Image via Flickr/Jorge Quinteros
At some point, everyone’s been struck by that genius app idea you’re sure could make you a tech billionaire. You can’t believe no one’s come up with it before! The riches would come streaming in if you could just be bothered to make it. Or make your kid do it.
But a new report from US IT research company Gartner is here with a harsh dose of reality. More than likely, your app idea is not going to make you rich. In fact, they predict that through 2018, “less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers.” That’s one in 10,000 that makes it.
As this is a prediction, the exact figures have to be greeted with a healthy amount of skepticism. But whatever way you look at it, the odds aren’t good for people who are banking on an app idea to make them the next Mark Zuckerberg. One reason Gartner gives for the fact so few apps are financially successful makes a lot of sense: most of them are simply not visible.
“Consumers are increasingly turning to recommendation engines, friends, social networking or advertising to discover mobile applications rather than sorting through the thousands of mobile apps available,” they wrote. So an idea can be good, but if it doesn’t have the kind of viral buzz of Candy Crush (not to mention the backing of an already hugely successful company, and oodles of money to put into advertising), it’s likely to get lost in the dregs of the app store.
Add that to the fact that no one wants to pay money for an app when there’s so many free ones out there, and it’s tough to strike gold—though in-app purchases, to continue with the Candy Crush example, seem to be the way to go.
The thing is, most apps aren’t meant to be stand-alone money-makers. A lot of them aren’t really intended to make a profit at all. Gartner’s vice president Ken Dulaney said in a statement that “many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just for fun.” I’m willing to bet the Magic Coke Bottle iPhone App isn’t the biggest money-spinner in Coca-Cola’s empire.
Then again, it probably at least gave whoever developed it a pretty decent job, and that’s no doubt still the best way to turn your brilliant app ideas into cold hard cash: make them for someone else. After all, one staffing firm estimates that salaries for mobile applications developers will rise by eight percent in 2014. Despite the lack of directly financially successful apps, the app economy is still going strong.