Who in the App Store to live well. Stevie software store through the eyes of the developer

    In this article I will try to briefly talk about my one and a half years development experience for iPhone. And about who the App Store is useful for.

    Part 1. Actors

    Independent developer

    My position is this, and I hope many will agree that a successful person is one who does what he loves, which brings income that you can not only live on, but also relax from work. That is, his labor contribution should be paid back so that he fully provided for himself. In addition to income, self-development is still required in order to keep up with the industry growth rates, to be always fully armed, as far as possible, so as not to lose the main thing: experience, skills, knowledge.

    How many are there among indie developers? It seems to me that no. On the contrary, even very, very few. Especially in our country. Let's try to figure out why.

    Many have heard the success story about how a young man is burning with desire and for a week “in the garage” gives out a super-project about which news feeds write, dazzles 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 this. That at first the young team is even harmful.
    Not everyone knows about real numbers. Because not all were in this very “top”. Sometimes it’s even a problem, this “top”.

    If the product is in any top, then users will consider that the developer is "rowing the loot", and will require appropriate support and attitude. This may be a requirement to immediately change the functionality as they wish, change the design, release an urgent update. From experience, I’ll say that “urgently” they usually mean 2-3 days, and if the requirement is not met, “punishment” will inevitably follow in the form of a negative review (often very aggressive), poor assessment, angry writing. About reviews, ratings and users I will tell in more detail below.

    On the other hand, the position in the rating table affects sales: the first hundred applications are bought more often. Just because they are in sight. However, it is difficult to accurately assess the coefficient that is introduced into sales using the 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 using one of our applications as an example. "Swam, we know." Our top is only an order of magnitude behind the staff, as I believe, so with a big stretch we can say that it is comparable. And given that the developers there have an order of magnitude higher, then we are in the same skin. If I’m right, it turns out that: "the developer is also a developer in Africa."
    So, what is the volume of our Russian department store? The maximum that we saw is 750 downloads per day of a one-dollar application in the first place. At the same time, in Top Grossing we did not reach the first place. It turns out that the ceiling of the first place of the Russian top is most likely not limited to one thousand downloads. BUT this is not every day.

    The average number of downloads in the first place is from 150 to 300. Of course, it depends on the application, on the "neighbors", the season, etc. Observations were carried out for a month (for so long, our application lasted in the top ten, half of this time in the first place).

    In total, it turned out: 500 hours of net development were spent on development (without smoke breaks and distractions), revenue for 4 months of sales, minus Apple's fee, was about 5 thousand dollars. Not a penny was spent on advertising, user support for about 100 hours. It turns out that the yield is less than $ 10 per hour, provided that you are constantly 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 here the costs of advertising, payment of electricity, traffic, hosting, the profit will be even less.

    Unlikecolleagues who recently spoke of their experience as unsuccessful , we believe that this is small, but 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 here, in the development for the iPhone: often these are young people without the appropriate education, experience (both programmer and organizational). Usually enough fuse for one or two applications. Let the very good and sought after by the public. What's next? It’s good if the invested funds fight back ... And then the limit of competence / army / apathy / necessity or desire to earn real money and sleep at night rises with a blank wall.


    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 help out later. It is rare when a hobby brings money. This is already work, if so.

    A ticket to WWDC-2010 could be bought for $ 1,600 in just 8 days. Dismantled like pies. How many indie developers were there? Little. What about 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 to say that there is a whole layer of people who are engaged in development (sometimes they even succeed), simply because they want to do it, because they are Apple fans or want to prove to everyone that "they can." And they are not upset because of failures (because the accounts have something to live on without a game in development).

    The guys from the Apple commercials

    Some developers get Apple support directly. There are several specially designed commercials for Apple where lone developers (!) Already light up and tell how easy it was for them to start the path and how quickly it led them to success. For fun, maybe someone knows the fate of those same guys?

    Apple is interested in the app store not as a means of their additional income, but as a mechanism for attracting customers for their devices. Therefore, it is beneficial for them to have many different applications to say that they already have 250 thousand programs in the store and so many billions of downloads.

    Maybe everything was conceived for people: a lot of good, necessary, high-quality programs ... But it turned out, as always: the marketing department requires large numbers, unfortunate developers whine that censors do not miss their garbage, make noise on blogs. Where quality will be here. As a result, everyone became hostages of a situation where you won’t be nice to everyone at the same time.

    Such is the power and uselessness of today's App Store: developers cannot declare themselves, drowning in thousands of crafts and clones, users beyond the first 100 applications do not see anything, and if you want to, then finding something suitable and worthwhile is not always possible.


    These comrades earn a percentage of sales of other people's applications. These are almost all well-known brands of the App Store. They select the best that is. Sometimes they make orders themselves. Do not skimp on promotional campaigns. As a result, the developer who turned to the publisher receives the same salary as in the office. The publishing company itself is usually not small, and huge revenues diverge on salaries and advertising.


    According to our observations and reasoning, it turns out that there are no lucky people who do not particularly strain and make decent money in the App Store.

    The worst situation is with independent developers (small teams and startups), because you can’t get far on one or two applications, demand is falling, the market is quickly saturated, salvation is only in constant orders, and it is very difficult for a new team to keep regular customers. Even more difficult for loners (I hope no need to explain why).

    I do not want to discourage anyone from wanting to earn money in the App Store, just do not think that it is so simple. Easy money does not exist, every penny is earned by sweat and blood.

