iPhone App Development: It's a Living

As Rene just mentioned in the previous post, we're getting sales numbers for various iPhone apps and these sales numbers are very, very promising. John Casasanta of development house Tap Tap Tap hit us up on our tip line about his article on the sales figures at the App Store.

Early on, folks in the Blogosphere were able to get a handle on sales figures simply by checking the download count at the bottom of each page. Apple apparently decided that developers might just want to keep some of that info private, so that was taken down around the same time that Apple started actually delivering real sales numbers to developers. Many of these developers, as Rene mentioned, are just going ahead and publishing these sales numbers despite, as Casasanta says, traditional business instincts to hide exact numbers because they don't want to seem to be bragging or (if things aren't going well), failing.

But these numbers are news because of their sheer size -- it's almost as if developers are compelled to share in the same way we might if we'd, say, won the lottery. "Look, I know it's not nice to brag, but Holy Crap Look At This."

Tap Tap Tap's "Where To?" (App Store Link) has sold over 3,000 in a week. Eliza Block's 2 Across (seriously, it's the best crossword app out there -- App Store Link) is selling hundreds a day. Pandora (free and awesome) had 350,000 installs. Facebook's over a million. We could go on.

We can't say this information dump from developers is going to last forever, though we sort of hope it does. It's not just that we're interested in seeing who's doing well, it's that we're excited for the platform and word needs to be spread now and into the future: there's money in them thar iTunes pages. What remains to be seen is whether this gold rush will mature into a stable economy/ecosystem/platform. Right now, we think it's pretty safe to say it will.

If there was ever any question that you could make a living developing iPhone applications, the answer right now is hell yes. After the gold rush (cue Neil Young), there's a good chance that the iPhone platform will be the Smartphone Economy equivalent of the California Economy -- big enough to register as its own national economy if you wanted to measure it that way, an essential part of the actual national economy; the free-wheeling, 3-hours-behind-but-5-years-ahead center of innovation. Phone different, indeed.

Overstatement? Maybe, but with numbers like these it's tough to avoid.

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Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Reader comments

iPhone App Development: It's a Living


I showed a dev friend of mine these last two threads. He's now emailing about about which MacBook would suit his needs best. :)
Mobile and Location are going to be huge. Thus, this platform could be huge.

I want to learn this type of programming. I only know HTML but was bit of a programer back in collage. The Beginner to Advanced Iphone Developer book won't be out til November. Where should I start? Any help??

Good question George, I've also wondered what the best way to learn this type of programming. I'm not looking to make money per the article but it would be cool to mess around and maybe come up with some fun simple apps.
Anybody know of any good tutorials/guides/books out there?

They should thank the jailbreakers and hacker from the earlier firmwares.
If the iPhone was never hacked, none of this would have been possible.

check out the iPhone developer website. They have very in depth tutorials of Objective-C and Cocoa.
Hope that helps.

I think it takes a certain kind of personality, one that combines extreme love of music with extreme willingness to spend an entire afternoon doing craft projects (and or slavish commitment to procrastination techniques!).