Developers are the golden ticket.
It may have taken Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) Steve Jobs a while to realize this, since he was initially opposed to opening up iOS to third-party developers, but obviously that objection didn't stick around for long and the rest is history.
That significance is also what led to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) CEO Steve Ballmer's famous sweat-soaked "Developers! Developers! Developers!" rant. Too bad Windows Phone just lost its Developer Experience exec Brandon Watson to Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , as the e-tailer has been aggressively beefing up content lately.
As Apple, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , and Microsoft vie for mobile dominance, a lot of attention naturally turns toward each platform's respective app offerings, and what each company can do to win over quality devs. Apple frequently highlights developer-payout milestones, having recently hit more than $4 billion in cumulative payouts from its App Store, with $700 million of that alone from the most recent blowout quarter.
At the BlackBerry DevCon Europe event recently, RIM Developer Relations VP Alec Saunders highlighted a few interesting tidbits while trying to "bust a few myths" surrounding the BlackBerry's app platform. The first one is that BlackBerry users don't download apps. Saunders points out that BlackBerry App World sees more than 6 million downloads per day.
More interestingly, Saunders said the BB App World generates 40% more revenue than the Android Market, since most Android apps are free. He claims that the App World sees 43% more daily downloads than the iOS App Store and more paid downloads than Android. Also according to Saunders' figures, 13% of BB devs make six figures.
The culmination of these data points is his assertion that BB App World ranks No. 2 in profitability behind iOS but ahead of Android. On top of that, RIM has desperately decided to simply start giving away its massive inventory of written-down and unsold PlayBooks to any developer who submits any app by Feb. 13.
Cue Android developer exodus now.
At least that's what Saunders is hoping for, but that's a tall order to fill, and his figures deserve some context. You have to remember that iOS and Android admittedly have a lot of crummy apps, from fart apps to dozens of copycat apps, and some of those developers are also probably "hobbyists" who aren't aiming for six-figure payouts.
The fact still stands that iOS and Android are the dominant operating systems, while RIM's share is quickly shrinking. Good luck trying to poach developers, Saunders. You're going to need it.
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