DCCC - Development Costs Compensation Charts
The biggest part of the development costs are pure working hours, where one hour is calculated with just 20,00 $ (American dollars) per manpower (for a qualified, specialist developer b.t.w.). Other costs (for additional production software, hardware and external services, assets and so on) add usually a relatively small part to the entire picture and are not even considered here.
A single product DCC chart has the following calculation factors:
1. sum of initial development costs + update and maintenance costs based on hourly income until now
2. real revenue since start (for sold items after subtracting all App Store fees)
The chart result per product then is ( revenue / development costs * 100 ) in percent. Just for the understanding: These numbers continuously should go up until the compensation is reached. The question is merely 'when' here...
Customers probably will wonder about the fact, that the huge amount of working hours in relation to the total income will generally not even compensate the costs for the production environment (required software and hardware), despite of the fact, that the commercial revenue is not able to make a living for just one individual developer person, based on the lowest possible existence minimum necessary with a full time job. Note: Apple actually charged the traditional 30 percent of the total sales in the timeframe discussed here.
We want to share this information with our customers, so that they may see how much idealism is required for developing professional grade audio units on mobile Apple devices. Facit: After 2 years of full-time development, NONE of our sold products actually has reached development costs compensation in the Apple App Store ( the 100 % ). With 100 % cost compensation there would be actually zero profit.
Here is a small summary in numbers of the last 2 years (until end of 2020) of developing audio units for the App Store: We had development costs of approximately 73.320,00 $ US Dollars in sum (over 2 years) , which resolve to 3666 development hours a 20 dollars. This includes everything, from graphics and UI design, research, recherché, writing documentations .... and of course the coding and providing all the App Store requirements (which need huge amounts of time). Not included are the costs for hardware and usage or any time for direct user support. We currently have 28 products in the app store, distributed over the last 2 years.
So per app approximately 2.618,57 $ average development costs will sum up. Some clearly more, some other clearly less. The development costs compensation for all our full time activities is finally merely 12,61 % since starting the business. You now may calculate the total business result yourself.
By the way: The development costs for current products in preparation and in beta state (6) are NOT EVEN CONSIDERED in those calculations above.
Repeating: With 100 % development cost compensation there is actually ZERO PROFIT reached with the product, but just the investments compensated. And in other words, a single developer need to make at absolute minimum 32.000,00 $ per year to make a living with the App Store without even producing any profit for future investments, but just for managing all the regular monthly costs of a solid one man business. At least this is the case in the “western hemisphere”. (The average income of a qualified developer in permanent employment is usually between 40.000 and 90.000 $ per year.)
If we would have hired external forces to reach the current state of App Store presence, we probably would have payd more than the double or even triple amount of money and would be broke forever. So if you just calculate the average hourly income of a developer here, you may divide the used hours with the real final revenue in the App Store, which resolves to the following formula (from January 2019 to December 2020, actually 2 full years) :
9245,10 $ app store revenue / 3666 development hours = 2,52 $ average hourly income. ( So this does not even compensate the required hardware and software licensing costs - the production environment - in that time frame. )
A conclusion : It traces down to the fundamental problem, that the common average product price establishment in the Apple App Store is generally much too low for niche products. These prices will, at least for the big majority of independent developers with specialized products, probably NOT compensate any of the initial development costs with the released apps ever, despite the fact of giving them any solid base for regular (life time) updates and maintenance (which is b.t.w. a general conceptual disaster of the Apple App Store distribution system). This affects all highly specialized niche areas of app developments, like professional audio apps and AudioUnits.
Secondly, the commercial 'pushing' in the App Store is really very strange too. One and the same old apps will be (redactionally) pushed by Apple for years in a kind of loop. This even repeats (circulates) approximately ones per mopnth. So these apps are remaining continuously in the Top 100 lists in their category, no matter how buggy or crappy or old or even useless these are.
But on the other side, Apple continuously swanks with their big 'new apps count' every year, which is quite a contradiction. But there is no place for individualism. Most of the newcomer apps will just disappear, become sunken in digital nirwana, after relatively short time because of this entire disaster and the awful App Store development and distribution obstacles. There is not even a decent listing for brand new apps per category available there. So the 'top lists' in the App Store are by no means any 'success indicator' for any quality but just for plain average and obviously automated (AI???) marketing quantity. And (mass) shit always happens.
Another conclusion would be to leave the specialized niche AudoUnit area completely, because you obviously can't survive with such minimal income that long (except you are one of the traditional big players from the global areas, (who have their main income with Windows and Mac software and even with original hardware) and you have to enter the common (average enjoyment) app market. The audio unit market is always higly demanding new pro features, universal availability, constant updates and such time and thus financial investment consuming tasks and Apples consistent (but conceptionless) changes to the unthought AU and IAA hacks add to this entire misere.
iOS/iPadOS is far from being any professional solution for audio production and Apple probably won't change that ever. The fixed samplerate issue with latest PRO devices, the removage of the audio jacks from the devices and so on.., and the common confusion about sample rates and AUGraph signal flow paradigms for developers in common and lately also really strange MIDI quirks on Apple systems are clear indicators, that the audio processing area is not really on the focus of Apples future plans, especially for their mobile devices. They just hack their current systems continuously and temporarily, just keeping it anyhow working and fit into their global vision of ... whatever.
So you probably should try to build that sort of shorttimed mass promoted enjoyment app rollouts to get promoted by them and thus, reach potential customers this way with a final income that makes maybe more sense. And don't forget to ship all that regularly to the "influencers" too for free, because they are the new (sponsored) gods of mankind and their wallets. But please - do not dare to ask for professional, specialized, innovative or individual apps with featues then any longer.