Overchoice: Drowning in a Sea of Apps

Overchoice on my iPhone

My iPhone apps, a bit ridiculous. My iPad looks even worse.

We as consumers are suffering from overchoice with our devices. There are too many apps. Too many services. Too many options. Let me rephrase that; there are too many apps that do X, where X is any popular service at the moment. We become paralyzed by the choices, fearing we will pick the wrong thing. That the one we didn’t pick is obviously better.

There’s overchoice when picking a device too. I ran into this two years ago picking my next phone. I was a dedicated Android user approaching the end of my contract. About six months out my original droid started acting up, and I longed for the day I could upgrade. About three months out, I started seriously looking at phones. Everytime I turned around there was a new Android device. Even more troubling, there were rumors of an even better one one just down the line. What did I do? I panicked. I bought an iPhone. There’s one iPhone. Its released yearly. I know what I’m getting.

Now I find myself doing the same thing with apps. There are multiple choices for nearly anything you need. And with so many of the options being free, I personally find it hard to stick with just one. I tried at least ten to-do list apps before settling on Any.Do. And at least half a dozen calendars before using Cal (and then mainly because it works with Any.Do). I wanted a lightweight word processor for my iPad. I tried at least five. Mail client? Too many too remember. Readers when Google Reader went away? At least ten.

Now, I’m looking for a social bookmarking service and a “read-it-later” type service. I’m hitting the same snag as all the others. Too many options. Which one is best? Which one has the better network? Which one has the features I don’t know I need? Which one will be around in a year? It’s enough to make your head spin.

Plus, having and trying so many services poses a security risk. Let’s face it, how many of you use different passwords for every account. I’m waiting. Yeah, that’s what I thought. You have all these services floating around you can’t remember (I know I don’t remember all of mine) and if the password leaks for one of them you’re hosed.

Articleafter articleafter article, has been written about the peril of overchoice. Psychologists have written books on the topic. The general consensus is choice is great, to a certain point, and then it becomes overwhelming. I know I feel overwhelmed.

I don’t have a solution right now, I wish I did. There’s always one more thing we wish our apps did. Or a new feature we never knew we wanted. And we’ll always be looking for what that is.

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