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November 22, 2011

87

You Guys Are Millionaires Right?

by shiftyjelly

People often ask, “What’s it like to be an independent developer?”, “You guys are millionaires right?”, “Your job sounds awesome, tell me more!”. So let’s talk about what it’s like to be an independent developer. First things first, no we’re not millionaires, few indie devs are. Philip drives a Magna (the Australian equivalent of a Yugo/Lada), I drive a lease car, Matt doesn’t have a car. None of us own houses, though 2 of us have mortgages. I’d like to address some common mis-conceptions and answer some questions. Like a true politician I’ve seeded the question list myself, and I’ll be answering. For once though we’ll leave the comments open, so feel free to ask any questions you may have.

So you guys are rolling in money right?
No. In fact we’ve been losing money for the last 6 months. By losing money, I mean literally every month the amount of money in our bank account has been going down. Before we got featured by Google on the Android market place, we were about a month away from having no money whatsoever. I’ve talked to many indie developers in Australia, and they are universally in the same boat. Some have taken on client work to try and fill the gap, others are working from home trying to minimise every expense they have. And I’m talking about the successful ones, the companies with great apps that have done well.

So it’s tough being independent?
Yes. You put an enormous amount of effort (and yourself) into every product you make. Sometimes you find people deriding it, or dismissing it after spending 13.2 seconds using it. People tell you not to take that personally. Good luck with that. When you invest 6 months of your life, day and night, creating a product there’s no way in hell you can’t take other people’s comments personally. Reading App Store reviews can be as much fun as slapping yourself in the face with an ice cold trout on days where you manage to ship a bug with your product.

Your decisions are often constrained by practical matters like ‘what do I need to do today, to feed my family in 2 months time?’ and silly things like keeping your company in business. You have to deal with IAS, BAS, Superannuation  Insurance and tax up the wazoo. You invent words like wazoo just to stay sane.

Then you see an app like ‘101 sex positions’ or ‘301 Fart Noises’ reach the lofty heights of App Store Success. They spent a week on a gimmick and made bank, you spent 6 months building an app of utility and are struggling. Let’s not even get into the long debates you get into with people about whether they should buy your $1.99 app. People will spend hours researching a $2 purchase, browsing reviews, emailing the developer, checking online forums. Then they will go to a coffee shop they’ve never been before and buy a $4 coffee. From the developer they expect unlimited support, unlimited free updates. From the coffee shop they expect nothing except mediocre coffee.

Finally it’s not a level playing field either. There are companies with millions of dollars behind them making apps, whole teams of people. At the other end of the spectrum there are young, keen enthusiasts working out of their parents basements. The former might crush you with the sheer size of their teams, and the level of features and integration they provide. The latter may kill you because they don’t care much for, or need to make money and can undercut you at every turn.

But there’s good bits too right?
Yes, of course. You get to do what you love, and nobody is your boss. You get to create great products that people love using. You get emails from people telling you how your apps have changed their lives, touched them (in strictly non-sexual) and awesome ways. The good really does outweigh the bad, no question at all. I wouldn’t trade this job for any other in the world, except maybe the one Richard Branson has…the idea of your own private islands does have a certain appeal…

Piracy?
It’s a problem, always has been in the software industry. As a kid I pirated all my software, because I felt like these were giant, faceless corporations that didn’t need my money, and I had no money to give them anyway. I pirated operating systems, I pirated apps, I pirated games. Then one day I got a job, and learnt just how hard it is to make good software, and a switch went off in my head. Now I pay for every piece of software I have, sometimes I buy apps I don’t even need, just because I appreciate the level of crafts(wo)manship and care that went into them. If it’s too expensive and I can’t afford it, I just don’t use it.

The real problem is that when you’re a company of 2.5 people, piracy really hurts. Every lost sale makes it harder to stay around and keep making (what are hopefully) great apps. You can argue all day about how these people wouldn’t have bought your app anyway, and piracy is good because more people get to try your apps, but that doesn’t change the fact that piracy costs us money. We spend money on server infrastructure that is used by paying customers and pirates alike. We answer emails and support from pirates (we know who you are by the way). You can’t stop piracy, people that want to steal your app badly will find a way. You can minimise it, but our feeling is every minute you spend fighting piracy you’ve wasted. It’s better served devoted to your paying customers. Up until now all we’ve done to our software is put in server & client code so we know who the pirates are, and who the paying customers are. We don’t do anything with that information, it’s just food for thought.

Speaking of food, I’ll leave you with this thought: every time you pirate a piece of software from an independent developer, we get closer to that developer never making another app, or updating their app, because they’ve gone off and got another job. It’s like breaking into your favourite corner store, do it enough times, and they’ll close their doors forever.

Shouldn’t all software be free? How can you live with yourself for charging for it?
No. Very few bits of software ever written were not funded by someone. People have to eat, they have to sleep somewhere and feed their families. Take Android for example: it’s free, and open-source, yet every Google engineer working on it is paid, likely far higher than you are. They are able to not charge you, because they make all their money in search & advertising. Notice that they don’t open-source any of their search code, for good reason: that’s their core business, Android isn’t. To me truly free, open-source software is a religious myth, in much the same way that [pick a religion you don’t agree with] is. It comes with it’s own proselytes, zealots and ideologies, but it’s ultimately a lie.

Further to the above, what’s so offensive about charging for software? When was the last time you walked into a shop, saw a great product you really needed, and just stole it? When was the last time you debated with a shop-keeper about how this product you wanted should really be free? Software costs money to make, real money. Charging for it is how that money is recovered. Don’t let all the VC funded startups that give out everything for free fool you, paid software is often how you get great software. Since great people are able to make great things, without having to worry about how they are going to feed and clothe themselves.

Developers seem greedy to me, especially the ones that charge for separate iPad apps or charge for upgrades!
Independent developers are rarely, very rarely driven by greed. We made Pocket Weather AU and Pocket Weather AU HD two separate apps because we wanted to start again, and because it was just far easier to do that with two apps. I respect developers who charge for major updates, even though we’ve yet to do that. Normally we’re talking about sums of money under $5. If it means they can fund themselves to keep giving me great features, then I’m all for it.

So would you recommend the life of an independent developer to others?
If you have the right personality, then sure, being an independent developer is a huge blast. Don’t come expecting millions of dollars to fall into your lap though, it’s damn hard work. Chances are you’ll make less than you would working for a giant, faceless corporation…but you’ll enjoy life so much more 🙂

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87 Comments
  1. Nov 22 2011

    Always awaiting the next major breakthrough! 🙂

    FWIW, I’d love to see a new iteration of Pocket Weather, and would gladly pay for it (one of my top-five apps on iPhone and iPad).

    Keep up the great work, guys!

