[Apple iPhone App Store: Potential Goldmine]
March 10, 2009 By Dave Kristula
If your app is great, it's got a chance, even if you're late into the game.
I've been thinking of writing an article about Apple's iPhone App Store for quite a while, but didn't really have the comprehensive collection of references I really wanted. They have since developed and I've felt comfortable writing my first article about this new feature of the iPhone.
The AppStore from Apple is a pretty cool concept. You get an iPhone, and you can download over the iPhone (or via iTunes on a Mac or Windows computer) new applications for free or a small cost. Most applications range in the price range for $0.99 to $2.99. So you may ask why Apple is letting a regular programmer release an application? It's pretty simple.
Apple takes 30% of every sale. And they get $99 a year from each developer just for letting them publish applications, even if they're free apps.
Now, programming an iPhone is significantly more difficult and time consuming than learning HTML and CSS. I've read several books on the topic, including Programming Object C 2.0, Beginning iPhone Development, and iPhone in Action: Introduction to Web and SDK Development. There are actually about a dozen books available right now (March 2009) on the topic, and well over a dozen being released by then end of this summer.
I originally became interested in handheld development in 1997 when the Palm introduced the PalmPilot Pro, the first Palm handheld with TCP/IP (meaning it could talk to the Internet.) The problem was, there was no wireless connection, and the application sale process was complicated. To make app, you had to buy expensive software (more on iPhone SDK a little later in this article) and then set up your own online store, with your own credit card processing system (which was very expensive at the time). This made making money extremely difficult, and only a few developers made a significant income for their time and effort.
The costs of developing for an iPhone is relatively expensive. First, you need an iPhone and a service plan, which runs about US$80 or more. Then, you need to own a Mac OS X 10.5 or higher system, running on an Intel processor. Just to get started, you need a Mac that costs at least $499 (a refurbished Mac Mini) and a copy of the SDK (software development kit, FREE from Apple's Developer Center). Then you need to learn the Objective-C language and the Cocoa Touch framework on top of that. Depending on your knowledge of programming, this can be relatively easy or extremely difficult.
Now, about the saturated marketplace. Yes, it's true that as of March 2009, there are over 25,000 apps available in the store. You're asking, does my new app have a chance? Well, think about it this way. Before Myspace and Facebook came out, there were MILLIONS of web sites. Did any of them meet the success of those two "killer social web apps"? Very few did. So, a good idea overrides the "fear" that your app won't succeed. If your app is great, it's got a chance, even if you're late into the game.
Making AppStore apps isn't going to be a great "Give up my current job" risk. But if you have the passion to make something totally awesome for a great touchscreen device, it may be worth your time to explore on your nights and weekends.
Dave Kristula is the editor of SLASH Magazine. He loves his iPhone. He wants you to love yours, too. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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