The iTunes App Store is huge. More than 300,000 apps huge.
I’ve watched this monster start from nothing and turn into a billion-dollar industry in only a few short years. We’ve been approaching this point for some time now, but it’s more apparent than ever that app exposure is of critical importance. A healthy majority of iOS app users discover new applications directly from their device as opposed to using iTunes. If you look specifically at the iPhone, the amount of real estate for discovery is only available to a very small percentage of the total apps.
There are currently 20 overall categories, with Games offering an additional 20 subcategories. Each subcategory is broken into three lists and displays a max of 100 apps on the iPhone. Throw in a small number from the Top 25 and Featured lists and you wind up with roughly 12,000 apps being shown at one time. This works out to only about 4% of all apps that receive visibility. One can browse beyond this number on iTunes, but that quickly becomes an overwhelming, laborious task.
The expectation is that the market will dictate an app’s worth, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If you look at the top lists, they are littered with clones, cheap knockoffs and impulse grabs. Ninety-nine cent buys are just too tempting. Without proper exposure (and potentially more appropriate pricing schemes), many truly great apps never see the light of day.
With that said, I’ve compiled what I believe to be the best apps that have come out this year. Some got well-deserved exposure, while others were lost in the shuffle. The difficult part of assembling a “best of” list is striking a balance between apps with mainstream appeal and those with real innovation. There are a number of factors that took place in the selection (such as the merits of an app itself, not just the usefulness of an established service it utilizes) and not every good app could make the cut.
I present the top apps of 2010: