Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How Long Can Little Developers Hang On at Apple’s App Store?

One of the most interesting things about Apple’s App Store is that it is a level playing field, or at least it’s supposed to be.

One example: Unlike traditional retail set-ups, developers can’t pay to get prime placement on iTunes. So gamemaker Electronic Arts (ERTS), for instance, can’t simply force its way onto the App Store’s front page. And a tiny outfit like Lima Sky can get one of its games to stick in the “top paid app” list forever.

That said, it certainly helps to be one of the big guys. By one count, they already account for 80 percent of the top apps.

That’s per analytics outfit Flurry, which looked at the developers behind the top 100 paid and top 100 free apps. By its count, “native” app makers–companies created solely to make apps for Apple–make up 20 percent of the bestsellers. All the others, from EA to Google (GOOG) to the New York Times (NYT), were already in another business before they came to the App Store.

The caveat here is that Flurry is only looking at 200 out of some 140,000 apps, and presumably the farther down the long tail you go, the more apps you’ll find made by little guys. But keep an eye on this chart over the next year or so. My hunch is that the little guys are going to find themselves with a smaller piece of pie.