Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Sad State of Paid iOS Apps

Here are two charts.  They track the chart position and daily sales of our poker game Heads Up: Hold'em for the past three months (Feb-May 2014).  We have a few variations on this game, but the charts show the original Paid-App version for iPhone (non-universal app).

The top line graph shows chart position.  This actually shows the average of Casino Games and Card Games.  Generally Casino Games chart rankings are slightly higher and Card Games are slightly lower, but the average position between the two works fine for these purposes.  The top position on April 6 shows as #43 on the charts which is the average of #37 (casino) and #50 (card).

The lower bar graph is the daily sales numbers.  Sadly, these are not per-100 or per-1000.  This game has been selling between 0 and 7 copies a day for the past three months.  I've overlaid the chart position line, so you can see the two graphs do line up fairly well.

And now to the sad state of things:
If an app sells only 7 copies per day (earning the developer ~$4.85 if it is a .99 app as this is) it can comfortably live in the top 50 on the paid app charts for Card Games and/or Casino Games.  And all the apps on the charts in positions lower than 50 in these categories are selling LESS THAN 7 COPIES PER DAY.  And there are thousands upon thousands of card game and casino game apps that are not on the charts at all and haven't been for months/years.  Those apps are selling nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Recently (May 8, 2014), our Home Poker Tournament Timer (that works great but has not been updated in a long time and does not even support retina display.) popped onto the Card Game charts at #161.  It sold 1 copy that day.  It had sold 1 copy per day for 4 of the previous 5 days, which may have built up some 'momentum' if you can call it that.

Apple is going to trot out big numbers about how many billions of dollars developers are being paid.  That may be true if you're part of the CandyBirdZombieClan, but it isn't the case for the rest of us.  The truth is that people aren't buying apps anymore.  If you've been using your iPhone and iPad for more than a few years, you already have everything you need.

Here's something to think about:  In the past 12 months, have you spent more or less money on apps than the previous 12 months?  And how about the 12 months before that?  If you didn't buy some big-ticket item (Sat.Nav. etc) then you probably spend less and less on Apps each year you own an iOS device.  That is true for EVERYONE!  And most everyone who wants an iOS device has already had one for several years.
Apple gets to sell you a shiny new phone every year or two, but the 'free App updates forever' policy means we only get to sell you our shiny new App once ever.

I wonder what would happen if you didn't count the 200 apps on the 'top grossing' list in the 'big number' of how much App Developers were earning.  Take out those 200 and the pile is a lot smaller for the other million of us.

It sucks to be one of the 99% of App Developers right now. It really does suck.

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