How to make money on iPhone App Store – Trism developer spills

September 22, 2008

How to make money on iPhone App Store - Trism developer spillsThe Apple iTunes App Store has been a phenomenal success, with 100 million downloads taking place in just the first 60 days of operation. The iPhone and iPod Touch Software Development Kit has made it possible for anyone to become an application developer, and some of these independent developers are making an absolute fortune. So, how do they do it?

Last month saw Steve Jobs announce that the Apple App Store had reached the 100 million downloads milestone, a phenomenal number in such a short space of time. But, as well as making Apple even more revenue than it already does, this means those independent developers are also in the money, with some set to become millionaires.

Wired tells the story of Steve Demeter, developer of iPhone game Trism which sells for $5 a pop on the App Store. He spent about $5,000 developing the game, and now, just two months after the App Store went live, he has made $250,000 from it. That’s after he’s subtracted the development costs and paid Apple its (some would say) extortionate cut of 30%.

It’s projected that Demeter could make around $2 million from Trism by the middle of next year, which isn’t bad for a Bejeweled clone.

Demeter actually released Trism as a free application in the jailbreak community before the App Store enabled him to monetize the endeavour. Which is exactly what Tap Tap Revenge also did, allowing a loyal fan base to build slowly before the official release of the game on the App Store. This seems to be a good place to start, allowing people with hacked iPhones to act as beta testers for the final product.

Demeter also insists that the reasons Trism has been so successful where others have failed are: unique gameplay; high replay value; an online leaderboard to help build up a community.

The already mentioned Tap Tap Revenge is actually a free download, a fact which helped the music-rhythm game hit 1 million downloads in just two weeks. The profits for the makers are now only just being realised, with advertisements being placed in the game and a premium version being prepared for release.

To have a hit on the iPhone App Store involves a certain amount of luck, but increasing the likelihood of making big money means having a great product, and marketing it effectively. Whether that marketing involves nothing more than just word of mouth, or something more hands-on is just one of the choices any budding app developer will have to make.

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12 Responses to “How to make money on iPhone App Store – Trism developer spills”

  1. MN:

    $5 dollars an app is the way to become wealthy, however just like Demeter, he was only noticed because APPLE saw his game and moved it to the top 10 pick list. So the key here is, there are now too many apps, and if APPLE overlooks your work, you are not going to get many buyers, so one most make a program the standouts.

    Also, adverts in games do not bring in much revenue and there is no way to find out of its effective other then if they clicked the ad to visit the companies website. This is why facebook even when focusing their ads on peoples profiles, is failing to bring in money to pay the bills.

  2. Lamont Adair:

    Apple would be smart to start charging developers to move there apps to the top of the list, they certainly would make some extra revenue. Or even they can setup a function where you bid on various keywords to get your app to the top of the list kind of how google does it with bidding on key words!

  3. BigManta:

    We’re still in just the very beginning stages with mobile applications and the ability to make money with them. I’m sure that over the course of even the next few months we’ll be seeing people post even larger figures as penetration grows.

  4. How To Income From I-Phone Apps:

    For the average person who want to know how to make money with iphone applications, the process is strategic, intentional, and straight forward. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

    1. Develop an app that is focused, practical, and small in size. The smaller the app file, the faster it will run and the more enticing it is to potential buyers. If the app is too big, buyers might not have room for it on their iPhone, causing fewer people to buy it, and you might not make as much money with your iPhone app.

    Avoid letting extra features sneak into your app. If they are important, save them, and after the initial release of your app, release a premium version with the extra features. This will allow you to sell the simpler release (for those who need a smaller app), but also have a more extensive app that you can charge more for.

    Keep it small, keep it simple, and create an app that people can use over and over again.
    2. Submit your app to the Apple Web App Directory. Apple’s Web app directory is the premiere listing of the newest applications. You won’t find much traffic on other directories, so you should submit to the Apple directory. Once you submit, wait for Apple to review your app. This review is merely to see if your app is usable and functions correctly.

    Once Apple reviews your app – which takes about a day – they’ll put your app at the top of their chronological list. You’ll get a lot of hits for the first few days because of your app’s place at the top of the directory list. This is the most crucial part of your total revenue because it’s when your app will be seen the most and you will make the most money with iPhone apps.
    3. Resubmit your App. Apple will relist your app at the top of the directory if you resubmit your app with revisions. Fill out a resubmission form and fill out the “What’s New” section. Even if your revisions are small and simple, you should still resubmit your product. This will increase visibility, placing you at the top of the directory list once again.

    Always resubmit your app on a Thursday or Friday. Apple doesn’t list apps during weekends, so the ones listed on Thursday and Friday stay at the top of the list the longest.

    All of these steps WILL help your iPhone app gain exposure and buyers, but they don’t guarantee the success of your product. You MUST have a compelling, concise, practical, and efficient app. If your app fits this mold and you follow these steps, you will have success. The key is coming up with a good idea, but the trick is showing your app to the world once it is created. If you can do this, you will make money with your iPhone apps.

  5. Gabriel:

    Don’t make enough money with your iPhone Games on the App. Store?

    Don’t let months or weeks of hard work go to waste! SIO2 Interactive is proud to introduce the SIO2 STORE (, a unique place for Publishers and Developers to exchange iPhone Game Source Code, 2D/3D assets for iPhone games and more!

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  6. iphone developer:

    Cool article. Its definitely awesome to see small developers making small fortunes from the app store.

  7. Louena Winslet:

    The real and a true run-time article, i admire the information it provided me!

  8. Rocky:

    HI frds,
    i Have released one application in appstore 2 months back.It is paid application , how to get that downloaded money.I dont know the procesure, can anyone help me out to get my money.

  9. Smallpawn:

    @Rocky: Does the money made pay for at list the iPhone license?

  10. Yan Azua:

    Ajith, you seems to be doing well with blorge now, most of your banner slot have been sold out, cool! I’ve been using blorge quite a few months and it brings me about $150 billion per month.

  11. Thomas:

    How much traffic are you getting to those pages on page 1 of Google? You can be on page 1 and still not get much traffic. It depends on the keywords you are ranked for.

  12. Lesley Audie:

    A insightful post right there mate ! Cheers for it .

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