There has been a pretty consistent narrative being told by both media and analysts: BlackBerry as a platform is falling behind in providing consumers with decent applications and developers aren’t interested in the platform. Media will have you believe that it’s too difficult to code for BlackBerry, or that there isn’t any money to be made, but this simply isn’t true. It’s not that difficult to code for BlackBerry, especially now that there’s support for HTML apps. But what attracts a developer to the platform? I’d argue it has more to do with success stories and the potential to make something great. There is something inherently wrong with not BlackBerry as a platform, but as an existing developer base, and probably the media supporting it (BlackBerryCool et al is also somewhat to blame), that the right stories aren’t being told. Where are the success stories of big download and revenue milestones? They’re ever present in iOS blogs, but it’s hard to find the same stories on the BlackBerry platform, even though they exist.
Here are a few examples of powerful money stories that have been told for iOS:
“In less than half a year, Rye Studio has sold one million downloads of traditional Chinese children’s stories apps at 99 cents each for the iPad and iPhone.” – China’s Entrepreneurs See App Store as Window on World.
And who can avoid the obvious Angry Birds quotes:
“By end of year, we project earnings of over $1 million per month with the ad-supported version of Angry Birds” – Angry Birds Android to top $1 million per month in ad revenue.
Here is the Cut the Rope story:
“Cut the Rope managed to sell a mere 1,000,000 copies in the first 10 days after launching and dethroned Angry Birds in the App Store Top 10 list. Available for $0.99 for the iPhone/iPod touch and $1.99 for the iPad, that’s between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 in revenue in just over a week (for those keeping score at home).” – Cut the Rope for the iPhone: A review.
“Doodle Jump sells for 99 cents. At 3 million copies, that comes out to roughly $2,970,000 in revenue since the game was launched.” – Doodle Jump Scores 3M Downloads.
Tap Tap Revenge developers:
“Do you somehow still doubt that the App Store is a huge money-making enterprise, at least for a lucky few? Then consider the news that Tapulous, the development studio behind the wildly popular Tap Tap Revenge rhythm game franchise, rakes in a cool million every month.” – Tap Tap Revenge Developer Makes $1M Per Month.
The truth is that BlackBerry apps are making a great deal of money, and some companies have built very successful companies around the platform. The problem is that nobody wants to talk numbers. In fact, maybe that’s why BlackBerry developers are actually making more money as a group: because they’re the only ones who know the little known secret.
The above quotes were found by simply taking some of the popular iPhone apps and Google’ing the name plus the keywords ‘revenue’ or ‘downloads’. Does that work for BlackBerry? Let’s take Tether for example. The app is one of the most downloaded applications for BlackBerry and has been consistently at the top revenue grossing charts on Mobihand for some time. Unless your Google skills are way better than mine, I can’t find a single instance where anyone has written about Tether and their possible revenue numbers. But in March of 2010, they announced they had been installed on over 100,000 BlackBerrys, which at $50 per download could as high as $5M. Obviously you have to account for discounts, giveaways and they may have had a free trial version at that point they’re including. Nonetheless, that was a year ago and it’s still serious money we’re talking about.
What about a game like Angry Farm? You will never find a story on the Internet about how much they’re making or their download numbers. Angry Farm is also on the top grossing list, even though it hasn’t been available for nearly as long as some of the other apps.
RIM is having a really hard time with analysts right now and the perception that BlackBerry apps are not a viable business. Sure, I’ve met plenty of developers that aren’t making enough to retire on, but just like iOS, there are a few examples of huge wins for the platform but they’re keeping silent. In fact, there are probably far more developers for iOS making $0 per day than on BlackBerry. To get a feeling for this, read Jeff Bacon’s article BlackBerry App World Generates Highest Revenue Per App.
In the end, RIM is going to have to find some way to change the narrative about BlackBerry app development. A good place to start is with success stories of apps that get you laid or paid.
Do any BlackBerry developers care to share their success stories on this thread? Please do so, whether it’s download or revenue milestones.