Making mobile apps is still a risky business. Despite the fact that many technical types are flocking to mobile apps with the hopes of developing the next "Angry Birds," monetary success is still very difficult to find.
According to Vision Mobile's Developer Economics 2012 study, which surveyed more than 1,500 developers in 83 countries, the average per-app revenue is in the range of $1,200 to $3,900 depending on the platform. Vision Mobile noted that an app has about a 35 percent chance of generating only between $1 and $500 and most developers cannot rely on app development as their sole source of revenue.
Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS platform and Research in Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry platform are the two operating systems that are most lucrative for developers, according to the study. Those that develop to the BlackBerry OS make an average of about $3,853 per month per app. For iOS, the average revenue is $3,693 per month per app. Windows Phone is the lowest money-maker at $1,234 per month per app. However, that will likely change as more developers flock to Microsoft's Windows 8 platform.
Meanwhile, developers that focus on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform make an average of $2,735 per month per app. This group, according to Vision Mobile, is the most dissatisfied with their earnings. Android developers point to the lack of Android users having credit cards on file as being a big problem in terms of monetization potential.
Interestingly, when it comes to business models, developers are often drawn to what appears to be the least profitable model—advertising. According to Vision Mobile, 33 percent of developers use the advertising revenue model even though it delivers an average revenue of $1,498. Meanwhile the subscription model, which is only used by 12 percent of the developers surveyed, earns an average monthly revenue of $3,683. In-app purchasing is also a more lucrative business model, bringing an average revenue of $3,033 per month. Nevertheless, only about 19 percent of developers are using that business model.
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