Apple Has the Top App Store


Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was first into the app store business. The huge markets it created with the iPhone and iPad have kept it in place as the head of the industry. For some reason, it is considered news that Apple's App Store has been rated above those of Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). If it were not, Apple's entire strategy to build software around its hardware would have failed, a nearly impossible prospect given "early mover" advantages.

ABI Research's Competitive Assessment put Apple in the top spot. ABI reserved some level of praise for also-ran Microsoft:

In terms of implementation, Apple came first, ahead of Google and RIM. The company's superior performance in this dimension is mainly down to its effective approach to monetization, large market share over the app industry, and the ability to achieve a large inventory of titles while maintaining a reasonably strict quality control.

However, in the innovation dimension Apple is narrowly beaten by Microsoft, with Google claiming the third spot. ABI Research is particularly impressed by Microsoft's fresh approach to app discovery, as well as Windows Phone store's overall solid usability. Discovery is an area that has been given significant importance, because when a customer arrives at an app storefront much of the following download activity is based on how the vendor presents and highlights its inventory, especially through various charts.

Apple may not take the advice that Microsoft is a good benchmark. It stands to reason that Redmond would do well on the "discovery" axis. It has so few apps to discover that the process should be simple and fast. It is harder to dig through the hundreds of thousands of apps that Apple has, as it would be a library with hundreds of thousand of books.

Based on the sales of Window phones, almost no one is likely to show up at its app store, while downloads at Apple's store have reached into the billions. So, Microsoft's "effectiveness" hardly matters, whether or not it is particularly good.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Software, Technology Companies Tagged: AAPL, featured, GOOG, MSFT