The iOS App Store is a crowded marketplace that's clogged with cruft, and Apple's latest solution seems to be … a reality TV show? Yesterday (July 12) Apple announced an open casting call for Planet of the Apps, an original series focused on " the search for the next great app."
Apple did not reveal the exact format of the show or where it will be shown, but the show's site notes that contestants will "receive hands-on guidance" from industry experts and vie for "featured placement on the App Store and funding from top-tier VCs." This sounds like a cross between The Bachelor and Shark Tank, and if the show catches on, it could lead to a rethinking of the value of apps.
Right now, the average consumer doesn't know much about the people that make apps, with the most popular titles such as Facebook Messenger and Pokémon Go coming from huge companies. The iOS app store is dominated by free titles and those that rely on ads and in-app purchases, a business model that may not be best for developers.
If Planet of the Apps decides to give app developers a platform to show their work, and reveal their personalities, there's a small chance that consumers would begin to more inclined to actually pay for apps. If Apple shares these developers' personal stories, people might stop balking at apps that cost $3.99.
The show could highlight the risks of making an app as well as the costs of development, marketing and iteration, which go unseen by the average users. Think about if Silicon Valley's characters weren't caricatures of horrible people, and if the Pied Piper app wasn't impossible to explain. You'd probably root for its success even more.
In order to make this sea change possible, though, Planet of the Apps will need to draw eyes, and I've got one idea for how to lure them: celebrity judges. Let Apple employees Trent Reznor and Dr. Dre be permanent judges, and get company friends Drake and Taylor Swift to show up for important episodes.
Not only would these musicians offer a different perspective than Apple VPs such as Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, but they'll add some liveliness and humor. If you've never seen an Apple keynote, the company's upper executives suffer from addictions to Dad jokes that would sink this show.
Apple Music exec Bozoma Saint John would be a great host or addition to the judges panel, as she demonstrated both a sense of humor and willingness to take a risk when she asked a sea of Apple Developers to sing along to "Rapper's Delight" with her at the WWDC Keynote. That's the kind of fearlessness you need to run a reality TV show.
And one last thing, Apple: please don't make this show an Apple TV exclusive. This show needs to be inclusive, and not hidden inside of a piece of hardware.