> 1) There is an extraordinarily lucrative market opportunity in iDevice contracting right now, which they allude to but mentioned that they avoided doing to keep momentum.
The money in the App Store for the vast majority of developers is not from the App Store directly but from building apps for organizations who want to be in the App Store . Sometimes it's just all about influential/powerful people and their ego . Yes, the apps have to look good (but Apple makes it easier than Android to make apps look good - remember the bar keeps going up and up).
As a sub-contractor, we would handle everything from the initial Apple developer account (for the company) to TestFlight betas to code/content updates. Complete outsourcing. The customers never know (or care) that XYZ company/national non-profit or Fortune 500 brand isn't writing their own apps - they just see "XYZ Brand, updated 08-Mar-2012' in iTunes.
 I recall a conversation once with a museum marketing person. They were basically like 'Well, did you look at the MoMa's app?'. I tried to remind them that MoMa has a basically unlimited marketing budget to spend on slick, polished apps - but they all want to bragging rights - for the museum president to be able to show his/her peers (other museum presidents, board members) the app. Really.
Your anecdote reminds me of a summer internship I did for a mid-sized financial firm a few years ago. I was "officially" hired to work on the mobile web team which I quickly found out consisted only of me: the college intern.
I actually ended up working on a completely different project but I had to periodically build a useless calculator using jQuery Mobile in the corporate colors and present it to our completely useless VP of IT.
He had sold the company's leadership on the absolute necessity of a mobile presence, that this effort needed to be completed post-haste and how it would dramatically increase sales (most of the company's business was selling insurance to other financial firms, almost no consumer products in their portfolio).
In my first meeting with him he told me he wanted "MSN Mobile for an insurance company" and offered no other instruction. He literally pulled up m.msn.com on his iPhone and said to make a version of that as their mobile presence. After that meeting I just hid in my cube and laughed for a few minutes. That was when I realized what a farce this effort was.
Basically the entire development team knew how pointless this was but the VP had sold it to the rest of the execs and now they needed to build it. No one wanted to put in the effort. The created the internship position so they could foist the actual coding off to an unsuspecting college student (me) while actually having him work on an unrelated but useful project.
Didn't learn much about coding (VB.NET, ugh) but the experience in how a bad company works? Invaluable.