My name is Kenneth and I write cool Mac and iPhone software. This is my personal weblog where I post about stuff I find interesting. I usually write about Mac development, the business of shareware and the Mac community in general.read more →
A while back, TechCrunch covered yet another article complaining about the App Store being more of a Lotto than a marketplace. Setting aside the App Store’s numerous other issues, coverage of iPhone app developers has been divided into two extremes: reassuring yet unlikely success stories, or depressing yet much more likely failure stories.
The general question in all of these articles is: “Can an average guy become a successful iPhone developer?”. The answer depends on how you define success, and on that topic I can speak from my own experience.
If, to you, success means making a million bucks overnight you will most likely be unsuccessful. To me, success is defined as the return on my investment (both in time and money) on the project. In my previous article, I mentioned making somewhere around a hundred dollars a day on iLaugh. However, I didn’t mention how much I invested in the project.
The first version of iLaugh and its subsequent revisions took me very little time to create. I estimate that I invested between ten to twenty hours of my time to create iLaugh 1.0. At my asking rate of $100 per hour, that represents a $1,000 to $2,000 investment. The server running the first iteration of the iLaugh API cost me about $100 per month to maintain.
If you look at the numbers for iLaugh from previous months, I make over $3,000 monthly (for a total of over $8,000 so far). Thus, I consider it a success.
Many people, in response to my previous article, said that I too, was one of the lucky ones, albeit on a smaller scale. And while that may be true, considering the low quality of that first iteration of iLaugh, a more carefully crafted app would likely have done better.
I believe the potential for success is relative to the investment put into anything.
If you look at the familiar success stories, many of them involve reinvestment and good marketing. For instance, Tapulous hit the jackpot with their Tap Tap games. Being good friends with one of their employees, I know exactly how much work goes into their production.
Perhaps one of the most talked-about success stories is Trism. Its developer, Steve Demeter, made an insane $250,000 in just two months. What I believe is the key to Steve’s long-term success, is that instead of buying a fancy sports car, he reinvested his money into founding a sustainable business.
Part of reinvesting, and a facet of development often ignored, are things that a typical developer can’t do. Most importantly: design, copywriting and marketing. These are things that will most likely have to be outsourced. Developers are reluctant to do that, because it’s very costly, but in the end, ignoring it is going to cost them the popularity of their application.
I view iLaugh 1.x as a catalyst towards bigger and, hopefully, even more successful endeavors.
In fact, I have already put a big part of my (in comparison to the numbers above, quite mediocre) earnings into the second iteration of iLaugh. I’ve hired a bunch of people much more talented than I am in their respective fields, and iLaugh 2.0 is coming along really nicely. It will be entirely different and nearly incomparable to the first iteration. There are some very cool things coming.
So, responding to my initial question: “Can an average guy become a successful iPhone developer?”. Yes! An average developer can be successful in the App Store. But it takes hard work, a lot of time, money, and perseverance.
This entry was posted on Saturday, May 30th, 2009 at 7:05 pm and is filed under Apple, Articles, Business, Internet, Rants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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