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Apple: $10B In App Store Sales In 2013, $15B Paid Out To Developers To Date (techcrunch.com)
58 points by ibsathish 1354 days ago | hide | past | web | 67 comments | favorite

Well my $50 of this was blown on my wife and kids' 3 iPads buying in app upgrades for apps that were supposedly free but weren't and paying cash for apps that supposedly block ads but don't and apps that transfer files that don't work. Oh and games that crash all the time.

I suspect this is the case for a chunk of that $10B.

Really not impressed with the whole ecosystem and will not be investing further in it.

Edit: to clarify. They didn't buy the apps, I did. No in app purchases were made at all by anyone. The reviews are hopeless - unlike amazon for example there are no reviews or ratings of the reviews so you cant determine the difference between idiot reviewers and idiot developers until you've paid for it. Ad blocking is to stop the piles of malicious and idiotic pages forcing popups and apps down on you like its 1998 again. User alexpenny found a reference to this below - thanks: http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/06/shady-app-install-ads-are-a...

Edit 2: it appears HN has limited my efforts to defend myself in replies...

Edit 3: this is happening only on iOS devices. I don't have any android devices. This does not happen on any of my desktop machines running Firefox + AdBlock Edge. In fact I get no popups or install attempts at all and never have done.

Sounds like there's a mysterious issue wrt your situation, because all of those things are obvious even to near tech-illiterate people.

Apps can offer in app purchases (that's a feature), and they prompt you for your approval and password when you install something that costs. There are also parental controls to further restrict this. To complaint about this is like letting your 6 year old drive your car and complain that he wrecked it like it's the car company's fault.

Also, why you'd even attempt to find "apps that supposedly block ads" is beyond me. Have you even read anywhere that those work with iOS? Apps are in frigging sandboxes.

Plus, those apps CHOSE to be offered for free WITH ads. It wouldn't be ethical to the developer to take ads off of those apps in the first place, even if you could. Sounds like a totally cheapskate-y move.

As for "games that crash all the time" you do know that there are tons of quality titles for iOS right, even for huge companies like EA? You don't have to download every el cheapo (or "free with ads" you'll then try to block) game and then complaint. If one cannot trust oneself to access an app before buying, there are review sites. Thousands of those. Plus user ratings on the app store itself and lists of top and recommended apps.

>I suspect this is the case for a chunk of that $10B.

A very small chunk, and I doubt a chunk that has anything to do with any hacker proper.

The prompt and parental controls were added only after lots of complaints and a class-action suit involving minors purchasing IAPs and apps:


Since parent didn't supply a date, it's possible he was recounting experiences before the changes were made.

> Plus, those apps CHOSE to be offered for free WITH ads. It wouldn't be ethical to the developer to take ads off of those apps in the first place, even if you could.

As a user I'm not going to allow your app to waste my limited data plan with ads, learn to cache them, or do something clever when the device is connected via wifi.

If you don't want ads then don't use the app. It's not your God-given right to use an app that a developer worked hard to create.

If you want to display ads in your app, you can display ads promoting your products, or sell ads by yourself, this is what I meant with "do something clever when connected via wifi".

Maybe in the country you live the mobile internet is cheap and unmetered, but the appstore is international, if you don't want to deal with international users, you are free to lock your app by region. It's not your God-given right to use the user's data plan as you wish, even worse, in some countries you are going to waste your user's money in many orders of magnitude to perceive a cent (or less) for a banner.

If you are not going to care about your users, then don't complain about users not caring about your efforts.

>As a user I'm not going to allow your app to waste my limited data plan with ads, learn to cache them, or do something clever when the device is connected via wifi.

You have the option to NOT use the app. You are not entitled to free ad-less apps created by other people's toil, anyway.

I didn't said that I want an ad-less app, I said that I don't want to have ad traffic wasting precious megabytes, not everyone lives in a country with cheap internet.

For various reasons, ads can not be easily cached.

Ad networks impose their restrictions, but if you can guarantee an amount of impressions, you can start selling ads by yourself.

Regarding your edit, did you notice it's happening on Google Play too and has nothing to do with Apple or Google?

Bad ads serving malware are a problem on desktop just as much as on mobile.

The App Store states that an app "Offers In App Purchases".

