After only a few years, the mobile application market has become massive, becoming a veritable jungle of applications. Despite the rapid growth of the mobile application market, we are still waiting for the ÔÇ£GoogleÔÇØ of the application world to surface. There is not yet a search engine to untangle the mess that is our app markets. The race is on and the two leading competitors should come as no surprise, Apple and Google. There are services out there to help you find applications using a web browser, including GoogleÔÇÖs search variable, but users are not searching for mobile applications on the web. They are using their default app stores native function. The question is, who will be the first to create the perfect ÔÇ£GoogleÔÇØ for mobile.
Google was a third party system when it revolutionized the web as we know it, but their feat will not be replicated with mobile applications. The way the mobile ecosystems have been created, it will be very difficult for a third party to make a difference outside of being incorporated by the app store. The two biggest app stores are Google Play and the AppleÔÇÖs App Store. These two are the top candidates to win the race because of how mobile application stores are designed. As most users search using the native app store options, it makes sense that those would be what is updated.
Between these two contestants, it would see that Google is ahead of the game. The Google Play app store already uses algorithms that index app descriptions as well as the amount and quality of links to an apps Google Play page. AppleÔÇÖs App Store only uses keywords and titles to get you to the app. Even though Google seems to be in the lead, the victor will not be decided just on which is released first.
What It Takes To Win
Despite the typical rush to get a product out first, in this particular race that are other factors beyond who leaves the starting block first. Things like who is making the most money, has the most market share, whose developers are more successful, and whose indexing is better will all be equally important. Google thus far provides the lowest financial success to developers as they are focused instead on their market share dominion. They had the highest percentage of last quarterÔÇÖs mobile sales and yet, mobile developers generate more revenue on iOS or even AmazonÔÇÖs Appstores.┬á This strategy has made Android next on the list for successful iOS apps. They have no choice but to look to Android next. It is simply too big to ignore. This means that for successful developers, Android is number two. It may not be have the newest, quality apps, but you can be sure that they will get them at some point. Considering the scale of the app market where there are already 700,000+ mobile applications to pick from, getting the newest apps a bit behind iOS is likely not a big deal.
This is where the value of search comes into play. Connecting users with the applications that they care about is very important. Doubly so when it comes to Google since they are behind with the newest and greatest apps. This could very well be what motivates Google to step up their game and be the best.
Apple is able to claim things like ÔÇ£it came to iOS firstÔÇØ and ÔÇ£its iOS onlyÔÇØ which is no small thing, but when it comes to search innovation they are behind. They have a lot less experience with search than Google and considering they have moved to a card based search platform with iOS 6, they need to get it right and fast.
Third Party Winner?
Right now there is potential for a third party developer to make some head way, but it is a small window that is dependent on Google and AppleÔÇÖs lack of transparency when it comes to their algorithms. Part of GoogleÔÇÖs success on the web is due to their very public explanations of how their algorithms work. However with the two giants competing head to head, they have both held back this kind of information, but how long can that really last.
What I Think
At what point does it stop mattering where the new apps are hitting first? I have to imagine that there is a threshold where there are so many good apps that it wonÔÇÖt matter who gets them first. As long as someone looking for a certain mobile application can find the best of its kind in the search results, what does it matter? I think the time where the quality and freshness of the apps in the app store level out that Google will be king. The fact of the matter is that this is what Google does best. Apple has a lead with its apps, but that lead will matter less and less as time goes on and Google will play its favorite game, search.