The hardest part of launching and running a platform is convincing developers to create things for it. It’s a classic marketplace problem, and the more you have one the more you get the other, and the entire system becomes more valuable for each member. Part of what kept the Mac alive in Apple’s troubled 90s was the market for indie, professional, and often design-orientated applications. Keep this in mind when reading these from Michael Tsai’s blog:
According to the study, the top 5 categories where money is being spent are, in order: Games, Music, Social Networking, Entertainment and Lifestyle.
I, like Michael, would love for indie developers (at least the one who make productivity apps and the like) to see their apps climb the charts too. But an excellently designed calendar app just doesn’t make enough users feel the same way as winning a game against a friend. So when it comes time to choose between spending $5 on a better calendaring system or spending those five dollars in beating a friend at a game, which developer you think is buying themselves a coffee that evening?
See also: Jim Dalrymple, who talks about what he sees being promoted in the App Store.
It does worry me that what is at best trivia and at worst gambling is so foundational to the marketplace of the platform I develop on. While professional, productivity, and utility applications aren’t #1, I get the impression its still a huge market. Stranger still, the recent Game Center white-screen bugs seem to indicate that Apple’s incentives haven’t particularly swayed to providing to the needs of game developers, but the amount of new graphics APIs recently somewhat counter this. While worrying, this is likely more an expression of our (iOS users) own values over-and-above the values of iOS as a platform. So support indie apps!