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The Almighty Buck Apple

Is the Apple App Store a Casino? 542

An anonymous reader writes "Fast Company takes a look at the Apple App Store and concludes that it's a casino where most developers are making tragic losses and a tiny few are striking it filthy rich. The article discusses a new book exposing the App Store millionaires, called 'Appillionaires,' which compares the psychological effects of a hit app on a programmer to a gambler's high. One millionaire programmer explains the intense feeling of being in the top-ten: 'The App Store had established some kind of intravenous connection to my body and was pumping me full of Apple-branded heroin.' But, the piece warns, the majority of developers fail to make any return on their app."
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Is the Apple App Store a Casino?

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  • by errandum ( 2014454 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:21PM (#37922522)

    Do not compare this to other software distributors. The 99$ tag that you HAVE to pay per year to have your app in the appstore make it extremely hard for anyone to be able to make a profit (especially when apple will take 30% of anything they sell). I won't go into the top-app lists that are most likelly rigged or anything like that, but if I make a software, host it on github and publicize it on facebook, I won't be loosing anything other than my time...

    In this case people loose actual money. And the "filthy rich" also raised the bar on what has to be done in order to sell, requiring each time bigger teams to do an acceptable game or application, while the price tag is still expected to be low.

    The whole ecosystem is flawed, and the only way to fix it would be for Apple (or any other distributor) to publicize good unknown apps. For Apple it'll be really easy, if they have to review every app, then they use every app. Having a ranking of the best apps they reviewed daily (or weekly) would give those with talent but without money a fighting chance. Steam tries to do this, but unfortunately Valve seems to be the exception and not the rule. :\

  • by pablodiazgutierrez ( 756813 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:31PM (#37922694) Homepage

    If you develop yet another puzzle game, you're up to compete with the Zingas of the world, and chances are you'll hit the wall. On the other hand, if you focus on solving real problems and using the advantages of the platform to improve your customer's life, you might be onto something. Case in point, Appfluence (disclaimer: I co-founded it). We make Priority Matrix, a productivity app for a niche market that highly values time savings and clarity of mind. We're nowhere near top 10 (although we've been close at times), but it's consistent income with a lot of potential.

  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:54PM (#37923060)
    Yes, it is ridiculous for Apple to charge anything. They are taking care of the distribution system, payment collection system, and maintaining the "store" (that little "walled garden" many on /. bemoan but users seem to be just fine with), and all the little headaches that come from maintaining all these things. That should be something they provide you for free since you are gracing them with your app to sell. Do you think you could provide all these things for yourself for $99?

    If you want visibility, market your product. It isn't Apple's job to give every new app top billing in the store.

    Of course, for the unsuccessful developers the story is clear. They had a technically superior product that the market would have rushed to if somehow Apple hadn't screwed them.

    The idea here isn't to be an Apple fan. The goal is to ask for a bit of honesty. Quit focusing on all that Apple doesn't give you. Your $99 is not without return.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:07PM (#37923260) Journal

    In the gold rush, the merchants got rich, because they had things people actually needed and used, as opposed to some metal ore which has limited use.

    People taking Bit coins for transactions of REAL products and services are going to be the ones that end up rich That is, if bitcoins ever take off.

  • by thejaq ( 2495514 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:09PM (#37923276)
    I hear variations on this claim quite frequently.
    Here are several links that dispute your recollection.
    http://smallbiztrends.com/2008/04/startup-failure-rates.html [smallbiztrends.com]
    http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/news/coladvice/ask/sa990930.htm [businessweek.com]
    http://blog.globalbx.com/2008/10/06/small-business-statistics-and-failure-rates/ [globalbx.com]
    A collection of results that span from your estimation to the inverse, http://www.moyak.com/papers/small-business-statistics.html [moyak.com]
    There also seems to be many discussions on the myth of high failure rates. for example, http://www.bnet.com/blog/business-myths/why-the-small-business-failure-rate-is-90-percent-smoke-and-mirrors/117 [bnet.com]

    This certainly isn't rigorous, but my 3 minute Internet estimation is that you are broadly incorrect. Apparently, the notion of failure is complicated. Failures appear to be inversely proportional to seed capital. It varies substantially with race and industry. And the definition of failure may include businesses that close for reasons other than financial inviability.
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:09PM (#37923292) Homepage Journal

    These were the same dorks who pushed the "internet boom" in the 90's, claiming that every new startup, no matter how fucked their business plan was, was a "gold mine". We even had a parody called "F*cked Company" which daily documented all the businesses failing in Silicon Alley (NYC) during the bust period of 2000 to 2002.

    They have a lot of nerve to call the App Store a "casino", when they are the lapdogs of the stock market.

  • by n01 ( 693310 ) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @03:38PM (#37924506)
    The "App Store lottery". That's what I keep reading on developer forums. But except for buying a ticket you have to work really hard creating an app or game.

    I hope to hit the jackpot with my newest app called Acoustic Ruler Pro which lets you measure distances of up to 25 meters (82 feet) by clocking the time delay of the emitted sound waves.

    Here are two short videos showing what the app can do: http://iqtainment.wordpress.com/acoustic-ruler/ [wordpress.com].