For users buying an app is akin to pulling the lever on a slot machine with one key difference: repeatable experiences.
In a casino multiple people sit at a machine and will have vastly different experiences. One casino-goer will need a wheelbarrow to take home their haul as they watch coins tumble to the floor after lining up three 7’s. While another will spend their weekend cashing in their life savings and dumping an endless stream of quarters into the machine only to receive the occasional “free” drink. This is not the case with Apple’s App Store.
When two customers download the same app from the App Store they will have the exact same experience (unless Apple starts corrupting binaries again). Customers benefit from this since they are able to read other users’ opinions about any given app before purchasing. Determining the legitimacy of the of the reviews is an entirely different topic.
Let’s stretch the metaphor a little further to include the experiences of developers publishing apps in the App Store. Imagine a casino where the slot machines are not owned by the casino itself, but by the individuals who designed said machine. The slot machines will have widely varying characteristics: some will have 12 handles, some will require a connection to the “cloud”, and others will let you innundate your friends with your “unlucky” weekend. The only thing they have in common is that the casino owner gets 30 percent of every machine’s profits. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even Nakatomi Trading Corp. will not receive a discount.
So in a sense this is fair, those who make the most popular apps get the most business. But the real winner is not the customers or the developers it is the casino owner.