Parental controls are there. It's your own fault.

I don't enforce parental controls. This is about banner ads and web sites forcing you to download apps from the app store.

No web site "forces" you to download apps from the app store.

That has fuck-all to do with Apple.

Quora uses shitty UI dark patterns on the desktop, too.

> I suspect this is the case for a chunk of that $10B.

Why? AppStore sales keep going up year after year. That would suggest most people have a good experience. I think most people might have more realistic expectations. Your gripes are basically with software in general. Occasionally you get a dud app, crashy game, or otherwise regret a purchase. This has been my experience with software for the last I dunno 25 years or so. It takes some effort to find the good software for any platform. We all put up with it because we know there is very good software out there. It's worth the effort to seek it out.

There are plenty of sensible parental controls you can put in place. You have nobody to blame but yourself.

  You have nobody to blame but yourself.
Which is why Apple settled their class action on this subject, and as a direct result altered the appstore to mark free apps with IAP as such.

I don't enforce parental controls (restrictions). They are too old for that crap.

However I don't want adverts in web pages that have detected an iPad forever redirecting to the app store. Then when you switch back to safari they reload and back to the app store app again unless you are quick.

It's like the bad old days of the Internet again playing banner whack a mole.

This has been a recent phenomenon, that as of yesterday started gaining public acknowledgment.


Malicious ads on ad networks are hardly a recent phenomenon.

You can download (free) browser apps, Terra for instance, that spoof the browser useragent (ie, firefox, another one iirc).

I think you misunderstood the OP. The problem is not that his kids bought things behind his back.

Gotta' read reviews before you buy anything on the app store.

On them, not by them.

I think there's two, pretty obvious, ways to look at any marketplace, as the consumer or the producer. Yes, consumers complain about the x,y and z aspect of everything and anything in every marketplace.

But as a creator of software, you can't deny the figures. Compared to all other marketplaces, both business to consumer and business to business, far more revenue flows through Apple's, that's clear to see.

You have to be affected by this as a producer. Although, there's clearly heavy competition and marketing is tough and expensive, there's a lot of money that can technically be made.

I suspect the total Android marketplace revenues are accelerating quite hard also, but this underlines another thing I'm beginning to see with marketplaces, B2C can work, B2B seems much, much harder.

I've seen in two B2B marketplaces, Atlassian's [0] and the Google Apps Marketplace [1] that the majority of customers of the core products stick to that core product and avoid third-party products from the respective marketplaces (that's a gut feeling for GAM, there are some figures for Atlassian I saw end of last year confirming that). I seem to remember Atlassian saying about $10M had been paid out to devs up to last October.

Yes, I know that businesses have far higher thresholds to trust third-party additions, but I can't help feeling that if you're creating a product whose main channel will be a marketplace, to favour B2C over B2B. I'm always saying to think about B2B sales more, the margins are way better, generally, but this is the first exception I've found.

The AWS marketplace [2] is something of a hybrid of the two modes. Anyone have much experience of it? I've never used it myself.

[0] https://marketplace.atlassian.com/home/confluence

[1] https://www.google.com/enterprise/marketplace/

[2] https://aws.amazon.com/marketplace

$15B paid out to developers, while the ecosystem is the one what keeps an $500B company on the top - this does not seem to be that much.

Look how much 20+ billion revenue is compared to other companies. The iOS division of apple could be one of the largest companies in the world on its own.

$15B for devs since the ecosystem was created (with most of the growth recent) does not compare to the lifetime value investors place on the entire company.

$15B is two aircraft carriers. In less time to build one.

Well Apple did go from a $81B market cap when then app store was first introduced to the $500B market cap of today.

Arguably that was due to the success of iOS. I don't think it's ridiculous to suggest that the app ecosystem contributed to that.

you just compared aircraft carriers and a electronic/software company.

It's not a complete comparison, just comparing the impacts of deca-billion capital expenditures.

But you're right they're completely different in a lot of ways. Apple "builds" more than one aircraft carrier a year (in total cap ex spending), the US Government takes ~10 years to spend the same money to build one.

its 30%, devs know it and agree to it. Doesnt make much sense to compare the money paid out to the hype affected stock price.

It's quite ironic to see Apple and fans trumpet big numbers, in sales, in downloads, etc.

