I’m on a flight to San Francisco on the way to WWDC 2017 and I got to thinking - what could Apple announce that would truly forward the ecosystem? What would be good for our partners? What would be good for Button?

It’s time for some fundamental changes

The App Store and model for app delivery need to change. Apple will likely get away with some band-aids this year, but the infrastructure for acquiring and measuring users in the App Store is lacking, and lagging behind the scale of the businesses it supports.

This shortcoming finds its origin in the idea that content & software are two fundamentally different entities.

The artificial divide between content & software no longer serves developers or end users. I wrote about this in 2014 in The Dynamic Delivery of Mobile Apps and Google has taken steps towards this world with Instant Apps, albeit with a slow start. Apple needs to follow Google down this path, now more than ever.

Two things have proved true:

  • New platforms will be an important part of Apple’s future
  • Users will not acquire “apps” for multiple new platforms, as proved by Messages & Watch.

The App Store will not likely go away this year for full-screen experiences, but if Apple doesn’t reduce the barrier to services on their new platforms, they won’t succeed.

Siri apps MUST not be installed. While I’m concerned more about the supporting infrastructure of the at-scale App Store, I predict that unless Apple decouple Siri functionality from “installing apps”, they will struggle to find adoption.


Let’s fix attribution. There are entire companies built around closing the small gaps around the App Store and they create fragmentation and complexity where there ought be simplicity. These companies shouldn’t exist, or at least should find better ways to add value.

Apple has already begun collecting this data - iTunes Connect Analytics lets you see your “install referring sources”, now it’s just a case of making this available to the developer. This is a pivotal moment for apps — apps need to be a reliable, measurable, optimizable channel, or investment will slow and eventually cease.

User accounts

Apple has sat back and allowed Facebook to own “single sign on” in iOS for a long time.

There are four main steps involved in using any app:

  • Knowing it exists
  • Getting it
  • Identifying yourself
  • (Optional) Paying for stuff

Discovery and distribution we touched on above. Identity is almost entirely unserved in iOS today, except if tied to Checkout (Apple Pay.)

It’s time for iCloud ID.