back to article Think your brilliant app idea will earn some big bucks? HAH. You fool

Fewer than one in ten thousand mobile apps are actually going to make any money for their developers in the next couple of years, beancounters at Gartner have warned. Both Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store have over a million apps and games available to download, forcing people to look at recommendations, social …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fewer than 0.01% of apps will be a financial success

    Hardly surprising when just about anyone and their dog can upload any pile of crap to google play or wherever. The article says it all in second paragraph, over a million apps available, the good ones are getting lost in the noise. Take away all the flotsam and jetsam and the percentage will be much higher.

    1. FartingHippo
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Fewer than 0.01% of apps will be a financial success

      Whole-heartedly agree.

      But how to achieve that? Any entity with responsibilities for rejecting apps on the basis of "being either flotsam or jetsam" would be the target of a bazillion lawsuits in very short order.

      Paris doesn't know how to fix it either.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the real issue I face...

    ... is that it's impossible to find any apps that let me share voice, photos and text with my friends. If only someone would build that kind of app, and then do it again, and again and again.

  3. jai

    odds and earnings

    one in ten thousand

    That's still WAY better odds than playing the lottery then.

    Also - make less than $1,250 a day

    That's 760 quid a day. (don't scoff, we're not all big bucks consultants y'know)

    Three or four months of that and i wouldn't need to earn anything else for the rest of the year. very nice thank you. and still, better odds of achieving it than spending £2 every week on the lottery.

    1. CadentOrange

      Re: odds and earnings

      More importantly, that's £760 that's independent of location. £760 a day while living in the location of your choice? Yes please!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: odds and earnings

      > That's 760 quid a day. (don't scoff, we're not all big bucks consultants y'know)

      Are you perhaps making two potentially hurtful assumptions?

      1. $1250.- is revenue, not profit. From that you have to subtract costs.

      2. It is a very capable developer indeed who he, given the fierce competition, can single-handedly make a sustainable 500 downloads a day application. More likely this will be a company effort, or at least a small team of bright people.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: odds and earnings

      >That's 760 quid a day.

      If you only count the working week it's £200k a year. I could probably scrape by on that...

      I think the whole thing is bollocks though; $1,250 over 500 downloads is $25 for the app, which seems a rather a high price point.

      I suspect a misplaced decimal point.

      1. DropBear

        Re: odds and earnings

        Yeah, well, you are the one who misplaced it. $1250 over 500 downloads is two point five bucks, not twenty five. What's unusual about that?

    4. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Also - make less than $1,250 a day

      I couldn't live on that!

    5. dssf

      Re: odds and earnings... I (w)hole-heartedly agree

      That 1,250 a day is hardly anything to scoff at. I'd be thrilled to get that much for just 2 months. I'd be debt-free just about.

      But, I wonder what the return ratio is.

      As for rating of apps, Apple and Google seem to be taking different tacks. Doesn't googly have very weak requirements relative to Apple WRT uploading of apps? IIUC, Apple is hammer-handedly FIERCE about gate-keeping its garden from weeds and gopher and worms that might risk sullying the iPhone experience. I could be mistaken, though.

      Also, I echo the cry for file-sharing .. That is, of things I own or am allowed to share. Content owners could put in sharability rights flags and leave it up to app makers to put in a feature that helps the content owners keep better track of their stuff's travels. Might already be in some play BWO cookies and bots and crawlers.

      What I REALLY long for is a free or near free, flexible, non-call-back-home app that would let me embed copyright, date/time stamps, and notes on photos before uploading. But, I suspect that while facebook would claim it honors copyright notices, it would not at all like to find itself in court over proof of stripping metadata's obvioius counterpart -- warnings overlaid by the content owners. FB and other sites would come up with excuses to take down such photos from users' profiles, maybe such as, "We find that 99.995% of our users react adversely to and skip over photos bearing or obstructing photo content with notices and warnings that do not describe the actual photo...."

      Well, Koreans and Japanese are crazed wild with lavishing their photos with cartoon characters, fonts, and more. I guesss I need to look harder, or more frequently. But, the bit about not reporting home... It bugs me that I think that what I consider private notes may be getting slurped up by sundry apps that all have permissions they should not have.

      Priority # 1 for any honest app developer would be to resist in-building andy slurp feature, and avoid facilitation of backdoors hooks.

      Just my 1.98 cents...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dead Givaway

    "Furthermore, of paid applications, about 90 per cent are downloaded less than 500 times per day and make less than $1,250 a day."

    So, the Gartner consultant that wrote the report is on $1250 per day, then, I take it? Anything under that isn't worth bothering with.

  5. poohbear

    Call me extravagant but I could probably manage to live on USD 1250 a day ....

