In this article I will try to briefly tell you about my one and a half year experience of developing for the iPhone. And about who can use the App Store.
Part 1. Characters
My position is as follows, and I hope many will agree that a successful person is someone who does a favorite thing that brings income, which you can not only live but also relax from work. That is, his labor contribution should pay off so that he fully provides himself. In addition to income, self-development is still required in order to keep up with the growth rate of the industry, to be always fully armed, as far as possible, so as not to lose the main thing: experience, skills, knowledge.
Are there many such indie developers? It seems to me that no. On the contrary, even very, very little. Especially in our country. Let's try to figure out why.
Many have heard a success story about how a young man lights up with desire and for a week “in the garage” gives a super-project to the surface, about which news feeds are written, replete with twitter, which falls into the tops of categories, subcategories.
Usually, with very few exceptions, except for the minute / day / week of fame, nothing comes of it. That at first the young team is even harmful.
Far from everyone knows about real numbers. Because not everyone was in this very “top”. Sometimes it is even a problem, this “top”.
If the product hit any top, then users will assume that the developer is “rowing loot” and will require appropriate support and relationships. This may be a requirement to immediately change the functionality, as they wish, to change the design, to release an urgent update. By experience, I will say that by “urgently” they usually mean 2-3 days, and if the requirement is not met, “punishment” will inevitably follow in the form of a negative response (often very aggressive), a bad evaluation, an angry letter. I will tell you about reviews, ratings and users below.
On the other hand, the position in the rating table affects sales: applications of the first hundred are bought more often. Just because they are visible. However, it is difficult to accurately assess the coefficient that is introduced into the sale with the help of top.
So, in the eyes of users, the developer is a millionaire. And in fact…
"Lope of money?"
I'll tell you about the Russian top on the example of one of our applications, because "Floated, we know." Our top lags behind everything by an order of magnitude, I suppose, so that with a big stretch it can be said that it is comparable. And if you consider that the local developers and the needs are higher by an order of magnitude, then we are in the same skin with them. If I am right, it turns out that: “the developer is also a developer in Africa”.
So, what is the volume of our, Russian department of the shop? The maximum that we have seen is 750 downloads per day of a one-dollar application in the first place. At the same time, we did not get to Top Grossing. It turns out that the ceiling of the first place of the Russian top is most likely not limited to one thousand downloads. BUT it's not every day.
The average number of downloads in the first place is from 150 to 300. Of course, depends on the application, on the "neighbors", the season, etc. Observations were made during the month (so much time our application lasted in the first ten, half of this time in the first place).
In total, we have: 500 net hours spent on development (without smoke breaks and distractions), revenue for 4 months of sales, after deduction of Apple's collection, amounted to about 5 thousand dollars. Not a penny was spent on advertising, user support is about 100 hours. It turns out that the yield is less than 10 dollars per hour, provided that you are always in the top. This application just turned out to be necessary and in demand, it did not need to be promoted. And if you add the cost of advertising, payment of electricity, traffic, hosting, profit will be even less.
Unlike colleagues, who recently described their experiences as unsuccessful
, we believe that this is a small, but a success.
Everyone knows or heard about “garage startups”. But where are these startups in a year or two if they don’t find an investor? So it is here, in the development for the iPhone: often these are young people still without appropriate education, experience (both programmer and organizational). Fuse is usually enough for one or two applications. Let them be very good and sought after by the public. What's next? Well, if the investment is repulsed ... And then, with a blank wall, there is a limit of competence / army / apathy / need or desire to earn real money and sleep at night.
There are people whose wealth allows them to engage in any activity without regard to the business component. Usually they spend 10 times more on development than they manage to gain. Rarely, when a hobby brings money. This is work, if so.
A ticket to WWDC-2010 could be bought for $ 1600 for only 8 days. Dismantled like pies. How many indie developers were there? Little. And Russian developers? Units And who are all those people? These were journalists, people from the first paragraph, as well as those who were able to convince the management of their company to pay for such a trip (+ tickets + weekly stay).
This is me to the fact that there is a whole layer of people who are engaged in development (sometimes they even succeed in this), simply because they want to do it, because they are Apple fans or they want to prove to everyone that "they can." And they do not get upset because of failures (because there is something to live on in the accounts and without a game of development).
The guys from Apple commercials
Some developers get Apple support directly. There are several specially created Apple commercials, where single developers (!) Are already glowing and telling how easy it was for them to start the journey and how quickly it led them to success. For fun, maybe someone knows the fate of those same guys?
Apple is not interested in the app store as a means of additional income, but as a mechanism to attract customers for their devices. Therefore, it is beneficial for them to have many different applications in order to say that they already have 250 thousand programs in the store and so many billion downloads.
