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Most Mobile App Developers Aren’t Making Money

July 22, 2014 - Written By Ryan Duncan

As app stores grow in size, developers are having a harder time making money. In the latest Developer Economics Report by VisionMobile that was published on July 14th, half (50%) of iOS developers and a worse number (64%) of Android developers are operating below what they call the “app poverty line” of $500 per app per month. The referenced report got its data from over 10,000 developers from 137 countries worldwide and was conducted over five weeks in April and May.

While the Google Play Store narrowly beats Apple’s App Store in terms of sheer numbers, both have over one million apps available to their consumers. With an astronomical selection like that, the main problem for developers is simply getting their app noticed. The sad truth is that invariably some quality apps are left in the dark because developers don’t have the means or money to bring them to the attention of potential customers. (We here at Android Headlines can at least help with that through our App Review Service.)

Mirroring our own economy in the U.S., the app stores also have their “1%” club — well, 1.6% to be exact. That tiny percentage generates most of the revenue in the app stores. More, in fact, than the other 98.4% combined. The report then goes on to divvy the estimated 2.9 million mobile app developers into four groups: Have-Nothings, Poverty-Stricken, Strugglers and finally, the Haves. 24% of all developers who are interested in making money from their apps are in the Have-Nothings category, making literally $0 per month. 23% comprise the group that makes $1 – $100 a month while 22% of developers make less than $1,000 a month. That’s 69% of all developers making little to no money off their work. The remaining 31% of developers are split less evenly with 19% earning $1 – $10K, 9% earning $10 – $100K and a paltry 3% making over $100,000 a month.

Those are all pretty scary numbers for developers. And while we Android enthusiasts often lament the fact that many apps are developed for iOS before they sometimes if ever, make it to the Google Play Store, the data shows that at least right now it’s a statistically smaller risk to opt for iOS. What are your thoughts? I’ll admit that there are a ton of “crap apps” out there that really deserve to be in the Have-Nothing category, but how can we find the diamonds in the rough and give the devs of those apps their fair share of at least above the poverty line?