Some success stories are known to everybody. They tell us about one loner-developer who creates an application for iPhone or iPad, after that it becomes a hit and brings gobs of money. But in the real world the situation is absolutely other: App Store has extremely high competition, and even creation of an excellent program doesn’t guarantee that you cover the expenses.
According to statistics of the marketing company App Promo 59 % of applications in App Store don’t cover the expenses of development, and 80 % of developers can’t rely on App Store as the only source of their income. In spite of the marketing firm App Promo is the interested party, such results of this poll are similar to the truth. Some independent developers say that actually the figure in 59 % looks even underestimated and more real is 85 % or 90 % if to count expenses on development honestly.
It is possible that for many iOS-developers it is more profitably to do custom projects for the companies with big budgets, than to create paid applications and then sell them independently.
The company App Promo published its research results in the form of infographics.
The Ars Technica edition collected opinions of several developers and experts concerning that how it is really to set up in business on paid applications in App Store. They are unison in opinions that this business can be really compared to a lottery in one sense. The new application can’t be found in the catalog if it didn’t get to the Top-100 or Top-200 list. Thus there is a weak communication between the efforts spent for development, quality of the application and its future success.
Approximately the same situation is observed in other businesses with the high competition, for example, in book publishing and music business, even in the Internet-startups. The majority of new books/albums doesn’t cover the expenses on their creation and only small quantity of them becomes the best-sellers. It is possible to call such situation as “lottery”, but actually it is natural result of the high competition where a lot of things is solved by “good luck”, that is unpredictable factors.
Initially it is very difficult to predict success of an application in App Store and even investments into such promotion don’t guarantee any success. According to App Store statistics 91 % of developers understand need of investments into promotion, but actually 52 % of them don’t put in it any cent.
Expenses on development make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars plus marketing. It is difficult to cover such sum proceeding from the application price in $0,99 — in reality this is 70 cents for the developer. Often problems are in high expectations of users: earlier they paid $20-30 for the desktop program from an independent developer, but App Store quickly accustomed them to the price 0,99 – $1,99, and even it is a high barrier to buyers, many of which prefer to download free alternative. If someone raises the price above the standard price in 1-2 dollars, then he or she can receive critical comments from users and journalists.
One more problem about which developers speak is bad “visibility” of the App Store applications in results of the Google search if not to put special efforts for SEO optimization.
Developers also address to Apple with a request to develop any mechanism for publication of demo versions of some programs with limited term of work (for example, 30 days).