Tonight I had a discussion with a friend that led me to a new way of thinking about app markets like the Apple App Store, Wii Shop, and Google Play.

I think back to a time when my main exposure to software wasn’t on the Internet, but was instead on the shelves at stores I went to. My mom would bring us to places like Walmart, and I always wanted to go to the electronics section and see whatever was there. There were the big box titles, but every store also had a shelf of individual jewel cases for lower-cost, less popular titles. Even these titles were from decently-large companies, most likely dramatically lowering their already-low prices to coincide with Walmart’s pricing standards.

There wasn’t an easy way for software companies in lower tiers to get the same kind of exposure for their product. The app markets have changed that. They allow tiny companies (a few people part-time) who make games, and applications - to distrbute them to a wide market. Inadvertedly, this also let in a bit of junk - but what a great thing for small developers. Even with the percentages these markets charge for their distribution, its nearly nothing compared the premiums they’d have to pay without them.