Chris Adamson on the App economy [via Dan Counsell's weekly email]:

People won’t pay for apps. Therefore, the value of an app is typically zero. However, they will pay for stuff behind apps, for what the app will do for them, or let them do, what it will show them, or let them show their ideas and works to others.

“Fixing” the App Store, saying that Apple needs better curation or promotion of apps, is like “fixing” Yahoo! [of the] the browsable collection of websites that Filo and Yang put together in their Stanford dorm room. It’s premised on a model and a value proposition that doesn’t exist anymore.

Much wrong. Many fix.

First, if you read earlier this week, I think Pieter Omvlee was right. The Apple App Store is a dollar store.. Many indie developers don't want to sell there.

Stop saying it's broken. If you don't have a dollar app, forget the App Store storefront.

What I added to Omvlee's talk is that even those who don't want to sell in App Store storefront still want to be in the warehouse. You have to be if you want to sell inventory.

That is, here are the things the Apple App Warehouse does not do for you, if you don't have a dollar store app:

  • Sell your app.

Here's what the Apple App Warehouse does do for you:

  • Gives you a URL for downloads.
  • Tracks downloads
  • Allows you to use affiliate links to get 7 of the 30% cut Apple takes back when you sell yourself!
  • Handles updates
  • Handles most security issues on the terminal (local device... you know, the phone)

etc etc.

You're really asking for Apple to open another app store

That's really all anyone's asking for when they say, "The App Store's broken." What they mean is that, "The current store is broken for me," which is to say, "The current store isn't where I want to sell."

For now, that means you have to make your own store on the web. That stinks, but would you really pay 7% of your gross to Apple to create a better store? Maybe. Maybe. If you knew you'd be featured, sure, but just because they make "Apple App Store Pro" or "Apple App Store Curated" doesn't mean you'll be in the window.

Take that extra 7%, put it aside for marketing, and sell like mad.

That said, Adamson has some interesting points. First, on why the Store is sufficient for Apple now:

You know that big check that Tim Cook will show in a keynote, like how Apple has paid developers $20 billion as of 2014? That pales compared to the value of all the companies whose existence is predicated on being a mobile app. A billion for Instagram here, a billion for Waze there, it all adds up. Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp nearly matches the Tim Cook check all by itself.

I'd stopped listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP) after they took on Cards Against Humanity as a sponsor -- that game really is evil. It's, as I've said elsewhere, the I Ching (which is not evil) of hate speech (which is) -- but this was interesting too:

And yes, again, there are exceptions, but consider: Marco has admitted on the last two ATPs that his patronage model for Overcast is only barely viable (and he’s starting from a stronger position than most of us), and my friend Curtis stands to make about $20K/yr on his terrific Slopes app, something he sets aside about a third of the year to work on. These are the success stories. Care to speculate what the median is like?

I've been realistically bearish on indies in the App Store for a while:

(That last is a little clickbaity, sure, but only in its simplisticness. It could be a lot less.)

At the same time, I'd want to reframe the conversation a little, like I did when talking about attacks Jared Sinclair got for his Unread numbers.

Stop thinking about working as an independent app developer as something that should pay you something comporable to a 9-to-5er cubicle coder. You could make a lot more as a banker than as tax return dude with a shingle, but you chose the latter. It's a different field.

Stop seeing $20k for one app over a year (really $25k, apparently) as failure. See it as Curtis Herbert does...

My goal with this experiment wasn't just revenue, it was sustainable revenue.

Apps are investments. You sell these investments from the Apple Dollar Store or from your own storefront, your choice. They're delivered from Apple's App Warehouse. You create and maintain enough investments, and you might rival a consultant for salary.

That's the profession you choose. Enjoy your time. That's its best perk of all.

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