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.)


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:


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:


[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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