According to Tomi T Ahonen at the Community Dominates Brands blog, development of an app costs an average of $35,000, and income for that app in a one-year period is about $682 after Apple takes its cut. This means to break even on the cost of development of the app in the first place could take 51 years.
That’s a pretty shocking figure. And while there are some developers out there making millions, there are many more that have pretty much lost their shirts creating apps for the iPhone.
Being a bottom-line, gotta-make-money-or-what’s-the-point kind of gal, these figures are pretty shocking to me. Why would anyone even bother to make an app, when the income potential is non-existence? How do you pay yourself back for your time, effort, and make enough cash to fund future development so you can upgrade your app later? Seems like a losing battle. And it certainly doesn’t help that Apple has such arbitrary and capricious methods for approving (and disapproving) apps that are submitted.
I admit I’m not economist, but it seems to me this is a no-win for most developers. There’s no incentive for doing it. So why are developers continuing to work in this environment?
I do recommend reading Tomi’s other blog posts about how to monetize yourself with development, especially his entry on where the biggest potential growth is (and it might surprise you too), The Digital Klondyke, inside the Cyber Eldorado. Why YOU should go mobile now and fast.