Apple announced a series of long-awaited enhancements to its App Store on Wednesday, but the new features may not ease concerns of developers and analysts who say that the App Store model — and the very idea of the single-purpose app — has seen its best days.
The revamped App Store will let developers advertise their wares in search results and give developers a bigger cut of revenues on subscription apps, while Apple said it has already dramatically sped up its app-approval process.
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The goal is to sustain the virtuous cycle at the heart of the hugely lucrative iPhone business. Software developers make apps for the iPhone because its customers are willing to pay, and those customers, in turn, pay a premium for the device because it has the best apps.
The store is now more strategically important than ever for Apple as sales of the iPhone begin to level off and the company looks to software and services to fill the gap. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on a recent conference call that App Store revenues were up 35 percent over last year.
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But the store is also a victim of its own success. Eight years after its launch, it is packed with more than 1.9 million apps, according to analytics firm App Annie, making it almost impossible for developers to find an audience — and increasingly difficult for customers to find what they need, as some 14,000 new apps arrive in the store each week.
"The app space has grown out of control," said Vint Cerf, one of the inventors of the internet and now a vice president at Alphabet Inc's Google, who was speaking at a San Francisco conference on the future of the web on Wednesday. "We need to move away from having an individual app for every individual thing you want to do."