  2. Andrew
    Nov 22 2011

    You guys completely rock. I use all your apps all the time – even the one that makes cow noises. I would love the opportunity to give you more money to support your ongoing awesomeness but I already have all your apps. I can’t buy them again, Apple won’t let me.

    Could you do something with a subscription model? Simple weather updates for free and ultra-detailed weathergasms for $2 a month?

    Would a PayPal donate button be beneath your dignity? Don’t call it it a “donate” butoon – call it a “pay us because we write great blog posts and put up funny photos on Twitter” button.

    Just a thought…

  3. Andrew
    Nov 22 2011

    Also, please make something that has the work “butoon” in it because that’s a funny word, right there.

  4. Nov 22 2011

    great post!
    (I can sleep better now knowing you guys are not millionaires 😉

    seriously though – interesting observations about app types – even based on my humble hobby app development experimentations (http://okapps.net), I realised that amount of time and effort spent on developing and testing an app is almost in inverse proportion to its commercial ‘return on investment’…

    so surely all those gimmick apps in app store must be doing really well,
    but sounds disgusting from philosophical viewpoint – IMHO, better to stick to a ‘normal’ job at some “faceless corporation” than produce useless, tasteless and often misleading crap…

    Keep up the good work with your great useful apps!
    (hope that bank account of yours doesn’t actually run out completely… 😉

  5. Fred McBill
    Nov 22 2011

    I do not understand how I can pay $3 for Pocketcasts(or similar software) which requires servers on the developer’s end and then expect free (substantial) upgrades in the future (plus prompt customer service).

    Being a software developer should not be a licence to print money but as in most (even small) businesses, money should be a byproduct or the result of success and from what I’ve read and seen of Shiftyjelly – it is a successful developer.

    I do understand PocketWeather AU has a smaller market than Rovio products for example – but the product has been a Australian success and the returns to the owners should commensurate. (This probably explains why Shiftyjelly has put a lot of time and effort into Pocketcasts recently -global market.)

    As app consumers we have become accustomed to quite good software (generally) that provides a long term service for what it costs to cross the Sydney Harbour bridge once. The base level price expectations for (somewhat) niche software products has been set too low.

    I think the newspaper business dealing with the fledgling internet can be used as a loose analogy – originally newspaper operators thought any extra (unpaid) readers on the internet beyond the printed edition was a bonus. Then the classified advertising rivers of gold fled to the internet as stand alone businesses. Now the newspaper businesses are fighting to re-adjust their readers willingness to pay for a product and struggling.

  6. Nov 22 2011

    Heh, don’t know whether to cry or laugh! Both I guess, since I’ve been “almost” indie all my life and never seen any hope to actually make a living with it. Respect to you fellows, you’re doing it for real!

    As comparison my first iPhone app has made 20 USD in 2 months… but I really wanted to make it and had lots of fun. Just doesn’t pay off, moneywise. So I released a second app, yet again not expecting to make ever profit (Console On Device, developer utility at http://www.jomnius.com).

    Best of luck to you and your apps! Bought your Weather Watch to show my respect and support, also loved the design 🙂

  7. Maaike
    Nov 22 2011

    Just for shock value, what percentage of your app users use a pirated version of your app?

  8. Nov 22 2011

    Open Source SW with paid support is great. Pay as you go. Who would pay obscene prices for packaged SW? MSFT Office or eOffice? When you have money you pay. Else, you go open source. Also these open source stuff helps people who cannot afford, and takes it to the masses like in India, Somalia and downtrodden countries, where people live on under a $ a day and try to make their life. Move on.

    Thanks for a wonderful article!

  9. Nov 22 2011

    So to answer the piracy question (and these are rough figures, we’ve tried to account for the number of people that come up as pirates, but are probably real customers doing things like ‘side-loading’ onto other devices they own):

    – Piracy of Pocket Casts on iOS is about 30%
    – Piracy of Pocket Casts on Android is about 20%
    – Pocket Weather AU sees negligible piracy, which is why we love our fellow Australians so much 🙂

    Thanks to the others for offering their support, and suggesting subscriptions etc, we know our loyal fans would do it, but it’s not something the market will tolerate that’s just how the culture is.

    To all those worried, we’re not going out of business, moving into Android development was a very smart (some might say lucky) move which has enabled us to stay profitable, sales this month have been very good, and should set us up for a little while to come. That’s just part of being independent, there are no guarantees and you just ride by the seat of your pants 😉

  10. Nov 22 2011

    Way to go ShiftyJelly 🙂 You are very true about what you have written. Best wishes.

  11. Peter
    Nov 22 2011

    Lol only 6 months? It takes THREE YEARS to create utility product that reaches big enough audience without huge marketing budget. Sorry but your expectations are totally wrong.

  12. Randy
    Nov 22 2011

    Well, if it helps, I keep Pocketcasts in my dock and as of recent updates, think you’ve created an app that is hard to critique. And I usually have no problem finding things I don’t like in apps. I used to think Instacast was the greatest, but it’s sloooow refresh time is a deal breaker. And I think your grid layout is much smarter. I also appreciate the custom skip intervals because Instacast strangely has no 15 seconds option.

    The only thing that bugs me badly is that there is no option to mark every available episode as unplayed upon subscribing. I think this is a very logical thing to have as an option.

  13. Richard Jary
    Nov 22 2011

    As a user not a develope the App Store reviews are the only way I have to know if I should download something, especially if I have to pay for it. With the iPhone I find too many apps that don’t need to know my location want to know it, why? Is it just for stats or because once I have installed that app they can then do other things with it? I don’t know, software isn’t my forte.

    I agree that if it is an app I enjoy I should pay for it, and I have used the free version of a couple and then upgraded to the pay version once I saw it was worthwhile. Others I won’t, just to get rid of the annoying but easily ignored ones saying “Your have one a free iPad” on some news feed. But get nothing for my $2 except not getting the ads.

    I guess a few people in the beginning came out with some killer app, and made money. Since then unless you are lucky enough to make the next killer it’s a matter of finding a niche. But good on you all app developers, and I have paid money to access info for apps that duplicate what I already paid for on the laptop so I can have it on the phone as well.

  14. Great post! Stay motivated and good luck!

  15. Nov 23 2011

    I love how this article opened my mind as a computer science student 😀

  16. Nov 23 2011

    Fantastic post and so true, I am also an independent in Austin texas.

  17. Nov 23 2011

    Spot on! I love the coffee argument, and I’m amazed people can’t seem to ‘get it’. I had an app which I originally priced at $1.99 per year through in app purchases that sent gmail push notifications. I figured $2/year/user is reasonable for the costs of maintaining my server(s), but other users didn’t think so. I had tons of nasty reviews telling me they couldn’t believe how I could charge this much, and that they were tricked into a subscription, even though it CLEARLY indicated that this was a subscription service in the description. End result, I priced it $1.99 one time to avoid the negative reviews. Sad.