It used to be the other way around, Microsoft bragging while Apple and fans claiming that quality was more important than quantity.

The rise of in-app purchase seems like quite a threat to Apple's ecosystem. If the app is free and cross-platform, and you can buy the in-game currency on whatever device, Android or iOS, where'd the lock-in go?

And since pretty much the whole top-grossing list is free with in-app-purchase, that is definitely where most of this money is.

If the cost of In App currency is the same between iOS and Android what is the incentive for the user to put down their iOS device, pickup an Android device to make the purchase, and then switch back?

Even if the developers segment their customers and make In App currency "cheaper" on Android because Android users have a reputation of not paying as much as iOS users it still sounds like a pain in the ass for marginal gain on the end users part.

I can't imagine this happening often enough to threaten platform lock in or meaningfully skew platform monetization statistics.

I'm talking about the kind of platform lock-in where your next phone needs to be an iPhone because your last one was, or where you buy an iPad because you have an iPhone and you don't have to buy the apps again. That's the kind of lock-in that is threatened by platform neutral IAP. You play Candy Crush on your iPhone when you are out, but when you are home you play on the cheap Android tablet you got because it has a bigger screen.

can you ? that would only work if you can use the same account on multiple platforms, but most times its bound to gamecenter/google/steam etc.

And that's a very good reason for a developer not to use platform specific account systems.

It seems relevant that the top grossing app on iPhone (Candy Crush Saga) prominently has this on their homepage:

"Start your game on Facebook or mobile and seamlessly continue your saga between platforms. Your game play will be fully synched across all devices."

Next year Android is poised to have a 1.9 billion user base [1], or roughly three times that of iOS, and the difference is only going to get bigger as Android with its higher penetration reaches new markets.

I think Apple's ecosystem will inevitably fall to second place in 2 years time, when all developers wake up to the fact that Android will be by far the world's largest platform (and yes, it should be better paid, too, by then, as it already almost caught up with Apple in revenue/app).

[1]- http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/07/gartner-2-5b-pcs-tablets-an...

This is a tangent, but I've always wondered... is it silly of me to be hesitant to use Android for the fact that Google owns it? I'd trust a jailbroken iPhone to do my bidding (and not be sneaky) more than an Android phone, but perhaps I'm being a bit crazy.

Still, it's hard to shake the feeling of an all-seeing eye watching everything I do when I use Android. I installed it in VirtualBox and there were at least five different options I had to turn off just to ask it to please not transmit my data to Google's servers: Auto-backup, location info, usage statistics, crash reports, and a couple others I'm forgetting right now.

Google has a vested interest in knowing as much about you as possible. Apple may have the same interest -- like I said, I'd trust a jailbroken iPhone rather than a vanilla one -- but they make their money by selling you hardware and apps.

If you're wary of Google, just don't create an account on the phone.

I've recently de-Googled a number of Android phones, and the cleaned-up experience is wonderful. Long battery life and plenty of apps from F-Droid or Amazon.

Browser-sync is nicely handled by Firefox Sync, which you can self-host.

Ideally it'll be a rooted phone and you can also delete all the com.google.*.apk files, too, so none of their apps run in the background ( uselessly spinning and burning CPU cycles in case you suddenly decide to create an account ).

Awesome! Are there any resources I could read to learn how to de-Google an Android phone? Thank you so much!

It's fairly straight-foward on the lastest versions of Android that allow you to freeze apps, rather than having to root and rename the apks.

Here's a list of the apps that are safe to remove, noting the Google ones:


If the phone has a Google account already configured, lock-out the phone by changing the account password on a PC. If its rooted, delete the accounts.db file.

Apps that I usually then install for the user:

- Osmand to replace Google Maps

- F-Droid and sometimes Amazon App Store

- K9 Mail ( you can even point this to G-Mail quite safely! )

- Firefox in place of the stock browser

Once your phone is rooted, use Titanium Backup (there may be similar apps on F-Droid for free) to uninstall the Google apps and services you don't need.

Many (most?) of those androids are the new feature phones and relatively 0 revenue upside potential for many developers. That won't change in the foreseeable future due to how free and open android is for any manufacturer to shove onto any free with contract device they want.

