Think of dead apps from the iPhone App Store that haven’t been updated in years; like zombies, they’re dead, orphaned, and still won’t go away. Orphaned and zombie apps are a big problem that Apple needs to address. Soon.
Must. Eat. Brians.
You know the story of the dyslexic zombie, right? As he wandered around, all he could say is, ‘Must eat Brians!‘ Apple seems to think that any app is a good app to count, even if it’s dead already.
Last year Sam Oliver wrote about iOS App Store zombie apps which were estimated at well over half the store’s total number of apps.
With App Store apps numbering nearly one million, that means hundreds of thousands of apps that haven’t been updated in years, and many that never will be. Ever.
What’s the problem? Why are apps orphaned? How, exactly, are they considered zombies?
Orphaned means the apps are no longer under active development by the app developer. They’re still available for download, but have been abandoned. They may or may not work.
I consider a zombie app (my definition) as an iPhone app that still works but hasn’t been updated to take advantage of new iOS functionality (such as the larger screen in the iPhone 5).
Whether abandoned orphan apps or zombie apps, the sheer number of apps that are no longer under active development poses a huge problem for Apple.
Why are apps abandoned? It’s because of yet another problem Apple hasn’t addressed. Other than the top apps in each category, it’s difficult for an app to be promoted and thereby ‘found’ on the App Store. Even good apps can languish in never-never land because not enough iPhone or iPad users know they exist.
How do most iPhone and iPad users find apps? Websites which cater to app reviews (that’s what we’ve done for Mac apps at Mac360 since 2004; and now we do iOS apps, too). App Store search is anemic at best and in sore need of search options.
iOS app developers with sufficient resources may find ways to promote their apps, but the vast majority of developers are probably one-person shops without money or time to work some PR magic.
I appreciate Apple’s app update process and keep most of the apps on my iPhone and iPad updated regularly. But there are many dozens which haven’t been updated in a couple of years. What will happen to those apps? Will Apple continue to count the orphaned and zombie apps as part of the App Store’s totals?
Apple works hard to curate the iOS and Mac ecosystem. Why not put more effort into curating the App Stores?