...Or Put Another way Does Lower Virality on App Platforms Breed Better Apps?Here are some great iPhone apps demo videos from a recent AppsFire contest at LeWeb. In spite of the crappy economics of building iPhone apps, I seem to keep finding more creativity employed in iPhone apps than FB Apps (granted the iPhone has a camera and location and touch screen to play with over most FB apps).
I'm starting to think that its the reasons behind the poor economics on the iPhone platform (i.e. crappy distribution channels, low virality, no re-engagement channels, etc.) that are driving/forcing more diverity and creativity with iPhone Apps over Facebook Apps.
Because there are no easy viral channels on iPhone, from a economic perspective, building a derivative game/app on Facebook that copy an existing proven game mechanic (farming, fish tank, mob-combat, quizzes) and model that:
1) have of strong viral loop opportunities (quiz apps)
2) lends itself to well to driving its users towards monetization behaviors (in game survival and personalization purchasing motives)
3) have a low cost of replication (i.e. no complex 3D engines)
4) lends itself to opportunities that enabled developers to differentiate though easy "re-theming"
Where as in the iPhone world, derivative works tend not to stand out, and relies on short bursts of exposure (and high churn) of the Apple App store via large amounts of downloads via burst promotions/marketing campaigns and strong word of mouth and reviews.
The rational developer is driven to build profitable, derivative viral games that can take advantage of a fast growing ecosystem of "fresh blood" that grows at 20-40M users a quarter on the FB platform, whereas on the slower growing iPhone platform, the rational developer is forced to differentiate itself much more so in order to gain distribution without the benefit of virality.
So the questions is: does virality + explosive platform growth breed highly profitable, derivative app development efforts, crowding out and driving out creative efforts? And is the lack of better economics for iPhone developers actually providing Apple a better and more diverse app developer ecosystem?
Either way, at Kontagent, we are seeing that developers are becoming much more focused than before about micro-tuning their virality, and putting more efforts on A/B testing given the more limited viral events/messages/channels that are available to them.