Another possible solution would be a universal app catalog -- "a single store or a single set of standards which can be accessed independent of the type of mobile device or OS it is running," as Ferraro describes it. "Some initiatives are being set up to attempt this -- for example, the Wholesale Applications Community initiative sponsored by the GSM Association could go a long way in setting unified standards and creating a single platform."
That wouldn't make things much easier for developers, who would still have to produce and test variations of a given app for different platforms -- but the app market is driven by consumers and not developers alone, and where the consumers go, the developers inevitably must follow.
The cost of selling
One other major factor that comes into play when selling an app is the cost of making the app available in the first place. Apple's iTunes store splits revenue 70-30, with Apple getting the 30%. Windows Phone 7's app store has a similar 70-30 split, but a portion of Microsoft's 30% is distributed back to the network operators. Both also have application requirements and yearly membership fees -- $99 for Microsoft, and from $99 to $299 for Apple, depending on whether you get the Standard or Enterprise iPhone software development kit.
The Android Market also features a 70-30 revenue split, but the 30% is distributed between the payment processor and the carrier. The registration fee for developers is also only $25, but an unlocked developer phone, either the Android Dev Phone or the Google Nexus One, can cost upwards of $500. These phones are not required, but they provide some major power-developer features: They can work with any GSM network, and the Android Dev phone also lets you install any custom Android system image.
Alternative places to obtain apps are also starting to become available. For example, Verizon is planning to open its Android V Cast apps store sometime in November, for which it will be offering a 70-30 revenue split. GetJar, an independent site, takes a varying fee for each app download, using a bidding system that starts at one cent per download.
Making a living at apps
All that being said, there are a number of different strategies that developers are using to earn money with their apps -- most outside the traditional pay-for-product model.
The freemium model