Hackernoon logoWhy Apple’s App Store Is A Bad Deal For Developers by@tchebotarev

Why Apple’s App Store Is A Bad Deal For Developers

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@tchebotarevEvgeny Tchebotarev

The Verge has recently published that:

Super Mario Run was downloaded 2.85 million times in its first day

It’s good, right?

Well. While it has surpassed Pokemon GO’s 900,000 downloads in it’s first day, Nintendo’s Super Mario Run was hyped up like no other app in history. The game was accompanied with a massive pre-launch promotion by Apple, and available in 150 countries on launch day.

Yet, to me, this marks a natural limit of what 1,000,000,000 (yes, 1 Billion) iOS devices worldwide are capable of downloading in a day.

Think about it. Nintendo’s first iOS game. Massive press. Apple’s first “Notify me” button to hype up the game. It has been announced during prime time of the Apple’s keynote. App Store was completely branded with Mario Run — there was no hiding from it anywhere. And, to top it of, the game is free (to download), so friction to try is very low.

Yet, out of 1 Billion iOS devices, it only got less than 3 million downloads. That’s a natural limit.

One company I’m familiar with spent months developing an app, hyped it up and used some press and marketing, including own mailing list, to promote the launch. Result? Around 10,000 downloads, with probably 30% MAU and 10% DAU. Consider the cost of development, marketing, and you will realize one daily active user might cost you around $100.

Andrew Chen writes more specifically about the problem:

…The average app loses 77% of its DAUs within the first 3 days after the install. Within 30 days, it’s lost 90% of DAUs.

Holy sh*t!

While this is what the average retention curve looks like for Android apps, but Apple’s App Store would paint a very similar picture:

The short-term solution is to focus on building apps using hybrid framework, especially since hybrid apps, built essentially as platform-independent web apps in a native app wrapper, now allow offline storage and faster processing with multi-core processing.

In essence, with native apps abandonment at a new high, broken discovery experience of both Google Play and the App Store, and average cost of making an initial version of a native app easily pushing $100,000, there is a path to be smarter about app development.

Updated (December 22, 2016): I have to raise my assumption of the App Store limit to ~10 million downloads a day, since Mario Run has recently broke 40 million downloads in 4 days. Still, that’s about 4% of all iOS devices out there.

Evgeny Tchebotarev is a founder of 9m+ strong community 500px, and currently does these five things to help companies succeed. You can email him at e@e15v.com.

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