Mobile Apps – Money-Makers Or Time Wasters?

Mark Stephens

Show us the moneyyyyyy!

As you know we chimps at Monkeybin create what we create for the love of it and the occasional moldy banana thrown our way, but we thought you’d be interested in some stats that were recently released by the Streaming Colour company; they conducted a survey last month with around 250 developers about revenues yielded from apps listed on Apple’s App Store.

The Good News

The study found that around 25% of all games on the App store generated revenues in excess of $10,000 for the developers.

Yay – that’s a lot of bananas…in fact it will keep us going for at least a week.

4% of those interviewed – by my calculations that’s 10 people out of the 250 – have earned more than $1 million from the App Sore.


The Average News

Things start looking a little less rosy when you look at the median revenue generated – around $1100, over the past 12 months.

The Bad News

And then we come to the bad news that 50% of all mobile games on Apple’s App Store made less than $3000 throughout the whole time they are listed.

The Gap Between “Rich” and “Poor”

The “80-20 Rule” doesn’t quite apply here; the top 20% of iOS developers make 97% of the revenues, with the top 1% raking in a third of all developer revenues from the store.

Not quite as bad as the gap between the “rich” and “poor” in some countries, but enough of a discrepancy between the top and the bottom of the ladder to raise a few eyebrows amongst developers.

75% of developers have not made as much as $30,000 total from selling their apps on the Apps Store; indeed 25% have never made more than $200!

One can only guess that they have other jobs; or they live with their parents.

What Makes The Big Bucks?

Around two-thirds of the revenue for App Store mobile games comes from free –to-download games that charge for purchasing in-app virtual currency and goods.

This is even taking into account that only 1 in 10 mobile gamers purchase anything in-game, so those who spend are spending big.

Nielsen research confirms that it is games that are the biggest earners from all the various iOS apps out there. Almost two-thirds of US wireless subscribers played mobile app games in the past month.

So spare a thought for us poor app developers – it’s not ALL gala dinners and movie premieres, though if you’re offering we’re available most evenings.

Seriously, if we created mobile apps purely for the money we’d be fighting against the odds, as most developers do not even make a decent living purely from this.

Luckily we have some other ideas and frontiers to explore – watch this space for more on that!