I think Apple is one of the top threats to computing freedom simply because their walled garden was the first to be successful on a general-purpose computer and has created a trend toward more curation and less freedom. All previous attempts at walled gardens on anything but dedicated videogame consoles failed horribly, and such attempts were considered a suicide plan for any business. The trend in computing before the iPhone came out was toward greater openness and freedom, and the success of the iThings made that trend do a quick about-face.
"Nasty middleman"? As if Apple provides no value here. Apple created the f-ing platform, both hardware and software as well as the distribution system
There's some circular logic here. How much value would the platform have without the apps? And the distribution system that you think they deserve credit for is the only method they allow for getting apps onto the OS! It's like giving East Germany praise for building the wall. Furthermore, companies have done the same in the past without locking down the platform - Atari, IBM and even Apple in the past come to mind.
So every developer is supposed to live the dream and somehow be part of the 1% and they all develop undiscovered gems but you admit that most of the software is actually crap not worthy of purchase. So which is it? You're contradicting yourself.
No I'm not, that's why I framed the argument as a problem from the users' perspective. It's not their problem if developers don't make money. They should have access to any free apps anyone wants to make, or be free to make their own free apps and distribute them for free. And the costs involved in hosting apps in the App Store actually spur the creation of shovelware - there's no incentive to make them if not to make money, that's why they have ads and premium features in them. They're not creating shitty software as a charity.