App economy is growing, but the revenues are highly concentrated*. Only 1.6% of app developers are earning more than $500K per month.
– 50% of iOS developers and 64% of Android developers are below the ‘app poverty line”.
– 24% of developers interested in making money earn nothing at all. A further 23% make less than $100 per app per month.
The Platform War
Developer mindshare for iOS is down slightly over the last 6 months but this is not fewer developers making the platform their primary target, just fewer choosing to support both Android and iOS.
“.. the average iOS user is worth 4 Android users in terms of store revenues.”
– HTML5 developers are abandoning the browser!
Langauge Developers Speak
Native App Developers : 24% of mobile developers primarily creating native Android apps against just 17% creating native iOS apps;
What comes surprising is that Windows Phone developers have the highest levels of investment in their platform with 63% developing apps in the native language, C# (also because it is hard to develop most types of app cross-platform and target Windows Phone because the UI is very different from the other platforms).
Microsoft has far greater developer mindshare in its tooling than its platform. There are almost as many developers using C# with iOS or Android as their primary platform via Unity and Xamarin as there are building native apps for Windows Phone.
App Developers : How Many And How Much
There are estimated 2.9 million app developers in the world. But, the revenue distribution is so heavily skewed towards the top that just 1.6% of developers make multiples of the other 98.4% combined.
- 24% of all developers that are interested in making money make nothing at all.
- 23% of developers make something but less than $100 per app per month. This level of revenue is unlikely to cover the basic costs of a desktop machine for development, test devices and an account to publish apps.
- 22% of developers earn between $100 and $1000 per app per month.
- On both iOS and Android, 15% of developers earn between $100 and $500 per app per month, leaving just 7% in the upper half of this revenue band. Overall this puts 62% of developers below “app poverty line” of $500 per app per month and at least 69% that can’t sustain full-time development.
- Next 19% of developers earn between $1k and $10k per app per month.
The Have Nothings make up a staggering 88% of developers in total who look more like struggling artists than highly skilled engineers.
- The top 12% of developers are the Haves. They make more than $10k per app per month. 17% of iOS-first developers are in this group versus 9% of Android-first developers.
The Truth : Successful App Developers Use More Tools
That is, they invest.
The favourite category of the most experienced and successful developers is Cloud Computing, for example Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. This category of tool is used by 40% of developers with more than 6 years experience build mobile apps.
And Importantly, Why Do You Develop Apps?
– Apple’s App Store review policies also actively discourage “amateur hour” warning of rejection for apps that are not up to the expected standard. On the other hand, Hunters are significantly more likely to adopt iOS because of its greater revenue potential.
– Windows Phone’s developer population is biased the other way. Hobbyists and Explorers are a significant proportion of those who prioritise the platform. There are two key reasons for this. Firstly, the much smaller installed base of Windows Phone devices makes it less attractive to those who care about revenue (Hunters) or reach (Product Extenders, Gold Seekers & Digital Content Publishers). Secondly, there are a lot of “Microsoft developers” trained in C# and related tools that find Windows Phone an easy way to get started with mobile apps.
* : The above data points are from VisionMobile’s survey of 10000 app developers across 137 countries (download the report from here).
If you are an app developer and trying to move up the value chain, you should attend NextBigWhat’s bigMobilityConf [Sep 13]