Recently I've been asked by several application producers (and newspapers) how we can help them with their App Stores. As someone who worked on an eCommerce site since early 1995 for a software reseller, I find myself scratching my head a little.
Components of an App Store
Typically –when I hear "App Store" I think about the traditional sites like Google Play, App World, Nokia Store, Windows Store and a few others, Amazon and of course the "App Store" – provided by Apple.
App Store components include:
- Registration/User account creation process
- A catalog with icons/images, various search/listing mechanisms (free vs. paid, application categories, most purchased/highest rated, content segmentation (e.g., app vs. video), wizards based on past purchases), and a detailed page per application with ratings, reviews, additional images, etc.
- Pricing. Typically it's just 1 single price, but with Windows Azure, that's changing (and other producers will follow)
- Purchasing process. Credit card or PayPal.
- Delivery process. Often pretty simple (download link in the UI). Amazon does allow PUSH to a number of registered devices.
- Update automation. Notifying when new versions are available and providing the download mechanism.
Why App Stores as Defined Today Won't Work for Most Application Producers
The App Stores that I've surveyed (see above links) do some things quite well:
- User account creation and device registration
- Catalog, search, list management
- Detailed catalog screen shots
- Update automation
However, I cannot see most application producers using the current App Stores. They lack:
- Pricing complexity
- B2B-oriented payment models (e.g., POs, wire transfers etc.)
- Enterprise-style bulk purchasing (e.g., 100 copies of an app that can then be delivered to 100 different users)
- Incorporation of channels and channel partners
In addition, today the App Stores are very "perpetual" oriented:
- Apps are cheap
- Users get all new versions of the app for "free"
- Users do not have to purchase "maintenance"
Why eCommerce Solutions are Still what Producers Need
eCommerce producers such as Oracle (ATG), IBM (Websphere/ Sterling Commerce), Hybris (mostly in Europe), Digital River, Zuora (for subscription/pay-for-use billing) and many others provide all the things needed to make eCommerce occur (e.g., catalog, pricing, payment processing).
They can also achieve that "easy-to-use" model that App Stores provide, even on mobile devices:
- Shopping is done in the eCommerce site
- Customers get "Activation IDs" or other unique identifiers for each item purchased
- Customers are redirected to an Electronic Software site to download the software (FlexNet Operations On-Demand with FlexNet Electronic Software Delivery)
- Using FlexNet Licensing – users activate in the product
- Customers get emails when new releases are made available OR using FlexNet Connect – updates are automatically pushed to the device
What am I missing? Any reasons why we can't just say for B2B application producers: App Store = easy eCommerce+Delivery+Update?