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Optimizing app store charts – revisited for Android phones

Earlier this year, we suggested that app discovery in app stores would be improved by the ability to hide apps already installed on a smartphone when browsing the app charts. We argued that a simple change could benefit everyone in the app economy. You can read the details at that blog post. Today we wanted to give an Android-focused update on this issue.

As we highlighted in the original post, the real estate on a smartphone screen is limited but highly valuable to app discovery. Although there are models with larger screen sizes, the Google Play interface typically displays 12 items per screen.

It’s worth noting that many Android devices that are tablets or tablet-like may display a greater number of apps on the screen, but we are looking specifically at Android for smartphones, where screen real estate is more restricted.

Redundant entries in an app store are an obvious obstacle to app discovery, and the extra clutter can be particularly problematic in the “free apps” lists. Here is a screenshot of the Google Play store on a brand new Sony Xperia U:

Notice that 7 out of the first 12 Top Free apps shown are already installed on the new phone, which means that redundant entries occupy 58% of the highest-prized screen real estate on this Google Play chart. On screens 2 and 3 (entries 13-36) the situation is much improved, as Google Play displays only a few apps that are already installed on the device. Still, keep in mind this is on a brand new phone – there will be more redundant entries on smartphones that see regular use.

There may be updates available for several of the apps already installed, which is useful to know. We wouldn’t want to count as redundant an app which is already installed but for which there is an update, so we’d have to allow some exceptions.

Our suggestion remains simple: an option when browsing app stores to hide the apps already installed on the device. This could be achieved with a simple toggle for the Google Play store that does exactly that. This toggle might also include an option to display apps that are already installed but that have updates available. Some options for the Google Play interface, roughly speaking, could break down to:

  • show all apps

  • hide apps already installed on device

  • hide apps already installed on device except those apps for which updates are available

A system using the first and third items on that list should lead to improved app discovery as more apps make it into the top charts. Here at Animoca we believe that such a solution would fit quite well in the flexible and customizable Android environment.

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