IOS developers have generally had a few ways to push and sell their apps. They can try to get noticed by Apple (s aapl), tech blogs and review sites or buy advertising for themselves, but it basically comes down to developers doing the work and waiting for the sales to come in.
Now a startup called Appbackr is introducing the wholesale model to iOS apps, giving developers a new way to move their apps. The Appbackr Marketplace, which went into beta this week, allows buyers to purchase a bulk number of apps from a developer at a lower price, then when it sells in the App Store, the buyer can reap the difference.
The model could be a boon for smaller developers, who don’t have the muscle or resources to go around promoting their apps. Instead, they can get an upfront price on a set number of their apps, which they can start investing in marketing, new apps or improvements to their existing apps, and leave some of the promotion to the wholesale buyer, which will have an incentive to get the word out on the app lest their investment sits and goes to waste. As we heard at Mobilize 2010, marketing and distribution are some of the biggest challenges for developers, something Appbackr can help address.
This is the kind of innovation that should keep developers motivated in iOS apps. Developers may be daunted by the almost 300,000 apps in the store, which is making discovery harder by the day. Having some flexible ways to move product and get visibility should be a nice addition for developers. It’s the kind of thing I’m sure all mobile developers would also like to see. CEO Trevor Cornwell said this week that Android (s goog) support is definitely in the works, and the company is also looking at BlackBerry (s rimm) and Windows Phone 7 (s msft) platforms.
It looks like the apps will still sell for full price, so developers will have controls on pricing. That may be good for developers, though it might be a little constraining for wholesale app buyers, who would also presumably like some pricing flexibility if their allotment isn’t selling. Buyers will have to do their homework, but as this Appbackr video points out, they don’t have to be app marketplaces. It can be friends, family members or other developers who take an interest in the app and think it will sell. Developers already leverage these connections to get their word out, but this group may be more motivated if they can get a share of the profits.
Appbackr said wholesalers will be able to earn 27 to 54 percent of the apps when they sell in the store. The company already has 1,500 buyers and sellers signed up for the launch.
Related research from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):