Do you want to know how much an App Developer Makes?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by ThanatosId, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. ThanatosId macrumors regular


    Jun 29, 2007
    I'm always on the search to find out how much a developer makes after submitting their app to Apple. You'll occasionally see a few numbers from the big name developers bragging about their 6 millionth download, but rarely will you find a "real" persons success. I'm really interested in doing something on the app store, so this blog helped give me some "real" expectations. It's a great read, and it's a great app. I thought it was worth sharing.

    How Much Money Can You Make on the App Store
  2. LouieSamman macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    Orlando, Florida
  3. ThanatosId thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 29, 2007
    It's stuff like this that pushes me harder to learn how to code and design. There aren't many opportunities out there to give individuals this kind of potential success. A big congrats to the River of News developer for finding his success and freedom in it. And a big congrats to Apple for providing it. I hope things like this will encourage others to try to create something amazing.
  4. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    I wrote an article in August that details how my app Paperless has done in the app store, with sales data:

    Since that time, my sales have varied... with my best sales day being when it was reviewed by Macworld, and other days making very little.

    Overall, I haven't done nearly as well as the River Of News developer, but I've recently quit my job to become a full time developer. I really enjoy doing it, and felt it was time to move on from my old job to try something new.

    Make no mistake though - it takes an incredible amount of work to develop an app, and do the graphic design, and user interface design - knowing that each of those parts must be really really good for your app to be a success. Then when you have the app "finished" you also add in marketing and customer support. Right now I'm working 12+ hour days (but it doesn't feel like it since I'm having fun with it).

    There's also the issue of pricing. Since people don't like to pay much for apps - you really have to sell a LOT of copies to do well... with some developers saying that the only way to be successful in the app store is to be featured by Apple.

    Which brings us to the big success stories like that of the developer of the game Trainyard (the #3 paid app at the moment), who recently wrote a similar article to mine and has been featured by Apple:
  5. Brien macrumors 68030


    Aug 11, 2008
    Ditto. My strongpoint is UI design/graphics, so I have to struggle a bit to get the code where I want it, and I put in anywhere from 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week. Being a one-man (or two-man) shop makes things hard sometimes, but it's very rewarding to find your app on the App Store and go "I made this".

    Marketing is the hardest part, though.
  6. ThanatosId thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 29, 2007
    Thanks for posting both yours and the Trainyard stories. It's fascinating and inspiring to see these success stories!
  7. TheInformer macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2010
    I always wondered what kind of money could be made by selling apps. Thanks for the info!
  8. twisted-pixel macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2009
    San Jose, CA
    wow...that was such good reading!!

    and a question I've always wanted asking. of course, the likes of Angry birds makes millions, the smaller less successful apps much less.

    I think the biggest problem now is that there are just so many apps, getting yours noticed is very difficult and only a select few ever get proper recognition.

    but still....something to aspire to....if only I had the skills
  9. suksmo macrumors member


    May 4, 2010
    Most developers are struggling to get by. In no way believe the hype. Some of the most talented developers don't play the AppStore lottery and purely develop for others and therefore make a steady wage.

    Getting noticed is really hard - I released Scrambleface just under two weeks ago and it sat on almost zero sales until I put out a press release yesterday (I had tried just about every other form of free marketing - blog, facebook, twitter, promotion code giveaways) - even then it looks likes the effect of that has worn off.

    Google a 'how much are you making thread?' over at it'll give you an idea of how much most guys are making.
  10. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    One thing to keep in mind too is that a lot of these numbers being thrown around don't take taxes into account.

    Apple doesn't automatically deduct any taxes, so early next year when I have to file federal income tax, the U.S. government is going to take around 30% of whatever I've made from app sales. (Obviously that varies based on what you can count as tax write-offs, and I'm not sure what it's like in other countries)
  11. DivtyaBudhlya macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2010
    Though not on the same track, this discussion on Stack Overflow has some pretty good content on how much does it cost to make an app from a dev's point of view.

    Also has a great post by Craig Hockenberry, developer of Twitterrific.
  12. triptyx macrumors member


    Jul 15, 2010
    If you haven't in the past, go out and hire a decent CPA for your tax returns this year. Especially now that you're doing it full time, operating as a proper business means all kinds of different rules and deductions may apply. Even a part time side-job can enable you to deduct certain activities and items with the proper documentation.

    I saved a lot of money in taxes by paying $350 for a CPA to do my taxes last year instead of using Turbotax like in past years.
  13. neuronrev macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2010
    Very Interesting

    Very informative thread. It's nice to see some real numbers and real stories. I've been curious for a while now about the different approaches to building up an app audience. You mostly here about the big, instant hits rather than the steady increase in popularity grown over time. But the slow and steady approach seems like the best option for small devs.
  14. ThanatosId thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 29, 2007
    I'm really glad that others have jumped in to share their experiences. I love supporting the independent developers. Since no one is really promoting their app (which is great) I figured I'd post some links to your home pages.

    River of News
  15. Galarina macrumors member


    Jun 27, 2009
    Some time ago I posted sales figures of my GeoLogTag app. Sales are currently more or less the same, so the post is still relevant.

    I also tweeted last week that the 5000th copy of my PhotoToMac app was downloaded. The first version of that app was released about 16 months ago. Note that in the first months PhotoToMac was priced at $1 (it's $2 now). Increasing the price didn't affect the number of copies sold.
  16. Rudy69 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    I posted my experience with the AppStore in my blog. For me it's just a fun hobby, something I do if I have time after work.
  17. Brucewl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2010
    Seriously, if I know how to create an Apple App, I will give up all of my job...
  18. ppilone macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2008
    I've been developing by myself for almost 2 years now. I've been extremely lucky in that Apple seems to like my app, as it's been featured in a few front page sections. My biggest marketing has been done by Apple, but I understand how rare that is and I'm grateful every day for it.

    I started developing in college (since graduated) as a hobby and since then it's become my nightly (after my day job) routine. I've been pretty lucky with my sales - I wouldn't want it as my only income but it's a nice chunk of side money. Again, this is all pre-tax... I'm DREADING next April.

    I'd easily say the biggest high for me hasn't been the money, but rather interacting with users and the opportunities that developing a successful app has opened up for me. It's awesome to release an update and see the number of active users climb into the 20 - 30k range. To be honest, I still think people are crazy for using something I've written. :p
  19. mathfantasia macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2009
    Calculus Grapher and CG Lite by Brian Chen's Code

    I didn't get into developing apps for money, just as a hobby and I'm happy to announce after working about 50 hours on apps I have submitted 3 and make will back what I paid at the beginning (I make 8-10 bucks a month) which I think is amazing in and of itself. I rarely advertise (I think I've posted once or twice to this forum). I think it's great that some people have a venue for creativity and probably if sales continue to increase as they have these past few months in about a year I'll be able to afford a "free" ipod touch and/or ipad. Thanks to all who have downloaded my free apps (I've had over 2500 apps downloaded total).

    Just submitted a free "math" game and made my guitar "synthesizer" free. Going to post this in a bunch of posts this week to "boost sales."

    Creator of the following iOS apps:
    The Calculus Grapher and Calculus Grapher Lite
    Brian and A Guitar
    Tahm Sinker
  20. DylanG macrumors regular


    Jul 8, 2007
    Thanks for the interest in my blog and to the other developers who've posted their stories. The App Store is a tough business. It's hard to make a living at $4 a pop.

    This is my last week at my salaried job. Unfortunately, sales have continued to trend downward since I made that post. I have my work cut out for me but I've got a lot of ideas and I believe in myself.
  21. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    For what it's worth... I'm actually making more money with my app at $0.99 than when it was $1.99 or (briefly) $2.99 since the higher number of sales at that price have kept it in the top 25 Productivity apps in the U.S. I'm not sure how long that will last, but I'm leaving it priced low for now.

    I also figure that the more people that buy it, the more people there are who will tell their family and friends about it. I haven't gotten a lot of press for my app - just the really good MacWorld review and a couple of other smaller reviews. So I'm relying on word of mouth, and MacRumors :D, quite a bit. (no love from Apple so far)

    Good luck with River of News and with your transition into indie life. I'm a little over a month in now and can't imagine going back to a 9 to 5 job despite the stress of not making as much money as I used to. It's amazing to be able to focus completely on your own creations - and for that I am very grateful.
  22. fernandovalente macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2008
    Third world **** hole, I mean, Brazil
    Most app developers make less than 20 bucks from each app. It's hard to get found when there are over 300k apps. Also, review sites take a few months to read your e-mail. I've made more than 1500 bucks, but it's not an easy job. If we could make 10 buck for each sale, that would be really good, but making 70c is not very profitable. You may have more luck than I have.

Share This Page