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Advice to App Developers: One and Done Doesn't Work

Advice to App Developers: One and Done Doesn't Work
Credit: App image via Shutterstock

There was once a time when it was possible to sustain a small business with one-time paid apps for the iPhone, but one developer claims this is no longer the case.

In a recent blog post, iPhone app developer David Barnard explains the difficulties he and his partner have had living off sales of their app Launch Center Pro.

The duo said they put 300 hours into creating their app and broke even when it hit the top of the App Store sales chart in the first week. Maintaining that momentum, and sustaining continued development for the app , proved difficult, however.

As Launch Center Pro slid in the sales chart, the team found it more difficult to justify working on the app full time. There just wasn’t enough money coming in to drive sales.

To further illustrate the point, Barnard uses the example of popular email app Sparrow. Barnard speculates that as the team behind Sparrow grew, it proved difficult for the company to sustain itself without taking a small seed round of financing.

That seed money likely led to Google buying Sparrow. Without the sale to Google, the app may have been a flop. Without a monetization strategy beyond the initial purchase, the Sparrow team would eventually run out of money to fund development.

Barnard’s advice to new developers is to find a way for users to pay for the app after they buy it using in-app purchases. For games, that means going “free to play” like "Candy Crush Saga" and "Clash of Clans." For other apps, it means finding a gimmick or something users will happily pay for. Otherwise, you might have a hard time justifying continued work on your apps and keeping your business alive.