How Much is a Top App Really Worth?

Paul Lilly

If you're a budding developer hoping to get rich by submitting a killer application to the iPhone App Store, keep reading. Or better yet, don't keep reading - far be it for us to take a pin to your balloon with silly statistics and likely scenarios.

For those of you still following along (and planning to retire in month or two once everyone buys your app), don't say you weren't warned. The cold reality is you're not likely to make much bank by selling apps, and what little you might make will take a lot of work. How hard can it possibly be? Just ask Rick Strom, one of the many registered iPhone developers with nearly 20 apps under his belt, three of which are on the chart. These include Zen Jar (#34, paid), Spirit Board (#36, free), and Spirit Board Pro (#95, paid).

"With two apps on the paid charts, one would assume I’m rolling in dough. After all, this is a gold rush, right?," Rick Strom wrote in his blog. "The reality is much more startling. In order to place #34 on the social networking charts, you need 30-35 downloads a day. At the standard app store pricing of .99, and after Apple takes its cut, that means your app needs to bring in a little over $20 a day to chart at that position."

By Strom's math, you'll need to make just $4/day to break into the top 100, and the overwhelming majority of the other 36,000 apps are doing "absolutely nothing. They aren't selling at all."

Strom has plenty more to say on the topic right here .

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