For all but a few developers, the App Store itself now resembles a lottery: for every breakout hit like Candy Crush, hundreds or even thousands of apps languish in obscurity.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard this story. People claiming their success is as a result of their hardwork, and their decline is as a result of the App Store1 . People citing statistics of decreased consumers spending on the App Store2 , and opinion pieces from people who truly believe that the death of indepdent app development has arrived, and the truth is, for those who cite the App Store for their failures, or believe that success in the App Store is a lottery, the death of independent development has arrived.

The same people who cite the App Store for their failures, are the same people who fail to recognize a universal fact about starting and running a succesful, honest business. That is, starting a business, any business, is hard, and sustaining a business is serious work.

Wherever you live in the world, look around you, look at the people trying to build small businesses, your landlord, that local coffee shop or resteraunt, that independent mechanic down the road, the hardships that people face starting a small business on the App Store, thats what everybody making any other honest small business has been facing for as long as businesses have been around. All industries at one point of time or another have had it easy, but for every industry, reality eventually sets in, and making money as a small business is no longer for the faint of heart.

So, the way I see it, you can choose to look at this article in two ways. The first being that its not worth making apps because its too hard to make money on the App Store. If thats you, listen to yourself, don’t try to make a small business on the App Store, get VC funding, go work for Google, or go do something else that is more financially fruitful. But you can also look at it from another point of view, that is, making apps as a small business is not what it used to be, but if you are ready to make a serious commitment, if your ready to start farming, then over-time, with many missteps, failures, and non-starters, you can make it, you can succesfully build a small business3 .

Special thanks to Kevin Lundberg and Mark Bessey for helping me write this article.

  1. To be sure, the people at Pixite seem very intelligent, and do take responsbility for their missteps, but this article tries to paint it as a broader App Store issue, and thats what everyone else seems to see it as too, which is what I take issue with. 

  2. I’m not saying Apple can’t make the App Store store better, or provide us with more oppurtunities, but they’re just that, oppurtunities. You are still competing in the same marketplace, with the same apps, for the same consumers, and there’s not much Apple can do about that. 

  3. Granted, not everything is about hard work, luck does play a factor in a given app’s succeess in the App Store. That said, every business environment is going to be unfair and imperfect in some way, but as business owners its childish and irresponsible to let that be crux of our businesss.