October 8, 2009 in iOS Development (E)
[prMac.com] San Diego, California - Got an idea for a killer iPhone app? With more than 1 billion applications sold since its launch last July, Apple's iPhone App Store has become one of the fastest-growing tech enterprises in recent history, and gained a reputation as something of a developer's goldmine. Success stories such as that of Ethan Nicholas, whose iShoot app has earned him $900,000 in eight months, have only added to the App Store's appeal for would-be iPhone entrepreneurs.
"The runaway success of the App Store has created the legend of the iPhone millionaire," says Ian Maskell, principal of iPhone App Freelancer, a company aiming to make it possible to get your idea into the App Store without technical knowledge and minimal financial outlay.
"Everywhere we went people would say: 'I've got a great idea for an app.' We saw an opportunity to level the playing field and allow anyone the ability to become the next success story, regardless of their ability to program or write code."
So Maskell launched iPhone App Freelancer, a website offering the ability to turn great ideas into apps with little or no programming knowledge.
Rob Shoesmith, a 27-year-old garbage collector from Coventry - England, submitted one of the first ideas to iPhone App Freelancer for development. Shoesmith says he has only had an iPhone for a few months, but has been following the growth of the App Store since its launch. He wants to keep the specifics of his app under wraps until its launch, but describes it as a user-generated advice service.
"The idea just popped into my head," says Shoesmith. "I don't have a technology background, but I do have lots of ideas. Until now I hadn't been able to find anyone to develop them." The App Store boom means programmers are in demand, and the cost of hiring a developer to build an app can be prohibitively expensive.
Maskell says Shoesmith's app taps into a current trend toward social connectivity, and he expects it to be successful. "I imagine that Rob's app will help a lot of people," he says. "In general, people are looking for a tool to make their lives easier, or they are looking to take an area that fascinates them and share it with the world. But there are also a lot of people out there who think their iPhone can be used to open their garage doors. As of right now, as far as I know, it can't."
Ethan Nicholas built iShoot from scratch, spending six weeks developing the artillery combat game on his sofa. "With the exception of licenced sound and images, I developed iShoot single-handedly," he says. The app has sold almost half a million copies, and Nicholas recently launched iShoot 2.0. Asked whether he has been surprised by its success he says, "I'm so far past surprised that there isn't even a word for it."
Nicholas sees no reason why other app developers shouldn't have similar success - "iShoot certainly isn't alone," he says. "Many developers have struck it rich on the App Store. I'm certainly trying my hand at it again, and am busily coding away on my next game."
Speaking the language
Apple actively encourages independent app development, offering a free down-loadable Software Development Kit through the iPhone Dev Center. But, unless you're prepared to tackle programming languages such as Cocoa Touch and Objective-C, you may find it easier to hire a pro.
So when design engineer Maskell had an idea for a image sequencing app, and tried to build it himself, but found that the task of building an iPhone app required skills that were outside of his experience. "It proved to be very difficult," he says. "iPhone apps are based on an MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture, and this was something I hadn't dealt with previously."
Struggling to find a developer who could help, Maskell set about creating iPhone App Freelancer, to connect "ideas people" to programmers and developers. "We have approximately 800 members, and a pool of about 300 developers who receive a notification whenever someone posts a new project," he says. "I would estimate we've had close to 100 projects completed."
Maskell says he has seen "pretty basic" app ideas built for around $500 through his website, but more complicated apps, such as games, tend to command development fees of around $5,000. With more than 40,000 apps already competing for attention at the App Store, and more than 2,700 new apps being submitted every month (according to figures collated at 148apps.biz), shelling out thousands to develop an app may represent an expensive gamble.
Maskell hopes that reducing the risk factor for entrepreneurs by pairing up with experienced developers will encourage more people to submit their ideas to iPhone App Freelancer. "The future is really exciting," he says. "Our goal is to help build 1,000 apps in the next two years. I'd love to become known as the company that created hundreds of iPhone millionaires across the world."
Shoesmith expects his app to appear in the App Store within the next few weeks, and is recording its progress on his Twitter feed. "I hope it can make it into the App Store's Top 100," he says. "If I do make any money from it, I might use that to develop more of my ideas."
iPhone App Freelancer is a service that connects freelancer iPhone application developers with entrepreneurs and businesses that require custom programming, applications, graphics and development projects for the iPhone. Much like an auction, employers' projects are posted and interested freelancers bid to complete the work. Copyright (C) 2009 iPhone App Freelancer. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries.