A lack of discoverability has long plagued the world of mobile applications; it gets worse with each new title that’s added to Apple’s App World and Google’s (not-yet-as-massive) Android Market. While there isn’t much Apple’s carrier partners can do to crack the discoverability nut (the App Store exists entirely outside their realm), operators who support Android have a chance to regain their lost relevance in the space by connecting consumers with the perfect apps for their needs, and easily too.
Verizon Wireless is hoping to address this discoverability issue by offering its own branded app store. Sprint is taking a different tack with its new Sprint ID, which packages apps and content based on themes that can be chosen and tweaked by consumers. But Verizon’s new store doesn’t bring much to the table, as James noted last month; Sprint ID, meanwhile, is but a very a small step in the right direction for carriers. For operators to fully take advantage and make discovering useful apps a far easier process, they must address four crucial challenges that I discuss in-depth in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro:
1) Stress quality over quantity. Instead of addressing the abundance of apps, carriers should play the role of app curator, distributing the best and most innovative titles and letting Android Market play the role of app warehouse.
2) Leverage high-profile brands. Newbies to mobile data will embrace brands they know and trust, which is why Sprint’s strategy of partnering with brands like ESPN and Disney is wise for Sprint ID.
3) Build a better recommendation engine. Such an offering would have to enable users to adjust their personal settings and must take into account things like download histories and suggestions from friends.
4) Don’t load up the phone with crapware users don’t want. Android’s openness is a double-edged sword: It can be the platform for an attractive, easy-to-use UI, but it also means operators have the opportunity to preload apps that can’t be uninstalled. That’s the mobile equivalent of this guy from the film “Fargo” pushing TrueCoat. Don’t do it.
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