Alex Ahlund on iPhone App Sales

One of the most commonly asked questions we get from both developers and industry outsiders is: how much money can I make developing apps? It’s a hard question to answer.

So we decided to conduct a survey. We asked for sale sdata from 124 developers that market applications ranging in price from 99 cents to $79.99. This survey was conducted on apps that ran the gamut of popularity, from wildly successful to barely breaking three figures. Developers were anywhere from funded companies with multiple titles under their belt, to first time, single-person authors. Both regular app developers, as well as game developers were included. This mining of data was intended to cover the entire iPhone app industry as a whole, without allowing outliers to skew the data too much in one direction.

…the average sales were 11,625 total units, averaging 44 copies/day. Approximately 23% of apps sold less than 1000 units from launch (ranging from 12 to 370 days in the App Store). Further, 56% of apps sold less than or equal to 10,000 units, while 90% sold less than 100,000 units, with the remaining 10% achieving sales of 127,000 – 3,000,000 units.

The iPhone app market is something that is still in its infancy when one considers what it will look like only a few years from now. Although we are at more than 200,000 apps released, one million doesn’t seem so far fetched given the rate of growth thus far. These sales analytics should offer a starting point for understanding the general landscape, but are not necessarily indicative of one’s own app success. We’ve seen apps made in a weekend earn millions and apps taking months or more earning next to nothing. Developers can either find a niche and get extremely lucky, or produce a fantastic product with high production values. In the end, the latter is the safer route to success. Time to get crackin’…


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