Owen Goss of Streaming Colour, a fine iPhone programmer capable of outrunning cybernetic polar bears in sub-zero temperatures and also of coding great strategy games (probably not at the same time, though), has posted a very interesting, if not entirely happy post on his blog, where he lays out exactly how much he has made (or, more accurately, not made) with his wonderful game Dapple that's currently available on the App Store.
(It's a great game, you really should give the lite version a try and then pony up for the full version if you like it.)
Although I wish Owen were reporting better news, I think it is good for people to have a dose of reality every now and then to counter all the hype we've been hearing around the iPhone and, more specifically, the App Store. Not every great game is going to be an overnight success, and not every overnight success is going to be a great program. As more developers enter the market (including large, powerful corporate entities who are starting to smell money), the harder it's going to be to stand out the way Trism did early on, and a handful of other applications have done since.
I believe in capitalism wholeheartedly, but I must admit that I find it a little dismaying that an app that plays pre-recorded fart sounds and probably took a grand total of a few hours to code can make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but a well thought-out, well-executed game like Dapple struggles to sell copies. I also think it's amazing that people who will drop $5 a day without hesitation to buy coffee, will hesitate to buy a game for the same price. I guarantee you you'll still be playing Dapple long after you've finished the coffee and annoyed every single person you know with that fart app.
Note: Owen's blog got Slashdotted, so availability may be sporadic for a little while.