Mobile evangelist: We're not owed by Apple or Google

Video: Former PS Home architect Oscar Clark talks about why app stores are extensions, not core, to Apple and Google's business

Apple and Google are not interested in turning their app stores into storefronts that help developers with product promotion because their only concern is customer experience. The reason is they generate the most revenue from people who adopt and stay with their devices, not from app sales. That's according to Oscar Clark, a former PlayStation Home architect who now serves as "evangelist" for mobile game companies such as Papaya, Applifier and Everyplay.

Clark was speaking at [a]list summit New York in January, where he moderated a panel on how mobile developers are coping with crowded marketplaces. Clark set the tone for the discussion by focusing on what he sees as a big issue, where game makers expect the equivalent of retail support from the major app stores once they ship their games. In an interview after the panel, he explained how that's flawed thinking.

"We're assuming that we are owed by Apple or Google the right to get our content in front of an audience. Well that's not the case," he said. "Apple and Google's mission is to make the customer experience the best it can be, and to make sure that they can find games that they love. It doesn't mean they have to make your game the one that the player finds."

Outside of stocking products and keeping something akin to a storefront, it seems digital app stores have little in common with traditional retail. Clark stressed that app stores are extensions, not core, to Apple and Google's business. Both companies are much more interested in keeping people on board with their hardware and operating systems than upselling them on third-party software in their stores.

"All of these [app stores] are being run in different ways, but very few of them are actually motivated by the revenue and the audience that they serve," said Clark. "[At Apple] they're not particularly driven by revenue from the app store. The majority of the revenue still comes from the hardware. So is it any surprise that we have frustration we can't see the best content that we would want to see from the developer's point of view?"

However, Clark thinks not having infrastructure where app makers can compete, and pay for, promotions and premium placement is a missed opportunity. His belief is that it's only a matter of time before someone - likely a third-party store - recognizes it.

"The opportunity for a new entrant to come in and radically change the way we buy mobile content is there, and I suspect that will happen. But probably where someone is looking at gaming experiences across the multiple devices, so we have a single experience that allows us to buy maybe something like Steam content on PC but then reuse the license that we bought on other devices too. I think that type of disruption is what we're going to see next."

Related stories

What can games developers learn from a social casino firm?

KamaGames CEO Andrey Kuznetsov offers advice on how to increase revenues and keep your players hungry for more

By James Batchelor

Google doubles down on mobile games with new store Google Play Instant

New store aimed at improving discoverability lets users play games without downloading them first

By Haydn Taylor

Latest comments (1)

Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games5 years ago
I agree with many things that he says, especially about how apple and google are indifferent about whose, app is in the front store. And that is right! It should be like that! Else all these people wouldn't bother making their apps available as once more they wouldn't stand a chance. Therefore the app store would be a failure. It was on the mac! ;) Nobody but indies who had no better option were primarily attracted to the app store. And that was Apple's original plan. They knew established developers wouldn't care, so they had to make them look. They did that, and they specifically maintain that, in order to give the impression of a fair chance. This way they lured in all desperate and often talented developers and eventually created a serious market, an "ecosystem" that established developers would feel obliged to have a look at! I am not sure if they had predicted the success, but it did happen. And all because of the apps.

For the above reasons, i believe he is wrong when saying that the app stores are not core business for Apple and Google. On the surface, it might look like an extension, but it is among the most important things for the user. Therefore for Apple and Google they are very much core business!

"Can i find my favourite app on this device? is this the new one? does it look nice? will i look smart holding it? will my circle approve?"

These are the FAQ common people ask. The rest, they simply do not understand. Quad core, 6 core, 12 core, 3G, LTE, ARM, Qualcomm all these are too much information for the majority of the people who just want to buy a device that looks good, and offers pleasant distraction when they are bored. Back to the store topic though, Apple, and Google, do take this seriously, that is why they put extra effort so their stores are easy, good looking, and promote the best and latest apps!
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.