Apple Marketplaces

Last week Jean-Louis Gassée wrote a blog post on The Guardian asking Apple to provide a comprehensive editorialised guide for its App Store. His point was the current store is a small shop window with little context that does a poor job of selling the thousands of useful apps out there:

…ask developers and, most important, users. For all its demonstrable success, the App Store feels broken. It’s too big and confusing, the app reviews are dry and the ratings are unreliable, search is primitive..

Using the Michelin Guides as a template he suggested Apple invest in reviewers who highlight what is best over a wide selection of users and uses. As a regular visitor to the App Store I’d love more than an icon and name to sell me apps.

The launch of iTunesU as an app really highlights the need for Apple to improve its marketplace. If you don’t know, iTunesU collects learning video and audio from a range of colleges and universities (like the Open University and Stanford). There’s good stuff in there, but it is buried under the Apple’s category-driven marketplace. Advance courses are mixed in with introductory ones, with only the title to distinguish them.

An editorialised shopfront based where the user can navigate by level and interest to find helpful reviews would open up iTunesU (and the App Store and iBooks).

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Tiger Stores

Tiger Stores in StratfordIf you are the sort of person who likes wandering around Ikea’s Marketplace, picking up competitively priced utensils and designer knick-knaks you didn’t know you wanted, then Tiger Stores is the shop for you.

It’s a (currently) small franchise chain which started in Copenhagen, has 100+ stores in Europe and 13 in England. My closest one is in Stratford’s Shopping Centre (the old knackered one, not Westfield). Last week’s visit included the purchase of envelopes, bearnaise sauce mix, small containers for travel toiletries and some wooden tongs (for getting bread out of the toaster).

In a shop the size a large corner shop it piles high well-designed goods. Trade is always brisk. If I was more of a businessman/shopkeeper with money to invest I’d open my own franchise.

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Walthamstow Stadium

Walthamstow Stadium by dgI drove past the disused dog track in Walthamstow at the weekend. It was a depressing sight. It is still there looking resplendent in white and red. For those who don’t know, it closed  in August 2008 after the owner sold it to a property developer who planned to turn it into flats, offices and shops. There’s an ongoing fight to stop it happening.

The previous owner said the track was losing money. I have no evidence or reason to doubt this. But I do think they could have done more with it. Race nights were packed. However the site was empty outside of races (and the occasional video shoot). It could have hosted a car boot sale on Sunday mornings, opened a cafe with view of the site, ran fitness classes during the day, held festivals (beer and music) and more.

Yes, we have a housing shortage. But I’ve seen several new developments opening with nothing more than a Tesco Express for community. People need more than houses. Dog racing at Walthamstow was great (even though I always lost).