ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Spotify-like App Stores

9/24/2012 3:03:52 PM

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Photo by ZeroOne

I’m the last person to say good things about iTunes, but there’s no denying it brought legal digital music to mainstream users. Same goes for iOS App Store. Geeks were buying Windows Mobile apps long before the App Store, but Apple made it easy for a regular person to buy apps for their smartphones. That said, buying MP3s-to-own sounds very old school in 2012 and I bet only the most devoted fans or those who have never heard of Spotify, Zune Pass, Rhapsody, etc. still do it.

But what about apps? All of the app stores still operate in the “classic” iTunes model. Even though it’s clear that paid 99 cent app model never really took off on Android, all Windows Phone success stories are ad based, and even on iOS free-to-play games reign supreme at this stage.

Yet, I think it should be way easier (from the legal standpoint) to introduce the subscription model to the app stores than it was (is) in the music world. Obviously not every smartphone user would like to pay a monthly fee for the app firehose and not every niche app maker would agree to get pennies for each download/use. But, in general, the 99 cent developer crowd should be happy and power users would happily pay $5/month for unlimited access to most of the app catalog. And it shouldn’t be just one or the other.

There’s no doubt it would take a lot of math, market testing, etc. to perfect the formula, but overall I think it’s a win-win solution and an obvious next evolutionary step in the app store history.

What do you think?

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