Since Alec Saunders joined RIM he has been making a big deal of pointing out how profitable the BlackBerry platform is for developers especially ones with solid offerings. The latest study by Vision Mobile confirmed one of the main myths that Saunders “busts” by showing that the average monthly revenue from BlackBerry apps is $3,853. That is compared to $3,693 for iOS and $2,735 for Android. On the other hand Vision Mobile does note that less developers are focused or developing for BlackBerry with them consolidating on Android and iOS and abandoning RIM though they make no mention of BlackBerry 10. This is mostly because user base reach is the main reason devs choose to support a platform.
The other interesting statistics is that iOS apps cost an average of $27,463 per app. That is 21% more than Android ($22,637) and a whopping 81% more than BlackBerry ($15,181). Vision Mobile interestingly uses data for the lower 95% of apps and developers with a revenue model which cuts out the outliers at the top for more accurate data. Another stat that is worth pointing out is that half of BlackBerry developers make less than $500 a month compared to 34.7% of iOS developers which means they have a bigger chance of making some money but not as much on average.
I also found it interesting how they break up developers into 8 categories of Hobbyists, the Explorers, the Hunters, the Guns for Hire, the Product Extenders, the Digital Media Publishers, the Gold Seekers and the Corporate IT developers.
Personally the main trends I find important for RIM are the two summaries they provide for BlackBerry development and mobile web (where they touch QNX and HTML5)
Blackberry developers show an overall discontent with the platform. On one hand, BlackBerry is faster to develop on and generates more revenues. We have seen many Android developers utilising BlackBerry as a secondary distribution channel, due to its monetisation potential. On the other hand, developers rate most BB attributes below average compared to other platforms. Developer mindshare is on the decline, there is negative overall sentiment, and the QNX-based Blackberry 10 is yet to ship. If there were a “developer share price” for BlackBerry, it would probably trail RIM’s stock price closely. The decline of BlackBerry is unfortunate, given that as we shall see, it has been the most robust ecosystem in terms of its ability to generate revenue for app developers.
Developers for mobile web are a happy bunch. They appreciate the platform’s reach but they’re also quite pleased with low development costs, ease of coding, and the learning curve. This is not surprising given that most of them come to mobile with more than three years of web experience. The only serious challenge is the limited availability of APIs. While there are efforts to reduce feature lag between web and native – notably PhoneGap and Boot to Gecko – mobile web remains many steps behind native when it comes to API completeness.