The Beeb’s Rory Cellan-Jones reported on the iPhone application phenomena yesterday showing how developers with an idea, mixed with a dash of ingenuity and savvy, can make a steady living from their craft.
Cellan-Jones chose the excellent example of Malcolm Barley who created the free app Tube Status.
Providing a useful basic service for travellers needing to get around London’s fickle tube network seems to generate significant interest in the paid for version of his application. Certainly enough for Malcolm to be earning a decent living.
Malcolm has directly benefited from Apple’s brilliant AppStore which instantly unites users’ needs with developers’ creativity. This is perfect for app snacking, when the need for an application can be satiated within a moment, with no need for the traditional, and complicated, PC centric app stores.
Everyone is a winner for once, Apple gets loads of developers writing for its platform in preference to the competition, end users get a useful or fun app, and the developer gets money with little fuss.
Unfortunately traditional development houses are disappearing under the weight of their expenses and limited market reach. A recent example of this appears to be the long running EMCC which closed its doors in March.
The pressure is ramping up on the companies who supply software to the increasingly impoverished handset manufacturers, even Nokia is pulling away from third party development.
This change may have some benefits. Skilled programmers need no longer have to work for big organisations to earn a living, but now have an instant market with Apple, Android and most recently BlackBerry.
Soon their market will expand even further with the availability of Nokia’s Ovi app store. These are nervous times in mobile, but challenges bring opportunities and a new surge in innovative mobile development is one that will be welcomed by many.