Now, as the iPhone has reached an almost cult status, the focus has been drawn to the extensive Apple App Store and the development of said apps. Many developers, both large companies and indie have crossed over to the mobile app market, seeing potential to hit it big. Looking at the large-scale success of games and apps in the mobile market makes it hard not to see mobile app development as a gold rush, and believe me, everyone is wanting in.
The popularity and dream of striking gold with a mobile app can be compared to entering the lottery. Billions of people each year enter local lotteries, many daily, with the hopes of cashing in.
With just the Apple App Store, the market is flooded with apps ready to make a quick buck with the marketplace expanding to over 500,000 active apps. So with this overflow of apps, do you stand a chance making a popular game? Sadly, the odds are against you, my friend.
Now, I hope you’re ready for a little math.
I am not going to get into too much of the lottery math, but millions of people enter their local lottery each day with hopes of striking gold, with many purchasing more than one ticket. Because there are multiple numbers that have to be chosen, the odds of winning decrease with each number. So after all the ratios and numbers have been added, on average, you have about an 18 million to 1 chance to win the lottery. You can check out, How Lotteries Work, for the exact figures.
According to a few Apple App Store metrics, there are more than 500,000 active apps in the store today. These are not just games (though games category is most popular), but other categories like books and education. As far as developers and publishers, there are over 120,000 active publishers registered with Apple App Store. With a survey created by Owen Goss of Streaming Color, he found that only 4% of developers gross over $1 million in the lifetime of their app. I did the math for you, that means that only 4,800 developers hit the big time with their apps.
In the best case scenario, 4% of developers means about 1 in 25 are raking in the dough.
That number may still seem pretty large, but looking at the big picture, that number is tiny in compared to the huge number of apps hitting the Apple App Store, daily. That number also doesn’t take into account publishers that have multiple developers on their payroll or the number of apps that are released by each publisher.
Looking at the absolute best numbers, 1 in 25 grossing over $1 million, you still have better odds at making some money with developing apps than you do winning the lottery.
Ok, I’m done with math now, promise.
If you do decide that you want to take the chance of developing an app for the Apple market, your best bet is to create a free app, or a free version to give a taste of what your app has to offer. Many users will not throw money at an app that doesn’t already have a ton of downloads or they don’t know if it will work well. This way, users can try it out and if they like it, they can download the paid (full) version. Many app developers are now selling advertising space in apps to make a few extra bucks. While the amount they get paid for the advertising may not be significant on a small scale, (about $8.75 per 1,000 views), it may add a decent amount to income on a large scale.
While the odds are against you making a hit app and being able to retire at 26 to go dry out on a beach somewhere or sipping on Cristal while making it rain at the clubs, developing apps can be a fun hobby as well as a way to add a few bucks to your income. Who knows, maybe you can strike gold and become the next Angry Birds phenomenon.
Are there any app developers in the audience? Let us know your experiences selling your wares in the comments!