Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Indie Life

Luc Vandal:

Let’s face it, the app gold rush is well over. It is now much harder to make it into the market and it requires more planning, financial investment and time. On top of that, competition is fierce, your app may get sherlocked (1) by Apple and become a part of the next OS release or may lose traction because a VC funded company is offering a free alternative and has near to unlimited funds for market it while they figure out how to monetize it. (2)

[…]

I have spoken with other successful developers and many told me the same: sales are generally down. They are still doing great but there are more and more competitors are also taking a slice of the same pie.

Update (2014-07-15): Chris Adamson:

That’s @jonathanpenn, as he heads off to Apple. He follows a number of top indie developers/author/speakers to head to the mothership in the last few months, including Patrick Burleson, Kevin Hoctor, and if we’ll go back a little over a year, we can throw in my former iOS SDK Development co-author Bill Dudney.

This is causing a little bit of angst among those of us who hate to see our friends decamp from our communities to California, and to suggest that maybe indie iOS development/writing/speaking isn’t tenable.

Janie Clayton-Hasz:

I don’t even know if what I want to do is feasible. Other developers that I have spoken to have seen contract work dry up because iOS has become a mature enough platform that companies are creating in house developer teams rather than hiring contractors to do piecemeal work. Additionally, it is conventional wisdom that the market for paid apps has also mostly dried up.

Matt Gemmell:

We’ve had our (latest) software Renaissance in the form of the mobile platforms and their App Stores, and I think the software biz is now starting to slide back towards consolidation and mega-corps again. It’s not a particularly great time to be an indie app developer anymore.

Small shops are closing. Three-person companies are dropping back to sole proprietorships all over the place. Products are being acquired every week, usually just for their development teams, and then discarded.

Update (2014-07-16): Matthew Smith (via David Barnard):

Our revenue has fluctuated and declined significantly over the past 2 years. We have tried everything we could think of to reverse that declining revenue trend, and nothing has worked. We have had a blast making high quality educational kids apps, but at some point you have to take a step back and say ‘Is this sustainable?’.

2 Comments

I wonder how many indie developers out there actually make their living doing independent contracting, with their apps primarily there as showroom pieces and beer money; I suspect it's an increasing number.

@Kevin: I would say it's the vast majority of app developers. At the CocoaHeads meetings I attend, I've seen only one guy who was making enough money to sustain his activity. Note that I wrote: "was". The other attendees are either just trying to enter the market or are contractors.

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