Be first to market, give it away for free, or be the finest in the space. Steven Frank, co-founder of award-winning Mac development house, Panic, says any one of these properties is a key to iPhone app success. Any two of these?
If you are first AND best, you'll be doing quite well for a very long time, as long as you stay the best. If you're the best and free, it's going to be very hard to compete with you -- although those two lines don't intersect just every day.
Whenever one of our apps hits the Mac Software page of Apple's site, we get a tidal wave of traffic. Forget VersionTracker or MacUpdate, you want to be on the Mac OS X Software page. Assuming this extends to the iPhone app store, I say you re-think Apple's 30% cut as your marketing budget, and suddenly everything makes a bit more sense. They aren't just taking your money and giving you nothing back -- they're putting your apps directly in front of EVERY SINGLE person who can possibly use your product. If you can't see the value of that, then I don't know what else to tell you.
An interesting read from an acclaimed developer, my only question is what are Frank (and Panic) cooking up with the SDK?? Transmit FTP? Coda Web Dev? CandyBar customization? Something completely new but just as shockingly good? What do you think?