Interesting argument from Sean Devine, that the current App Store balance, which tilts in favor of quantity over quality, works in Apple’s favor:
The KEY to maximizing iPhone profit is to create very high switching costs for users, just as they did for the iPod via the iTunes Music Store. Apple is using the App Store to create switching costs, and they know that if all of their users have “invested” in many little applications that will only work on the iPhone (a la songs from the iTunes Music Store), they will eventually have users locked in to a long-term investment in the iPhone franchise. The profit from the successful execution of the iPhone franchise strategy will dwarf any amount of profit that they could suboptimize if they focused on what was best for the iPhone application development community.
I can see how this might be the case, and the whole essay is worth a read. But, just playing devil’s advocate, I’d say the counter-argument is obvious: there is no stickiness with truly inconsequential apps. Are people really going to be less likely to switch to a phone other than the iPhone just because their fart joke apps won’t run on the new phone? The sweet spot is clearly somewhere between quantity and quality — not just many apps, but many apps that you feel like you can’t do without.
★ Sunday, 4 January 2009