Indie Poll Position: The Results Show

Last week I conducted a survey of the independent developers that read the idevblogaday feed.  47 of you responded.  The results were interesting and pretty much inline with what I was thinking they would be.  That is… you can’t quite make a living off of being an independent developer just yet.

Here’s the results:

How long have you been an app store independent developer?

Over 60% of us have been doing this for at least 6 months. 2/3rds of those for 1 to 2 years. So in App Store time frame, the majority of us are old timers. 🙂

Which best describes your independent developer status?

Almost half are doing this as a part-time job.  The other half is closely split between full-time and hobbyist.

What is your age?

More than half are between the ages of 20-30.  I’m definitely on the extreme old side of the scale. 🙁

How many hours a week do you individually spend working on your apps?

This was pretty split across the board with the 1-5, 5-10, 10-20, and 20-40 hour ranges.  6 people actually work over 40 hours a week and 1 person less than 1 hour.

How many people are on your team?

About 70% of us are doing this on our own.  No one had over 5 people on their team.  So truly an independent response.

How many apps do you have in the app store?

A little over a third of us have 2-5 apps in the store.  But surprisingly, almost another third have no apps in the store yet.  No one had over 20 apps (so no sweat shops reporting in).

How much have you made on your most successful PAY app?

Except for those who don’t have any pay apps in the store, the next highest group was those that have made under $1,000.  Here’s where the disparity (and luck of the draw in the app store) comes in.  Because we then have several groups with the same percentage who made $1,000-$5,000, $20,000-$50,000, $50,000-$100,000, and >$100,000.

How many downloads does your most successful FREE app have?

40% of us don’t have free apps (surprising, since it seems to be one of the best marketing tools IMHO).  What’s interesting is that 10% have 200,000-500,000 downloads and another 10% have over >$500,000 downloads.  Imagine what you could do if you can turn 10% of those into real sales?  I attribute some of these high numbers to the free app a day sites (at least that’s been my experience).

What is your average income for all your apps per day?

Now this is downright depressing.  Almost half of us make less than $10 a day doing this.  Again, the disparity kicks in because we then have developers making $100-$500 at the next highest level.  There are 2 lucky ones making over $500 a day.

What is the highest app store overall ranking of your most successful PAY app?

Beside those that don’t have a pay app or didn’t know what their ranking was, a lot of us have moved up to the top 50 at some point. 1 of you reached #1 (congrats!).

What is the highest app store overall ranking of your most successful FREE app?

Again, of those that don’t have a free app or don’t know what their ranking is, the results are about the same.  However 3 of you did make it to #1.

How many submissions (updates included) have you made to the app store?

This was pretty evenly split with the same amount having 0, 1-5, 5-10, 10-20, and 20-30 app submissions.

How many of those submissions have been rejected?

It seems that over half of us have receive at least 1 rejection.  But that means half of us have never been rejected (myself included — well… there was that one time when they were picking teams for dodge ball…)

How much do you spend on marketing per year?

Indies are cheap!  Over 80% of us spend under $200 a year for marketing.  Of course there is 7% spending over $2,500.  Maybe they’re the ones making over $100,000 a year on their apps?

Do you use the Apple Forums?

65% of us use the Apple Forums.  I usually try to make a daily visit (mostly to the Distribution/App Store section) to see the status of the App Store and any issues that might be affecting sales.

Have you been featured by Apple?

3/4ths of us have never been featured by Apple.  But hey… that means Apple has featured 1/4th of the indies, not bad.

Do you get more than 5 support questions a week?

3/4ths of us don’t get asked a lot of support questions.  I’m personally adding a feedback button in my latest app to see if that helps.

What are your most successful marketing tools (pick all that apply)?

Word of mouth seems to be the biggest marketing tool.  This might be one good reason to give the free app a day sites a try.

Do you develop for other platforms beside iOS?

Over half of us don’t develop for other platforms.  If Adobe had been allowed to get their iPhone targeting platform out there, I would guess this would be higher (at least that was the path I was gonna take to get to Android — or should I say from Android back to the iPhone).

Do you really own a legitimate copy of Photoshop?

Half of us don’t have Photoshop (or at least a legitimate copy… I guess I worded it wrong).  So what is everyone using?  I use GIMP myself.  Except that OpenFeint, Apple, and probably most marketing firms request PSD files, so it might be worth the investment.

So… pretty interesting results.  I think it shows that there is a huge disparity in the App Store.  Some people are making money.  Most are not.  I’m still taking my chances that someday I’ll get recognized.  But until then… I gotta get off to my “real” job.

Next week I’ll get back to writing something technical.  I’ve been really busy getting all the marketing stuff together for Jiggle Balls HD for the iPad.  Hopefully by this time next week it’ll be in the App Store.  Until then…


4 Responses to “Indie Poll Position: The Results Show”

  1. Christopher Waite on August 25th, 2010 9:38 am

    I really enjoyed participating in the questionnaire and you have some interesting results.

    On the final point regarding Photoshop – I used to use GIMP but disliked that it isn’t native. I now use Photoshop Elements (and Opacity f or vector graphics).

    I highly recommend trying Photoshop Elements (£60). Its a good alternative to its rather expensive older brother and to be honest I think that only highly experienced designers will miss the advanced features.

    Its pitched at photographers but if you enable the full controls (a tab that you can’t miss) its more than adequate for asset creation.

  2. Dad on August 26th, 2010 11:23 am

    Interesting! Do you not have a way to correlate the sales figures with advertising spent? That seems like really important information. The second most important correlation I’d like to know is time spent and income.

    It seems like you should be able to make these correlations without too much trouble. If statistics is not in your quiver, put the raw data up and we’ll do the stats. You’ll need to have each respondents answers together but, obviously no personal information.

  3. Doug on August 26th, 2010 1:06 pm

    Let me see what I can do and still keep everything anonymous. I’m busy with my current release, but as I find time I’ll see if I can get the data in a format you can use.

  4. Gregory Meach on August 26th, 2010 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the poll, good information. I also checked that I didn’t own a copy of Photoshop but you didn’t ask if that’s what we use 😉 I have used GIMP but recently switched over and have found Pixen to be just great!

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