Non-Consumption is Your Biggest Competitor
You raise an interesting angle on the topic of the aftermarket in general. I assume you mean that since there are so few companies providing third-party enhancements (i.e., feature gap-fillers), they are afforded the opportunity to extract greater sums than would be possible if there were more competitors, right?
If that’s what you’re intimating, it’s sorta like $15 popcorn at the theatre, a seemingly closed economic system associated with a captive (literally sequestered) audience. But many deep economic studies (especially from the Freakonomics guys) have shown this to be not entirely true because a closed (or captured) market fails to weigh the benefits of non-consumption (ref, Clayton Christiansen).
Nonconsumption is the inability of an entity (person or organization) to purchase and use (consume) a product or service required to fulfill an important Job to Be Done. This inability to purchase can arise from the product’s cost, inconvenience and complexity, along with a host of other factors—none of which tend to be limitations for the rich, skilled, and powerful in society.
If the historical “add-in” pricing of aftermarket services was not already triggering a significant amount of non-consumption, these types of price hikes will certainly cause more solution-seekers to look elsewhere. This is to say that if you raise the price of popcorn enough in a theatre, consumption will simply drop. Airtable’s customer base is not impervious to this basic economic influence no matter how deeply they may have committed to Airtable as a platform. They will find other ways to “get the job done”. Who reading this post has never tried to smuggle food into a movie theatre?
Back to your point - it’s not vibrant enough - I struggle with this term because it is so subjective and it seems to be tied to the number of aftermarket providers, not necessarily the jobs they do or the climate that Airtable has failed to embrace. Salesforce likely has so many providers because as a platform, they require you to develop any sort of extensibility with Java. Their APIs are woefully inadequate to support lightweight scripting solutions. As such, I would not label this as a vibrant aftermarket community - it’s more like a tsunami of options that are only made possible by a specific collection of teams skilled in Java. Almost every Salesforce aftermarket solution comes with “professional services”. Vastly, Airtable operates in a climate that is unlike Salesforce.
The “S” in SMB Users Have Little Choice
If a small company with limited resources wants an Airtable solution that needs to perform integrations and other jobs the likes which miniExtensions provides, they have fewer choices; they need simple tools that extend the boundaries of Airtable’s cone of #no-code influence.
Enterprise customers are not so limited. They have choices because they tend to have skilled workers or can hire skilled consultants to break the bounds of Airtable’s #no-code boundaries. But most importantly, they have the incentive to avoid glue factories and other adhesives that would unnecessarily add security attack surfaces while adding more ongoing costs. Ongoing licensing costs to make a platform of choice more useful are generally avoided in enterprises that seek to fix costs so that economies of scale matter to the bottom line.
My advice to any aftermarket company is to fully understand which target [exactly] you expect to extract more money from.