While not all developers are in it for the money, most would like their apps to provide an income and the majority of those struggle to earn revenues that will sustain further development. We defined $500 per app per month as a reasonable global “poverty line”, in some countries this is very low while in others it’s a very good income. It’s also worth noting that many developers have multiple apps in the market so it doesn’t represent total income. As we’ve highlighted previously, the revenue distribution on the app stores is highly skewed toward the top and this is a major issue for the health of developer ecosystems going forward. Some developers may feel that the level of competition on Android and iOS is too high and they are thus tempted to try one of the smaller marketplaces in search of revenues. Our survey says that this is likely to be a mistake, there is indeed a wide variation in revenue distribution by platform, but the smaller markets have an even higher proportion of developers below the poverty line. The reduced competition is more than offset by the smaller user base at present.
Around 18% of 3,460 respondents in the Developer Economics 2013 survey indicated that they are not interested in making money from apps. Nevertheless, out of the vast majority of developers that are in it for the money, 67% are not making enough to sustain them or their business, i.e. they are below the “app poverty line” of $500 per app per month. For the majority of developers, app development is not financially rewarding.
Overall, less than 1 in 5 Blackberry developers make more than $500 per app-month. The situation is almost as challenging on Windows Phone where just 19% of developers generate more than $500 per app-month, with 61% below the poverty line. The findings of our survey are somewhat better for Android and iOS although these platforms too, are far from a developer paradise: 55% of iOS and 54% of Android developers are below the poverty line. Excluding developers that are not interested in profit, 62% of iOS developers and 67% of Android developers are not making more than $500 per month per app.
HTML seems a surprise here with just 45% of HTML developers under the poverty line, far lower than any other platform. However, there are fundamental differences between HTML and native platforms which are responsible for the differences observed here: developers using HTML for web development have access to a much larger user base comprising desktop and mobile users, irrespective of platform. Among HTML developers, subscription-based revenue models are much more popular than on native platforms pointing to established online content or service businesses that have expanded on to mobile.
[doritos_report location=’DE13 Article – Revenue Distribution’]