Vision Mobile: One-quarter of developers make nothing from apps

A disappointing 24 percent of developers will make absolutely nothing from the apps and mobile games they create, according to Vision Mobile. The firm's Developer Economics Report Q3 2014 is based on survey responses from more than 10,000 developers in 137 countries. 

  • 50 percent of iOS developers and 64 percent of Android developers are below what Vision Mobile calls the "app poverty line" of $500 per app per month. 
  • Besides the 24 percent who make nothing from apps, Vision Mobile said a further 23 percent make less than $100 per app per month. 
  • The overall app economy includes its own "one percent." In this case, 1.6 percent of developers have apps earning more than $500k per month
  • Games dominate app store revenues, but 57 percent of those games make less than $500 per month.
  • Vision Mobile found that the more games a developer has shipped, the more likely they are to be financially successful. However, 70 percent of game developers have shipped less than four titles.

Source: Vision Mobile

"It seems extremely unlikely the market can sustain anything like the current level of developers for many more years," the report says. "A large part of this is down to what developers choose to build and how they fail to market it. However, Apple and Google have done such a good job of commoditising their complements in economics terms that it's close to impossible to build sustainable businesses for many types of apps. This is a loss for users."

Vision Mobile has been tracking the "app poverty line" for a while but its most recent report suggests there is a long-term impact that can't be ignored for much longer. Unless consumers are counting on hobbyists with no interest in earning revenue, there could be an inevitable winnowing down of the number of people creating new apps and mobile games.

Unfortunately, though, the revenue has become so concentrated in a few major developers and publishers that Vision Mobile describes the phenomenon as the disappearance of the "app developer middle class." Those who want to stay in this game for the long haul have a lot of work to do in terms of better marketing and building a viable business model in their existing apps, and if they are making mobile games, they may need to figure out how to quickly add to their portfolio of titles. 

Of course, the best ammunition for developers is knowledge, and the Vision Mobile Developer Economics Report is full of data on the platform wars, hybrid apps, enterprise apps and much more.

For more:
- download the study here

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