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$1 starting price for iPhone app highlights developers’ struggles

Wednesday, 4 January 2012 | By Michelle Hammond
A mobile app developer is selling his iPhone app on eBay for a starting price of $1 to escape the costs associated with the app, suggesting the market is becoming less viable for smaller players.

 

US-based developer Neal Schmidt, maker of scavenger hunt game Buckshot, has posted the app on eBay for a starting price of $1, although it’s already surpassed $200.

 

According to the listing, the sale is for “complete ownership” of the game, including both the free and paid versions.

 

Launched in May last year, the app generates $300 per month in revenue from sales and iAds in the free version, according to TechCrunch.

 

In addition, the Amazon cloud server that the app runs on is little more than $2 a day. But according to Schmidt, the benefits are outweighed by the negatives.

 

Schmidt says he’s sick of paying $99 a year to use iTunes Connect, and surrendering 30% of all profits to Apple. He’s also tired of waiting for approval from the Apple Review Board every time he makes an update.

 

Schmidt says he now plans to invest his time in HTML5 development instead.

 

According to South Australian app development firm Shift Jelly, poor cashflow and lengthy turnaround times are crippling independent app developers.

 

“Before we got featured by Google on the Android marketplace, we were about a month way from having no money whatsoever,” the company said in a recent blog post.

 

“I’ve talked to many indie developers in Australia, and they are universally in the same boat.”

 

“Some have taken on client work to try and fill the gap [while] others are working from home to minimise every expense they have.”

 

“It’s not a level playing field… There are companies with millions of dollars behind them, making apps [with] whole teams of people.”

 

But it’s not all bad news. According to analytics firm Flurry, 1.2 billion apps were downloaded in the last week of December, marking the first time more than one billion apps have ever been downloaded.

 

Activity was buoyed by the fact that many users received new devices for Christmas and firms offered discounted apps over the holiday period.

 

The United States was responsible for nearly half of all downloads, followed by China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France.

 

According to Flurry, this level of download activity will become more standard, suggesting the market is only starting to heat up.

 

“Flurry expects breaking the one billion download barrier per week will become more commonplace,” the firm said in its blog.

 

“While iOS and Android growth continues to amaze, the market is still by all measures relatively nascent.”