Most App Revenue Goes to Only 25 Developers

Apple makes a big deal about how much money it sends to app developers, more than the GDP of many countries, but it turns out that more than half of the money goes to only 25 developers. More interesting is that nearly all of the top 25 are game developers.

Canalys released the report and The Register found some interesting tidbits. Like:

All but one of those top 25 earners were game developers, including Disney, Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Glu, Kabam, Rovio, Storm8, and Zynga, among others.

Exception—Pandora—they are the only developer in the top 25 who isn’t making games. What’s the secret to this domination of the app world? Franchises, tie-ins, and deep, deep catalogues:

For example, Rovio currently markets eight different variants of its Angry Birds franchise through the Google Play store, in addition to spinoffs such as Bad Piggies. Electronic Arts, on the other hand, publishes some 962 games for iOS, either under its own brand or those of its subsidiaries.

This can be frustrating for small, indie shops who make great apps, but have a hard time rising to the top. As The Register and Canalys point out, app discovery in the App store is still rather bad. If you’re looking for the right app for anything, it’s hard to find the the most recently updated, best-rated app in a category. Lots of chaff, not much wheat.

Given the huge volume of apps available in both major app stores, developers who don’t already have a strong brand presence will find it increasingly difficult to crack the market, the company says, citing discoverability as a particular problem.

The solution isn’t an easy one. I’d say “hey pitch us on your app!” directly to me (tris [at] or through our tip line and we’ll cover it, but the reality is, as much as we’d like to cover every app we think is interesting (or even awesome), we can’t. There just isn’t time in the day to do it. Heck, still pitch us, we just can’t say 100% “oh yeah we’ll write about your app…”.

Apple acquired Chomp to improve discoverability in the App Store, but I don’t think we’ve really seen the fruits of that yet (even in iTunes 11). What do you think? How can small app developers get a bigger slice of the pie?

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