In one of the more financially revealing posts we’ve seen this month, tap tap tap, the U.S. developer behind Camera+ said it reached 2 million downloads and at least $1.9 million in revenue through paid downloads and in-app purchases. The post from tap tap tap’s John Casasanta is definitely worth checking out.
Like we’re seeing with other top-ranked mobile developers, growth is accelerating. The company has done 1 million downloads since early January. In contrast, it took six months to do tap tap tap’s first million, so the download rate has basically doubled in the last three months.
Number of paid apps downloaded: 2,061,403
Net sales: $1,833,722
In-app purchases are also doing alright, with about a 5 percent conversion rate. Other game developers have told us that their conversion rates to are usually around 10 percent, so this is a little lower.
Number of FX packs sold in the app: 98,169
Net sales: $68.267
Overall, this gives us a nice benchmark for how the iOS top-grossing list looks. Camera+ typically hovers between #15 to #20 so that range on the chart implies the other apps around there like Zynga Poker, A Thinking Ape’s Kingdoms at War and Halfbrick Studios’ Fruit Ninja probably make around $10,000 a day. That’s taking Camera+’s 1 million downloads from January until now, dividing it by 90 days, then adding the 500 to 1000 in-app purchases per day. Then we take out Apple’s 30 percent cut.
Camera+’s numbers also suggest the amount of income Benchmark-funded Instagram is forgoing in not providing some sort of in-app purchase. Instagram said over the weekend it passed 3 million users, up from 2 million in February when they raised their round of funding. That implies 500,000 new registered users (not downloads) per month.
If they released new paid filters or effects every month and got the same conversion rate as tap tap tap, it’s not unreasonable at all to suggest that they could do at least $100,000 a month after Apple’s take. And this is excluding all of the other interesting brand advertising opportunities the company has; companies like Starbucks and fashion labels like Burberry have taken to the app to send images to followers.
Both photo apps are emblematic of the two divergent trajectories top mobile developers have pursued as the iOS platform has evolved: Camera+ is the profitable bootstrapper and Instagram is the heavily venture-backed big bet.
Instagram opted to take a large amount of venture funding and remain free to acquire a large userbase. As with other consumer Internet startups, the idea would be to monetize later with advertising or other unforeseen revenue streams. In contrast, Camera+’s Casasanta has been vocally opposed to outside funding and has instead decided to build a very cashflow positive business from the outset.
In a recent post, Casasanta criticized the recent spate of financing rounds to pre-revenue or even pre-launch mobile apps: “VCs are making pretty ridiculous moves where they’re literally throwing millions of dollars at half-baked ideas that have little chance at making enough of a return to justify their investments.”
Instagram has more users now at 3 million to Camera+’s 2 million downloads, but it’s pre-revenue so it’s hard to say who will come out ahead in the long-run. If we remember back to the analog world though, there was a market for point-and-shoot cameras and a market for expensive SLRs. Who says there can’t be room for both?