A more sober view on iPhone application development

Steven Frank of Panic software writes about the iTunes App Store.

I’ve been trying to reconcile the App Store with my beliefs on “how things should be” ever since the SDK was announced. After all this time, I still can’t make it all line up. I can’t question that it’s probably the best mobile application distribution method yet created, but every time I use it, a little piece of my soul dies. And we don’t even have anything for sale on there yet.

I can’t disagree with anything Steven says.

Panic are one of the companies out there producing insanely great software and being remarkably transparent about the ins and outs of being in Apple’s ecosystem.

Go and read Steven’s post again. No, really. Don’t just read it, digest it.

Now read this from iPhone app developers, TapTapTap.

We’ve finally received our financial reports for the month. At this time, we’re still missing some territories, such as Canada, but overall the US overwhelmingly makes up the bulk of the sales (>90%) so the final-final numbers won’t vary by much.

The sales are reported for the period of June 29th to August 2nd. But because the App Store opened July 10th, the period is actually 24 days. So over the course of those days we took in an average of around $2,200 per day.

We went from selling around 450/day when we were ranked around 50 to around 250/day when falling below. And we dropped like a rock… in just two days we fell to around the 75th rank.

TapTapTap made $52,815 in the month of July and though they admit the numbers are dropping fast in August, it’s still not a bad thing at all and makes you think what might be achievable. Their premier application hovered around #50 on the App Store so imagine the numbers for applications which score much higher on the list.

On one hand you have the tenets by which Steven Frank designs software and on the other hand you have the potential to spend six months building an application and then making $52 000 in a month. It’s no wonder that some people see iPhone as a quick way to make a name, earn some money and set themselves up as an independent software vendor. Working as a code-slave for some mindless $BIG_COMPANY? Hack for a while and maybe make enough dough to enable you to spend a few more months hacking away. Sounds like fun to me.

I think that now the furor has died down, it represents a very personal decision on whether you want to develop for iPhone. There are obviously advantages but there are also disadvantages. The winner of course is Apple. They’re selling shedloads of everything (including the alleged 200 000 iPhones to HSBC).

Published by

Matt Johnston

Technologist, Futurist, Humanist

2 thoughts on “A more sober view on iPhone application development”

  1. This is just the beginning of revenues. More iPhones will be sold. Word will spread about apps from blogs and friends. None of the apps on the Store are going away (like books do in stores!). Some apps might be shown on TV or a movie (or something so CLOSE as an accidental simulation!) and that will stimulate more sales.

    Some people will become millionaires from the App Store.

    Just RESIST — absolutely RESIST — the temptation to plug your own stuff again and again. What works with blogs takes on the tone of BEGGING once money gets involved. That’s poison to sales.

  2. The fact that the digital store can be more persistent than paper in terms of ‘currency’ as opposed to ‘longevity’ means that some people will make a lot more money. Bits don’t have to jostle for shelf space with boxes though I’m already seeing the iPhone app store as crowded. Two weeks ago there were no SSH clients for the iPhone on the store. Last night there were three. And that number will grow and grow….

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