How developers should respond to 'The Greatest Apps Ever' lists

I have nothing against Snapchat, even though I'm so old I've discovered that none of my friends use it. I'm a regular Uber-er, and have recently started using Duolingo to teach myself Italian. There comes a point, though, when even the best apps can be a little over-celebrated. 

To be fair, it's not all big names on the recent list of the 100 Best Apps In the World published in October by Tech Insider (a Business Insider offshoot). There are also "hidden gems that haven't hit the top of the app store's charts yet," and sub-sections that dive into some of the most popular categories.

Don't get me wrong. I totally understand why publications do these kinds of rankings -- I've done plenty of it myself in other editorial roles -- and I hope it gets Tech Insider lots of traffic and time on site from its audience. It's just that, given that the number of available apps on Apple's App Store and Google Play number far more than 100, this kind of thing doesn't really help the majority of developers much in terms of discoverability. Those who made Tech Insider's cut might see a nice bump in installs, but the effect is about as random as being "Featured" in one of the app stores themselves. 

This is coupled with the fact that, by and large, people tend to gravitate to only a handful of apps at any one time. So many more are uninstalled or just left to take up space on a smartphone or tablet screen. There's also the problem that apps are not truly universal. Smartphones continue to dominate the app space, but wouldn't it be more interesting to look at the top 100 wearable apps so far, or the apps that will power the connected cars of the future? 

As another alternative, I'd suggest developers take matters into their own hands by developing some top 100 lists of their own. So much of the content on developer blogs, for example (assuming they publish a blog at all) are boring updates about their games in progress. It would be much more interesting to see a developer look outside his or her own studio and talk about the apps they love, that inspire them and that they strive to emulate in terms of a compelling user experience. It may not be a direct sales pitch to download your own app or game, but it might convey some authenticity about who you are as an app maker and reflect how much you share your target user's interests. 

Paying it forward in this fashion will point consumers towards some potential competitors, perhaps, but it could also create a virtuous circle in which more developers cross-promote one another. I'd much rather be a part of a community that does that than wait and hope to be included on someone else's list. What makes lists ultimately so readable, shareable and unstoppable is the fact that, unfortunately, not everyone will make the cut. But anyone can make their own list, and doing so can say more about you than what's actually on the list itself. --Shane

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