Here is a list of things I want from an App Store as a developer - in a perfect world. These are not in any particular order.
- A link to the application. You won't believe how many app stores don't do this. I want a quick way to see how the public views my application. In the screen shot below, none of these links will take you to my application. I have no idea how the public sees my application unless I bookmark them on the public site.
- Better view of recent data. For example, Google provides you with the total number of comments (see above) but I have no idea if I have new comments unless I remember the count from yesterday. Depending on how proactive I am, I'd love for the App Store to possibly email me on every single comment if I chose to care that much. My apps are relatively low traffic now so I'd definitely turn that on. Errors is a bit better...
But notice how that isn't exposed on the top level page. So I need to click into every application to see if I have new errors this week. Again, depending on how "busy" my application is, I'd love for the market to email me every time something goes wrong.
- Good stats. And yes - I know that's pretty vague. But to give you an idea, this is a real good page:
You can't tell by the static screen shot, but the graph is very interactive. Compare that chart to this chart:
I won't say where that chart comes from - but believe it or not - that app store doesn't even tell you how many times your application has been downloaded. You are somehow expected to guess from the line chart how many downloads you had per day (and no, nothing happens when you mouseover the chart). That particular app store can't even tell you the total number of downloads you've had unless you schedule, yes, schedule a report. They email you when the report is done and you then count the number of rows in the CSV file.
I am not kidding.
They simply cannot tell you that your application has been downloaded N times. That is a complete and utter failure for an app store (and is why I haven't bothered to update my application there in months).
Easy to use forms. This is also - very much - vague and in the eye of the beholder. I've recently went through the process of submitting to Amazon and I really liked their forms. Even though it's all on one page, it's broken up into sections so you can attack them one at a time. On the Nook side, they use a nice tabbed interface which is even simpler. In general, the rules for what makes sense for forms in general apply here as well. Even though the audience is certainly more technical then the end user for the app itself, it helps to have a process that works hard to make things easier for you.
Developer relations. Ok, I've been a bit lucky in this regard. Even with the "App Store I will not name" I've been able to hook up directly with engineers when I've had trouble. That may be due to my position in the community. (Wow, that sounds egotistical - but - I do think being an evangelist for Adobe does give me a leg up.) In fact, with Amazon I had one on one communication to help me with all my troubles. But in general, I want an app store that has a public forum with people who respond. Google has a very poor track record with customer service in general. To be fair, I've not had to deal with their support as an app publisher, but I've certainly have experienced their support in other areas and if it's the same, it doesn't bode well.
Basically it boils down to - if you want me to work on your platform - do your best to help me.
adb install. That's it. No developer certificates. Especially no darn certificates that expire. It's my hardware. If I select the option to install what I want, then at that point you should get out of the way. Android is the gold standard here. Once I've said I am ok with installing untrusted applications then I'm good to go. Other manufacturers make developers jump through hoops. I can certainly see the need to protect the public from the big bad Internet, but if I'm trying to add value to your product, why would you go out of the way to make it difficult for me. Apple isn't alone in making this difficult nor are they the worst offender. And as I said above - if you are going to make someone jump through nearly 20 steps - having the process expire in 30 days is a slap in the face. So what - you trust the developer to put something on their hardware for 30 days and then they have to ask again? Why? Sorry to get so worked up here, but mobile development, as we are finding out, is a big job. Getting the app on the darn device should be the easy part.
Going a bit crazy here - but how about SEO tips? If you use Adsense/Analytics, Google can provide feedback about your site and how to improve monetization/traffic. How about doing the same for your application? How about comparative stats in your category? So for example, if I upload a Word game, perhaps you can tell me how my application is performing compared to other word games, or games in general. How about letting me add "markers" to my application history. So for example, showing me where I uploaded new versions. Or allowing me to add ad hoc items like "Started Ad Campain" so I can see if it generated a bump in sales.
What am I missing?