Two links from Instapaper creator Marco Arment discussing App Store economics.
Firstly: ‘Get Rid of the App Store’s “Top” Lists’:
Since the “top” lists are featured so heavily in the App Store interfaces, many buyers appear to be buying from them as their primary store-browsing channel.3 These lists, and their mechanics, therefore deeply affect the entire app market in unsurprising ways.
The race to the bottom. Deceptive low-now, high-later pricing. Scam and clone apps. Shallow apps with little craftsmanship that succeed, but many high-quality apps unable to command a sustainable price. The “top” list encourages all of these — we’d still have them without the list, but to a substantially lesser degree.
Secondly: ‘Free Trials and Tire Kickers’:
If the App Store mostly moved to higher purchase prices with trials, rather than today’s low purchase prices and no trials, this pattern would almost completely disappear. Instead, we’d get the free trials for almost everything, and then we’d only end up paying for the one that we liked best, or the cheapest one that solved the need, or maybe none of them if we didn’t need them for very long or decided that none were worth their prices.
In this type of market, the winners can make a lot more, because you can indeed charge more money. But the “middle class” — all of those apps that get tried but not bought — all make much less.
The ‘tire kicker’ argument, in particular, in an interesting one, in so much as the economics of selling mobile software compare to the current economics of selling ebooks. And it’s very hard to argue with his stance on bestseller lists.
Go and read.