    It’s not just that either, it’s all the bad reviews that you might get just because people couldn’t read something properly, or fail to use a service the right way, or simply just seem to have it out for you for no good reason.

    It’s hard being an indie/hobby dev, and I don’t wish it upon anyone. I know very few who’ve reached huge success from the mobile dev sector… Like you said, we do it for the love of it, not for the money, even though money would be nice. I look at it this way… I enjoy doing it, and if something I throw at the wall sticks, even better!

    But people please take from this message, pay for your apps. $2 or $5 an app is nothing compared to other things you spend on, and much cheaper than apps have been in the past for desktops, etc.

  18. Nov 23 2011

    I liked your article, and I sympathize. I had the exact same reaction with regards to paying for software licenses.

    Here’s a bit of counterweight to your sentiment:
    I’ve made games for years in various contexts, and a while back I spent some years making casual games. I spent 7 months on the first one (Constellations), and made less than 1000 AUD in it’s entire life time. It was crap, but I was learning what worked in the casual market. I spent 4 months on the next one (Deep Blue Sea), as an experiment, and it made me about 100.000 AUD, and is still pulling down 500-1000 AUD per month, 4 years after it’s release.
    Then I spent a little over 2 years making the sequel (Deep Blue Sea 2), and that is nearing 200k AUD in paid out royalties, and is still pulling down around $8k per month, 18 months after release.

    I made a living doing freelance work in the years when I was making those games, so I was getting by, financially. But even if you ignore that and just look at what I made on the games, I had a livable wage while I was doing them. And it was fun.

    So my point is: You *can* make money as an indie. If you’re tenacious and good, and learn from your successes, you can probably make a living until you’ve learned enough or reached critical mass, and release that one app that is your tipping point.
    It’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone, but if you really get into the market you are on – including all the non-developer stuff, like business decisions, marketing, etc – then you will probably be able to grind yourself to a position where you can live off it, comfortably.

  19. Josh R.
    Nov 23 2011

    As an aspiring “indie” developer and fan of PocketCasts I would like to thank you for these insightful blog posts. I enjoy these quite a lot.

    In retrospect is there anything you would have done differently with PocketCasts? Just to echo what Fred said – I actually thought PocketCasts was *too* cheap considering you probably have high back-end costs to parse feeds and keep the clients in sync. Do you feel that you should have charged more or attempted some kind of alternate pricing scheme? Would focusing purely on iOS have been more lucrative?

  20. Nov 23 2011

    Just to be clear, we’re not complaining, we love being indie devs, and we’re still in business and happy. We just wanted to counter the notion that being indie and semi-successful somehow makes you a millionaire.

    Anyway to answer some questions:
    @Josh R: We definitely need to focus more, but moving into Android was the smartest thing we ever did. We now earn more money there (consistently) than iOS.

    @Brian: thanks for the perspective we agree, we’ve also taken on client work from time to time, it’s why we’re still here 3 years on.

    @Randy we have that option, it’s called ‘delete’. Long press on the filter in the Episodes view and blow them all away. Either that or configure the filters the way you want (again a long press)

    @Peter your our favourite armchair critic so far, I would give you a gold badge, but you don’t seem to have looked into our history, we’ve been around for 3 years and have had some great successes. Also the notion that an iOS app takes 3 years to be successful is just silly. All the evidence in the App Store will tell you otherwise, welcome to the new world 🙂

  21. Nov 23 2011

    Hey ShiftyJelly, as a non-developer this is a really interesting read for me.
    I’m trying to get my head around a couple of things, firstly for you and other guys who identify as indie app developers, what is the distinction say between working independently on an app and doing a consumer startup? I’m guessing it’s something to do with scale, risk, nature of monetisation working with other people (like busdev, UX, community managers) and maybe no/little server-based required for pure app development? It’s just it seems to me that the skills required and the venture/ risk appetite in either scenario would be similar.
    Also why not do a bit of contract app development for corporates- wouldn’t that give a similar level of freedom? -@roodave

  22. Woofy
    Nov 23 2011

    Just a comment there about piracy and sideloading…whats that? I have pocket weather on my iPhone and my wife uses the same account so also has it. Is that what you mean?

  23. Nov 23 2011

    No we’re cool with that, we don’t count that as piracy. My wife and I do the same thing. On Android you can load files onto other devices (also known as ‘side-loading’), either pirated files off the internet or actual releases that you’ve bought from us. We’re also cool with people paying once and installing it on every device they have. All I meant is that in our pirated figures, we’d already tried to account for those people. So by ‘pirates’ we mean someone who has never paid for our app, and is installing it, and using it on a regular basis. We know they do, because all our apps have servers associated with them.

  24. martinpi
    Nov 23 2011

    Speaking as an indie developer I admire your openness. But there are two things that are dangerously shortsighted, maybe even wrong, in your text.

    Dismissing Free/Open Source Software as a religion is one of them. Of course you’re right in charging money for your games. But that does not mean that Free/Open Source Software is a lie. You’re most likely running this blog on a wordpress installation, which uses PHP, a MySQL and Apache. Four pieces of religious items powering your site. Here’s a good piece about Open Source business: http://tom.preston-werner.com/2011/11/22/open-source-everything.html – Free Software does not mean that no one gets paid for making it.

    The other thing is the standard piracy misunderstanding. I hear there’s a lot of piracy on Android and little money to be made. To me, it looks like people are unlikely to turn into customers on that platform altogether. In other words, even if they did not pirate your software, they would still not buy it. The ESA/MPEG myth that a pirated copy is a lost sale and every pirate is a would-be customer is propaganda, nothing more. 90% of the pirates out there are collectors, not users/players. But the point is: Why run a old school business model in a market where it does not work? There’s a reason why Angry Birds and other high-profile titles are free-to-play on Android. There’s a reason why successful indie developers rarely chose Android as their sole source of income: http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2011/11/gdc_china_canabalts_saltsman_o.php

  25. Nov 23 2011

    I have to admit right up: I use a competing product that Starts with Dogg…

    However, I did try your app on the Amazon Appstore (boohiss), and it wasn’t bad. Not good enough to get me to switch from the competition..

    And, that’s what is so great about App ecosystem – there is GREAT competition. Before your product, I think the podcast app section was suffering a bit. Now I’m watching what you bring to the table CLOSELY.

    Now, I’ve read many of the criticisms of the Amazon Appstore, and have weaned myself off of it. Apps that I use that I got from Amazon, I have gone back and bought on the Google Market. And the Kindle Fire is certainly off my radar.