> Many (most?) of those androids are the new feature phones

Redefining words doesn't help the case. By that logic all ipod touches, ipad minis and iphones older than 4s are now 'feature devices'.

If my parents are average, most people buying Android phones aren't downloading any apps, free or not. Plus android apps tend to be free and have ads, which, I assume, aren't being counted in revenue listings.

If my parents are average, most people buying Android phones are excited about the future, eager to learn and sample apps on a regular basis.

On the other hand, my father never installed any apps or really experimented with his iPhone at all. It was just the most expensive contract phone at the shop.

It's stupid to assume either are complete summations of user behaviour. Smartphones are smart even if the users are dumb.

I wonder if there are there any figures on how many paid apps on the average iPhone compared to the average Andriod?

I didn't intend to pay for anything on my Android when I reluctantly got it as part of my internet / phone bundle 9 months back (I didn't want a smart phone, but price was the same with or without one). But after 6 months of using Swype, I found out it was a free trail, and at that point it was too difficult to go back to the normal keyboard. Likewise I am using Whatsapp a lot, and I think the first year is free, then its a small amount. Will still be cheaper than sending international texts to my mum, so I will pay the small price.

(I always find it amusing that this is the story I was told about how drug dealers operate when I was in school, free trail then once you are hooked bump up the price. Never hear of anyone get drugs like that in real life, but its completely common in the corporate world).

From what I've seen, iOS users shell out much more money than android users. Is there any poll or survey suggesting that android users are paying more for apps and IAPs?

As of November, Android developer revenue/dollar was $.19 to the dollar compared to Apple.


Facebook ad revenue on iPhones yields a 1,800% ROI over Android. And Facebook ads on Android offer a negative ROI overall.


So the Android ecosystem still looks very bad.

I think one big cause of that is that in the early days, ios was just plain better than android. Everything worked better, looked nicer, etc.

I don't believe that's true anymore, so we might see some shifts.

Does Google ever say how much they pay out? I've never seen it, only estimates from 3rd party analysts. You'd think if they were gaining fast on the iTunes store they'd talk about it. Nothing attracts developers faster than money. Or is it because IAP don't need to go through the play store that there is no way to calculate it?

The difference in UX from iOS to Huawei Android was huge. I don't consider the two systems to be comparable at any level. That said, it's 100% certain that Android would one day dominate, but in order to have a clear view on what's going on you have to take many more statistics into consideration.

Doesn't Google have a problem in China, which is probably 300 million users? Most people are not downloading apps from their app store?


The real problem for both platforms, however, is that most apps aren't making enough money to support a company.

The real problem for both platforms is disc

Android hasn't remotely caught up with Apple in revenue/app. They have a huge market share advantage and yet currently the revenue share is hugely in Apple's favor. I think currently it is something like 70/30 iOS in the lead.

What does this work out to per developer? An average? Is there still a way to make significant money selling apps?

There is a known 80/20 ratio: most profit is taken by a few companies. This makes sense as you would by "the app" not "an app" in any category.

Yes, absolutely, but it takes hard work and a good idea. Or rare luck.

I'd be more curious in dollars per developer-hour.

Numbers would get screwy throwing in every curious person who got skin-deep into UIKit enough to pop out a 3 hour TODO app.

There's a way to make significant money with free apps. You just need a decent idea.

That's is the opposite of what one usually hears on HN.

"Ideas are a dime a dozen, its the execution that counts stupid...."

Look how awesome apple is, and to argue about that, I'll just show how much money it's passing around !

I don't really understand how relevant that is to the HN crowd, really.

People already have a $400 iPhone, with an expensive data plan, of course they'll buy whatever it's compatible with.

If you sell glitter, there's no limit but the stars. People will buy anything if it's under $10, so no surprise if so many people have iPhones.

What I'll always criticize, is the real amount of innovation that surrounds the iPhone and the software that it runs. Of course it pays developers, but an iPhone is just a very small wirelessly internet connected computer, with a dedicated software store, and a short battery life. The software is the same if not worse. The only difference is that Apple just had a business model for an app market, and to be honest, compared to what freeware and open source already offers, it doesn't feel attractive.

In what world is 9-10 hours of active use "short" battery life?

yeah try that with a 2 year old battery

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