Web Designer Depot has a great new infographic that summarizes both the opportunity and the huge challenges of developing for the mobile marketplace today.  Some of the key takeaways include:

  • 25% of apps generate no revenue at all, while the largest group that do earn revenue (35%), earn less than $500.
  • Despite large gains by Android (which now claims a 50% larger activated device pool), iOS apps still bring in 37% more revenue and break even more than their Android counterparts.
  • Android’s focus on F2P has clearly rubbed off on the App store, however; 71% of the App Store revenue is derived from “Freemium” apps.
  • The average app costs $27,000 and takes between one and three man-months to develop.
  • With that having been said, the top grossing apps on both platforms include huge titles such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, as well as major IP’s such as Marvel, The Simpsons, and The Hobbit.  This tells us that the high risk/high reward model that has come to dominate console development is here to stay on mobile as well.
  • And, with Apple developer royalties nearly quadrupling in less than two years, it seems clear that big risk plays are going to continue to be the dominant strategy on the platform.
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“Bring out your expensive, underperforming apps!”

If there is one message I can take away from this report, it is a lesson that has been learned the hard way in other gaming sectors in recent history: avoid the middle.  The middle is where businesses go to die.  Stay small and lean, or go huge and make a big splash, but whatever you do, avoid the middle like the plague.

If you still think you can make it in mobile, assess your product offering and think about your development cost and budget.  Is it substantially more than $27,000/3 man months?  If so, you’re competing on big budget turf.  Did you intend to?

If it is something you can release cheaply and quickly, you’re in lean startup territory.  Are you prepared to launch, learn, and pivot if necessary?  Do you have the right metrics to measure?  Enough runway to recover if you are one of the 46-53% of developers that don’t break even?