Just about any iPhone app developer you speak with will complain that getting their app noticed and driving downloads is as hard as developing an app in the first-place. There are immense flaws in the iTunes App Store model and they have been obvious since the app marketplace’s inception.
Most of the most beautiful and useful apps get buried deep in the muck of obscurity, never to be found by the customers that need them most. Discoverability is the issue at hand and this problem appears to be getting worse over time as more and more apps are submitted daily. App Store download figures speak volumes about how fierce competition mixed with a flawed marketplace can lead to disaster.
According to TechCrunch, “An iPhone app needed 23,000 free downloads per day to reach spot number 50 in the top Free charts in the Apple App Store… For paid applications, that number was 25 times lower, at 950 downloads. Meanwhile, to reach the #50 spot in top Grossing charts, an app needed daily revenue of $12,000.”
To vault into the top 10 “free” chart rankings an app will need to average more than 70,000 downloads per day. To move up the rankings into the top 10 Grossing list you’ll need to be raking in at least $47,000 in gross revenues per day. As an iPhone app developer in New York City many mobile publishers I’ve spoken to have complained that Apple’s app marketplace disproportionately rewards those apps that make it to the top of the store rankings. Apps that make it into the top 25 rankings constitute a fraction of a percent of the overall app marketplace, yet they receive a majority of all downloads.
The flawed marketplace has mainly benefited iPhone and iPad app developers with deep pockets that can afford to splurge vast amounts of money on marketing and driving downloads through paid channels like Facebook mobile and banner ads. Meanwhile indie developers are quickly getting squeezed out of the formally thriving marketplace that they helped to create.