Very Few App Developers Will Ever Make Money

The app goldrush — if it ever existed — is pretty much over, with a new report suggesting that the majority of apps fail to make their developers any kind of appreciable income.

A worldwide survey of over 10,000 developers makes for rather depressing reading, unless you're wildly happy about HTML5 adoption, which apparently is the most widely used language across all mobile developer platforms.

Where it gets depressing is in the fiscal details. While it confirms the entrenched position that iOS devices make up the majority of the premium market, even there the numbers don't suggest that you're likely to strike it big with the next Flappy Bird. If you do you'll be sitting pretty, but the odds are incredibly heavily stacked against you.

Two per cent of app developers make over 50 per cent of the all app revenue. That's a triangle that means that there's a huge mass making very little, or indeed nothing at all. 47 per cent of those surveyed were making less than $US100 per month per app, or no money whatsoever.

Is there a silver lining in all that data?

If there is, it's that if you're determined to make it big in apps, forget the over-saturated consumer market, where 67 per cent of developers play, and instead write for the enterprise market. That's only sixteen per cent of the developers out there, and they're twice as likely to make over $US5000 per month doing it as their consumer counterparts, and nearly three times as likely to make $US25,000 per month for each app.

Developer Economics Q3 2014: State of the Developer Nation [via Valleywag]


    The sad irony is that if they released a $4 game without gimping out everything to micro-transactions, the games might actually be playable and enjoyable, and turn them a profit.

    Look at Real Racing 1 and 2, great games without those pesky micro-transactions, whilst RR3 is riddled with them, and a worse game for it.

      I automatically uninstall any micro-transaction game. Not going to happen on my phone!

      Although I'd happily pay up to $10 for a decent game. I've got a grand total of 3 games installed on my phone.

        Really, which games?

    Paying for apps? What am I reading Lifehacker for?!

    Doesn't surprise me at all. Most of the Android apps out there are rubbish, and many don't even work at all. On principle I never buy an app unless I've tried its free version for a while. With Google only giving you 15 minutes to make up your mind on a paid app, I'm not going to buy it without testing it first, even if it is only a few dollars.

      Agreed. I want to see statistics from a sample containing apps that don't suck and have a potential market (the first example that comes to mind to clarify is a volleyball scoreboard app; a tiny percentage of people would even consider installing that).

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