Apple has discovered a strange trend: small developers are earning twice as much as before

A survey by the Analysis Group institute, commissioned by Apple, reveals that the turnover of “small developers” has increased by 113% since 2019. It is the French who are doing the best.

Let’s be clear, the publication of a new positive study on the App Store, at a time when authorities around the world are questioning the future of the application store, is in no way trivial. A few weeks after revealing that iPhone users preferred Spotify to Apple Music and Google Maps to Apple Maps, Apple, through the institute Analysis Group, is now revealing figures on the small developer economy, on 25 May 2022. Once again, we discover the positive side of the App Store. The app store also benefits small developers, despite its 15% or 30% commission. This kind of study is important for Apple which, thanks to these results, has what it takes to defend itself against those who want to crack its economic model.

What is a small developer?

To carry out its new study, Apple invented a new definition, that of the “small developer”. While the brand may have used this expression in the past, it only affected developers with less than $1 million in annual revenue. In his new study, the term no longer designates the same thing. A “small developer” must now:

  • earn less than $1 million in the year prior to the study,
  • have less than 1 million downloads in the year preceding the study,
  • have at least 1,000 downloads over the year preceding the study,
  • offer a paid or free application with in-app purchases.

This new definition allows Apple to exclude from its calculation developers with tiny applications, reserved for example for a company. We also only take into account developers who offer purchases directly from its payment engine, which makes it possible to highlight the App Store.

France leads the way. // Source: Analytics Group

The funny effect of the pandemic

Apple’s study questions the business of small developers between 2019 and 2021. These years were chosen for a simple reason: one precedes the pandemic, the other accompanies the start of economic recovery. Several hypotheses are then possible: have the developers lost in turnover, gained in turnover or have they returned to the previous level?

This is precisely the surprise of this study: the income of small developers is up 113% on a global scale (France is even the first nation in the world, with an increase of 122%). This is remarkable, even if we would have liked to know more about the distribution of these increases (one wonders in particular if the biggest increases did not take place during confinement). Either way, Apple’s message is this: Developers make a lot of money from the App Store.

Excerpt from Apple study. // Source: Apple / Analysis Group

How to explain such a progression? Several answers are cited in the study, such as the fact that the pandemic has invented new uses (we think of fitness applications or video software like Zoom for example). Have developers had new ideas during the pandemic, to the point of doubling their income? It’s possible.

In its study, Apple also indicates that almost half of the developers who earn more than a million dollars a year today (45% of them precisely) did not offer applications on the App Store there is 5 years. Will this trend continue or is it just temporary? In any case, it reveals a significant evolution of the App Store, which revives innovation. The big developers also earn more than before, but in half the proportions.

A communication before the WWDC

On June 6, Apple organizes its big developer conference. Like last year, the brand knows that it will be particularly scrutinized by the political world. With this communication, the company offers itself a little light. The App Store may pose competitive problems, but it is also the source of a huge economy on a global scale. In France alone, the brand says it has enabled the creation of 300,000 jobs thanks to App Store. Would it be different if the big bad sideloading (the ability to install applications outside the App Store) was allowed?

Our articles on the Apple WWDC 2022 conference

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