Striking It Rich: Is There An App For That?

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A newsweek article with a different spin on the rainbows and lollipops of iPhone development: it's not the el Dorado many thought it might be.



http://www.newsweek.com/id/216788/output/print

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,548moderator
    Good article and one thing that's interesting is how some small-time developers' costs can run so high developing even basic apps that they might not make a return.



    I agree with the comments by the developers that the App Store is broken. Even when developers make a great app, they have to spend so much on marketing or it gets lost. If Apple would start recommending apps that users give positive reviews to, this wouldn't be the case.



    I don't see people turning to other app stores because the install base of the iphone is so high but I do see the App Store getting worse to a point where it's just barely usable and then developers will show much less interest.



    From another perspective though, nobody should expect the App Store to be a bed of roses. Like any system, the success rate is drastically lower than the failure rate. A lot of complaints come from people who don't 'Strike It Rich' within a few months vs others who do and think they equally deserved it and it's due to flaws in the way the system is implemented. So many people these days look at people like the Tweetie dev who looks like a lazy, arrogant guy who has obviously had success with his app and ask well why not me? But they can ask that about why someone in prison wins the lottery or why I'm not the one sleeping next to Jessica Alba.



    In the end life is not a fair system and rewards are rarely tied to the good or bad work you do. Apple could certainly help the situation in the same way that Google do - only recommend good apps - but it's not a guarantee of success.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Yep. There's very interesting discussion going on about the point. A lot of reading.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,031member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ivan.rnn01 View Post


    Yep. There's very interesting discussion going on about the point. A lot of reading.



    I think an interesting point to be made in the newsweek article was not so much the proportion of people covering their expenses, but what the fierce competition for eyeballs has done for the price of apps.



    I think the App Store has changed the perception of the worth of software for the negative and I think it could be quite destructive for the software industry. Before people jump down my throats and say that developers are free to develop for whatever platform they like, that perception by the end-user is likely to be carried across to other areas of software consumption.



    I'd like to see how the World of Goo fares - they are providing the software for whatever price one wishes to pay - this should give some indication (albeit unscientific) about what people perceive the value of a game to be. I am not beyond reproach - I put down $10 for it.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    I think an interesting point to be made in the newsweek article was not so much the proportion of people covering their expenses, but what the fierce competition for eyeballs has done for the price of apps.

    I think the App Store has changed the perception of the worth of software for the negative and I think it could be quite destructive for the software industry.



    I can't see your point is anyhow emphasized in the newsweek's article. They came from the different angle --- from that of a developer's view.

    That said, I second unconditionally your point. I have been writing about that for quite a while now: here, here, here, here, for example.

    (OK, my style is monkey one; but it's not totally impossible, that my concerns actually started the discussion)

    The degradation of the s/w perception may not be a given yet, but it's approaching us.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    Before people jump down my throats and say that developers are free to develop for whatever platform they like, that perception by the end-user is likely to be carried across to other areas of software consumption.



    This can't be totally eliminated either; Apple's notoriety and iPhone success may indeed have a hand in.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    I'd like to see how the World of Goo fares - they are providing the software for whatever price one wishes to pay - this should give some indication (albeit unscientific) about what people perceive the value of a game to be. I am not beyond reproach - I put down $10 for it.



    People don't like to pay at all. I'm not interested in games personally, but I used to pay indicated price, if the functionality of an app fitted my needs in their totality. I don't like to have "an app for this tiny thing and another one for that". Apps should be reasonably rich in features.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    imacfpimacfp Posts: 750member
    I'm not a developer, so I'm not asking this question out of a lack of knowledge rather than trying to be obtuse. Was, and is there, a large market for Mac programs created by small developers? The only program that I use from small companies are GraphicConverter and Rapid Weaver. To be honest I've not downloaded any non-App store programs in years where I used to do it much more often. Partly I'm not on the computer as much anymore (married with kids), but the point I'm getting at is this: Was there ever a time when small developers for the Mac could strike it rich? I know there have been a few people who have done well but as a general rule are people making less money with the app store than mac sharewear or are there just more people and less to go around.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by imacFP View Post


    I'm not a developer, so I'm not asking this question out of a lack of knowledge rather than trying to be obtuse. Was, and is there, a large market for Mac programs created by small developers? The only program that I use from small companies are GraphicConverter and Rapid Weaver. To be honest I've not downloaded any non-App store programs in years where I used to do it much more often. Partly I'm not on the computer as much anymore (married with kids), but the point I'm getting at is this: Was there ever a time when small developers for the Mac could strike it rich? I know there have been a few people who have done well but as a general rule are people making less money with the app store than mac sharewear or are there just more people and less to go around.



    I am a developer. Although I don't have much worthy of mention up at the moment. So I won't



    There is a very low signal to noise ratio everywhere. However, some people have been able to make a living selling shareware for the Mac only. And some people have been able to make a living with iPhone apps.



    Right now, the biggest problem on the App store is developer created. They seem to value their time so little as to put a dollar price tag, the cost of a ringtone, on their apps. Bad idea. It drives price expectations down. And other developers go and do the same thing. It is just as easy to get ten downloads as a million. And even a basic twitter app is going to cost you more than eight hours of your time unless you are super caffeinated and putting the thinest facade over one of the available Twitter API libraries.



    If you start looking at the big games, the ones from people such as EA, those are well beyond a single developer. We're talking television production budgets on up. Selling those for five to ten dollars is equally silly.



    It costs just as much time and effort to write an app for the iPhone as it does to write a similar app for OS X or any other OS.



    So what should the loan cowboy developer do? The answer is stunningly simple. Write apps that you want to use and use them. Also, price them according to your perceived value. Don't simply make them a buck. You can always play with the price point to see where you get your maximum revenue.



    As far as advertising... I know nothing about that really. I don't think I would pay to advertise any of my apps no matter how grand they were. I have this silly idea that the signal will still be heard.
  • Reply 7 of 11
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    I notice that one of the developers in the article cited $15,000 in "living costs" as part of his expenses, now I don't know about the US but here in Australia, "living costs" aren't considered a legitimate business expense and so are left out of profit and loss statements, the reason being that those costs would have been incurred anyway regardless of whether you were developing Apps or not.



    The IRS would just laugh in your face.



    Professional foul, padding the story.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,548moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    I notice that one of the developers in the article cited $15,000 in "living costs" as part of his expenses



    Sure but I think this is from the point of view of a small, independent developer trying to make a living and simply pointing out that costs can be higher than a lot of people might expect and to be careful embarking down a similar path.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Let me put it this way.



    IRS How much did you earn last year?



    John Doe: $30,000



    IRS: But it says here your employer paid you $45,000.



    John Doe: Oh, I had $15,000 living costs.



    IRS = ??? = profit.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Sure but I think this is from the point of view of a small, independent developer trying to make a living and simply pointing out that costs can be higher than a lot of people might expect and to be careful embarkin down a similar path.



  • Reply 10 of 11
    I don't know about any other developers, but if you become a dev at this point to "get rich" you are kidding yourself. You should become a dev to learn, have fun, create something that interests you, or fills a gap in the app market. To "get rich" is never a good reason for doing something, and it typically ends up being a waste of time. Play the stock market or turn to gambling instead. Your odds of 'winning' are greater, as well as your risk of loss. At least going through the process and learning, you have something that can't be taken away from you.



    Personally, I'm trying to see if it's possible to make the kinds of apps I'd like to download.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    In France, in particular, you may indeed opt for declaring what I believe is called "living costs". It can really turn out to be advantageous for self-employed persons and small businesses.
Sign In or Register to comment.