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Report: Dominant app platforms are making it harder for developers to prosper

Alyssa Clementi

According to new research conducted by the UCL School of Management and the University of Toronto at Scarborough, it may not be beneficial for app developers to try to join larger platforms like Apple’s iOS App Store. The study revealed that the most popular and dominant app platforms are often overcrowded and oversaturated, pushing new games and apps to the backburner with little to no attention.

The study notes that while the iOS App Store raked in $519bn in commerce in 2019, the platform is extremely guilty of favoring older and more-well known games, making it almost impossible for new apps to survive in the space. In additional to Apple, researchers revealed other platforms including Steam and Kickstarter also make it harder for new apps and developers to stand out. To conclude the study, researchers advise app developers to seek out newer and lesser known platforms to work with.

“We discovered that as platform companies become increasingly dominant, their governance strategies shift from being largely supportive of the wider complement (app) population to becoming more selective and geared toward consumers,” said Joost Rietveld, Assistant Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship.

Rietveld continued: “Sufficient levels of participation by both consumers and app developers can set in motion a virtuous cycle that cements a platform’s dominant position of power. But not all developers benefit equally; it's likely a small group of developers will generate most of the value. Essentially, there is a large split between the winners and losers and, importantly, this split becomes bigger as the platform cements its dominant position in the market.”

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