2012 Sales Breakdown – Comparison of App Stores

2012 was by the craziest year I’ve ever had in terms of App Development, while 2011 was lucrative, 2012 was insanity. I released PicShop in February, and it has just exploded into a very successful app across nearly all the app stores. My previous apps, ColorUp and TouchUp have also continued to sell, but in slowly declining quantities.

In addition to changing the lives of my entire family and giving us near financial freedom, this has given me some pretty neat data for the year, allowing some good comparisons of sales and promotional opportunities across the various stores.

I think some of the results might surprise you…

Overall Sales

As you can see iOS dominated the competition, bringing in over 3/4 of all my total revenue. Google was a distant 2nd, with Blackberry and Amazon neck and neck.

Surprisingly, Amazon and Blackberry are actually pretty close to Google Play, despite Play’s massive install base advantage. It’s especially impressive for Blackberry, which is essentially just coasting off of dying Playbook sales. This is probably due mainly to the great promotions I receive on Playbook (PicShop is regularly featured), but the Playbook userbase has always had a voracious appetite for apps. The Amazon numbers are due basically to a freak couple months in Nov/Dec.

Here you can see a monthly break down of relative sales for all market places which reveals more data about the curves of each market:

Each dashed line in the graph represents $10k in revenues. At it’s peak, iOS pulled in close to $40,000 in one month, and you can see that the ‘little’ bars are still pulling in a healthy $2000-3000/month each. I told you it was an insane year!!

In order to analyze the ‘others’ a little better, I took Apple out of the picture:

Breaking it Down


Sales Curve
iOS showed a pretty steady curve throughout the year. After PicShop sales took off, it maintained those revenues throughout the year. As in last year, I saw a big spike in the Summer months, a decline into the Fall, and then a massive holiday spike

PicShop was featured multiple times by Apple as “What’s Hot”, which lead to nice increases in sales each time it happens. It seems every few weeks it gets cycled into place in some countries.

I purchased a FAAD promotion early in the year which resulted in a huge sales boost for PicShop, and afterwards was approached by a number of free competitors like AppGratis and AppTurbo, which ran even more promotions on the app, this time for free.

In retrospect, running FAAD was one of the best decisions I ever made, as it snowballed everything, and resulted in a ton of new promotional oppotunities.

Later in the year I ran another FAAD, campaign, this time it was a complete flop and my sales actually declined. I’m not sure what happened, but perhaps the service is declining in popularity, or their userbase was just saturated with my app already.


Sales Curve

The revenue curve for Android is pretty much just flat, it sort of just plods along at the same rate every month. I rarely see any spikes, and I have yet to really gain any serious traction in this market place.

So far, Android is proving, by far, the hardest market to penetrate in the top lists. It seems that any app that hasn’t existed for 4+ years has little chance of ranking highly.

It’s still a good revenue source, don’t get me wrong, but it should be alot higher.

Google is impossible to talk to. Any attempt I’ve ever had in contacting google’s promotional team has been stone-walled. I just can’t find any way at all to speak to a person.

I have a beautifully tablet-optimized app, when they are desperately in need of them, and yet they have no clue my app even exists, or any seeming interest in promoting it.

I have only ever been featured once by them, as a featured “Photo Editor” and it doubled my daily sales for the duration, and then dropped off. So I made $200/day instead of $100, nothing to write home about.


The Blackberry Playbook sales curve shows strong sales for the first half of the year (coninciding with a big pricedrop on the Playbook), then a major decline in the summer months as Playbook sales slowed to a crawl. December saw a pretty huge resurgence though, apparently RIM was moving some hardware!

AppWorld has (by a country mile) the best promotional team amongst any of the major App Stores. I have developed a fairly close relationship with a number of people on the AppWorld team, they reach out to me often for joint promotions/sales, and they have even sent me a couple of BB10 Dev Devices so I can prep for upcoming BB10 launch.

I really can’t express how awesome this team has been, there’s always someone to talk too, and they couldn’t be friendlier.

As an example, I was contacted early Dec to run a combined sale on PicShop, ColorUp and TouchUp for Xmas, I marked all my apps down 50%, and RIM featured them as the primary App of the Day for Dec 23. My revenues basically tripled, how cool is that!?


Sales Curve

This sales curve is really hilarious to look at. Talk about all your sales being loaded into one shopping period! After a really strong Dec, 2011,  Amazon sales stepped off a cliff in January. Anemic all through the year, they suddenly surged starting on Black Friday, and had a massive December, launching them up to nearly 3rd spot on my revenue list.

Amazon App Store is a funny place. They promote your app, but they are going to do it their way, with or without your knowledge. Often I’ll go to the Amazon App Store and see that my app is 50% off for the day, or my description has been re-written by someone. Amazon does this at their discretion, and they do know a thing or two about running an online store. Still, it’s weird not to have complete control over your own product and promotions.

The other promotion Amazon offers you is the Free App of the Day promotion. Basically, one day you’ll get an email out of the blue, with a long list of conditions, and you must agree to it. Once you do that, Amazon might, someday, maybe, feature your app as App of the Day. It happened a few times for PicShop, TouchUp and ColorUp, the results are nothing amazing, but it will get you into the top of the charts pretty quickly. I’m hopeful this will pay off alot more in 2013.


 Trends for 2013

  • Blackberry
    I’m expecting pretty big things from Blackberry in 2013, the performance from just the Playbook in 2012 was really amazing, and BB10 Phones will move 10x the units Playbook ever did.
  • Apple
    Apple looks to be marching along in it’s unstoppable way. Their content curation team is excellent, the recent redesign to the App Store was an improvement, and they moved a metric shit-ton of hardware in Dec. Look for same old same old from Apple.
  • Amazon
    Amazon is showing some life finally, and actually producing some real money, so 2013 might be the year this market really takes off. Although it did have good numbers last Dec, this year was up 400%.
  • Google
    As for Google Play, I don’t know… I think until they actually start communicating with their developers, and re-factor their ranking system, they are going to continue to stagnate. There’s probably many great Tablet apps for Android, but no-one can find them, cause older, uglier apps are completely ‘grandfathered’ in to the top of the charts.
  • Windows 8
    I had high hopes for Windows 8 this year, but am now really doubting it’s potential.Consumers have never likd Windows Phone, and it seems they still don’t. The launch was a total flop. Sales of Surface devices has been paltry, and the download numbers I’ve seen for Windows App Store are very low.At some point, this just *has* to become a revenue generator, as it’s baked into every Windows Machine, but I don’t know if that will happen any time soon. For now my focus is on the others.


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3 Comments to “2012 Sales Breakdown – Comparison of App Stores”

  1. Yop says:

    found a pb in your overall sales charts
    rim : 10% orange
    google : 7% red

    no ?

  2. Sidney de Koning says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Can you tell me which FAAD you used?


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