Just in time for the start of CES, Apple issues a press release:
Apple today announced that customers have downloaded over 40 billion apps [a footnote makes it clear that this is "40 billion unique downloads excluding re-downloads and updates"], with nearly 20 billion in 2012 alone. … Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services [said], “Developers have made over seven billion dollars on the App Store…”
That’s an average of 17.5 cents per download. And the number is decreasing. Back in 2011 it was more than 20 cents per download, leading GigaOm to conclude “The average iOS app publisher isn’t making much money.”
Apple’s PR trumpets a handful of success stories, but like so many digital content scenarios the real story is in the long tail.
If I were a software developer today, this would not make me feel good. In fact, it would probably send me out looking for a nice safe corporate gig where I could build free apps on behalf of some big brand.