantity. A big number looks good on paper, but if you have an entire app store filled to the brim with terrible apps you’re not going to get anywhere. Likewise, you can have an app store with just a handful of great apps that are both popular and essential to the smartphone world, plus a few extras, and your app store would be good to go.

Readers, I want to know what’s important to you in an app store: the amount of choices you have, or the amount of apps that are proven to work and perform well? Let me know what you think in the comments!