John Gruber was kind to link to The App Store: First Comes Power. In the original post, I argued that a lot of low priced apps create more stickiness than a few higher-quality apps would (if they were more expensive). And for now, it's the stickiness that Apple is after. He asked some smart questions:
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.
First, there are many high-quality applications for the iPhone, in spite of the fact that more expensive applications aren't promoted well within the App Store. And, it's not clear to me that more expensive means better quality in the app store. Many of the best applications are free or very inexpensive.
Second, the reason that low-priced apps work to create platform stickiness is that they enable the network effect to happen for many applications (even if they seem silly) very quickly. While Windows' dominance was built on Microsoft Office, I believe that iPhone dominance will be built on cheap networked consumer applications. While it can be frustrating for some people to see Apple follow the Microsoft lock-in strategy (first with iPod/iTunes and now with the iPhone), that's what they're doing.
In 2009, expect for Apple to disproportionately promote "social" or "networked" applications whose utility depends on someone having an iPhone (i.e. more than just Facebook).
Apple has the right strategy and it's 1/2 Apple and 1/2 Microsoft.
- 1/2 Apple: Develop sexy technology that wins over the innovators and early adopters.
- 1/2 Microsoft: Lock users to the technology by connecting their content or their community to the technology.