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Uphill battle for app developers who want to make money, Gartner predicts

We already know that app developers are up against it, that making the app might be considered the ‘easy’ part of the process while getting it noticed is where the real battle lies.

Recent analysis from research company Gartner throws the challenge of creating a hit app into sharp focus, with the somewhat chilling forecast (for developers, at least) that by 2018 “less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success” by their creator.

Commenting on the prediction, Gartner VP and analyst Ken Dulaney said, “The vast number of mobile apps may imply that mobile is a new revenue stream that will bring riches to many.

“However, our analysis shows that most mobile applications are not generating profits and that many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just for fun. Application designers who do not recognize this may find profits elusive.”

Dulaney said the app sector is currently in a state of “hyperactivity” with millions of developers creating software for multiple mobile app platforms, making for a very crowded marketplace.

Making things harder for developers seeking to make their fortune is the existing and growing library of extremely well designed apps available for the princely sum of nothing.

The Gartner analyst said that by 2017 he believes 94.5 percent of downloads will be for free apps, and that this figure will only rise as more developers enter the arena. Of course, offering an app for free doesn’t mean it won’t make any money, with a good number of developers currently making some serious cash through in-app purchases.

The research company added that consumers are “increasingly turning to recommendation engines, friends, social networking, or advertising to discover mobile applications” instead of spending time in the app stores themselves sifting through the multitude of offerings.

With around a million apps now available in each of the two major app stores – Apple’s iOS store and Google Play for Android users – independent developers looking to make a buck or two realize more than ever that for their offering to have a chance of enjoying any real success it has to be something remarkable, and backed up by a fierce, or at least creative, marketing campaign that succeeds in shining a light on their work. And then people have to buy it.

[Image: Cienpies Design / Shutterstock]