Here's a discouraging statistic for independent developers looking to break into the increasingly crowded iOS App Store. According to a report from mobile analytics firm Adeven, over two thirds of the store consists of "zombie" apps, which generate few downloads and almost no revenue to their creators.
The total number of these apps sits at around 400,000, so while Apple often brags that there are hundreds of thousands of apps available on the App Store, the majority of these aren't of interest to most users, and likely aren't getting discovered.
How are developers making money on the App Store then? Apple's marketplace is looking increasingly more and more like the traditional software market, in that a few companies with a lot of experience, brand recognition and marketing money are able to catapult their products up into the Top 25, where they're usually profitable as long as they can sit there. There's also a thriving market for apps that address specific business verticals rather than aiming at the general consumer.
Not all is lost, however: It's still possible for really well-done apps to break out into the public's view, even though it takes a little luck to do so (hasn't that always been the case?). But the next time Apple comments on the number of apps it has on sale, keep in mind that many of those apps are seldom glanced at by potential buyers. There's a very busy strip of apps at the top of the App Store, and a huge swath of empty strip mall apps out there not seeing much traffic at all.