Manual Curation vs Crowdsourced

“A good example of manual curation vs. crowdsourced curation is the competing app markets on the Apple iPhone and Google Android phone operating systems. Apple fans complain that the Android marketplace has too many low-quality apps for any given task. They complain that it’s hard to find an “official” or “sanctioned” app. On the other hand, Android fans criticise Apple for limiting their choices. They don’t want to be beholden to the whims of a select few. Apple is a monarchy, albeit with a wise and benevolent king. Android is burgeoning democracy, inefficient and messy, but free. Apple is the last, best example of the Industrial Age and its top-down, mass market/mass production paradigm. They deal with the big head of the curve, and eschew the long tail. They manufacture cool. They rely on “consumers”, and they protect those consumers from too many choices by selecting what is worthy, and what is not. Google Android is building itself as a platform for bottom-up innovation. Their marketplace publishes first, filters second, utilizing little more than the rankings of the community.”

P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Crowdsourced curation, reputation systems, and the social graph

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4 Comments leave a comment below

  1. While I think this distinction is a real one, in general (a form of top-down vs. bottom-up), I think this particular metaphor doesn’t actually apply in reality. IMO the Apple app store is just as cluttered with crap as the Android Market. Apple’s filters ostensibly block poorly made apps, but I don’t know any Android users who feel like particularly poorly built apps have ruined the experience of their devices, and having access to “early” versions of some apps can be exciting for early adopters (and useful for developers, to get feedback).

    Apple wins on the app-shopping experience (better UI, search, organization); not surprising given their ability to use their long history running the iTunes store. Google is notoriously bad at providing managed experiences, and it shows in Android Market, which is difficult & confusing.

    But, again, they’re both cluttered and full of low quality apps. Apple just provides better tools for cutting through the clutter. Their “curation” of selecting only “good” apps is largely a myth, IMO.

  2. The 200.000+ apps in the App Store prove two things. First, Apple’s “curation” does not limit the quantity nor quality of apps. Second, the fact that there are tons of crap apps support the first argument.

    I always wonder how people blame a company for trying to offer a great “product experience”. And while “product experience” equals “hardware specs” for most IT products, it was always the core of Apple to go beyond that. You may agree or disagree with their decisions, but I think it is important for a company to make decisions and live from the results.

    The Android market will probably face problems when malware will start to sneak into it. So in general an Android user will need to take counter-action into their own hands. Else it is a vital app market with lots of potential.

  3. I spent some time in the Nintendo DS ‘homebrew’ community. Basically, we were all hacking a gaming system to do things Nintendo didn’t really want us to do, and most of the developers were teenagers.

    There were actually some pretty good programs, though most of the others were incomplete and buggy and generally ugly.
    I think what saved us there was the small population: It was easy to try EVERY app, and choose which ones you liked the best. There were about three good drawing apps in total.

    (I say ‘were’, but the community is still going strong.)

  4. I would imagine that most App Store users take advantage of the user rankings and review comments to pick out what apps to buy. That’s effective outsourcing. Curation would be Apple ranking apps and writing official reviews.

    Apple corp. doesn’t really curate (+/- what Scott says above), they just establish the rules for the marketplace: ensures that there’s no gross deception taking place – i.e., the app does what it says it does, does not contain unwelcome surprises, etc.