Should you develop for the iPhone App Store? That’s the million dollar question, considering Apple’s stringent policies on everything from what code you can use to what you can sell; how top-selling, well marketed apps dominate the market; and how demanding App Store customers purchase then (sometimes unfairly) rate rather good applications. I’ve seen a lot of cases where an excellent iPhone application appears as version one, but gets a terrible rating since it isn’t as polished or full featured as a version five competitor. It sucks that people are as mean spirited to say, “Give me this feature and I’ll give you five stars,” but these are all things you have to deal with in the App Store.
I’ve always considered the App Store to be a money tree. People will practically buy anything if it costs a dollar, and even if you make something completely shitty, someone still bought your application. While it’s the good apps that continue to make serious revenue, it’s possible to put a few bucks in your pocket. But if you were to make a living or develop a business around the App Store, would it be worth your time and investment? Tech Crunch took the dive.
Tech Crunch ran the gamut by comparing a series of applications, popular and not, cheap to expensive, in conducting their research. But the verdict was this: If you don’t get exposure, either by popular media sites (like us - seriously) or Apple themselves, you’re not going to be rolling in dough.
Being featured by Apple is the greatest contributor to spiking sales. The level of Apple promotion, as expected, reflected what sort of increase the developer would see. Areas such as “New and Noteworthy” produced slightly less gains than “Staff Favorites” or “What’s Hot.” Generally speaking, it is safe to assume a 2-20X sales spike following being featured, with the effect lasting roughly a week or so before returning to average numbers. The key here is to use this dramatic spike to propel the app onto a top list—be it the universal top 100 or in a top list for a specific section or country. Once there, the app has a much better chance of moving up and reaching a higher plateau of sales.
Tech Crunch generously reports various App Sales over extended periods of times (some developers reporting App Sales containing over two years of data). The numbers are and aren’t surprising, but with the App Store being an incredibly saturated market, you’ve got to market if you want to succeed.
Check out Tech Crunch’s, “iPhone App Sales, Exposed,” article for more information.