Today's headline is essentially the flip-side of a a post by Release Notes' Charles Perry that Marco shared yesterday. The post's conclusions on app revenue would make that Jump to Conclusions guy from Office Space proud:

In fact all apps above number 3,175 on the U.S. Top Grossing list produce enough revenue to at least make its developer [<<< sic!!] the United States household median income for 2014 ($53,891). And this is just for a single app.

Let's pretend his calculations are on the money. I don't know if they are or not. He mentions "Pareto distribution" with the requisite link to wikipedia, and, well, his n equals 1, so it seems legit. ;^)

It seems that even with the revenue curve tilted so heavily towards the big hits, the shape of the App Store still allows room for sustainable businesses to develop in the long tail. It seems that developers who work hard, mind the details, and treat their business like a business have a real chance of making it.

Really? That's Perry's take-home? "A real chance" as in, "if you don't buy a lottery ticket, you don't have a real chance to win"? I really enjoy Perry's podcast, but this post is horribly rose-colored.

Take another look. If your app is top 3175 for an entire year (which it very likely won't be, okay? Check out Exhibit Jared Sinclair), you'll have median income -- about what a reasonably experienced teacher makes, afaict. You know, those folks we always say are underpaid, largely because they deal with our brats day-in and day-out, but let's face it, unlike that of most key-masher engineers, it's not an unseemly, brat-resisting, over-the-top salary.

Again, that's iff your app doesn't fall out of the top 3175 for an entire year. Essentially Perry's pie-ish in the sky-ish numbers don't factor in app ranking churn. What you really need to know is how long it takes for an app like yours to drop from, say, 500 to 4000. I bet it's not very long.

Look, let's put this another way. Let's say that app ranking churn isn't nearly as volatile as I'm betting it is (even though, let's face it, I'm not wrong). If we define median income as our goal, if these numbers are accurate, only 3175 developers worldwide made median income or above on the app store for however long these revenue numbers are accurate. And that's only if each of those apps was written by a one-person shop! Perry does put in a caveat, implicitly asking, "What if you had two apps in there?!" Are we assuming they're both in the top 3175 for a year? Really? Guess what that means for the number of viable professional indie app developers?

And look, let's assume he does has access to non-median revenue fail apps. What did they make? Do they fit the curve and his predictions? What does our ranking over time look like? How long does an app sustain a "median wage" ranking if it breaks into the top 3175?

Each successful app on the way down but still in the rankings is another spot you can't get on your way up. I'd almost rather grow hand-cultivated wheat. Less risk.

These numbers are awful. That's not even a large company's worth of people. Ouch.

Good luck, everyone, in this year's hunger games. Or Thunderdome, or whatever your version of "scarce resources favor predators" metaphor is.

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