Want to make a living on the App Store? You have to sell an app per minute.

There are hundreds of thousands of applications on the App Store, the majority of which come in around the $0.99 price point. At such a price, what would it take to make a basic, middle class salary off of your application? Johan E. Johansson of Geek Panic set out to figure it out. It turns out you need to sell a $0.99 application 50 times in an hour just to make a salary comparable to what you could make at a development agency.

Johansson on the sales rate required to make a decent living:

As I mulled going into development myself, I calculated that in order to sustain a viable business on one 1$-app, I would need to sell about 50 apps per hour, or close to one app per minute every hour of the day (and night) … In order to make as much money from one single app (which is necessary if I am to devote all my time to continue develop that one app) as the average person does from his job, that’s the economics of it.

Has the App Store economy turned independent development into a side-business, wholly unsustainable as a primary means of income? I’m no stranger to bizarre economics, writing for this website full time. Like the developer above, no one pays us for our news (except in eyeballs on advertisements), and yet people want more coverage, faster, and free-er, often complaining about our advertisements at the same time. Kinda makes it hard to pay the bills. The same thing is happening to developers who create apps for the App Store. Customers want apps that solve their problems, but they want them for free, and that makes it very difficult for independent developers, who have the skill set to solve these problems, to jump in feet first and provide the applications that we need. It’s sad really.

Johansson’s article is an eye opener, and we recommend giving it a read. There’s a severe disconnect between the people developing the apps and the people who want them, and something needs to happen to close the divide, because sooner or later developers are going to decide to move on and do other things for a living.

We need independent startups to threaten the status-quo. Without them we wouldn’t have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or most of the services that have come to play major roles in our daily lives. But for every one of the services that have exploded onto the scene, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of developers barely able to make a living off of their apps. That can’t be too encouraging to developers thinking about making some of their ideas a reality with a new application.

Don’t be cheap. Buy the app if you need it. The next Instagram could be just around the corner, and the developer might not be able to keep the lights computers on to complete it.

Read The 2.0-paradox on Geek Panic

Photo Credit: Luis Antonio Rodriguez


Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of Macgasm.net. And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio