App Store Doubts
Instapaper’s Marco Arment recites a litany of iPhone app developer woes, and sums them up with an important observation: “Apple thinks this is good enough.”
It’s not just a business model problem; it’s a potential disaster for mobile software innovation. To sell software for the iPhone, you have to get Apple’s approval. The approval process turns out to be a mess, and this – much more than the 30% overhead – threatens to wreck the marketplace. If you can’t predict whether Apple will let you sell your software, you can’t invest in making good software.
- The dominant platform offers thousands of choices, but only when authorized through a single source.
- The dominant price point is so low that the penalty for selling garbage is slight.
- Authorization is always slow and often capricious.
- The age-rating system is obviously doomed, since noisy groups assert that almost every aspect of existence is unsuitable for children.
- The result is that most applications are barely-functional junk, and star applications are often little more than slight papering-over of the built-in APIs or of familiar genres.
The last two featured games I bought — the only games I purchased by browsing, as opposed to personal recommendations from Web celebs — were crap. I’ll probably stop buying stuff from the app store unless someone like Gruber or PeterMe extolls it.
That’s a disaster for software innovation. And the last, best hope for an alternate mobile platform.
But I’ve still got an iPhone in my pocket.