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Want a top-10 app in America? It’ll cost you $60,000

Published Jun 4th, 2013 3:00PM EDT
iOS App Analysis

Trademob has a fascinating piece on the cost of launching a top-10 app in various markets. In America, you need 80,000 downloads over a 72-hour period to land a place in the top-10 chart on iOS. In Germany, 15,000 downloads will do. It’s an interesting snapshot of the relative sizes of major iOS markets. Of course, if your app is extremely viral, you don’t need to pay for people to download it. If it’s not, you need to buy it an early audience.

The report points out that while the average cost of a paid game download may now be close to $1.50 in America, the effective cost is roughly half. That’s because a high chart placement lures in consumers who will download the app out of curiosity. The multiplier effect lowers the price of a chart placement campaign.

What I find particularly interesting is the comparison of how much the top-10 requirement has changed over the past year. In Italy, you need 38% more downloads than a year ago to hit the top of the charts. In the U.K., you need a heady 44% increase in downloads to achieve the same chart placement as one year ago.

But in the United States, the top-10 download requirement has remained the same for a year — 80,000 installs.

This is quite surprising. It implies that the No. 10 app on the American iOS download chart generates no more downloads than an app in the same spot did one year earlier. This is kind of hard to reconcile with industry claims that the U.S. app market is still expanding by 30-40% annually.

It’s possible that the download growth is happening in the long tail or alternatively in the top-3 or top-5 sliver. Still, it’s a peculiar finding that may be another indication of how the iOS app market is maturing in America.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.