Is the iPad’s App Store becoming all play and no work?

I’ve played the odd game on my iPad, but at the heart of the matter, it’s a productivity device for me. New game releases don’t really interest me as a result of this, but if there’s a new update or full release of something like an RSS reader, note taking app, or photo editor, I might raise an eyebrow.

Unfortunately, iTunes has become more and more of a game store. A quick look at the New & Noteworthy section these days doesn’t exactly reflect the number of categories the App Store consists of. There’s game after game after game, both in the app section and the banner slider. It’s no coincidence either, as these lists aren’t automatically generated. Someone at Apple is slowly turning iTunes into some sort of digital GameStop.

In some ways, it’s understandable. Tablets have a reputation for being toys, and games are part of what makes that a valid theory. It isn’t just me that uses the iPad for other things though, and Apple itself is pushing the iPad for education, businesses, and all sorts of other legitimate uses. It doesn’t look overly professional to have one of the main launch portals for apps on the device be so extremely games heavy.

Granted, an app needs to be new to be eligible to go in that particular section, and with the What’s Hot section being much more balanced, it might just be that there aren’t many new apps from the other categories – at least none worth mentioning. That’s not necessarily an issue, but then the App Store should be redesigned around that fact. Right now, there is actually a decent launch portal for education apps available by selecting Education under Categories. The problem with this is that it’s two sublevels below where it frankly should be on a device that is being pushed this much in the education market. There is plenty of room for more main tabs in the iPad’s App Store, but this room is unoccupied. Had I been Apple, I would have made Office and Education top level tabs long before I made Genius one, and I would have allowed e.g. schools to “boot” right into the Education one in the process.

As it stands right now, I don’t think the App Store reflects the possibilities of the iPad properly. It’s a mix of launch portals hidden in weird places, an awkward focus on games, and app lists that go nowhere near as far down as they should. There’s so much potential for promoting apps and uses for the device here that I think Apple is simply missing out on a huge opportunity by running the App Store as it does, especially when it comes to the more serious uses for the thing.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.