Love and Free Apps

This. 100 times this.

This is the age of writing iOS apps for love.

Well, that’s not true for everybody. Well-established and awesome companies such as Omni, Panic, Flexibits, AgileBits, Tapbots, and The Iconfactory have a business writing iOS apps. (They do it for love, but not just for love.) Companies like Black Pixel make money by writing apps for other companies that have money.

And big companies and funded companies don’t actually have to make money from their iOS apps. They have other goals. (I don’t pretend to understand the economics of funded companies.)

You the indie developer could become the next Flexibits. Could. But almost certainly not. Okay — not.

What’s more likely is that you’ll find yourself working on a Mobile Experience for a Big National Brand(tm) and doing the apps you want to write in your spare time.

If there’s a way out of despair, it’s in changing our expectations.

Write the apps you want to write in your free time and out of love for the platform and for those specific apps. Take risks. Make those apps interesting and different. Don’t play it safe. If you’re not expecting money, you have nothing to lose.

Could the do-it-for-love era — with the creative freedom that that brings — bring us back to the days when we downloaded apps that weren’t from Facebook and Starbucks and Funded Company X, and we told our friends about our exciting finds?

I hope. I have hope.

Niche is the only other area I can see. Find something where you - or someone close to you - have an itch. Scratch it with an App. See if other people have the same itch. eg:

  • Trip Wallet. We needed something to keep track of travel spending on a long trip
  • Nearest Bus. I was catching the bus a lot in London
  • mobileAgent. I was using FreeAgent a lot, and wanted to do it from my phone.
  • On the roll (unreleased). Leonie needed to keep track of what film was in her various cameras.
  • Tides (unreleased). I could only swim in a +/- 2 hour window of high tide. So I wrote an app which reminded me of that.

Find an itch. Scratch it. Do it for love.