    All I know, is I bought one app in 2009 that still sits on my phone, taunting me. It promised a lot, and I paid several dollars for it, and the developer just up and quit working on it. It never worked right, but that would’ve been okay if the developer hadn’t just quit. Since the app is essentially useless as is, despite the hours he spent working on it, it’s basically like a con. You give me money for promising something, and then once I have the money, you just deal with the facade of a decent app I presented. Even that would be comparable to the $4 coffee that was burned, but you just walked off and never came back to the store…

    Except for one thing. That app I paid for in 2009 and hated? That never got an update to fix its huge issues? It is *STILL* for sale on the Market today. It *STILL* sits in my “Purchased” apps section, taunting me every time I go into the market, REMINDING me of the time I bought an app that was no good. And what’s worse, is, I’m pretty sure that the developer has had to agree to new developer terms of service at least a couple of times to keep his app on the market. He has obviously done so because it is still available for purchase, but it’s an orphan. That, to me, is a con. That kind of thing is why people spend hours researching a $2 purchase – they’ll be reminded of it forever if they aren’t happy with it.

    I agree with everything you say though. I have had to catch myself hesitating to buy a 99cent app and then wonder “why?”. However, it is wrong to expect someone to buy something just because you offerred it to them. I could buy every app on the marketplace if I had enough money, but I don’t. I certainly do buy a lot more than I did on previous devices. I never bought a single app for Windows Mobile. I only bought one or two for PalmOS. But I’ve bought dozens on Android.

    The gist of it is.. As much as I hate the man’s company, Steve Jobs was right about one thing. (to paraphrase) If you make great products, then you don’t need to worry about success… or something like that. Basically, keep hacking away and even though you’ve got tough competition that will sometimes win over customers, you’ll stay in the game.

  26. warhead321
    Nov 23 2011

    “You get to do what you love, and nobody is your boss. You get to create great products that people love using. You get emails from people telling you how your apps have changed their lives, touched them (in strictly non-sexual) and awesome ways. The good really does outweigh the bad, no question at all. I wouldn’t trade this job for any other in the world”

    “being an independent developer is a huge blast.”

    “you’ll enjoy life so much more”

    Perhaps when you weigh these comments against this one:

    “Your decisions are often constrained by practical matters like ‘what do I need to do today, to feed my family in 2 months time?’”

    you should consider the possibility that you are putting your own satisfaction ahead of the welfare of your family.

    I was independant for nearly 20 years, when it was profitable. Now it’s not and I am no longer independant. I put my family first. I didn’t have to agonize over the decision for single second; I knew what was the right thing to do and I just did it. I don’t get emails from strangers stroking my ego; I have the pleasure of seeing my family safe, comfortable and well attended to.

    I prefer that.

    This is an insightful post, just probably not the way you intended. I don’t admire you for following your dream because you clearly are aware of the overwhelming odds against your success and yet you persist because “you get to do what you love”.

  27. Nov 24 2011

    Really enjoyed this post – I am currently in the process of developing my first iPhone app, I’m interested in your comment about creating a Android version being the best thing you ever did, why do you think you earn more money from Android? Has it been anything to do with advertising or do you think it is purely a market share thing? I also assume (possibly incorrectly) most of your ‘pirates’ come from the Android platform?

  28. Nov 24 2011

    Nice write up! I feel your pain… Some days it’s like floating in the ocean without a paddle. It’s like trying to make a hit song, how many years must I write lyrics before someone notices then also likes it?

    It is like the gold rush, are you willing to dig more than the next guy?

  29. Nov 24 2011

    Just finished reading your post. Very thoughtful and accurate in fact. I live in the USA and believe me the pain points that you stated in your post hit home here to. Keep up the good work and eventually something good will happen. I have been developing software as a solo developer for 25 years. It is not all fun and games or riches let me tell you. But, I would not trade it for anything.

  30. Nov 24 2011

    This post is brilliant. As an independent software developer myself (who gets paid in his “day” job and writes software in my “spare” time) this is spot on. It would be great if everyone had this attitude but sadly the world isn’t like that. However more developers should take this attitude and have passion in what they do and more people should hopefully recognize the work it takes to put the craftmanship into a piece of software and support the indie. Kudos to you for potentially opening some eyes to this with your post.

  31. Jack
    Nov 24 2011

    Great article!
    Your explanation of the piracy issue hits the nail on the head. IMHO it covers the topic of stealing completely. Given the opportunity, people will take what they can if they believe they can get away with it. That all changes when you experience how much energy it takes to create something of worth and have to actually pay the bills at the same time. Hard work produces appreciation.
    Thanks again for the insight and honesty.

  32. Nov 24 2011

    I’d have to say you guys are one of my favourite developers and I love the work. I’d be perfectly happy to pay for the next major release of either Android apps I have (less IOS but thats me not really using IOS anymore). I like the coffee analogy I tend to put that into practise these days and actually drink less coffee from my local coffee shop (Sorry Source Foods) and don’t mind paying 2, 3 or even $10 on apps. Come to think of it if I skipped going to pub one night I’d be rolling in apps.

    Anyway keep up the awesome work.
    Your fellow Aussie
    Alex

  33. Nov 24 2011

    I pay for my apps.

    As a programmer, I agree with everything in this post. The author forgot to mention there’s nothing free in this world, not freedom, not love, not education. Everything costs something. That’s the nature of keeping a balance.

  34. Nov 24 2011

    ok now wait a second…. are you telling ME that there’s an app available that makes 301 fart noises??? Now THAT is something. 🙂

    Nice article and too true.

  35. Deborah Palmer McCain
    Nov 24 2011

    As a new (well, learning) developer, after spending many (and I do mean many) years in academic environments, I related your experience as indie developers to that of my experience as a teacher. “Everything” on the user end (in my case, students) is supposed to be free. Give them a grade (for no work), give them the answers (so many were too busy tweeting to read the assignments), and finally, I was supposed to work for fun, so what if I was grading papers at home each night, as well as designing innovative, interactive, and hopefully engaging lessons so they would attend class…after all…teachers are supposed to teach to make a difference in the lives of everyone without concern for the well-being of our own families. Bunk.

    So, although sometimes feeling older than God (no disrespect meant), I contracted on an NDA doing technical research, and then when offered the opportunity to learn programming, I dipped my toe into that sea. The work is interesting (but does anyone ever edit these books and tutorials for simple errors in spelling and transposed letters?)…but I digress into my former world as an English teacher. I really enjoy C#…but still miss the “theatre” of my classroom. I did have some marvelous students. For the most part, those who were studying for entry in some facet of technology were my most clever and hard working students. I choose to remember the positive.

    Your comments regarding piracy hit home. After being terminated as an adjunct instructor (how DARE I document plagiarism, and insist students do their own work), I appreciate your remarks regarding piracy. In reference to your example of coffee…yes, some of my students (now former) would sit in class, sipping their Starbucks, and complain about the 20.00/year subscription fee for a citation service. Cripes.

    My best wishes for your success. I hope you are able to be as successful as you wish to be. I marvel at the talent so many of you obviously possess.

  36. Nov 24 2011

    Great post. Great thoughts on cost, time, effort, passion. I’m one of the developers who work for a faceless corporation :-). Anytime I’ve considered spending my evenings working on an indie app I’ve always asked myself how many would have to sell for 99 cents (or whatever) to even pay for my time. And it’s always helped me to decide not to. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like a lot of fun, but then there a lot of other fun things I like to do on evenings and weekends. 🙂 And besides this, the faceless corporation I work for, although not perfect, is a great place to work. I love the people I work with and I often work from home. I realize others have different experiences but mine has be pretty good at the end of the day. Wishing you great success…

  37. I agree with most of the stuff you’re saying, except the part about how “free, open source software is a lie”.

    First off, there is a ton of software created and shared by developers in their spare time. Noone is funding the creation of that software.

    Other than that, the fact that “free, open source software” should be unfunded is just nonsense. Software that is useful enough or even just down-right indispensible will always be funded by research, government and corporate money. Depending on where the money came from, releasing it as “free software” is a great option to have.

    That said, this model doesn’t work for all software. Though people want a lot of software, not all of that will be popular enough to be funded into a free piece of quality software by some benevolent benefactor.

    Here’s where I agree with your. Creating software costs time and money. Lots of it. If noone is providing you with the money to write the software you want or have to create, you have no choice but to charge for it one way or another.

    Users don’t seem to understand the amount effort that goes into creating a piece of software. They think it’s a virtual good, and virtual goods should cost real money. And they’re wrong.

    In the past, as a student and a highschooler, I didn’t pay for software. I used free, open source alternatives where I could, and pirated where I had to. Since I’ve got an income, I buy the software I like, especially when it’s made by independent developers. Compared to ten years ago, it has become much easier to do this. Digital distribution and broadband internet allow me to purchase big software packages directly from a developer at a lower price. This has definitely increased the amount of software I buy. Like you, I even buy software I know I won’t be using much if I think it’s a nifty idea or a well executed, polished app.

  38. Paul V Harris
    Nov 24 2011

    Hats off to you! I’ve been in business for myself off and on for 20+ years (started on green screen main frame apps). Been bankrupted once, and doing it yet again. The biggest wonder of it all is my wife is still sticking with me, despite all of the stress this business puts on the family.

  39. BlueSky
    Nov 24 2011

    ShiftJelly – developer from Boston, MA, USA here. I really appreciate the inspiration you’ve provided in this article, thanks!

  40. Nov 24 2011

    Well at least you have your dignity – unlike people who work as employees who are little more then schoolchildren or their stay-at-home wives who are little more than prostitutes.

  41. Nov 24 2011

    Thanks for your post – i needed to read this.

  42. Nov 24 2011

    As another aspiring indie dev, I really appreciated your candid discussion of trying to stay afloat as an mobile app developer. I hadn’t personally considered the effects of piracy, but it sounds like something I may want to try to detect in any software I end up publishing.

    Thanks for this nice post!

  43. Nov 24 2011

    I’m an indie developer too, and yeah, piracy really hurts. I spent a year working on a PC game with a small team and we saw thousands of pirated versions, but how many actual sales? 16 total…. I’m not even kidding…

    I have seen no money from that game and probably never will. So think about that the next time you’re tempted to pirate software, you might be enabling me and five other hard working devs to get nothing back for our efforts. You spend 10 bucks on lunch without blinking, but a 10 dollar game is asking too much?

    It’s just silly.

  44. Cristoforo
    Nov 24 2011

    Thank you so much for positing this. Just found it today. I’m a happy user of your Pocket Weather app, although I also have faceless corporate developed I guess WeatherZone/Fairfax’s one. For over a year I have been trying to learn iphone app’s and work up enough courage to give up my well paid but soul destroying faceless corporate job to go solo, develop and launch my three app ideas.

    I have about 3-6 months worth of nest-egg money that I could use while doing it to pay family expenses and the backup plan would be to try to find an app-dev job or contract work in this area if I had to – ie career change. I do have a programming, marketing and business background so kind-of know I could do it. Whether the apps succeed is another matter, but I found reading your experience very useful and help-worthy. Just need to take that step into the now not so unknown. Not sure if you had any similar start-up dilemmas?

  45. David Falk
    Nov 24 2011

    I’ve been an independent (non-game) software developer for several years now and let me tell you that it sucks (at least as far as the pay is concerned). I tell people that if you have a choice between flipping burgers, becoming a drug dealer, and being an independent software developer, to pick flipping burgers first and the software developer last.

  46. Sam
    Nov 24 2011

    My friend runs an extraordinarily successful iPhone/etc app development company in Australia. They’d be rolling around in cash. Hopefully that’s inspirational for you. They’re called Halfbrick and based in Brisbane.

  47. Nov 24 2011

    Lifes full of funny coincidences – I followed this link not realising it was the blog of an AU developer.

    I’m also an Australian based software vendor, though I don’t do mobile development. Happily I just did a talk at a conference on this very topic and covered many of the points you made. As I put it : it’s OK to charge for software. You’re exchanging one thing of value for another, which has been the basis of human civilisation since a bear skin was traded for a basket of fish.

    I guess I’m lucky in that my pricepoint is much higher than yours, but there’s no money hats being worn around here.

    I’m like you in that I monitor piracy but don’t actively pursue it, and that I now buy all the apps I want.
    Funnily enough, one of the only paid apps on my phone is PocketWeatherAU. And even more funnily, I just used it about 20 minutes ago to check out the rain on the radar before I read this.

    Good luck and happy coding. Creating something out of nothing is it’s own reward.

  48. Raj Kiran Singh
    Nov 24 2011

    I like Microsoft’s model of work. I agree they made lots of money buy charging whatever they wanted for each upgrade, but that model works.

    Regarding Open source, giving it for free and then selling support. Well tell me if some software takes 2 years to build, and the software itself requires your undivided attention at least for 1 year. How are you going to start work on it, knowing that you wont be getting paid by selling it.

    Open source software development is only for big corporations who can afford to have big teams, or to some passionate people who think software should be free.

    I think software should never be free for end users, developer should make and share free software among them self, but when it comes to market no software should be free.

  49. As an independent developer I can confirm your thoughts.
    It’s just a matter of balancing the good bits and the bad ones. Do that intelligently and you’ll love it, as you’re doing.
    I laughed at you metaphor about open-source… it’s quite appropriate! 🙂
    Stay angry, stay indie.

  50. BlueSky
    Nov 24 2011

    +1 for “butoon”

  51. C’est tellement vrai.
    Malheureusement le public (les clients) ne sont pas du tout au courant de cet aspect des choses.
    On vous soutient.

  52. Nov 26 2011

    I find it weird to complain about software pricing when it’s you who decides the price. Don’t make $2 software , that’s ridiculous to start with.

