Wealth of apps on iOS is killing developers says Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins

Average app makes just $4,000 in revenue

Wealth of apps on iOS is killing developers says Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins

Considering the presence Digital Chocolate has on iOS, you might think founder and CEO Trip Hawkins would be celebrating the news that the platform had generated more than $1 billion for developers as of June 2010.

Not so.

Speaking during a 'Social Developers Rant Back' session during GDC 2011, Hawkins said the revenue revelation only served to show just how broken a platform iOS is for the development community.

For the vast majority, developing games for iPhone and co. simply isn't worth the effort.

Down on dollars

According to Hawkins, the madness is in the maths.

"A few months ago the local newspaper here had a story about what an incredible job Apple was doing, and isn't Apple amazing," Hawkins said.

"They do such a great job for developers! And that's not all, Apple customers are happy because they have 250,000 applications to choose from, isn't that incredible? C'mon. If you're a self respecting journalist, how can you go to sleep without bothering to do the math?

"You take a billion dollars, you divide it by a quarter million you get... $4000 dollars each. Do you see the problem with that? That doesn't even pay for a really good Fussball table!"

Of course, Apple has since revealed that iOS revenue for developers has now surpassed $2 billion, though it's unlikely a figure of $8,000 per app would appease Hawkins.

Wheat and chaff

Namely because of his belief that developers of apps both good and bad are being lumped together by Apple, simply because the firm makes no real effort to push the best apps at consumers.

"How is anyone supposed to find out what's good? How are they supposed to find it? How is anybody supposed to be able to scale?"

Nevetheless, while Hawkins believes Apple needs to take more control over operations on its platform, according to Hawkins, rival Nintendo needs to let loose.

In particular, the Digital Chocolate man took aim at the rolling out of developer licenses for Nintendo platforms, which he believes restricted creativity as a result.

License to kill

"We used to have a free and open games business, and then Nintendo came along and introduced a thing called a licence agreement. There's a whole lot of companies these days that have basically copied that model. How's that going for us? Well, let's take a look," he dded.

"It might be okay if the markets are really growing. There are, for example, a lot of Android devices being sold, but how about revenue on the platform, how much is that growing? Not very much. Some of these platforms are actually shrinking in terms of customer activity and revenue, and that's really concerning.

"So if we're gonna get involved in a community ourselves and chose a platform, these platforms have a tremendous responsibility to grow their market fast enough to justify our support."

You can read a full transcript of Hawkins' statements over on

Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.