• Cydia Store - Nearly $1/4 Million in Income

    The Cydia Store launched its first product on March 07, 2009. Cyntact sold sells for a buck, and was the first paid package through the Cydia Store. It allows you to see profile pictures in contact lists. While not the only 3rd party application store for the iPhone (Rock Your Phone also exists), the Cydia Store is definitely the most popular one, largely due to Cydia's immense popularity as the source for jailbreak packages (items you can only get when jailbroken - like themes and apps such as GV Mobile, recently kicked out of the AppStore).

    Now, 4 1/2 months later, "the Cydia Store has had ~53,000 purchases for a grand total of ~$210,000 spent," said Jay Freeman, creator of Cydia, known as saurik to most in the jailbreak crowd. And for a good while, packages weren't even being accepted into the store other than a few beta packages, which Freeman used to live test the service after the initial offline testing. (Packages are now being added more and more as the service matures - use our Cydia submission form if you've got an application you'd like ModMyi to host (we're not your only option), and we'll be in touch).

    Until March, the AppStore was the only sustainable way for a developer to sell their app. There were a few ambitious apps which were freely available in lite versions from Cydia, and had their own built-in payment systems (PdaNet comes to mind, although that whole move to paid was a bit controversial and actually made me completely revise our update approval process for the MMi repo). ZodTTD created an "invite-only" repository where only donaters could access, with unique URL's for the repo depending on your device, email, etc. Both these methods were hacks (however elegant) to get around the glaring issue - no good way existed for jailbreak developers to make any income from their work, forcing scores of developers to either give up on the jailbreak community, never get involved to begin with, or save their best for AppStore, while releasing lesser quality (and lesser time-consuming) packages on Cydia.

    The Cydia Store brings a whole new market as a viable option. Freeman states "In the last day, ~470,000 unique devices reported into my server (when I last checked, months ago, this figure was ~350,000). In the last week, ~1.5 million. In the last month, ~3 million. In the last two months, ~4 million devices. To be honest, this actually surprised me: I thought the jailbreak community had a higher attrition rate: that I'd be seeing a much smaller percentage of 'identifiers of jailbroken devices that were seen in the last two months'". That's a decent audience. The method of sale is well thought-out, too. Your Cydia Store account is tied to either a Facebook or Google account, much like your AppStore account is tied to your iTunes. Sign in once, and your info is saved unless you log out. Same with payment info - associate your device with your payment method once, and its saved for future purchases (of course with an option to turn it off).

    And there's money to be made. It's been said that jailbreakers are not the type to pay for apps, which may be true of a select few cheapskates or a vocal minority of hard-headed "all software should be free" activists (I just call them cheapskates) - but the truth is quite the opposite. We chatted with pumpkin, a member of the iPhone Dev Team who recently released a slick and simple tweak called YourTube which allows you to download YouTube videos to your iPhone from within the YouTube.app. Released just the day before yesterday, it's had over 1800 downloads at $2 a pop - $3600 gross revenue in 3 days, a net income of over $2500. Freeman, like Apple, keeps a variable percentage of the sales, depending on whether there is sales tax applicable. The percentage never tops 30%, Apple's cut for AppStore apps. Another developer's net income was over $10,000 in the first week of sales.

    The lower number of packages for sale, and the higher amount of press an average Cydia Store package receives, account for some of this income. Going forward, for the Cydia Store to maintain its initial success a few changes would have to be made. Specifically presentation - right now there's a simple list of apps for sale (themes don't even show up in the list, they're just in the "Changes" tab in Cydia), but as that grows, a spiced-up presentation will be necessary. One of the AppStore's biggest down-falls (besides the $0.99 app price), is its sheer volume. Apps are buried unless they have huge amounts of exterior advertising. Cydia should bring a better method of delivery to the table.

    Apple's TOS on their SDK specifically prohibits apps created in the SDK being sold elsewhere than the AppStore. Whether that's legal (monopoly and anti-competition are a couple terms that come to mind) is to be determined, but Apple is definitely fighting to have full and sole control of the method of selling software to iPhone users. Competition breeds innovation though (and uh... it's quite central to our entire economic ideals), and folks want options. Well, here comes competition...
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