How Apple's App Store is like McDonald's

I remember hearing long ago about how a fast-food also-ran (I don’t remember which) figured out where to put its restaurants. It knew that the industry leader, McDonald’s, spent millions studying demographics, economics, and traffic flows to map out its restaurants. Instead of replicating all of that work, this rival simply located its restaurants near the new McDonald’s. It piggybacked on the big dog’s research.

Now I read on TechCrunch that while the iPhone App Store has more than 50,000 applications, only a few of them are popular. To date, the enormous number of developers working on iPhone apps has been regarded as a crucial advantage for the iPhone over its rivals, including the Blackberry, Google’s Android phones, Symbian and Windows machines. But if only a handful gain traction, can’t developers for the competitors simply focus on replicating them?

True, it’s not innovation. It simply feeds off the massive iPhone laboratory. But it could be a quick and easy way for competitors to offer consumers what they want.

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