As a mobile developer / publisher, the Apple App Store is as a much a distribution floodgate as it is an enigma. Being featured within the app store guarantees massive distribution and consequently begins a virtuous cycle: featuring leads to downloads which leads to "top 25" placements which then leads to greater distribution. To date, Apple has been unclear about their editorial stance... but the results have been reasonable: they are quick to highlight branded apps (ie Facebook, eBay), innovative apps (ie Runkeeper, Evernote), and trendy apps (ie Foursquare, Gowalla, etc). Over the last few weeks - with the entrance of the iPad and iPhone 4 - Apple has itself become a publisher and have really pushed their apps: iMovie, iBooks, Apple Store App, Find My iPhone, and the iWorks suite. And then Apple uses their marketing power (primarily real estate) to promote and distribute their applications.
Because the applications are terrific (for the most part), it is hard to complain... but it is another indication that:
1) the app store is an editorial black box controlled by Apple, who itself is becoming a major developer 2) Ultimately, this is Apple's ecosystem and their incentives can certainly conflict with developers'
Below are a few screenshots... the first of which is most revealing. Apple labeled its own Apple Store App as the App of the Week and the first two featured applications are also Apple's:
Also interesting: even if you go to the Apple Store's website via an iPhone browser, it prominently promotes the iPhone application: