There's been a fair amount of talk lately about whether it's still sustainable to be an indie developer. The short answer is yes, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I think most developers will agree it's now harder than ever to make a living on the App Store.
The peak for indies on the App Store was around 2013. It was much easier back then to launch a financially successful app. Things have changed. The larger, more established companies now take the lions share of revenue. This is particularly true for games on the iOS App Store, less so on the Mac. However, we need to face the facts that this is what happens when a market matures, the bigger companies take over and make it harder for the little guys to get a foothold in the market.
App Store revenue and chart position
I was prompted to write this post and share some of Realmac's figures after seeing Sam Soffes post launch numbers for his new app, Redacted on the Mac. Redacted got to #8 in the paid charts on launch day, yet it made just $302 after Apples 30%. Judging by the reaction on Twitter a lot of people were shocked by this. Redacted appeared high up in the charts because of the surge in downloads, it's chart position was not sustained so sales were lower than they should have been.
However, #8 in the paid charts on the Mac App Store has never really been that great. As Daniel Jalkut rightly pointed out, it's not about being in the top paid charts, it's about being in the top grossing charts.
I thought it would be useful to share the revenue numbers for Realmac Software's apps on the same day as Redacted was launched. I hope this inspires other developers to also share some numbers so we can build up a more complete picture of the current App Store economy on both Mac and iOS.
Below is the app revenue for a single day — 6 May 2015. It's a snapshot in time. There was nothing special about yesterday's numbers, it was just another day. We've had much better, and we've had much worse.
Note: All App Store figures are after Apple has taken their 30% cut. Clear revenue is also split with Helftone and Impending.
Clear for iOS $4.99
- App Store Sales: $853.60
- Productivity Paid: 3rd / Grossing: 14th
- Top Paid: 65th / Grossing: 373rd
Clear for Mac $9.99
- App Store Sales: $454.13
- Productivity Paid: 3rd / Grossing: 8th
- Top Paid: 15th / Grossing: 35th
Ember for Mac $49.99
- App Store Sales: $66.04
- Direct Sales: $49.99
- Direct Upgrade: $22.35
- Graphics & Design Paid: 101st / Grossing: 72nd
- Top Paid: N/A / Grossing N/A
RapidWeaver for Mac $89.99
- Direct Sales: $855.03
- Direct Upgrade: $699.69
Typed for Mac $29.99
- Direct Sales:$29.99
I don't think it's a good idea to rely solely on App Store revenue to run your business. The App Store is amazing, but you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. For example, Realmac Software has a number of other revenue streams that help keep the company running. These include ads, subscriptions, crowdfunding, and affiliate schemes.
Why would you put the fate of your success in the hands of search and chart ranking algorithms that you have little understanding of and zero control over?
- Redacted for Mac launch
- Making it as an Indie Developer
- 4 Years of Success and Failure on the App Store
Inquisitive episode #37: Behind the App #11: The Future is very topical and worth a listen if you want to hear more about the struggles indie developers are currently facing on the App Store.