Developing a Mobile App? Some Numbers You’ll Need to Know

Are you thinking about developing the next great mobile app? When creating your business strategy you’ll want to know:

  • How many potential app users there are?
  • What platform you should develop for?
  • What apps have the greatest reach?
  • What apps generate the most revenue?

The mobile app market is evolving quickly, so the answers to the above questions change frequently. In this blog post, I will report the most recent numbers, and also provide links to resources that you can use to stay up to date with the information you need.

How many potential app users are there?

The number of downloads you can expect for your app will be limited by the number of people who actually own smartphones. The Pew Research Internet Project is a great source for facts and studies on American internet usage in general, and mobile adoption more specifically. According to the Mobile Technology Fact Sheet, as of January 2014 58% of American adults have a smartphone. That’s approximately 140 million smartphones in the US. (320,000,000 Americans, 75% are 18 and older)

And according to Business Insider, whose research arm provides information and statistics on a variety of topics 22% of people worldwide own smartphones. That’s 1.5 billion smartphones.

What platform should you develop for?

There are several different smartphone operating systems, the most popular being iOS (used on the iPhone and iPad) and Android (used on devices from many manufactures such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC). The platform you select for your mobile app will depend on several factors.

Operating System

For instance, you might decide based on operating system market share (click to enlarge):


(US numbers from Q1 2014, via Nielsen. Worldwide numbers for Q4 2013 via Statista.)


Another way to look at smartphones is by device manufacturer. This information is useful if you are trying to decide what hardware to support, because every smartphone has different hardware features, such as screen size, number of cameras, finger print sensors, and Bluetooth LE. The cost of development goes up with the number of devices you support.


(US numbers from March 2014, via ComScore. Worldwide numbers from Q1 2014, via the International Data Corporation’s worldwide hardware breakdown.)

What apps have the biggest reach?

Let’s take a look at the apps that currently have the greatest reach (number of US phones that the app is on). According to comScore


But note this: all of these apps are free! The companies that these apps are associated with (Facebook, Google, Pandora, Yahoo, and YouTube) all generate the majority of their revenue from advertising, which they can do successfully because their apps and other digital content have a large reach.

What apps generate the most revenue?

Companies who wish to generate revenue with their apps should be well-versed in the different monetization strategies and be aware of how much revenue the typical app generates.

Of the top 10 revenue-generating apps from the Apple App Store in Q1 2014, 9 are games. The only non-game is the Pandora Radio app. All of the top 10 apps are free to download and have in-app purchases. The situation is much the same over in the Google Play Store, with all of the top-10-grossing Q1 2014 apps being free games that have in-app purchases.

If you want to know how much revenue a specific app is generating, you’ll have to dig a little deeper for the information, but Forbes has computed averages to give you a rough idea. According to them, an app in the Apple App Store makes $4,000 on average, while those distributed through the Google Play Store make $1,125. But these are only averages; some apps make much more than this, and many make much less.

If you are considering building a mobile app and have questions about your idea or business model, or need help developing it, give Atomic Object a call.

  • Ranvir says:

    The four given points are major points to know to be a expert app developer. 80% facts of app development are covered by these four points. without finding the answer of these four question no one can’t develop any app properly. So app developer can get huge information through this post.

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