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The Artificial Life of the App Store 106

mikejuk writes "How does the Apple App Store actually work? What is the best strategy to employ if you want to get some users and make some money? There are some pointers on how it all works from an unusual source — artificial life. A pair of researchers Soo Ling Lim and Peter Bentley from University College London, set up an artificial life simulation of the app store's ecosystem. They created app developers with strategies such as — innovate, copy other apps, create useless variations on a basic app or try and optimize the app you have. What they found, among other things, was that the CopyCat strategy was on average the best. When they allow the strategies to compete and developer agents to swap then the use of the CopyCat fell to only 10%. The reason — more than 10% CopyCats resulted in nothing new to copy!"
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The Artificial Life of the App Store

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  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:09PM (#39765549) Homepage

    This one makes a decent amount of sense to me, though I did do previous work in artificial life simulators...

    Effectively, they built a simulation of the app store, and filled it with developers following several different strategies, and presumably a feedback function that models expected consumer behavior. The simulation was left to run, and interesting results were gathered. TFA is actually a rather well-written explanation that's worth reading.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:48PM (#39765795)

    It died out because it was just a way for lazy people to moan for more money from the hardworking. Lazy people don't like to camp when it takes effort, you know, like in the winter.

  • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @05:57PM (#39765867) Journal
    Mac mini $599 ($519 refurb), Ipad 2 $399 ($350 refurb), $99/year dev license x 2 (mac and iOS). By my count its $1000 up front and $200/year. That is an astonishingly low price for a pretty feature rich dev system. Add $120 for 16 GB RAM upgrade (DIY).
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:01PM (#39766273) Journal

    "The 1%" includes most *households* in the US with an income somewhere between $200-250k, which is easily achieved these days by a 2-professional household with a few years of industry experience in their respective fields.

    Try again. To be in the 1%, you must have an adjusted gross income of $343,927 [kiplinger.com] which would probably equate to an unadjusted family income of over $400,000. Not easily achievable.

  • by Kergan ( 780543 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:50PM (#39766531)

    There's more than one utility function. For example, if wrote an app I would not expect to profit, it would be for fun. Thus I'd give it away for free or a dollar. Someone else might be hoping to make a living at it. too bad.

    Too bad? If you're not meaning for the customer/end-user, I'd wager you never wrote any such app; or any OSS app, for that matter. And that those who tagged you as insightful haven't either.

    In the real world, app development is just the beginning. Unless you decide to accept no feedback whatsoever, which is a losing proposition, you're in for a lot more feedback, emails and/or forum posts than you ever wish you'll ever read in your entire lifetime if you're even remotely successful. It's absolutely insane. Your success will destroy you unless you've an adequate means to scale -- whether monetization or extra funding.

    So here you are, quacking that you'd happily share an app. For free. You'll keep your day job as you do. Someone out there actually wants to make a living off of a similar app. But he or she will get less or no business because you released that -- soon to be unsupported -- app at in an inadequately low price point.

    Look... It's one thing to be competing with a Chinese team who can field $500/month coders to support their app, or with crap hobbyists who only have a slight clue of what they're doing. Those are mostly manageable in practice. It's an entirely different thing to compete with hobbyists who distribute good products without any interest in having a sustainable business.

    Think of it this way: for every $100/month "cool, I got some pocket money I barely couldn't care about" app out there, an actual person who does care might be losing his job. So please do yourself a favor, do that guy a favor, and -- most importantly, in the long term -- do the customer a favor, and don't release it unless you work out your business model first. Else you're just building a mine field for those who do care.

  • Re:So few rules (Score:3, Informative)

    by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @08:21PM (#39766687)

    Yes, Mac OS/LISA were inspired by what they saw at Xerox PARC. However, if you've read up on those, the people who actually worked at PARC said that LISA/Mac went far beyond what they had done or envisioned. [wikipedia.org]

    "the Apple work extended PARC's considerably, adding manipulatable icons, and drag&drop manipulation of objects in the file system (see Macintosh Finder) for example. A list of the improvements made by Apple, beyond the PARC interface, can be read at Folklore.org. [folklore.org]"

    My knowledge doesn't come from Wikipedia, I've been in this industry for 30+ years. I just use Wikipedia to support my statements.

  • by LDAPMAN ( 930041 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:01AM (#39769803)

    That's not what it generally means in the US. A "not for profit" here is literally an organization that does some function, usually charitable or community service, that is not intended to make a profit. In fact, I believe they are legally prohibited from making a profit if they wish to maintain their special tax status.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay