This weekend, the New York Times tackled a subject that, as you can see, is near and dear to our heart: the modern-day Gold Rush that is the making of applications for the iPhone and other smartphones. Have a good idea? Have some basic programming know-how (or the time and willpower to learn)? Then the iPhone could literally make you a millionaire.
The article is chock-full of interesting nuggets (gold nuggets?), and, if read the right way, solid advice. For example, one app was selling modestly at a price of $4.99. But when a simpler version of it was made downloadable for free, in order to get users hooked, and the full version's price dropped to $2.99, it really took off. Also, who knew that already there were more than 25,000 applications in the Apple app store alone?
One ironic aspect to this trend, incidentally, is that the recession is if anything accelerating it by giving talented people who ordinarily would have jobs with larger companies the time, if involuntarily, to strike out on their own as entrepreneurs. One profiled app creator was recently laid off from Sun Microsystems, for example.
In fact, in a subsequent blogpost, the author of the article sounded a note of caution about the increasing glut of apps, positing, "As more developers seek their fortune in the glossy curves of the device, the App Store is becoming crowded. Competition is spiking, driving down application prices--and the chances of becoming the next iMillionaire." The saving grace might be the iPhone's 3.0 application system, forthcoming this summer, which should grant app-makers new methods for monetizing their products--although even this could turn out to be a boon largely to those big corporations that offer apps rather than mom-and-pop app-creators, the author argues.
Of course, there's also always Blackberry App World! TechCrunch has an interesting review of Research In Motion's counterstrike to the iPhone juggernaut here. So there's another available platform for developers; expect something similar at some point from Google for its Android smartphone operating system.
And one more thing. We really couldn't make up so perfect an example of the way in which these smartphones, like so much information technology before them, are serving as a great leveler that gives even the smallest of start-ups and even the most novice of entrepreneurs a bona fide way to compete with the big guys. It's not enough that Stanford, whose symbiotic relationship to nearby Silicon Valley has been well documented (Stanford was of course once the academic home to Sergey Brin and Larry Page, among many others), offers a popular course on--what else?--how to develop an iPhone app. Now, though, you don't have to go to Stanford to view the course. Rather, reports TechCrunch, you can go right ahead and download it, for free, to your iPhone as a video podcast. How appropriate.
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