App Store changes layout, threat of the fleshy palm still looms
TouchMeme notes that the App Store has changed layout to separate free and paid applications, perhaps in response to developer grumbling about competition in a crowded market.
Free apps and paid apps now occupy sidebars to the right and left, respectively, of a major category index page. The center still allows you to sort the results by release date, name, or popularity (which doesn't appear to work yet: it only displays an alphabetical list). The separation of free and paid apps brings iTunes more closely in line with the mobile App Store experience. The changes affect every category except Games.
The concerns, though, of the Iconfactory's Craig Hockenberry (who earlier this week published an open letter to Steve Jobs detailing his frustration with marketing iPhone apps) may not be entirely assuaged. He argues that the price appeal of 99-cent apps (which may not be supported by the data) stifles the development of larger, more expensive apps that earn less prominent placement in the App Store.
The issues of price popularity and developer ROI aren't exactly solved by this furniture rearrangement, but perhaps it will let more high-quality apps bubble to the top of the Paid App charts. Otherwise, Apple might yet see the fleshy part of Hockenberry's palm.
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