Why do crap apps still exist? They sell.

The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog takes a look at "crap apps" -- those pieces of junk on the App Store that do one thing and do it pointlessly, whether that thing be farting or belching or making the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard (yes, really) or what have you. And they come up with a very intriguing, albeit obvious, reason that the App Store seems so filled with completely terrible and silly apps. Why? Because they sell.

Yes, even "legitimate" iPhone developers -- those people working hard to create an innovative touchscreen interface, or bring some crucial functionality to the iPhone -- are finding that of all the apps they release, the crudest and most stupid are the ones that sell. They profile a guy whose serious movie apps aren't selling, but whose cobbled-together-in-five-minutes gimmick apps are making a mint. In short, the reason our App Store is full of way more fart apps than apps like Twitterific 2.0 is because people are paying for the fart ones. The message we're sending with our wallets is that if you want to make a million dollars on the App Store, don't toil away to polish your groundbreaking award-winning puzzle game. Just give us a gag we can show to our friends.

Is it right? I'd say no, but then again, even I have been pulled in to a gimmick app or two: I bought Cat Piano (in my defense, I've gotten enough entertainment out of it to find an easter egg: shake your iPhone while playing). But next time your finger is poised over the "Get App" button on that 99-cent belching app that you just know the friend you're seeing later will get a total kick out of, think to yourself: is that two-second gag worth an App Store full of crappy apps?