Raven Zachary posted recently about Apple’s new criteria for application acceptance, where he noted that there are now more fart apps than sudoku apps for iPhone. These appeared in the app store only after some conflict and controversy, with Apple initially refusing this genre due to “limited utility.” Apple ultimately loosened its standards, however, and lo! your iPhone can now pass gas.
I agree with Raven’s contention that “limited utility” is not really a good reason for Apple to reject applications, and I also understand the philosophical argument for complete openness (let the market decide). But criteria or not, it is certainly true that there are some really dumb apps available from the iTunes store.
I’m not talking about the fart apps. These aren’t my thing, but I can think of a few people in my circle of friends who probably own one. I think the dumbest genres of apps in the iTunes store are (in no particular order)…
Top 100… These apps simply list the top 100 of something (like “100 words almost everyone confuses and misuses”). Some of them, like the “100 Greatest Metal Songs” allow you to buy tracks from the iTunes store. That’s it.
Picture of the day – Just what it sounds like, these apps send you a picture a day. Some of them have a theme (like “space pictures”) but some of them are just some dude sending you pictures he likes.
Mind reading and fortune telling – The iPhone app version of mind reading and fortune telling is just like the real-world version… a fraudulent waste of time and money, or perhaps a harmless and supposedly fun waste of time and money. Either way, enjoy!
Dial So-and-so – One-touch dialing is a good idea for an iPhone app, but an app (and a dollar) per phone number? Come on people.
Hello Governor – This isn’t really a genre, but there’s an app in the iTunes store that just says “Hello, Governor!” in a British accent. That’s it. Seriously?
I suppose everyone has a right to try to cash in on the iPhone app craze, and the market will decide if these genres really deserve a place in the iTunes store. It’s akin to spam in a way, however, because the cost of distribution is nil. From the perspective of any enterprising developer, there’s no reason not to spin out as much garbage as possible if you can get it onto the shelves.
Philosophically, I don’t like the idea of a centrally-controlled marketplace, but in practice it doesn’t seem to be hurting the proliferation of great apps or completely preventing the useless (IMO) ones.