  53. Nov 26 2011

    I have to say that I, personally, don’t have any problem dropping $2 on an app that I’ve used maybe even once. I figure that if I’m worried about the $2, then I won’t buy a large soda from the store that day for lunch and just drink water from the tap. Problem solved. Keep up the good work guys!

  54. hcabbos
    Nov 26 2011

    Enjoyed this post. Just wondering though, how are apps pirated on iOS? Isn’t everything purchased through the App Store? Or are you referring to jail broken phones?

  55. Nov 26 2011

    It’s great to see posts like this from independent developers. You guys really do put everything into your apps and it shows. With that said, I just bought Pocketcasts (thanks to the comments here) and I’ve got to say, it’s a WAY better experience than that offered by Apple itself. Thanks for all the great work, and for inspiring me to continue on with my aspirations towards indie development!

  56. James Kahn
    Nov 26 2011

    Hi Guys,

    I just wanted to chip in and say that my wife and I love pocket weather AU – we have it on both our iPhones and HD on the iPad. Use it regularly.

    I’m one of those people that pay for all of my software. Maybe that’s because I code a bit, so I understand how hard it is.

    After reading your blog post, I’m off to see (and buy) what else you guys have. You should at least drive a Commodore!

  57. Mat
    Nov 26 2011

    Pretty sure you didn’t invent “wazoo.”

  58. Johnny
    Nov 27 2011

    Love the app, enjoy it EVERY time I open and use it and would be happy to pay for a major update to keep you guys going.

  59. Nov 28 2011

    Higher quality of life is always worth making less money. For the last ten years I’ve been moving between positions at my current company and always focused on what would get me more time with my family. As long as I can pay our bills, I’m good.

    Great post and I hope you guys stick to it!

  60. Nov 28 2011

    This recently made the rounds, in the same vein as your post:

  61. Nov 28 2011

    Love this for a few reasons: firstly, because I now know PocketWeather is on android (it’s one of the main apps I missed when I switched). I might throw some money at you for pocketcasts too: I paid a lot more for (and am happy with) beyondpod, but as a fellow Aussie dev it seems like the right thing to do 🙂

    By day I work for a microISV and I know what you mean about it being hard to get enough money through the door. You sound remarkably like my boss 😉 That said, don’t dismiss OSS: there is good, unfunded stuff out there (I’ve written some of it). But if think you’re right once you get past a certain complexity.

    The other thing is, as with any other digital product, the marginal cost is zero. Of course that’s not the case if you have backend services and provide support, but for stand-alone apps it very much is. Angry Birds cost Rovio as much if it sells 1000 or 100000 copies. I guess for service-backed apps we need to educate people more about the ongoing costs (and user benefits).

  62. julian
    Nov 28 2011

    Hi guys, I think you could get a lot more work if you added a bit more info about your skills and experience. With links to your previous work and dedicated page title “Hire Us”. Which talks about your availability, charges, etc.

  63. Alex555
    Nov 29 2011

    “People will spend hours researching a $2 purchase, browsing reviews, emailing the developer, checking online forums. Then they will go to a coffee shop they’ve never been before and buy a $4 coffee.”

    I do this. Or rather, this would be an accurate description of my behavior from one perspective, but it’s not my perspective. Perhaps it would be useful to hear my perspective.

    I go to a coffee shop and buy a $4 coffee (well, $3) because I like it. For a place I’ve never been before, I can see from the other patrons that it’s at least decent (I’ve never heard of cafe astroturfing!). All cups of coffee have exactly the same user interface (nothing to learn), and good or bad I’m only investing a couple minutes in their product.

    A new app is, as you say, incredibly hard to do well. That means any particular app probably isn’t very good. It certainly has a user interface that’s (either slightly or significantly) different from anything I’ve ever used before, so I’m investing time and energy in learning it. It probably has me put data in it somehow, which I may or may not be able to extract later if I decide to switch to a different app.

    The significant part of the cost of a new app isn’t the $2. I research free apps this way, too.

    For example, I have a flashcard app. I think it cost me $4. I spent a couple seconds deciding whether I’d pay $4 for it. I spent maybe an hour or two reading the manual and researching its user interface, how to get data in, and how to get data out. Apparently even that was insufficient because I’m not entirely happy with the UI, and getting my data in and out was much harder than I thought it would be.

    Joel Spolsky said something similar about how Excel 4 was the first version to really take off because it was the first one to *write* Lotus spreadsheets. Take away the fear of switching away, and users are happier to give it a shot.

    Just to show that I’m not a *total* cheapskate: I have a $25 app here that I bought, and use all the time. I had almost no hesitation buying it, perhaps because it doesn’t store any data (it’s a reference book with a great user interface), so there’s almost no cost in switching away.

    The difference between a $1 app and a $5 app is negligible. That’s worth less than 15 minutes of my time. Make the *truly expensive* part worth it and I’ll give it a shot.

    P.S., I’m going to ignore your confused “open source” trolling, and I hope others do, too, but I will say that calling those of us who distribute our software for free “liars” and comparing free software to theft isn’t doing you any favors.

  64. Antimeme
    Nov 29 2011

    I respect the struggle required to maintain a business as an independent software developer and I hope you continue to be successful at it. I also don’t believe you should feel any shame because you charge for software. Like you, I either pay the price asked for a piece of software or I don’t use it.

    However, I find your characterization of free and open source software unfair.

    First, an idea is not responsible for the people who espouse it. Some people attempt to promote free software with too much zeal or with grandiose visions but that doesn’t make the entire idea a religion. Characterizing it this way seems mean spirited and disrespectful, both to those who promote free software and to anyone with an actual religion.

    Second, it’s not a myth or a lie. There’s a large collection of high quality software available for anyone to use without guilt. Fair enough if you’re unable or unwilling to contribute to that, but it’s real. Creating or contributing to free software projects for non-differentiating aspects of business is an economically sound concept.

    Finally, complaining about the price of software — whether justified or not — is not equivalent to stealing goods from a store. Clearly copyright infringement (I refuse to elevate it to
    “piracy” which refers to theft and murder at sea) is wrong, illegal and a serious problem for your business. But it’s also fundamentally different from theft of physical property, both because theft is more invasive and because the owner is directly deprived of something.

    Your argument would be stronger if you eliminated hyperbole and inflammatory language.

  65. K. D. Morgan
    Nov 29 2011

    I found this post to be extraordinarily interesting. I am not a developer or programmer. I was looking for a decent podcast app on the Android platform as I was having some frustrations with Doggcatcher. When I saw that Pocketcasts was the FAOTD on Amazon, I grabbed it and liked it well enough. When I saw your comments about issues with the Amazon app store, I bought Pocketcasts from the Android market at the full price and I am glad I did.

