On the whole I think the app store/marketplace/play store(?) approach to software delivery is an improved way of obtaining new software for users.

It provides a centralised location which is perhaps more in line with the real world shopping experience (depending on how far you like to stretch your metaphors). Currently, users are warned to not “just download anything” for fear of viruses, malware, spyware etc. Hopefully this will be less of an issue in the app store world and users can have the confidence to experiment and play more. I believe this will lead to less tech-savvy users browsing and trying more types of applications which is great for users and great for software devs.

So it’s a good thing this seems to be what lies ahead with all the mobile ecosystems, OSX and Windows 8 all heading down this route.

However, I do have some concerns:

App store overload

Much as happened with Android, app stores are going to become the new hotness to every which major enterprise. Even now we already have Apple, Windows, Android, Chrome, Intel, Nokia and most of the major mobile carriers all offering their own flavour of app store. Whilst competition is good, I think this could lead to a case of too much choice, more fragmentation and ultimately a lesser quality experience for users. In this case, I actually think it should be left to the major platform vendors only (with maybe a generic ‘web’ based store for platform independent web apps). I see absolutely no reason whatsoever for there to be a Vodafone/Orange/Nokia/Intel/Whoever app store on any of my devices, it just means I need to look in multiple places rather than one as a consumer and more faff and decisions as a developer.

Delayed Deployment

Whilst an approval process of some sort helps ensure a certain level of quality for apps, I think once an app has been approved there shouldn’t be another approval step for every application update. We’ve come so far with processes like continuous integration leading to immediate deployments the whole approval process feels like a step back. We have the means to address reported issues and have an update out the users almost immediately now so it’s a shame to have to suffer a delay of several days with the app store model. There are obviously security, quality and performance implications here but I think that could be better handled through automated tests, user feedback and random/periodic reviews rather than a blanket hurdle for every update.

These are just a couple of passing thoughts I’ve had lately, I suspect my views will change as we get further exposed to the app store world. Maybe these won’t be issues, there will almost certainly be others but I think it’s worth considering now and having a plan in place. Feel free to let me know your thoughts @dannyt