The Most Efficient iPhone Developers

Last week marked the first time the U.S. iTunes store had over 150,000 apps available. Close to 31,000 different developers (or “sellers”) were responsible for those apps, with many offering one to five apps, while a few offered over a hundred different apps.

Which developers consistently produce top-selling apps? I examined the percentage of apps produced by a developer that became best-sellers. To identify best-selling apps, I used the Top 100 Free and Top 100 Paid, and the recently launched Top 100 Grossing apps lists.

I’ve noted that Games dominate these Top 100 lists, so it’s no surprise that Game developers are among the most efficient producers of best-selling PAID apps. A pair of large Game developers (Gameloft and EA) offered over 40 different PAID apps over the last year, yet managed to have 3 out of 4 of their apps land on the Top 100 PAID apps list. The typical large developer only had 1 out of 10 apps (9%) appear on the Top 100 list. (NOTE: In each of the graphs below, I only show the 25 most efficient developers. The MEDIAN Efficiency is for all developers that had at least the stated number of apps during the period.)

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Game publishers also dominated the list of most efficient FREE app developers, but a pair of (adult-oriented) Entertainment developers were among the most consistent producers of popular FREE apps. Also note that a different set of Game publishers are producing the best-selling FREE games:

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Apple launched the Top 100 Grossing apps list in September 2009, so there isn’t as much historical data available. There are quite a few individual developers who’ve produced top-grossing apps. Given that a few small and successful Game developers were acquired last year, small outfits who consistently produce best-sellers are attractive acquisition targets. The graph below is limited to developers with at least 5 PAID apps since September 2009:

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[By using popularity rankings within a category, one can also identify the most efficient developers for individual iTunes app store categories.]

As far as embracing the iPad, several developers listed above are very enthusiastic about producing iPad apps. The interest is particularly high among iPhone Game developers††, I would really be shocked if Games aren’t a major component of the iPad app ecosystem.

(†) For this post a large developer (will usually) refer to one that offered over 10 Paid or Free apps from Feb/2009 to Feb 7, 2010.

(††) See [1], [2], [3], [4]. The other interesting thing I noticed from the data is how many of the key iPhone Game publishers are located in the SF Bay Area.

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  • Michael R. Bernstein

    Given the relatively high figure, can we assume the median is across all top 100 apps (rather than across all apps)?

    • http://radar.oreilly.com/ben/ Ben Lorica

      Hi Michael,

      Now that you mention it, the graphs are a bit confusing. I added the following to my description:

      “In each of the graphs below, I only show the 25 most efficient developers. The MEDIAN Efficiency is for all developers that had at least the stated number of apps during the period.”

      The MEDIAN is for all developers with more than 10 (or 5 in the case of the more recent Top Grossing list) apps during the given period. I was aiming for “larger” developers.

      Ben

  • morphoyle

    Maybe next time, can we get some meaningful data about this? A list of developers with percentages next to their names isn’t really useful or helpful in any way.

  • MAP

    Popularity is not a measure of efficient programming.

  • sahrp mind

    this is a iphone beauty to have 3rd party application .
    http://www.fixpod.com.au/

  • Clive

    Efficient? I don’t think that this article has anything to do with efficient programmers. in the title replace the word ‘efficient’ with the word ‘popular’.

  • Lane Roathe

    Actually, I think the title is spot on. Note that it is “efficient developers”, and NOT “efficient programmers”.

    In this case, the data is a good measurement of how efficient a development studio, be it a single individual or a large publisher, has been at developing successful titles.

    Note that “successful” is limited to “appearing in the top 100 list” for this data. That said, I would guess that being in those lists loosely relates to how successful the developer has been profit wise.

    -lane
    http://www.roathe.com

  • Stuart Hall

    Some great stats there, thanks for sharing.

    I’d love to see a full list of the top 500 or so.

    Stuart
    http://bonobolabs.com/iphone-development-perth.html

  • Cat

    Why is it that Apple’s App Store is the only viable mobile software distributor?

    http://iphoneland.com.ua/

  • http://www.iphonespecialist.com.au iphone specialist

    did you know why iphone games apps dominated the market ? I guess there are so many great iphone apps for business as well. what do you think ? Let me know your thought. iPhone Repair Sydney

  • http://www.fixmyiphone.com.au iPhone Repairs

    Storm 8 LCC definitely at the top of my list, great chart GJ!!

    http://www.fixmyiphone.com.au/

  • http://www.supermarketvouchercodes.com/ Helen

    hah interesting, I just recently purchased my first macbook ever and I’m far from sure that this was the right buy for me.

    Scanning the web for stuff that can help me get into this some more. I just not that into games anymore since I have grown out of it.

    -H

  • http://www.poholo.com POHOLO

    Agreed, as far as embracing the iPad, several developers listed above are very enthusiastic about producing iPad apps.

  • http://www.dotcominfoway.com/ Alfred

    Is their any list available for 2012 iPhone Developers?