The appearance of app stores has revived the opportunities for developers to market their apps. Most app developers are in business to make money, a far cry from the enthusiast days of yore when passion was the big payoff. Developers are still passionate, but they need to eat, too. The app store has provided a good outlet to get developers in business, and one that is faster to market than other methods. The problem is the bigger the app store, and thus the biggest potential market, the more difficult it is for an app to get noticed by the buying public.
Vision Mobile has polled over 400 professional developers to help understand the issues and important factors affecting their ability to continue producing quality apps. The time to bring an app to market is a big factor, as it directly impacts how much unpaid time developers must bear before seeing some cash.
This rush to market doesn’t do much good if a developer’s prize app is buried under thousands of other apps. Customers can’t find them, and developers crave a way to get exposure for their wares. There might be an opportunity there for Google (s goog) and Apple (s aapl), as many developers would willingly pay for premium product placement. The traditional methods of using social media and product reviews are just not getting products sufficiently exposed to customers.
Something has got to change, as only five percent of the developers polled reported very good revenues from their apps. While many believed their target revenues would be met or exceeded, 24 percent reported very poor sales. Developers can’t afford to do this for long.
Another opportunity that exists is a way for developers to offer localized versions of the apps. The main app stores currently offer a very low percentage of apps targeting non-English speakers. Reasons given for the low number of localized apps: The platforms are not geared for handling other languages and having multiple app versions increases the development (and support) costs for the developers. There is a big void in Spanish and French language apps that could be a sizable market.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d): Handwriting Recognition: A Killer App for the iPad?