The Dark Side

On the App Store, pride and success seem to be mutually exclusive.

The Wall Street Journal put up a great article today, talking about why crappy apps exist on the App Store. The answer is obvious: it’s because they sell. They sell well. Really well.

They interview an iPhone developer in the video, and he says “All of the crappy apps that I’m embarrassed about sell the most, but the good apps that I’m proud of don’t do as well.” This is the current overarching theme of the App Store. Quantity is overwhelmingly more successful than quality. Novelty rules over creativity. People want something that they can download, use once, laugh, and delete.

That’s kind of depressing.

As a developer, you want to create a product that you’re proud of. You want to tell all of your friends and family to go out and buy it. You want to show it off on job interviews. You want people all over the internet to blog about it, write about it on forums, and create YouTube videos about it.

Ideally, you would also want to make large sums of money off of it.

Time is a very valuable thing. When you give your time to iPhone development, you’re taking it away from something or somebody else. In order for that to be “worth it”, there needs to be a good return on the investment. You find yourself in a balancing act between the amount of time invested, and the money that it earns. The motivation quickly shifts from “making the best product possible”, to “making the best selling product possible, given the amount of time invested.

Welcome to the Dark Side.

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