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Mobile app development seems like a crapshoot, with millions of people trying to create a big hit in the app stores. But that dream is not entirely elusive. Pollen Velocity Capital, which provides financing for mobile app developers and handles user-acquisition campaigns, and mobile app intelligence provider Priori Data found in their research that 4,648 app developers made more than $1 million in 2016.

Of those, 81 percent of the publishers in the Millionaires Index (2,519 developers) were in games. The study found that 1,077 earned more than $1 million from apps that were only on iOS, while 964 made more than $1 million from apps that were only on Google Play. And 2,607 made more than $1 million from apps that were on both platforms. While the odds are pretty low that you’ll be the lucky one that generates $1 million, it does show that the mobile app marketplace is maturing into a platform that provides meaningful revenues to a growing number of emerging publishers, said Martin MacMillan, CEO of Pollen VC.

“The emergence of the torso of the app stores is good news for the app economy, showing that success on mobile is no longer the preserve of just the very top tier of developers,” said Macmillan, in a statement. “It’s great to see emerging digital businesses from all corners of the earth play on a global stage empowered by a democratized app economy.”

Above: Pollen VC found that 81 percent of the $1 million revenue apps were games.

Image Credit: Pollen VC

And it wasn’t just the big companies that made money. The top 100 developers accounted for 44 percent of all revenues on the app store. But that means 56 percent of all earnings came from companies that were outside the top 100.


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Almost 30,000 developers made more than $100,000 on the app stores in 2016. Pollen VC collected global data on a publisher level, and so the $1 million threshold includes all companies who apps generated more than $1 million in revenues across all of their apps in 2016. The rankings data comes from Priori Data, which tracks data on a worldwide basis for thousands of developers and then interpolates the data for the whole market.

“Although mobile gaming apps still mint the most millionaires, it is encouraging to see more non-gaming apps crossing the million dollar revenue threshold,” said Patrick Kane, CEO of Priori Data, in a statement. “It is a reflection of three major shifts in the last year: The stores have improved subscription products and economics for developers, developers have become more sophisticated in leveraging subscription business models, and consumers have embraced the changes and demonstrated a willingness to pay for great content and services beyond games.”

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