There you go -> @jonathanstark: $10b paid out over 5 yrs divided by 6m iOS devs equals roughly $333.40 per iOS developer per year, right?

How many developers really earn a living from app stores?

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mobile apps

Yes; the above sounds just right. Yesterday, Apple announced that they have 6M developers onboard iOS and have paid a total of $10B in revenue to these developers till date. That is $1,666.67 per developer in all, and spread over 5 years, this amounts to only $333.33 per developer. Many develop for free. In addition, most developers who sell their apps clearly don’t make enough to earn a living from those apps. Consider that Apple also claimed that their pay out represents three times as much as has been paid out to “all other platforms combined”, and one has to start asking, With all the hype about app stores, how many developers really earn a living from app stores?

It doesn’t sound like there a lot of them who do so. I mean, perhaps the average Android app developer’s income in the last five years has been what – $100? That is N15,000; right? Cripes! That’s not even valid as one month’s income.

I am guessing that developers earn much more from other channels than from app stores. One such channel would be taking on contract jobs to develop apps for corporates, services et al. You know, just the same way web developers are contracted to setup corporate websites. I am guessing that the average developer would put out freeware on app stores to demonstrate his competence and then market himself for such contract jobs. That makes sense. That has to be it, because for all the noise that has been made about making money from app stores, it looks like only a tiny handful of developers earn anything meaningful from those.

App stores clearly directly benefit consumers, but not so much developers. Emeka Okoye is a developer, and he has this to say on the matter:

I am with him on this. Very few developers make money from consumer apps via app stores. The numbers don’t lie.


  1. Yes but note that top 1% developers would have made 99% of the entire money leaving 99% of 6million developers to share 1% of $10b in 5years or at worse 80-20 rule. The lesson is for developers to come up with what consumers want that solves real world problems.

  2. Solexdream just expressed my opinion. I’m with him on this. Just like blogging, few people make most of the money.

  3. There’s one other area which may be much smaller than 1% of the developer community. Some developers offer their apps entirely free of charge without even ads or any solicitation for help in the form of donation and the like just to garner huge following and position themselves for a lucrative acquisition and a number of acquisitions have happened in the software industry already.

    But this fact doesn’t detract from the fact that a a good percentage of developers do not actually make enough money from app stores but another fact is that a good percentage of the developers too are not really in it for the money. Some apps are hobbyist projects, others from non-developers who used some of these amateur app development utilities to knock up not very useful apps like Fart app found in the iTunes Store for instance, while another good percentage of apps are from other service rendering companies or organizations or news sites that never ever charges money for their apps.

    Think of BBC, CNN, Mobility Blog, GTBank Mobile Money app, MTN Self Care app, Wikipedia Mobile, Facebook, Twitter and the list continues. When you take all these groups into consideration, you realize that maybe the number/percentage of developers that are in it for the money who are also getting paid handsomely may not be as miserable at it would look initially when all the numbers are considered together.

  4. Well guys that develop the key apps get paid the real deal. Imagine how many downloads some games have.

  5. Developing app is now completely mis-understood. Many people go in to coding without real engineering understanding, without knowing the fundamentals, this is why we have so many gabbages in the market. You can always tell when an app is well coded and customers need was taken care of during development. As a developer with engineering background, I see this as a major issue for many developers.
    You can have a Lawyer change to IT but when it comes to real problem solving, he definately lacks the fundamentals in IT.

  6. Actually developers also earn a lot from in app advertising. For example many international advertising networks suggests 1-1.5 USD price per click on add, placed in app (click made by EU or USA user)

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