Canalys, a research company said, earlier this month that a small number of developers, almost entirely game companies, continue to generate the majority of revenue at the leading app stores - - - Apple’s App Store (iPhone only) and Google Play. Based on daily App Interrogator surveys, Canalys estimates that just 25 developers accounted for 50% of app revenue in the US in these stores during the first 20 days of November 2012. Between them, they made $60m from paid-for downloads and in-app purchases over this period.
The iEconomy series in the New York Times in 2012
In a modern economy where the winners usually take the lions' shares, in 2 of 8 of the iEconomy series, the NYT looks at how the world's most valuable company thrives on the work of the 1m strong Foxconn workforce in China, operating in conditions that could be compared with battery-hen production, with iPhones assembled at $7 to $8 a pop. Meanwhile the Apps Store has been stocked with more that 750,000 items produced by mostly freelance developers who are hoping to win a lottery but aspiration seldom meets reality.
Then there are the web punters who have been spoilt into believing that Santa Claus can work for free (I was going to say 'charity' but that would be misleading in Ireland at least, as running a charity can be a handy earner - - Irish Independent report).
Derek Thompson writes on the Instagram debacle in The Atlantic:
"Think about how their brilliant software delights you, makes you literally happy, fills your spare time, organizes your work time, invents convenience where you never expected it, swallows your boredom in sepia tones, begs hours of your precious attention, does a bunch of other emotionally and productively and ontologically rewarding stuff ... and almost all of it is either vanishingly cheap or utterly free! Not since the cavemen, probably, did the brightest minds in the world turn their attention to making things that nobody had to pay for.
This is rare gift, made possible by at least two things: The duplicability of code, which drives the price of most software products to zero, and subsides from venture capitalists, who are happy to bankroll these ingenious inventors until they figure out a business model. Oops. I said it. Business model. Yes, so we all know these businesses are in fact business. I won't insult your intelligence with the pedantic reminder that 'if you're not paying, you're not the customer, you're the product.' Blah blah blah. People get that, I think. But they hate feeling like the product. It degrades them. And so every time one of these "two-sided" companies announces that they need to start attracting the second side (advertisers) in order to keep things happy for the first side (users), there is a freak-out of biblical proportions.
David Gillen, New York Times deputy editor, leads a roundtable discussion on whether Apple's promise to expand manufacturing in the US will turn out to be good news for American workers.