Why Aren’t Cloud Computing Platform App Stores Like Apple iOS App Store

We can confidently say that the Apple iPhone would not be the business juggernaut that it is without the App Store. Apple App Store generated close to 20 Billion in revenue in 2015 and by itself would be among the top 150 of Fortune 500. Apple says that it has returned close to 40 Billion dollars to developers since 2008. It pays to be a top developer in the App Store ecosystem. This is no small part due of the extremely fine-tuned distribution and monetization model of App Store and the supporting iOS architecture.

In contrast the Cloud Computing App Marketplaces of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure are made up of primarily Virtual Machine Images or non-platform solutions that are integrated with the platform. Contrast this to typical application architecture of an iOS App which is developed with iOS APIs and runs within the sandbox provided by iOS. Apple’s review and approval process ensures third party applications are safe and can be trusted by users. In addition, iOS App Store provides one of the most frictionless process of distribution with integrated payment and one-click download. These 3 integrated elements are what make the iOS platform one of the most powerful platforms, and certainly the most profitable, in the world.

None of the 3 cloud computing platforms provide all of the above 3 integrated elements. Amazon Web Services provides some of the elements (integrated billing and one-click installs) with AMIs (Amazon Machine Images), which can be instantiated. But instantiating VM images is only a marginal improvement over the current situation. This approach does not allow developers to take advantage of all the services/products that cloud computing platforms provide.

The ideal scenario would be to have a uniform API that exposes different underlying services (Object Storage, SQL, NoSQL, etc.) that application developers can use to write applications and a scalable sandbox that can run these applications. A good review and approval process would also make it easier for customers to trust third party applications. Finally integrated billing and one click app download eliminates friction in the buying process. A try and buy approach would even take the risk factor out of the purchase process.

Kris Gorrepati

My 2 cents on Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Design, New Product Development, Software Engineering, and related topics.

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