The two best app stores on the planet continue to be Apple’s App Store and Google play. This begs the question what does being the “best mean for an app store? The question becomes important when competing app stores (like the Windows Marketplace) quote numbers in order increase is its validity and advertise its fundamental viability.
So the first and obvious metric for comparing app stores would be the simple number of apps. While I believe this comparison is obvious during store infancy, the data point alone only provides rudimentary comparison for any user. Consider the fact that most folks tend to download and subsequently use a core 30-60 apps (dependent on OS and geography). The idea of an million plus app store because almost background noise, additionally a large percentage of apps never get downloaded even once.
How about downloads per day? Well that is really talking about your user base and how engaged they are with the ecosystem. As a comparison Apple averages about 74 million downloads a day, compared to 1.7 million per day for Windows Store. However this titanic gap seems to be about inline with OS market share. How about the average rating of the apps in your store compared to another store? That may reflect the general satisfaction with your ecosystem. However it would not be very meaningful if your store contained only a few dozen brilliant apps.
Our good friend over at Microsoft had this to say about their own marketplace:
We're all gonna look back on the end of 2014 as the ending of the app-gap for Windows Phone. The 3rd ecosystem is decidedly here!
— joebelfiore (@joebelfiore) November 20, 2013
This statement can only be true if we hold a more nuanced view of the app stores. Considering the size of the respective marketplaces I think we need to start looking at the 500 most pivotal and influential apps (I know that this exercise would be subjective in itself) and then judge the various stores on how effectively they cover those essentials. This would be a comparison of user rating and feature parity. Given these baseline metrics I remain hopeful for the 3rd ecosystem.