Xiaoxu Ma is founder of the YTTRO: Free Game App Discovery effort.
Q: How is the global mobile app marketplace doing on the whole?
A: Pretty well.
- The global mobile app marketplace will reach $25 billion this year (Markets and Markets).
- Collectively, by 2017, developers will have made over $77 billion from 268 billion downloads altogether. (Entrepreneur.com).
Q: How many apps are there?
A: A lot.
- On the App Store and the Play Store alone, over 3.1 million apps (Statista).
- Taking into account all the other app stores, over 4 million (Statista).
- Those numbers are growing.
Q: So any independent app has a pretty small chance of making it big?
A: Smaller than you would have thought.
- Of the small number of chart-toppers, most belong to titans who cement their positions in the charts with their size and marketing power. (Polygon)
- Here's a sample of the kinds of growth they experience. (YTTRO)
Q: Wow. How much do these chart-toppers make?
A: A lot.
- The top 3% of developers cash in over 100k a month. (Vision Mobile)
- That's more than 20,000% of what the bottom 57% collectively earn. (Vision Mobile)
- The top 20% of the app stores rake in 80% of the revenue. (Newzoo).
- That means the remaining 80% of the app stores fight over the remaining 20% of revenue.
Q: What?! What does the revenue ratio look like between a top developer and an average indie developer?
A: Not so good.
- A top app can earn an astounding 40,000% of what an indie developer earns (GigaOm).
- (And produce over 1800% (Fierce Developer) of what the indie developer produces.)
Q: Hold up- what does an independent developer earn?
A: Well, it varies.
- More than half of developers make less than $500/month. (GigaOm)
- 68% majority of developers make less than $5000 over the entire lifetime of their most successful app. (App-Promo).
- The average development cost of an indie mobile app: approximately 6500. (TechCrunch).
- How high marketing costs can go: 30,000 (almost 500% of development costs).
- Even if you are spending 30,000 on marketing (that's several thousand a month), the titans are spending over 15,000 times more. (VentureBeat)
- Assuming you spend the above amounts (nearly 40,000) on developing and marketing your app, the majority of indie developers not only don't reap earnings, but also lose up to 82% of their expenditure.
Q: Wow. Are there any independent developers at all in the top 20% of apps?
A: Yes, but less than half.
- If we exclude the top 'titan' earners from the 20% minority, only 8% of independent developers have generated sufficient revenue to run a stand-alone business. (App Promo)
Q: Shouldn't all indie devs just throw in the towel and join titan companies like Glu or Gameloft?
A: Not quite yet. There’s still hope. App discovery may be broken, but the tech ecosystem deserves credit for attempting repairs. Check out a few that are headed in the right direction.
- Editor-curated lists from the App Store. (Read more: http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/07/why-i-cautiously-support-the-app-store-change/)
- Subcategories and image-oriented browsing from Xyo. (Read more: http://venturebeat.com/2014/07/06/will-subcategories-save-the-app-discovery-movement/)
- Explore the long-tail, exposed on YTTRO’s giant map of apps. (Read more: https://www.techinasia.com/talk/discover-big-game-top-charts/)
- Personalized app search from Chomp. (Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/appsblog/2012/feb/24/apple-buys-startup-chomp)