“Top Apps” Isn’t the problem

Marco Arment suggests getting rid of Top apps list on the iTunes Store:

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.

Why not get rid of top apps across all stores? Music, iBooks, Ring Tones? In all of Apple’s stores they have editorial selection and a what the market buys Top-app list. The top selling list is a great discovery tool…granted, at least with music, ring tones, and iBooks you can get a sample before you buy.

The “rich get richer” problem exists across all stores:

…everyone who downloads an app by browsing the “top” list reinforces or increases the rank of the apps already on it, entrenching their positions and reducing the visibility of anything below the first few pages.

What’s wrong with that?

I love to see what the market leaders are across books, music, movies, TV shows, and apps. In many instances those selections are on the list because they deserve to be on the list. If you want to see editorial lists you have that on the store and elsewhere. You are free to ignore the Top lists. I want to see both.

Scam and clone apps, race-to-the-bottom, and shallow apps isn’t really a top apps list problem. It’s a dysfunction of Apple’s rules and the way they enforce them. $99 for an in-app purchase of coins is certainly deceptive, but it exists because Apple allows it to exist.1


  1. I can think of another thing that exists because it’s allowed to exist.