    1. RISC OS

      class comment

      made me laugh

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: class comment

        minus the contributions from class 1 & 2 national insurance contributions (from registering as self employed) and then having to pay VAT after the first 2 months at that rate.

        All of a sudden, the total diminishes by an alarming amount! (still far better than you can get by working for somebody else and producing that app, mind)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The dirty secret of mobile apps - they don't make any money

    Mobile apps have been a race to the bottom for a while now - and it's getting worse. Users have become accustomed to highly polished and functional apps, and then not paying anything for them. The resources required to build a professional app are already pushing beyond the limit of what a one-man band can achieve - consider the app itself, artwork, not to mention the development, hosting and support of back-end services that are commonly required by apps.

    I have published two mobile apps across several platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) and I can confirm the work involved is immense. And for all that effort, my apps generally bring in no more than £5/day on average. When you look closely at the stats though, it turns out that my apps are doing better than 90% of what is out there. This is the dirty secret - the very long tail of apps and profitability. The 90% below me make no money worth mentioning at all, and the next 5% (Top 10%-5%) make slightly better pocket money - say £100 per day range. I would be ecstatic to even be in that range. It's only the chosen few in the top few percent to make any 'real' money at all - i.e. enough to replace the day job

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: The dirty secret of mobile apps - they don't make any money

      It'll level out at some point - the market is still very young. Over time, those not making money will stop trying, and will leave behind those who are capable of making good apps that people are willing to pay for.

      Free apps might often get downloaded, but in my experience most of them end up being terrible and end up being removed.

      1. TopOnePercent

        Re: The dirty secret of mobile apps - they don't make any money

        It'll level out at some point - the market is still very young. Over time, those not making money will stop trying, and will leave behind those who are capable of making good apps that people are willing to pay for.

        Those leaving will be replaced by the following generation of mobile app developers.

        If you want to remove the noise then app stores need to charge a per day listing fee.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: The dirty secret of mobile apps - they don't make any money

      Writing apps for profit is little different to trying to make a career as an author, musician or artist. A lucky few will make the big time while the rest will see little reward. Most therefore only do it for fun and a vague hope they might get lucky.

      App stores have become too big but I don't know what the answer is. It's no different to having a store which stocks every book ever written, every recording and film ever made, every item ever produced. Nothing wrong with that but no one would find such a place useful for discovering what they will like as the sheer choice becomes overwhelming.

      We rely on word of mouth and independent reviews to tell us there's something good and, though that may mean some real gems get lost in the process, I guess the best we can hope for is good categorisation of apps and user ratings.

      Put bluntly; there has to be some kind of filtering because it can't work without any.

    3. dssf

      Re: The dirty secret of mobile apps - they don't make any money ... would it help...

      Would it help if there were some payment mechanism via the mobbile users' carriers? If users are scarfing up apps and hardly using them, and, if they do not remove most of them, then they are just cluttering up their phones.

      Why not have the google or Apple stores be able to know which apps the individual user finds dearest and put up apps on their persistence in the eyes of those users, then let THAT be the real judge. If a user keeps and regularly uses an app, elevate that fact (but not the user data, of course). Those who indicate they want to download and keep the app the could enter a micropayment arrangement so that developers can truly earn SOMEthing more than USD 0.003 per day. Users who tire of the app will have in aggregate made some sort of "thank you" nod to the dev for at least having taken their time to produce a perceptually-welcome app.

      Those who produce rubbish would truly receive no reward.

      Of course, this all would depend on:

      -- The dev being user-oriented, with good polish and smooth app use

      -- Google/Apple/et al not getting greedy on the micropayment facilitation charges

      -- Users actually agreeing to enter micropayment arrangements for the duration

      -- Good security and a/v protection for the users

      -- nixing of spamming and astroturfing of user stats.

      Of course, if the hosting stores can avoid being duped by malicioius/callous intruders on the net and phones, then they can act as micropayment facilitators and likely keep most all happy for their m/p durations.

      Just my USD 1.95...

  7. RISC OS


    Quite a lot considering most apps seem to be created by 1-man companies.

  8. Tom_

    Discoverability is the problem

    As pointed out in the article, now there are over a million apps in these stores, it's really hard for anyone to find anything worth bothering with.

    I think the best solution would be for the store managers to drop apps that are unpopular after a while. No downloads in a month? Delist the app. It sounds harsh, but it would be easy for any developer who cared to make sure they downloaded the app now and then to keep it listed and you'd probably find many don't bother to do that for apps that aren't performing at all anyway.

  9. banjomike

    make less than $1,250 a day...

    I wish...

    1. ThomH

      Re: make less than $1,250 a day...

      I make less than $1,250 a day. I'm living the dream!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having your app in some app store is seen as a badge of honour by some people.

  11. LeeS

    I suspect $1250 a day is a slip - he probably means $1250 a month or maybe a year?

