1 Isn’t Apple just trying to maximize revenue?
While it may seem logical to favor earnings over quality, currently the opposite is the case. Most free apps are financed through advertising and that (with the exception of iAd) drives revenue away from Apple to 3rd party ad networks (e.g. Google). In the meantime, Apple is paying for the download infrastructures, the review process, etc. This does not make sense. The apps that are maximizing revenue (have a look at the top grossing list) certainly do not contribute to bringing quality products to the App Store.
2 Hasn’t the App Store just grown up?
With more than 1 million apps in the App Store, it’s naturally become harder to spot the prime fishes in an overcrowded pond. Thousands of mediocre products are added every day, competing for the same keywords and an equal opportunity to be found. Also, big players with enormous marketing budgets are part of the picture, so it’s logical that small developers can’t compete in a more competitive environment.
Although this is all true, have a look at the apps that you love and use everyday – the ones that set the App Store apart from the competition, the smart little helpers and innovative games that inspire you. You will discover that many of them were, in fact, created by small, innovative app developers creating unique experiences. With those soon gone, the App Store will have lost its initial identity. Users will choose the devices they purchase based on cost and hardware specs alone as a result of that. Apple needs to take immediate action to get their USP back.
3 So, who is making the money?
Of course, there are still success stories, but the number of iOS-exclusive, innovative titles submitted is drying out rapidly. At the moment, if you make money on the App Store, you probably:
a) create free games that succeed by manipulating users into as many in-app purchases as possible. If you walk this road, you can also afford massive marketing budgets. Sadly, we even see this now with Disney apps targeted at small children.
b) manage to create a highly innovative niche products that are ideally subscription based. Not many niches are unoccupied, though.
c) already managed to occupy a niche before the changes occurred. In this case, you can lean back and sip on your Piná Colada – even far superior competitors are most likely to remain invisible to App Store users.
For the rest of us, potential luck is not a good enough motivation, at least not if you want to run a successful business.
4 Aren’t paid apps a thing of the past?
It’s important to understand that many apps can’t be pressed into the freemium model. Do you want the author of an amazing interactive children’s book to mainly think about how to lure kids into purchasing extras, while having to keep all freeloaders happy enough to rate it 5 stars? It’s impossible to focus on a great app experience here.
Also, the smart concept of a trial version is actively penalized on the App Store. While you can, let’s say, test Microsoft Office for a while or read the first few pages of a book you might want to buy on your Kindle before making a final decision, Apple does not offer this kind of opportunity on the App Store. An app that gives you limited trial access will end up with numerous bad reviews from stingy freeloaders and Apple actively forbids you to design or describe your app as a trail version. This system is simply not working.
5 Does Apple really care?
They surely do and it is in their best interest to care. All of the responsible contacts deliver excellent help and support to us developers. That’s the paradox here. Apple’s iOS hardware business is highly dependent staying ahead of the competition with an App Store that provides exclusive, exceptional quality.
The reasons for this whole mess seem to happen behind the scenes in the internal clockwork of the App Store. The enormous damage for both us developers and Apple as a whole has been done by changing crucial parameters of the App Store algorithms and inner clockworks. This is most likely for noble reasons – trying to improve the overall product – without realizing the fatal impact on the App Store economy.