The "app economy" continues to be a job -- or business -- generator. For its part, Apple reports that its own App Store is responsible for close to 300,000 jobs in the US alone, up 39% from a year ago. In addition, the vendor says it has paid out $6.5 billion to its network of registered developers. However, making a full-time living writing apps may still pay less than minimum wage for most.
Apple reports that with more than 700,000 apps and more than 35 billion downloads in four years, "the App Store has created an entirely new industry: iOS app design and development." This includes the creation of at least 291,250 iOS jobs to the U.S. economy since the introduction of iPhone in 2007, the vendor estimates. The vendor also reports that nearly 6000 iOS developer jobs are available now on job search aggregator Indeed.com.
In addition, Apple reports it has paid more than $6.5 billion in royalties to developers through the App Store.
However, being an Apple iOS developer isn't quite the path to riches, at least yet. As David Streitfeld reports in The New York Times, a majority of app developers are making somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000-$5,000 a year from their apps. "With hundreds of new apps introduced every day in Apple’s store, the field is overcrowded," Streitfeld writes.
It may be that the app market has seen its initial rush of the more simple, social or game-type apps, and now, it takes more sophisticated apps to succeed -- such as apps providing analytics and enhanced mobile capabilities for on-the-road professionals. Streitfeld cites the example of echoBase, a start-up that is developing apps to allow doctors and nurses to view and update medical records across different computer systems.
A survey of 252 developers by Streaming Color Studios found a quarter of the respondents said they had made less than $200 in lifetime revenue from Apple. A quarter had made more than $30,000, and 4% had made over $1 million.
A separate study issued at the beginning of the year by TechNet estimates that the app economy generated close to 500,000 jobs worldwide. Around the same time, Mark Maunder, founder and CEO of Feedjit, calculated the potential income a developer shop could make from posting an app at the Apple App Store could run about $4,000 to $8,000 in total to its publisher. He bases this calculation on the $3.64 average price for each paid apps, along with 244,720 paid apps, published by 85,569 unique developers.
There usually is a 70-30 split in profits between the publisher and the app store, and these venues provide platforms from which developers can sell apps without the need for their own distribution channels. However, getting noticed among hundreds of thousands of apps can be a challenge.
Still, in an economy increasingly driven by technology and mobility, there is a need for diverse talent -- to supply solutions. The entrepreneurial nature of the app economy provides a market mechanism that helps meet that need.
(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)