Mommy, Apple’s Being Mean Again

Over at TUAW.com they’re running a story under the headline “Are iPhone app devs getting a raw deal?” The gist of the post is that iPhone devs are possible getting boned because Apple apparently won’t be cutting them a check until the developer’s cut of the revenue is at least $250.00 (this is based on a rumor, mind you). Here’s a particularly whiny quote from the story:

From the (indie) developer’s perspective, this stinks. They’ve already paid at least $99 just to participate, and now they have to wait until they make (potentially) hundreds of sales before they see a dime from Apple. Will the high barrier for entry discourage truly good app development? Or will it act like a cover charge to keep out the riffraff?

Gruber over at Daring Fireball has this to say:

If you’re thinking in terms of a couple hundred dollars, your app probably isn’t even going to get listed in the App Store. The App Store isn’t going to be like VersionTracker or MacUpdate, where every piece of junk gets listed as it’s submitted.

I’d say John is correct, but let’s go a little deeper and do some math. First, let’s figure out what the gross sales need to be before Apple is going to send a single check. Developers are going to take a 70% cut, so an app has to make a little over 357 dollars gross before the check is cut. Now, all credible reports indicate that the vast majority of iPhone App Store apps are going to be priced at $9.99 or free. Let’s take that $9.99 price point. At that price it takes a minimum of 36 sales to make the cut. Cut that price in half to $4.99 and you have a whole 72 sales to make the grade.

If you are a developer and you don’t think that you can sell your application for $9.99 and make 36 sales; then I would suggest that you go ahead and delete Xcode form your machine right now. Hell, if you don’t think that you can make 72 sales at $4.99 you’re a loser too. Keep in mind, absolutely nothing is preventing developers from listing their apps as free and avoiding the whole issue. Hell, go ahead and stick a PayPal donation link on your webpage if you just want a few shekels per download.

Take this as a hint from Apple; when it comes to iPhone development, think big or go home.