Why Doesn’t Apple Enable Sustainable Businesses On The App Store?

Ben Thompson | stratechery | July 1, 2013

This series of posts is about enabling sustainable businesses on the App Store. In Part 1, I discuss why Paper and other productivity apps may not be doing as well as you might think. Part 2 explores why casual games, in contrast, are a sustainable business, but not a differentiator for platforms (I added a follow-up here). Part 3 analyzes why Apple in particular seems hesitant to enable sustainable businesses on the app store.

I love apps, especially productivity apps. If games are all about user input, with minimal app output, and consumption apps about app output, with minimal user input, productivity apps are about both. You put something into an app, and the app returns something back to you, better.

Think about Photoshop, or Excel: you put in data, and the data is returned to you, transformed. Same thing with a text-editing app, or a calculator, or a mileage tracker. Productivity apps add value, and the more you use them, the more valuable they become.

Unfortunately, productivity apps are a terrible match for app store economics. The app store favors...