Largely ignored fact #1: making an app drives every developer into debt. Time is money and anything more substantial than a fart generator requires an up front investment of several months of (full time) work. Offering the end result (literally) for free is like giving away a car.
Largely ignored fact #2: for various reasons, even primary school pupils already call a mobile phone their own these days. They use apps, but have (usually) no means of paying for them.
So, why’s that a problem for everyone? Well, Google Play is build around the “the devil shits on the biggest pile” principle: the more installs an app gets, the higher it ranks in search results. The higher an app ranks, the more installs it gets. As a result, the top apps on Play are the ones appealing to the largest audience. See where this is going?
Children are great multipliers because they have classmates and a human want to talk about things during breaks. An app that wants to go viral simply can’t ignore the schoolyard. It will be stuck with a userbase though, that has yet to develop their social skills (try reading 1* reviews on Play to see what I mean).
How do you monetize a userbase that largely has no (means to spend) money? The established answer, of course, is: ads! But why would an advertiser want to pay for a clientele then that has (no means to spend) money? The answer is: he wouldn’t. He expects the ad broker to filter away whoever is unlikely to buy his product. The ad network, in order to do so, needs to collect information (age, gender, locale, tax bracket,…) on whom it is serving banners to.
At the end of the day, supplying our children with smartphones results in app makers targeting them for the sake of getting installs and trying to recover the cost of app development through advertisement. We are not only stuck with a shitty business model that builds on buying something else in order to pay for what you actually want. We are also currently rising an entire generation to think that the loss of any privacy is a perfectly acceptable price for using software.