On Apple’s Phil Schiller taking over the App Stores

Rene Ritchie, writing for iMore:

Phill Schiller taking over on App Store is interesting. While Schiller has effectively had that kind of clout for years, the actual structure of Apple Store has been split between his and Eddy Cue’s organizations. Schiller has and continues to own developer relations, app review, and evangelism. Cue has and continues to own the iTunes infrastructure, but now passes editorial and business management to Schiller. There will no doubt be some overlap, but also a lot of advantages to being closer together. App Store still lives on iTunes, at least for now, so how the continue to work together may not change completely, but this does cement Schiller’s role as the final word on everything App Store.

What this means for developers in general and indie developers in specific remains to be seen. Historically there have been issues in both orgs. App review has generated complaints about capriciousness and lack of responsiveness pretty much since launch, and that has always been under Schiller. iTunes infrastructure, resources, and tools—or the lack thereof—has been under Cue but now move at least partially under Schiller. In the past, long-requested features like upgrades, trials, and Mac App Store parity have been nebulous in terms of who and how they could be lobbied. Now Schiller’s name is officially on the top and it’s absolutely clear—the buck stops with Schiller.

John Gruber, from this Daring Fireball post:

Schiller taking over the App Stores is very interesting — and is definitely a shake-up that seemingly wasn’t widely known internally until today’s announcement. Up until now, the App Stores were in a weird place in terms of the org chart — they were officially under Eddy Cue because the stores are extensions of the iTunes Store, but partly under Schiller with regard to developer relations. The problem wasn’t that there was conflict between Schiller and Cue, but that without one person in charge of the whole thing, some problems inevitably fell through the cracks.

Treating the App Stores as part of developer relations instead of “media content” is clearly the right way to go. The stores are built on the iTunes Server platform (WebObjects, still!), but running an App Store is nothing like distributing movies, TV shows, books, and music. There are far more improvements that need to be made on the developer relations side of things than the technical side of things (although better search would be welcome).

Bottom line, Phil Schiller has a tremendous opportunity for foundational change. He has the chance to make things better for developers in all the App Stores (Mac, iOS, tvOS). Key to this is understanding exactly what the problems are. What is driving some developers to release their apps outside the safety of the official Mac App Store? Why is it so hard to make a living building apps? Are these things fixable? Can Apple make app discovery on the various App Stores easier for users and better for developers?

My two cents: I think this would be a perfect time for Apple, and Phil Schiller specifically, to reach out to the developer community, create a funnel of feedback to allow developer voices to be heard at the very top. There are so many voices, so many different mechanisms for complaint, but what’s needed is focus, something that let’s Phil’s team build a short list of problems that, if solved, would make life better for developers and users alike.

  • rogifan

    How much respect does Schiller have in the developer community? Let’s not forget he’s in charge of app review and there have been of issues around that. Hopefully he takes this opportunity to make some real change for the better.

  • JimCracky

    Trials, upgrades, curation. Better search. Treat developers like adults. Evolve sandboxing to be more efficient and less atomic warhead

  • Nick West

    Phil should invite all the devs over for an App Store Sausage Sizzle…

    “There’s your sausage in bread, there’s the sauce and mustard, bung on some fried onions if you want ’em, and drop your list of complaints in the fire pi…err, suggestion box. You’ve got 3.7 seconds to tell me the one thing you want fixed, go!”

  • Budget Guitarist

    You hit the nail on the head, Dave. It IS the perfect time. The Mac App Store could be amazing – instead, it’s awful because Apple has run it with extreme arrogance – No, you can’t have this, no, you don’t need that. Meanwhile developers leave and customers in the know avoid it.

    • eh. i read that a lot on the tech blog clique, but i still prefer it for my apps. i know some of the celebrity devs are pissy, but most people, most apps….hasnt been an issue.

  • there you go, Shawn — why we’re expecting something positive with this despite Schiller being ‘just a marketing guy’. hes always had developer relations and evangelism.

  • StruckPaper

    “Foundational change” is strong. As developers, we simply ask for three things – fixing the many little broken things, speeding many things up (most notably review) and improving discoverability. Perhaps “foundational repair” would be more appropriate.