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App Catalog

Many developers are hoping to leverage Palm’s webOS App Catalog for financial gain much like has been done on the iPhone App Store. With a significantly smaller install base than the iPhone, webOS developers do have a bit of ways to go to catch up with their iPhone brethren. But let it not be said that it is impossible to make money in the App Catalog.

We at PreCentral were curious how much money has been made from the App Catalog. The App Catalog does not automatically display download counts, even though the information is still available. Thankfully, the folks at WebOS Internals whipped up a patch that makes those numbers visible, and they are telling.

We did not compute a complete downloads and revenue figure for all apps (we just don’t have the patience needed to check the 100+ paid apps), instead we focused on apps that had netted more than 1,000 downloads. In the land of paid webOS apps, that amounts to 33 apps, ranging between $0.99 and $4.99. All told, we can safely say that the App Catalog has made webOS developers more than $100,000 after Palm’s 30% cut.

The most downloaded paid app was Tweed at $1.99, with 4946 downloads as of Wednesday evening. Those 4,946 downloads amount to $6,889 for developer Pivotal Labs.

The most valuable app so far, however, is Absolute Fitness. With a download count of 3,498 and a price of $4.99, sales of Absolute Fitness have netted developer Aqua Eagle $12,218. The next closest app in terms of revenue is Tweed, followed by Word Whirl, which has made $6,710 for SacherSoft.

The star ratings in the App Catalog appear to have little appreciable impact on app sales, so long as the rating isn’t below 2.5 stars. Only three paid apps with two or fewer stars have managed more than 1,000 downloads, but none of those have brought more than $1,000 to their developers.

Much discussion has been had about a “sweet spot” for paid webOS apps, with most developers hoping to avoid the $0.99 standard that has plagued the iPhone App Store. We can’t say with any certainty at this point - the App Catalog is still in beta, after all - but it appears that the sweet spot for strong-selling quality webOS apps has settled at $1.99. Even so, users seem to have little issue with apps that cost more than that; nearly a third of the apps surveyed were priced higher than $1.99.

Interestingly, webOS users also appear to be of the savvy variety, with UltraLingua’s fifteen overpriced dictionary/translator apps (ranging from $14.99 to $49.99) totaling just 68 downloads, with a grand total of only $948 in revenue.

We should also note that the App Catalog's download numbers are total downloads, including users that have downloaded an update for an app they already purchased. For practical purposes, we can't even think about filtering those out, but suffice to say the numbers we're reporting are likely higher than the actual count.

How about Palm’s 30% cut? It’s netted them approximately $43,000. If Palm’s cost scales are anything like Apple’s, most if not all of that forty-three grand is going towards server costs. Palm is first and foremost a hardware and OS provider - the App Catalog exists primarily as a means to drive device sales.