Sunday, January 1, 2012

WordGap Chrome Web Store experiment

As a Chrome browser user, I don't see much value in Chrome Web Store, which is essentially a modern day Dmoz directory of web pages wrapped in a thin layer and marketed as "Apps". But my judgment might be clouded by my general distaste for the Apps/AppStore hype. Perhaps many Chrome users do enjoy browsing the flashy App directory, in which case, Chrome Web Store might be a great channel for web apps to get more exposure.

To test this hypothesis, I skimmed through the well-documented Developer's Guide, packaged WordGap as an app within two hours (mainly spent on struggling on artworks with my limited Photoshopping skills), and published it on Chrome Web Store under the "Games" and "Utilities" categories. No additional efforts were made at all to promote the app.

One month later, my Developer Dashboard reports that the WordGap app has garnered 32 weekly users and zero reviews.

Terribly pathetic numbers, if you ask me. Meanwhile, considering that Chrome Web Store doesn't offer an RSS feed or category for newly published apps, I'm curious to learn how these 32 weekly users discovered the WordGap app which is buried under heaps of blinding images. Did they navigate through pages after pages of apps until stumbling upon mine? Did they search for "anagram" or "scrabble" and somehow were dissatisfied by all the results ranked above my app? Did they find it under the "related apps" list? Or does Chrome Web Store randomize its directory ranking so that new apps get a chance to surface above the fold on a lucky day? Unfortunately, none of the questions can be answered by existing tools and APIs yet.

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