The 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.