Apple Overestimates Its App Store Search

From Eli Hodapp at TouchArcade:

Moments ago, Apple announced that they’re killing the affiliate program, citing the improved discovery offered by the new App Store. (Music, books, movies, and TV remain.) It’s hard to read this in any other way than “We went from seeing a microscopic amount of value in third party editorial to, we now see no value." I genuinely have no idea what TouchArcade is going to do.

I get that this is a business decision that Apple is entitled to make. But reading this as a consumer I can still argue that Apple’s recommendations often SUCK. App discovery is maybe, just maybe, a little better now than a year ago. Apple’s recommendation quality is almost always worse than web sites I follow and definitely not honest and detailed.

I see this as one or more of three possibilities:

  1. Apple is worried about a tiny fraction of a percent of revenue growth they lose with the affiliate program
  2. Apple believes their recommendation system is far superior to what affiliates offer
  3. Apple’s recommendations don’t align with the recommendations from outside and view affiliates as competition

Personally, I think number two is the likely cause here. A bit of hubris mixed with not actually using their app store much has lead Apple to believe most of the affiliates are app scammers trying to pump up apps to skim a profit regardless of quality.

Let me be honest here. I make almost nothing from affiliate links. In the entire run of Macdrifter (12 years) I’ve never dipped into the affiliate revenue. I can’t even buy a new Macbook Pro with it today. I do happen to believe that Apple is wrong here and that they will dramatically hurt small app developers and the diversity in the App Store. But what do I know. I’m just a guy that buys a new app every other day.