  12. solo

    It's not a Store, for God's sake

    The issue is in understanding from the (newbie) developers. An app store is about making your executable (.EXE) available for download. Now, as with any other website, no website will be visited ONLY if either of the 2 happens:

    1. A search engine points to it when user asks. Monetary investment needed.

    2. A community or group has been notified about it by other advertisement means (TV, brochure, enterprise rules). Investment needed or you have already invested money in your enterprise.

    Now, the majority of apps are being developed by indie developers who are new to business or just making it after the office hours and they perhaps miss the point. None of the store managers (Apple, Google or MS) admit this upfront on their site. All they suggest is make something wonderful.

    I'll however give credit to Microsoft which used to its store "Marketplace". But, not anymore. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      What's that then?

      1. solo

        Re: .EXE?

        (.EXE) is just a reminder of how in past everyone used to search and download files with .EXE extension. Ofcourse, the mobile stores have their own proprietary extensions for their bundles.

  13. Heisenberg

    Seems that Apple, Google et al love to trot out how many apps they have in their stores whenever the situation allows, what a skewed measure of success! This is then further compounded in the general media by stories of the "successful Apple having over a million apps", while also ran's e.g. MS, BB have only a couple of thousand.

    So no incentive to employ any kind of quality control really while this KPI is king. The real measure of an app stores value would be something more like number of apps above a threshold of downloads, say 10 a day on average over the past month.

  14. RayH

    Only 100 apps make a profit?

    So... there are 1,000,000 apps, and 1 in 10,000 will make a profit. 1,000,000 / 10,000 = 100. So are they saying there are only 100 apps making a profit? Sounds a bit low to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only 100 apps make a profit?

      > there are 1,000,000 apps, and 1 in 10,000 will make a profit.

      > 1,000,000 / 10,000 = 100. So are they saying there are only

      > 100 apps making a profit? Sounds a bit low to me.

      Yes, that's clearly wrong. The "top 100" are making tons of cash. I have an app that is somewhere in the top 1000 for the UK only, and well below that when viewed worldwide, and it makes me a respectable living.

      Didn't Apple say they are paying out $1billion/month?

      I wonder what the actual report, rather than the press release, says.

  15. Slap

    Filtering through the crap

    Filtering through the crap is by far the biggest challenge facing anybody using any App Store. There are plenty of great apps that just fall to the bottom because they cost a little bit. People will take free but crap apps in favour of good but cost a couple of quid apps.

    As an example I've been looking for a suitable calculator for my iPad. Sure there are plenty of free calculators out there that do the job, but they were all basically simulating a traditional calculator. Up until recently the best I could find was the TI-nSpire app which was more of a CAS app than a calculator, meaning it can be heavy going. Then just after the new year I noticed something in the iTunes app store as a new addition called Tydlig which has now replaced all calculators on all of my iOS devices. However it costs around 3 quid which means it'll probably and undeservedly fall out of sight because people are too tight arsed to pay for a bit of quality and innovation.

    Check it out, just google Tydlig - it's probably the coolest calculator for iOS out there.

    By the way I'm in no way associated with this app, although I did have an email conversation with the author regarding a very obscure and minor bug that I found.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Especially young people are brainwashed by corporate propaganda: "if you work little bit harder you could be a King of UK someday". No way man. The idea of becoming IT-millionaire is just a fantasy. The truth is that IT jobs, just like industrial jobs are moving to developing countries and will never come back here. You'll more likely become a new Beatles or Rolling Stones than IT-millionaire. One doesn't have to be even a good singer or guitar player. Just act pervert enough.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    marketing, marketing, marketing

    I'm a one-man-band and I've written a number of iOS apps. I may as well have thrown them straight into a skip rather than publish them in the App Store. If no one knows they are there, no one is going to buy them. And the chances of anyone stumbling on them decrease each day as more apps are published. It doesn't matter how good the app is.

    I used to pour scorn on marketeers but now I realise that unless you have a serious marketing budget and marketing know-how, forget writing apps for anything other than fun.

  18. GeezaGaz

    you only need 2 things...

    A huge marketing budget or...

    A pre-made audience of 1000s of eyeballs you can tell about your app

    Otherwise your app will drop like a little stone into the middle of the pacific ocean.

    People forget you don't have a technical issue building apps because even if you can do it yourself you can hire someone to do it. You have a marketing issue - unless you have deep pockets.

    The days of launching an app and just getting sales are gone. I have had apps on the appstore for 3+ years and they derive a modest income which has steadily declined.

  19. Mark Allread

    It's a shame they didn't bother to include Windows Phone

    Where they will have seen how developers make much more money since the apps-to-users ratio is much much better. The Android store is *so* broken now because it's impossible to charge for anything. I don't know why developers even bother with it.

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