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Disposable iPhone apps

Is the iPhone a successful platform for developers if most of the 60,000 plus apps aren't profitable? ...

With more than 60,000 applications on the iPhone platform many industry pundits have proclaimed it a big hit. But is it a hit if very few of those developers are making money?

Adam Martin, a U.K.-based online game consultant, began surveying iPhone developers in May about their experiences creating iPhone applications and has just posted some initial results on his blog T-Machine.

Martin surveyed 100 development teams, received 85 usable responses, and found that 52% of the developers had earned less than $15,000 for their efforts and 33% earned less than $250.

For those bringing in more significant sums, the breakdown is as follows:

2%, $15,001-$50,000
1%, $50,001-$100,000
1%, $100,001-$250,000
1%, $500,001-$2,000,000
About 38% did not disclose revenue.

Tech Startups 3.0: infoweek: Apple iPhone Developers Mostly Don't Make Much Money

Surely a successful apps platform is one where reasonable numbers of developers are making money. Otherwise no one can afford to develop new applications -- it's not a sustainable business model.

But, if it is so easy to develop iPhone apps then maybe we should think of them as blog posts, says Steve Paine, editor of UMPC Portal.

"You keep producing iPhone apps such as games, and then they might become a hit for a few days and then they go away," he says. And he has a good point, iPhone, and also other mobile phone apps can become disposable. Like blog posts, they would have a finite lifespan.

However, there is the issue of marketing. Getting attention for your iPhone app, or any other mobile platform app will become ever more harder as more are developed. Apple might like the fact that it has tens of thousands of people essentially working for free in creating lots of apps but if most of the developers can't make money then the iPhone won't be a successful apps platform.