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Million-Dollar Apps

Posted by: Douglas MacMillan on October 23, 2009

In the course of reporting my feature story on apps for the Web and mobile phones, I asked developers how much money these little pieces of software are actually bringing in. While they are certainly the exception in the sea of 80,000 programs on Apple’s App Store, I found several apps that have racked up sales of $1 million or more. Here they are:


Sales: $2.5 million
Company: Pangea Software


Sales: $1.8 million
Company: Social Gaming Network


Sales: $1.3 million
Company: Smule


I Am T-Pain
Sales: $1.1 million
Company: Smule


Roller-Coaster Rush
Sales: $1.1 million
Company: Digital Chocolate


Flick Fishing
Sales: $1 million
Company: Freeverse


Ragdoll Blaster
Sales: $950,000
Company: Backflip Studios

Currently, the lion’s share of app revenues come from the upfront fees paid by users upon download. But many developers see much bigger potential with in-app purchases, such as the extra songs you can buy after you download Smule’s I Am T-Pain.

Apple recently lit a fire under this opportunity by making it possible for companies to offer in-app purchases within free programs. Kleiner Perkins-backed game maker ngmoco plans to give away the first level or portion of all its games and charge users to keep playing.

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Reader Comments


October 24, 2009 07:56 AM

I once developed for the Palm, but could not support the constant OS revisions. No Palm developer ever made $1M.

I just partnered with an Indian developer. I will format content (slang dictionaries, travel guides), and they will do the programming.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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