Maybe everything was intended for people: a lot of good, necessary, high-quality programs ... And it turned out, as always: the marketing department requires big numbers, unfortunate developers whine that the censors do not miss their garbage, make noise on blogs. Where there will be quality. As a result, everyone became hostage to a situation where everyone at the same time could not be nice.
Such is the power and uselessness of today's App Store: developers can not declare themselves, drowning in thousands of crafts and clones, users beyond the first 100 applications can not see anything, and if they want to, then find something suitable and worthwhile is not always under power.
These comrades earn a percentage of sales of foreign applications. These are almost all well-known App Store brands. They select the best that is. Sometimes they make orders themselves. Do not skimp on promo campaign. As a result, the developer who applies to the publisher gets the same salary as in the office. The publishing company itself is usually not small, and huge revenues are spent on salaries and advertising.
According to our observations and reasoning, it turns out that there are no lucky ones who do not particularly strain themselves and earn decently in the App Store.
The situation is the worst for independent developers (small teams and startups), because on one or two applications you will not get far, the demand is falling, the market is quickly saturated, saving only in permanent orders, and it is very difficult for the beginning team to keep regular customers. Even harder for singles (I hope you don’t need to explain why).
I do not want to discourage anyone from wanting to make money in the App Store, just do not think that it is so simple. Easy money does not happen, every penny earned by sweat and blood.
What do independent developers do?
Learn, learn and learn.
Do not be upset because of failures.
Remember that all the money does not make, so pay attention to health and time to rest.
Do not play a big company when you are still very small.
Having collected a decent portfolio, start looking for customers.
Further, what awaits those who decided to try on the role of Apple Developer.
Part 2. Developer Path
What is App Store Development? There are several simple “quests”, the fulfillment of which (as it is written on every corner) seems to be enough to “get some good money”:
- Availability of software and hardware. Need Mac, iPhone SDK, device for testing.
- Registration for the Apple Developer Program. $ 99 per year.
- The idea of the program. Usually no one has a problem. All geniuses.
- Implementation. Requires the ability to program, understand technical texts in English.
- Publication. To please the censors, to know in general terms, as stated in the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement
- Users support
- Receiving a profit. Yes, the earned money still needs to be received.
More details on some of the points below.
It seems to be a lot of information about this already. And for an engineer if he wishes, even if he does not know how to program (although, like now all engineers are taught this), this question does not play a big role.
Let me just say that whatever the user-friendly development environment, no matter how many libraries with ready-made algorithms and functions are already written, it’s better not to try to “fence the garden” without basic knowledge of the subject. According to the tutorials, you do not need to write a specific program. According to the SDK documentation, it’s not clear that the division by 0 is not very good.
The most difficult thing, in my opinion, in the development for the iPhone is memory management (retain, release). It is necessary to monitor the entire allocated dynamic memory. Well, no there is a "garbage collector"!
Merry carousel firmware
All developers "love" Apple for their love for the money of users: the release of new firmware encourages people to buy new devices, because On older models, new firmware is no longer supported. What is the problem with the developer?
Last year, with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, there were no special problems: the assembly was supported under Base SDK 2.x and 3.x. With the release of firmware 4.0 and the new Xcode environment, the terrible happened: to test the operation of your application on all supported devices, the developer needs to have 2 iPhones: one with firmware 3.1 and one with firmware 4.x Deployment Target solves the problem partially. By removing support for iPhone OS 2.x explicitly, in Cupertino they implicitly pressed developers and users about iPhone OS 3.1.
I will explain a little bit: earlier it was possible to set Base SDK 3.0 when compiling and you could be sure that the application will work on newer firmware. Now there is simply no such possibility.
Without going into details: it is quite difficult to maintain the full
operation of several firmware (3.1, 3.2 and 4.x) in the program at once.
With the release of the iPad and iPhone 4 now, if you want to make a universal application, you will have to take care of all possible screen extensions and a bunch of icon sets for your desktop.
Work applications on devices. Jailbreak
Another Apple gift for developers. Sometimes the iPhone operating system does not cope with its tasks. As a result, if at that moment the program was launched and it “fell”, the creator of the program, not Apple, not Foxconn, would be to blame for the user.
If the user made a Jailbreak
, because “all hackers / friends said so”, and not because he really needs it, he throws a bunch of software into the device, the descriptions of which were not even read, because “freebie” and one of these programs "Fell" during use, who is to blame? Of course, no jailbreak or lack of system memory in an aluminum iPhone. Well, you understand.
Censors. Those times, when they gave absurd refusals in the publication, seemed to be gone. All about everything usually
* takes a week.
Although there was one case about three months ago. We wanted to implement a function that required the use of some non-prohibited kernel functions. Hanged the button on which they wrote the name of the function. The answer of the censor: “Such functionality is not provided in the SDK”, although a very similar program from another developer was sold as if nothing had happened. They didn’t show a finger, we had to remove the button (we left the function, making it automatic). And what a shame it became when after two months of programs with such a function, a description and even a name began to arrive!
* Terms of consideration are always floating. Even nothing to say to users who ask about the release date of the update. From a week to a month. Does not depend on the complexity of the application. Updating this or a new application does not matter.
I am glad only that the iTunes Connect interface (the web portal with which the developers send applications for publication) made it more friendly and released a rather convenient iPhone application to track the number of sales.
Without advertising anywhere. Rarely-rarely will your super-duper wonderful application be noticed for nothing.
There are many ways to promote, one of them - is to publish a review of the program in the specialized media.
How do you think the reviews of programs from the App Store appear in popular news feeds and portals? The reasons are not so many, here are the ones that I observed:
- The developer paid for the review of money (I do not know how much, for the money they were not published).
- The portal is not very visited, there are not enough newsmakers, there is no experience and the review is published on the principle “at least something”.
- An acquaintance.
- The application is in shtatovskomu "top."
You can also promote in forums and topics on pirate trackers. But I think it is extremely inefficient. Is that for the sake of feedback.
Users support. Reviews and ratings
If the application has more than one button and you are not a usability guru, you will have to deal with support. For games, maybe not so relevant. There is a separate article
about the work of the support service by our employee of the service itself.
The most fun part. When it's sad, you can read reviews in the App Store, and your heart will become warmer. There is the passion of fans (even applications have fans), and the anger of deceived users, the joy of those who gained, and the sadness of those who lost (for example, some applications are deleted by the censors after they have been published), as well as the stupidity of non-distant users.
There is such a class of applications - practical jokes. One of these - "Search for the location of a cell phone number." The bottom line is that the “presenter” launches the application, asks the victim of the draw to say his phone number, enters the program - and the iPhone determines the location by GPS. Because the victim of the rally is located in the same place as the presenter; the program determines only its own location. An honest description in these applications is always present. Here is a typical review for such applications: “DIVERAGE! DO NOT BUY! What morons put this shit in the top? ”Estimates all units. The application is usually a few days in the top. The developer has earned his "dirty" money. And users reveal their essence. Who brought to the top? Yes, that man and his ilk and brought.
What is depressing is the matt and insults in the reviews addressed to both the developer and other comrades who left a review and allowed themselves to disagree with the previous one. Are you Apple product users? Cultural and literate? Swearing sometimes even with errors.
What is interesting, people do not read reviews, the description - too
. They look only at the icon and name. Reviews are like a place with write-only mode.
If the application is unpretentious, it does its work quietly, then it will have neither reviews nor ratings. It can also mean that it is not for sale at all.
If the application is quite complicated, but cheap - wait for heaps of units: in order to use it, you often need to read at least an abstract. Putting a unit without understanding it is easier than reading anything. Such applications usually share equally positive and negative evaluations.
Extremely excellent ratings are available only for simple beautiful uncomplicated toys.
Maybe the conclusions that can be drawn from this about the public are sad, but that is the reality. If someone calms down, then in the States with this much worse. Although this is a sample of only the shop.
Fee. "Chest of Kashchei"
We are talking about Russia. Apple's money does not come immediately, but only after their reporting period, usually not earlier than after 45 days, and if at least a couple of hundred dollars have accumulated. Not all Russian banks will transfer this money to the account of an individual without any problems. Especially if there is a lot of money (probably, it should be so much that financial monitoring is involved).
Because there were no reports of such cases, it means that either this happened to someone and he didn’t tell anyone about it, either it didn’t happen, or the person’s account was not in Russia.
Costs of work jur. Persons (especially when the developer is under 18) should be clear to everyone. Is it even possible to honestly get good money from abroad? Which indirectly confirms my assumption that there are no successful independent developers (at least in Russia).
: Feel free to share experiences. There are several Russian-language iPhone-themed sites for developers. In dreams, of course, Russian stackoverflow.com. If anyone knows something similar for Russian speakers, advise all your familiar developers.Novice developers and those who spam in the App Store
: do not spit in the well ...Users
: read at least the summary to the application before buying. And do not think that we profit from you. Sometimes we do not sleep at night, responding to your letters for far less money than you can earn in a comfortable office.
UPD: added a link to the article about the work of support