Lots of developers are aiming for huge success in the App Store, and it seems like nearly every day we're reading about someone who made a big game and is picking up something like a million dollars a day from customers clicking that little "Install" button.
L'Escapadou didn't make quite that much -- it's a studio that works on "educational and fun apps for iOS," and in this blog post, developer Pierre Abel walks through the $200,000 the company has made on the App Store so far. As you can read, however, it's a combination of a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck -- Abel worked for months on the few apps he's produced for the store, and only after he got covered in the press for the right audience did he see a nice jump in sales. Also note that it took multiple updates -- none of his apps soared in revenue right out of the gate; he had to provide new content based on customer feedback and support his released apps before he saw the charts curve upwards.
But not everybody sees even that level of success. FastCompany recently posted an accusation that the App Store was "more of a casino than a gold mine," excerpting a new book called "Appilionaires" that suggests developers investing big in the App Store might as well just put all of their money on black at Harrah's. Maybe it's true, that the App Store is the "world's most competitive software market," but to hear this excerpt tell it, success with an iOS app is all luck -- being in the right place with the right app at the right time, to get swept up into the machine of fame and success, or losing all of your money and time invested with a great app that no one ever notices or sees.
Of course the truth is somewhere in between -- some great apps do sit there for a while before anyone notices just how good they are, and some terrible apps get caught up in hype or marketing and pick up lots of revenue anyway. In the end, the App Store works very much like any other marketplace: You need to have a product that people want, and then show people it exists and convince them that they want it. Despite the "gold mine" dreams, creating and releasing an app is a lot of work, even if some people are better or more experienced at that work than others. There is money to be made on the App Store -- that's for sure. But how that money is made and by whom is controlled by many factors, of which luck is only one.