I only have 11 apps, so why does the app store matter so much?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
There's no denying that without the app stores on each platform that smartphones wouldn't be nearly as interesting as they are today. After all, when it all comes down to it, it seems that the app store itself is what differentiates a well-developed and a developing platform - at least, that's how I have perceived it so far. Each platform certainly has alternative features that make it stand unique from one another, of course, but at the end of the day the applications are what make smartphones worth using to the extent that they were meant to be used.
Android and iOS have undoubtedly been at the forefront of the smartphone movement for quite some time with both platforms having passed 800,000 applications already. One might look at that number and wonder what on earth would any one person have use for 800,000 applications. I mean yeah, choices and options are a great thing to have but who honestly, really needs that many choices?
Well, honestly, a lot of people do.
I was sifting through my apps earlier and realized that really, I don't have that many apps downloaded. I have about 2 and 3/4 pages worth of apps, and when I was scrolling through them I realized that most of them weren't apps that I had downloaded. In fact, very few were apps that I actively sought out from the app store. Out of 62 applications, only 11 of them were downloaded by me. In a store with over 800,000 applications, I only own 11. Remind me again why I'm so hesitant to switch over to another platform that doesn't have as many apps, like BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8?
BlackBerry 10 is an easy answer in my eyes, especially now. It wasn't all that long ago that I was debating going with a Q10 because I missed the physical keyboard and the build of a BlackBerry phone, but I did ultimately find the lack of apps unappealing to the point where I didn't think I could hold on to the phone for the length of a contract. Even after I discovered sideloading Android applications on a BlackBerry 10 device I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not to mention over 40,000 applications were made by a single developer, so there's that unappealing aspect as well. The physical keyboard will be something I miss, but I think it's just nostalgic at this point and not necessarily something that I need or will benefit me. Virtual keyboards do have their benefits over physical ones - benefits which I believe I prefer over the ones for a physical keyboard at this point.
Windows Phone has sort of the same dilemma, although admittedly I am noticing that there is more of a push for Windows Phone to have more mainstream apps. Take for instance the popular iOS and Android app "Vine" is now available in the Windows Phone Store, and even Instagram and Waze are part of the picture now. Windows Phone also has Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, and popular games like Angry Birds and Cut The Rope. Really, I give Windows Phone a lot more flack than I probably should, but I still can't make the switch myself becuase I heavily depend on Google Apps to get through my day, which Windows Phone currently doesn't have any support for, although there are alternatives around with over 160,000 applications in the Windows Phone Store.
But that's kind of where iOS and Android look more appealing, because while Windows Phone might have alternatives, Android and iOS have more - a lot more. Not only do they have more options, but more options means a higher likelihood that you'll come across something you like. While I only have 11 applications on my phone at the time being, when I go back through my list of previously downloaded and purchased applications there are times where I needed other applications in my life that I don't need now, and I could only find those apps on iOS or Android. There are a few that I have on my phone now that I can only find on iOS and Android, and again, with only 11 apps on my phone that I myself have sought after, sacrificing two is still a somewhat large dip.
I think it all boils down to how much having alternative options matters to you, as well as what ecosystem is most important to you. Since Google Apps are most important to me, as well as many mainstream apps, it does make more sense to go with platforms with app stores that support those features whether they have 800,000 or 1,000. That's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, but in the end not everybody cares about numbers.
Readers, are the number of applications in an app store important to you? How many applications have you downloaded on your phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image via Cult of Android