    I think your blogpost is interesting because it puts a face on apps and app developers/development. I follow developments in the technology industry pretty closely, especially the Android platform as I happen to be a fan of open source software and development. I am among those who have never understood how people can pay $4 to $5 for a latte that lasts all of five minutes and expect a lifetime of coding, support, and upgrades for an app that costs less than a dollar. I especially appreciate that you have created an emotional connection between “the victimless crime” of piracy and the real impact it has on people who put their hearts and souls into making something that other people will truly appreciate, hopefully. I also appreciate your insights into the day-to-day life of an independent developer, with the questions and choices you all face every day.

    I wish you much success and even though you specialize in iPhone and Ruby development, I hope you will also continue to develop for the Android platform.

  66. Nov 29 2011

    Just a note about what we meant about Open Source. All we were saying is that it’s not free, someone was paid to develop it, one way or another. If they did it a company like Google, Google paid. If they did it from home, then someone else was paying their wage. Software is not free was our only point. To that end, truly free software is a myth, because it has to be written by developers, and developers need to feed and clothe themselves, and often their families.

    Open Source software is great, we use it in a lot of our server infrastructure. Where developers have a tip jar or similar we pay them. OSS works really well, anyone who thinks we were deriding it or it’s usefulness is missing the point.

  67. Nov 29 2011

    “If they did it from home, then someone else was paying their wage”

    Um, no. Sure, my day job means that I have the ability to spend time on my hobbies, but I don’t think it follows that the software is being paid for. Any more than I’m paid to play with my kids, watch TV etc. I think your argument falls down pretty quickly if you think outside software – basically you’re saying that no human action is given freely because people need to eat.

    As I said though, I’m all for devs getting paid (I certainly like to be!). But not for everything.

  68. Pedant
    Nov 29 2011

    Lots of people think that Richard Stallman coded up GCC in his spare time and point to that as an example of “free software that didn’t need to be paid for”. All the time ignoring that he was sitting comfortably in academia, with no-one but himself to care about.

  69. Nov 30 2011

    thanks for the insightful post.

    I am a indie dev as well and have been working on my latest app for about 8 months and only about 60% finished….i hope. If it does not make a reasonable income then I too will need to reconsider this lifestyle and head back to the APS for a regular day job. Sure would be good if it did work, as living on the coast of NSW is great and working from home on apps is a real blast, and the fishing every few days does not hurt either.

  70. Simon Hoare
    Dec 2 2011

    Interesting article. Just one thing. Lack of appreciation of hard work is universal. Think of an ad you saw in a magazine. You go “um, yeah” (if even that) and then turn the page over. For the creator, that was possibly a critical piece of work with their whole heart in it. To you it’s just an ad. Don’t take it personally, that’s just the way the world is. We all assume Coca-Cola is just some guys saying um let’s put some brown acid in cans or glass or plastic bottles. They have have one guy to change the logo a bit but the rest is just elementary. Of course that’s not the way that business works. We buy a can of coke, drink, burp, and then throw away.

  71. Jack Handy
    Dec 5 2011

    Being a prominent OSS developer, I can definitely say that open-source being “free-as-in-beer” is a lie. In some form, it cost money to make – a LOT of money, to make. It’s not about compensation, it’s about what funded the creation of it.

    Either we’re living with our parents (aka, me), or we funded the lifestyle by having a different day job, but what was NOT on the table was “somehow being able to make OSS without other support”. The lie is the notion that open-source can come out of nowhere without some form of monetary support – I can be on my own, no job, no parents, and somehow give away what I’m spending all my time on for free … and then I pay for my apartment by …. magic?

    Software is not made by shoemaker’s elves. Unfortunately that’s what people actually seem to think. Just because you’re not paying for it, doesn’t mean it cost nothing to make. It just means we’re generous – possibly to a fault.

  72. anamika
    Dec 8 2011

    The person drinking the $4 coffee might feel that its worth more then $2 app. I always think whether its worth to spend x amount for an app or any other purchase. Don’t mind spending more if its worth it. As an indian $4 coffee really ?? wow

    Why do developers that once they make an app it would sell like hot cakes and make millions. Is the desire driven by few app which are actually making millions?

  73. Dec 18 2011

    Great post, I could *really* relate to a lot of this, particularly the part about spending months developing a serious, worthwhile app, only to be outdone by a fart app.

    You didn’t mention the success or otherwise of having “Lite” versions of apps. Your Pocket Weather AU Lite uses a “Feed Us” button, which is pretty cute. Does it work?

    Our own Lite app is totally ad free and acts as a teaser for our Full app, which has about 5x the content. With our full app priced at $0.99, we had about 10.9% conversion. Increasing the price to $1.99 dropped the conversion to 7.2%, but made us more overall.

  74. Dec 19 2011

    Great article!

    This really was quite timely for me to read! Just yesterday I was telling a fellow that I had just met 2 seconds before that I am an independent software developer writing an app for the App Store. Right then he said “oh, you must be a millionaire then”. I was quite surprised that he would say that. And then I read your article today about this very thing!

    I just calculated based on my sales of Tap Forms (www.tapforms.com) for the past month that I make about $10 / hour for a normal 8 hour day job. That’s clearly not enough for me to pay for my house, my wife, and my 3 kids. My son, who just turned 18, is creating amazing App Store promotional videos is making almost double that.

    So to make ends meet, I do consulting on the side. Well, I’d hardly say that I’m doing consulting on the side. It’s more like I’m building Tap Forms on the side and consulting is really what pays for life.

    But I do what I do because I love it. It’s nice being your own boss and not having to go into the office every day. I’ve been building Tap Forms for the past 3 years, but I’ve been working from my home for only the past 3 months. It’s great! But I’m not a millionaire. Not even close.

    I also charge separately for my iPhone and iPad versions of Tap Forms. It’s just so much work to keep them both working properly as true native apps so I feel like it’s ok to charge separately. I’ve only had maybe 2 or 3 people in the past year complain about it anyway.

    One day I hope to get my Mac version out the door so hopefully that’ll allow me to do less consulting work and more Tap Forms work.

    Thanks!

    Brendan

  75. Dec 22 2011

    I am a big fan of your Pocket Casts app, and I am very glad you stuck through the BS and continue to make it awesome.

    I think you have an opportunity to capitalize on more marketshare by releasing an iPad version of the app. Your biggest fans want it really bad, and I am sure you lost some prospects to not having it when they searched for options that do have it.

    I am sure you will get crap for it from some, but I would be willing to pay for an iPad version independently of the iPhone version I already purchased. I usually feel apps should be universal and I hate having to pay twice, but your product is extremely well done and at $1.99 it is a steal. I’d be happy to pay $5 to have an iPad & iPhone version. I think you have the potential of generating a good push of revenue from the release of an iPad version.

    I am surprised you guys are struggling and it is a sad thing to see a great developer struggle to produce their work. I hope you guys find a way to make it work, the Apple AppStore culture is certainly unique and a crazy market. It is amazing how much thought, time, and research people will put into a $.99 purchase.

