The new American Dream was going so well: drop out, make an app for sending emojis that disappear after 5 seconds, and collect your check. But it turns out the app gold rush is broken for almost everyone.
A new, giant survey of 10,000 app developers from around the world reveals a hugely depressing reality: your app will almost certainly not succeed. Maybe it's a given that in such a crowded market, standing out is a tough feat. But the numbers are terribly dismal: 2 percent of all app developers pull in over 50 percent of all app revenue—"The revenue distribution is so heavily skewed towards the top that just 1.6% of developers make multiples of the other 98.4% combined." A staggering 47% of app developers either make literally no money, or less than $100 per month, per app. Hardly Instagram money, or even decent-Instagram-knockoff money.
It's easy to understand why. There are well over a million apps in Apple's App Store alone, and unless you're in the tippy-top of tippiest-top, odds are nobody will even notice you exist. Of course, the fact that it's considered gauche to even try to make money as a software business doesn't help:
Revenue is a feature. Some companies can add it later, others need to work it out early.
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) July 25, 2014
VisionMobile, which conducted the study, concludes that "It seems extremely unlikely the market can sustain anything like the current level of developers for many more years."
Image by Sam Spratt