Quality vs. quantity: Which is more important in the app store?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| June 6, 2013

When it comes to discussing different platforms and why we choose the ones that we do, many people point to the app market as the savior/culprit. Applications are the very basis of our smartphone era, so naturally having better app support within the ecosystem is what makes people want to use a platform. It doesn’t matter whether your phone has the best hardware on the market, or your interface looks the prettiest – if there’s little to no app support, the platform will suffer.

But what does proper app support really mean? Does it mean having the best selection of applications, or having the most applications available? For some people it’s the former, for others it’s the latter.

Personally, I’m all for having the best selection of applications. I use mainstream services like Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and Facebook; all of these applications have multi-platform support.

When I look to jump to a new platform, having the same basic apps that I use on a daily basis is important to me. I’ve already gone through my “discovery” phase, and most of the time those apps get downloaded and are never touched again. I have downloaded 67 apps from a market that has 850,000+ applications; the kicker is, I only use 10 on a daily basis. I realize that my core apps are the only ones that are really important to me. I wouldn’t be phased if the other 849,980 apps disappeared the next day. (Aside from the fact that 849,980 apps disappeared in a single day, I mean.)

But then you have the counter argument: the size of the app store does matter. Not everybody is like me in the sense that they only want to use a few core apps. Maybe they have a specific need in what they want to do in a smartphone. Maybe a musician wants to download a metronome app, or perhaps a mathematician wants a more extensive calculator app. What about the chefs that want a convenient way to save and store recipes? These are all viable reasons why people might prefer to have a more extensive application market like iOS's or Android's, which both have over 850,000 applications. Simply put, users with unusual or creative hobbies would have a better chance at finding the perfect app solution in a bigger market.

Although my initial thought for this article was to say that the number of applications didn’t matter, the more I thought about it the more I realized that having a larger app market really is beneficial to the company in the fact that you are able to attract many different types of people by having such a versatile app market.

I do, however, think it’s still important to include as many mainstream apps as you can within your app market no matter how big or small it is. One of the reasons I’m not considering BlackBerry is simply because it hardly has any of the apps that I use on a consistent basis. Although one of the things BlackBerry boasted about most with BlackBerry 10 was that they had acquired so many apps in such a short amount of time (BlackBerry 10 currently has 120,000 apps, which is an impressive number compared to Windows Phone Store which has a library of 140,000) but in this case, numbers mean virtually nothing to me.

I would have to say that in the end both scenarios (number of apps vs. quality of apps) are just as important as the other. In order to have the broadest range for your user base you’re going to want to have both numbers and quality apps that you can showcase.

Readers, what are your thoughts on quality vs. quantity when it comes to the app store? Is it more important for you to have quality, well-developed, and mainstream apps or would you rather have a bigger application library to discover unique and interesting apps?

Images via Ten-Mobile, Pagewoo