Remember the news from earlier this week about a mobile app developer who turned to eBay to unload his underperforming iOS app? (Update: the app is now up to $15,100+!) Well, there will soon be an alternative to eBay auctions for other developers looking to do the same. A new marketplace called Apptopia will launch in February, allowing developers to sell their mobile apps, source code and all.
Pre-launch, Apptopia has a couple of hundred thousand in seed funding, including $110,000 from Expansion VC. The rest is bootstrapped by the founders themselves, Jonathan Kay and Eli Sapir. Kay spent the past three years the “Ambassador of Buzz” at Grasshopper.com and Sapir was the Entrepreneur in Residence at Greatpoint Ventures and the founder of the once popular iOS app GPush. Sapir knows first hand about the difficulties of selling mobile apps – he experienced them himself when he wanted to move on from GPush.
The company has already brokered the sale of one mobile app valued at over $15,000 (no, not the one on eBay!) and have 30 more lined up for February’s launch.
The site will handle the app sale process from beginning to end, including connecting the buyer and the seller and working with app store in question to make the actual transfer. Apptopia will take 10% of the transaction price, of which it expects to keep about 8% (the rest goes to credit card fees). Kay says that from what they’ve seen so far, their expectations are for sale prices of $5,000 to $50,000, with most apps realistically selling for $6,000 to $15,000.
In other words, it’s not for the Camera+’s and Instagram’s of the app world, but for the B-tier. “I would expect that apps selling the $100,000 range will be more likely to want to broker the deals themselves, and involve their own legal team,” says Kay.
There will also be a listing fee, a mechanism Apptopia has put in place to help keep the so-called “bs” apps out.
“I don’t want a Frogger app with 700 users listing on the site as it will crowd the market and make it harder for serious buyers to find a profitable investment,” Kay explains. However, to kick off its launch, the first 200 developers who sign up to their apps will not have to pay the fee.
So what kind of developers want to sell their apps? Are they like Neal Schmidt, the developer who was selling his mobile game on eBay? Schmidt had said that he was tired of paying $99/year to use iTunesConnect, was tired of Apple’s 30% cut of everything he generates and was tired of waiting in line for a week or more with the Apple Review Board every time he has an important update.
Kay says that the majority of the developers they expect to see at Apptopia are not necessarily like Schmidt – it’s not that they have an ax to grind with Apple, pe se, it’s just that they can’t keep up the business on their own. Maybe life gets in the way and the app is being neglected, maybe they got a full-time job they want to devote their energy to now, or maybe they built something great that’s seeing traction, but don’t have the skills or desire to take it to the next level of being a real business (e.g., answering support calls, implementing monetization strategies, etc.)
There are others already operating similar efforts in this space, like Appslit and SmartAppsters. But most efforts are focused on selling mobile app source code or bits of code, like Chupa, TechCrunch Disrupt finalist Verious and Appcelerator’s Open Mobile Marketplace – not on brokering the entire deal end to end.
Although Apptopia’s official public launch is not until February (likely the first or second week), the service is being opened in advance for TechCrunch readers only.
If you’re interested in connecting with the team to begin the process of selling your app offline, Apptopia will help start brokering those deals now. Just use the sign-up form here to provide your info.