    The most important thing I would like to see (and I asked a lot about this, and would make your product truly outstanding) is cross device syncing. Even if you can only sync iOS devices with iOS devices and Android with Android. Being able to keep everything up to date on all devices (episodes & position) is a big issue for me.

  76. Jan 11 2012

    Love the use of the crafts(wo)manship in your post. It made me feel acknowledged as a female developer. 😉 Right now I stay-at-home and take care of my kids. I’m thinking about writing mobile apps, but reading app reviews makes me want to cry. Like you point out. How can people expect so much and complain so much when they spend so little? So I sit and think if its worth it to write a few apps to increase my skill-set, and maybe make a few bucks? Love your posts!

  77. Jan 12 2012

    This made my day: “People will spend hours researching a $2 purchase, browsing reviews, emailing the developer, checking online forums. Then they will go to a coffee shop they’ve never been before and buy a $4 coffee. From the developer they expect unlimited support, unlimited free updates. From the coffee shop they expect nothing except mediocre coffee.”

    Love your work!

  78. emphy
    Jan 13 2012

    Free as in beer is certainly a myth, but free as in speech is something which I am finding more important every day.

    an example:
    Compare two games: quake and unreal. If you bought quake then right now you can enjoy different versions (glquake, darkplaces) with enhancements on windows, linux, gp2x, installing no more difficult than copy paste.

    The only way I’ve been able to get unreal working is on a windows pc and its no different than it was ten years ago.

    Guess whose games i am not buying anymore.

  79. Jan 17 2012

    So what would actually help?
    Do you actually need investors?
    If I tell you I would be interested in investing in your projects, would that be something interesting for you, or you actually don’t need any money for building the app itself?

  80. Jan 18 2012

    A good piece to read and one I totally identify with.

    I quit my well paid job to go indie back in 2006 (I was so so sick of it all)… and it’s been a darn struggle ever since. If I ever go back into full-time employment (which I may need to do at some point) then I feel I will have gained a lot of personal insight over the years; but that’s always been the last resort option.

    I released my iPhoneography app last April (Bleach Bypass) and since then it’s had reasonable uptake… although nowhere near enough to pay the bills. On days where I have put it free it has attracted downloads in the region of 34,000 units a day, and with this usually negative reviews of how it is “crap” and “pointless” – cue thoughts back to you point about wet trout slapping. Generally these are comments by those who wouldn’t have paid for it anyways so shouldn’t grumble. I’ve been told not to take it personally, and really, I shouldn’t but it niggles me at 3am when my brain trolls me with the flagrant dislike I’ve read from X in Russia or Y in Italy as to why it is pointless.

    Reading the Steve Jobs bio, even he had this same feeling with the launch of the iPad – I think his response was “What have you done that was so great” to people who make negative comment. But I suppose if we did *really* take it to heart, we wouldn’t do anything in the first place.

    Most days however it bumbles along in the App Store, gets downloads everyday but not at a level (yet) where it is independently sustainable. I see images created with the app on Instagram and Flickr so people *are* using it.

    However I need to supplement my income with freelance work in other areas; which in turn eats into the time I set aside for App Development. My shoulders rise in anticipation each day when I see the push report for App Sales on my phone. Then they sag slightly after seeing the figures.

    THe coffee model is one I have heard (and used myself) as an analogy before.

    Good. Luck. Keep. Trying.

  81. Jan 25 2012

    Best post ever!

  82. Jan 27 2012

    shiftyjelly/fotosynimaging, oh so true, every single word of it…

    I have been a part-time independant developer now for just over a year and a bit. I pushed my first game out – that I made for my 5 & 7 year old children and its been horrific watching it stumble into oblivion on both the app store and android market – it is called ‘Honeyrun HD’ and was just meant to be a fun game for kids to play – not be taken too seriously by the gaming fraternity!

    However, unperturbed I continued developing my second cross-platform app ‘Asteroid 2012 3D’ and have been pleasantly surprised at its uptake – no I’m not a millionaire yet either! But with 57,000 downloads behind it ( mainly the free ad-supported version ) – it keeps me plugging away at the tweaks and updates – but oh the haters… if only they knew how much time and effort has gone in to producing the game – single handedly over the last six months and if they just stopped to think how damaging a throw away comment to them is, to the developer?

    Sometimes, I too, feel like I have been publicly hung, drawn and quartered by some reviewers and yet then the sun comes out and you get those little rays of sunshine, that warm your heart, from people who can obviously appreciate the work involved!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is I feel everything you two said, every little word and if its any consolation it seems we are all in the same boat… I wonder where we will all end up?

    Best of luck!

    M

  83. rtisticrahul
    Mar 28 2012

    Greate Post 🙂 I agree with each and every word you have said here. Being indie developer is tough, especially if you are just starting out.

    It takes lot of time and efforts to make even a small, well-designed, quality app. That’s why everyone can’t afford to make their app free.

    Also, it’s just not about making the app free. Even after publishing the app the developers have to spend a lot of time in fixing bugs,replying to mail, adding new features. It is due to all these reasons that you wont find a great app free.

  84. May 25 2012

    Great read, if just a little depressing for anyone looking to become an independent app developer.

    This is the kind of post that provides a slightly more realistic view of app development, as opposed to the ridiculously overhyped marketing claims out there that you’ll become an instant millionaire by building and releasing your own app.

    Glad to see from earlier comments that you guys are doing better. Hope you move from ‘semi-successful’ to ridiculously successful soon. 🙂

  85. Inviting trouble: I put up the following in Twitter (yup, guts)… from a mobile dev.. isn’t it interesting that the only people who snivel about things are the ones who aren’t making any $s?

    Why? Essentially it’s the same for anyone as a contractor in any profession. People simply don’t understand the investment. Haters are everywhere and you’re a gazillionaire if you don’t care about the price. Everyone complains about pricing!

    I don’t know who created mobile economics; however, Ima thinking they were pretty wrong now. Perhaps if Apple and Android had charged more in the beginning to be in the dev program – but that wouldn’t have served their purpose – giving folks loads to choose from. That wouldn’t have created an industry of mobile devs beyond those that were in it doing BBY apps. Who knows?

    It’s hard. But, if you talk to a pilot, they’ll say the same. Talk to a roofing contractor, they’ll say the same, etc.

    Gloomy, yup. Real. I think so. Let’s all keep a stiff upper lip, be smart about things and hope we all get home runs!!!

  86. loved reading this, I might show it to my friends that ask why I want to sell my game… so far i’ve spent 4 months and is going well but its as you said bloody hard work. especially when i have school, cadets and that leaves hardly a scrap of time. but whatever time i have, i spend on my game. i haven’t checked out your apps but I’m sure to now. thanks, I’m not the only one out their 🙂

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