Modelling Apple's App Store marketplace as an ecosystem reveals what makes it thrive and which apps are likely to sell
IT IS easy to get rich as a developer on Apple's App Store - just build an app that mimics a bestseller. So why doesn't everyone get in on the act? Because the ploy ends up killing interest in the store entirely, according to researchers who built a simulation of the store to see what makes it tick.
Apple's thriving marketplace of well over 500,000 apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch is a self-regulating ecosystem that doesn't tolerate copycats, say Soo Ling Lim and Peter Bentley at University College London, who modelled activity on the App Store.
Since Apple releases very little data associated with App Store interactions, Lim and Bentley built the next best thing - an "artificial life" simulation of the store. Named AppEco, it uses bits of software that obey unique behavioural rules to mimic apps, developers and consumers.
The simulation mimics four types of developer the team labelled innovators, optimisers, milkers and copycats. The copycats found it easy to make money - they simply built knock-offs of top-selling apps and confused users ended up buying the facsimiles.