Six Great iPhone Apps Flying Under the Radar

The most popular apps in the App Store aren't always the best. Here are six cool apps you might not have heard about - and why they haven't broken into the bigtime yet.

Mon, February 08, 2010

CIO — It's all about rising above the noise.

Some 150,000 apps line the App Store's (AAPL) virtual shelves, yet there's not yet a good way to shop for them. The App Store's oft-criticized search offers little assistance unless you know exactly what you're seeking. Marketers have been accused of gaming the App Store's customer reviews, both in positive and negative ratings.

[ The iPhone should be a mobile commerce and social networking star this year, predicts | Check out the best of the best iPhone apps. ]

What's left is the App Store's main Top 25 list, as well as the Top 25 list in every category. The bottom line is that many iPhone owners lean on these lists to tell them what to buy. "The Top 25 list is the thing that drives distribution," says Krishna Subramanian, founder of Mobclix, which operates a mobile ad exchange marketplace. "Other apps just don't get the exposure."

For starters, getting on the Top 25 list isn't easy. An app needs to be promoted through mainstream media, marketing, word-of-mouth and social media to increase downloads and make the list. Big app developers know the score, too. Microsoft (MSFT), for instance, poured marketing dollars to promote the Bing app on the iPhone in December in order to lift the app on the Top 25 list of its category.

But app popularity is also a moving target, and it's easy to see how some good apps often fail to make the list and thus fall under the radar.

Here are six cool apps that currently suffer this fate:

The Extraordinaires: The Do-Gooder App

What's cool about this app: This app connects volunteer-minded individuals with non-profits, and lets volunteers do quick "missions" that actually do some good in the world. During the Haiti earthquake, for instance, you could fire up this app and help identify individuals within photos.

Why it flies under the radar: CNN, Time and the Washington Post have covered this app, yet it's never really cracked the top hundred within its category. What's the problem? "Maybe the people who are interested in social good don't necessarily own an iPhone," Subramanian says. "It also could be that the coverage is focused on the website and not the iPhone app."

Preschool Adventure: Education's Slow Learning Curve

What's cool about this app: Software developer 3DAL makes a lot of fun educational iPhone apps for kids;Preschool Adventure is one of its more popular ones. The app lets parents and their preschool kids play six simple games, such as matching animals to dot-to-dot numbers.

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