Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me, Mastodon)

Race to the bottom: App Store peer benchmarks

March 1 2023

Today Apple announced the availability of peer group benchmarks for developers in App Store analytics.

App Analytics in App Store Connect is a helpful tool with a breadth of features to help you understand and improve how your app is performing on the App Store. With metrics related to acquisition, usage, and monetization strategy, App Analytics enables you to monitor results in each stage of the customer lifecycle, from awareness to conversion and on to retention. Starting today, you can put your app’s performance into context using peer group benchmarks, which compare your app’s performance to that of similar apps on the App Store.

Of course, I raced to see the peer group benchmarks for my own apps. First, StopTheMadness in the Mac App Store, which is currently $9.99 USD:


My proceeds per paying user are $7.48. I'm in the App Store Small Business Program, so Apple's cut is 15% rather than 30%, which leaves me with $8.49 USD. I guess that foreign currency exchange rates bring down my average by $1? Or maybe the amount includes refunds, I don't know.

Now StopTheMadness Mobile in the iOS App Store, which is currently $7.99 USD:

StopTheMadness Mobile

My proceeds per paying user are $6.25, closer to 85% of $7.99, which would be $6.79.

In both the iOS App Store and Mac App Store, my proceeds per paying user put me in the top quartile of all upfront paid apps with no In App Purchase, despite the fact that both of my apps cost under $10. Indeed, according to the numbers given, a mere $5 in proceeds per paying user would have put me in the top quartile. Curiously, the quartiles are divided by exactly the same dollar amounts in the iOS and Mac App Stores; I don't know the explanation for that.

If I look at my peer group, the Utilities category, as opposed to all categories in the above screenshots, the numbers are approximately the same but actually a little "worse": in both the iOS and Mac App Store, it's $1.33 proceeds per paying user to qualify for the 2nd quartile, $2.47 for the 3rd quartile, and $4.36 for the top quartile.

In my opinion, this is a very sad illustration of the state of the App Store for developers. It's extremely difficult for us to sell our apps for a decent, sustainable price. The App Store has severely devalued software. And this was intentional, as Apple itself admits. From Apple's 2019 open letter Addressing Spotify’s claims:

A full 84 percent of the apps in the App Store pay nothing to Apple when you download or use the app. That’s not discrimination, as Spotify claims; it’s by design

By design. The race to the bottom was by design. App Store defenders often like to compare the App Store to a retail store, but there are few if any retail stores in the world that allow you to walk out the door with 84% of their products, having paid nothing. If you tried to do that, you'd be tackled by retail store security. I personally don't even care that much about Apple's "cut", whether that's 15% or 30%. I'd happily pay 50% to Apple if I could sell my apps at a significantly higher price, and if Apple would help me move my products from their virtual "shelves". The reality, though, and App Store analytics bear this out, is that I bring more customers to Apple than Apple brings to me.

Jeff Johnson (My apps, PayPal.Me, Mastodon)