56% of iPhone apps sell less than 10,000 copies says survey
In an attempt to give a true picture of what the average studio encounters, former AppVee and AndroidApps CEO Alex Ahlund has compiled a report looking at the rate of return iPhone developers can expect to encounter on what he claims is a "top heavy" marketplace.
No trouble at the top
Taking in sales data and pricing metrics from 96 developers whose apps have all enjoyed extremely varying degrees of success, Ahlund has concluded that studios, on average, see a return of more than 15 times their development costs.
Ahlund's data shows that the average daily download figure sits at 386, with development costs resting at $6,453.
However, the picture changes somewhat when the top 10 percent of the most successful apps are sliced off.
Giving what Ahlund describes is a "far better impression of what the iPhone industry looks like", the average daily sales rate drops to 44, with 90 percent selling less than 100,000 units, 56 percent less than 10,000, and 23 percent less than 1,000 units in total.
While Ahlund notes iPhone studios use a range of options to promote their titles Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and even LinkedIn all mentioned he suggests timing any marketing to coincide with Apple's own push is the most important factor in generating downloads.
"Being featured by Apple is the greatest contributor to spiking sales," he says on TechCrunch.
"Generally speaking, it is safe to assume a 2-20 times sales spike following being featured, with the effect lasting roughly a week or so before returning to average numbers.
"The key here is to use this dramatic spike to propel the app onto a top list - be it the universal top 100 or in a top list for a specific section or country."
Shorter is better
A short, sharp spike of promotion, rather than an even spread across a series of months, appears to be key.
Indeed, Ahlund's view that it's all about building momentum for the title with a series of pushes all coming at the same time ties in with comments made by Venan Entertainment's lead designer Brandon Curiel.
He concludes, "Instead of spreading out marketing and advertising over the life of a product, focusing efforts into a narrow window (preferably, in terms of days) can be much more effective in getting the app onto a top list."
Ahlund's game-specific data depicts a very mixed bag, with some apps like arcade title Xpong has sold just 20 copies after 210 days on sale, while at the top of the pile, Bejeweled 2 has sold 3 million copies in 600 days.
Of all the games surveyed, just two have sold more than 1 million and eight more than 100,000. In comparison, five have sold less than 1,000 copies.