    What do independent developers do?

    Learn, study and study.
    Do not get upset due to failures.
    Remember that you can’t earn all the money, so pay attention to health and time to rest.
    Do not play in a big company when you are still very few.
    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. The Developer Path

    What is development for the App Store? There are several simple “quests”, the implementation of which (as it is written on each corner) seems to be enough to “get rid of good money”:
    • Availability of software and hardware. Need Mac, iPhone SDK, device for testing.
    • Register for the Apple Developer Program. $ 99 per year.
    • The idea of ​​the program. Usually no one has problems. All geniuses.
    • Implementation. Requires the ability to program, understand technical texts in English.
    • Publication. To please censors, to know in general terms what the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement says
    • Advertising
    • User support
    • Receiving a profit. Yes, earned hard-earned money still needs to be received.

    I will dwell on some points below.


    It seems to be a lot of information already. And for an engineer, if he wants to, even if he does not know how to program (although, it seems, now all engineers are taught this), this question does not play a big role.

    I can only say that no matter how user-friendly the development environment is, no matter how many libraries with ready-made algorithms and functions have already been written, it’s better not to try to “fence the garden” without basic knowledge of the subject. According to tutorials, the specific program you need cannot be written. The documentation for the SDK does not understand that dividing by 0 is not very good.

    The most difficult, in my opinion, in iPhone development is memory management (retain, release). It is necessary to monitor all the allocated dynamic memory. Well, there’s no “garbage collector” there!

    Merry-go-round carousel firmware

    All developers “love” Apple for their love of user money: the release of new firmware encourages people to buy new devices, because on older models, the new firmware is no longer supported. What is the developer’s problem?

    Last year, with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, there were no special problems: support for Base SDK 2.x and 3.x was supported. A terrible thing happened with the release of firmware 4.0 and the new Xcode environment: to test the operation of its application on all supported devices, a developer needs to have 2 iPhones: one with firmware 3.1 and one with firmware 4.x Setting Deployment Target partially solves the issue. By removing support for iPhone OS 2.x explicitly, Cupertino implicitly put pressure on developers and users about iPhone OS 3.1.
    I’ll explain a little: earlier it was possible to set Base SDK 3.0 during compilation and you could be sure that the application would work on newer firmware. Now there is simply no such opportunity.

    Without going into details: it’s 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 “gift” from Apple for developers. Sometimes the iPhone operating system does not cope with its tasks. As a result, if the program was launched at that moment and it “crashed”, the creator of the program, not Apple, not Foxconn, would be to blame in the eyes of the user.

    If a user made a Jailbreak because “all hackers / friends said so”, and not because he really needs it, and throws a bunch of software into the device, which he didn’t even read the descriptions, because “a freebie” and one of these programs "Fell" during use, who is to blame? Of course, not Jailbreak or system memory shortages in the aluminum iPhone. Well, you get the point.


    Censors. Those times when absurd refusals were made in publications seemed to have passed. Everything about everything usually * takes a week.

    Although, there was one case about three months ago. We wanted to implement a function whose operation required the use of some non-forbidden kernel functions. They hung a button on which they wrote the name of the function. The censor’s response: “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 point with a finger, we had to remove the button (we left the function, making it automatic). And how sad it was when, after two months of programs with such a function, description, and even the name began to arrive!

    * Dates are always floating. There is even nothing to say to users who ask about the update release date. From a week to a month. It does not depend on the complexity of the application. Updating this or a new application does not matter.

    The only good news is that the iTunes Connect interface (the web portal through which developers send applications for publication) has been made more friendly and has released a fairly convenient iPhone application to track the number of sales.


    No ads anywhere. Rarely, rarely will your super-duper-wonderful application be noticed just like that.

    There are many ways to promote, one of them is the publication of a review of the program in the specialized media.
    What do you think, how do reviews of programs from the App Store appear in popular news feeds and portals? There are not so many reasons, these are the ones that I observed:
    • The developer paid for a review of the money (I do not know how much, the money was not published).
    • The portal is not visited, there are not enough newsmakers, there is no experience and the review is published on the principle of “at least something”.
    • By acquaintance.
    • The application is in the US "top".

    You can still PR in forums and topics on pirate trackers. But I think this is extremely inefficient. Just for the sake of feedback.

    User 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 important. There is a separate article about the work of the support service by our employee of the same service .


    The fun part. When you are sad, you can read reviews in the App Store, and your heart will feel warmer. There is the passion of fans (even applications have fans), and the anger of deceived users, and the joy of those who have found it, and the sadness of those who have lost it (for example, censors delete it after they have published it), as well as the stupidity of foolish users.

    There is such a class of applications - practical jokes. One of them is “Search for cell phone location by number”. The bottom line is that the "host" launches the application, asks the victim of the rally to tell his phone number, enters the program - and the iPhone determines the location using GPS. Because the victim of the rally is in the same place as the host, the program determines only its own location. Honest description is always present in these applications. Here is a typical tip for such applications: “DIVORCE! DO NOT BUY! What morons brought this shit to the top? ”Ratings are all units. The application is usually several days at the top. The developer made his "dirty" money. And users reveal their essence. Who brought to the top? Yes, that man and those like him brought him out.

    What is depressing is the mate 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 users? Cultural and literate? Swearing sometimes even with mistakes.

    Interestingly, people do not read reviews, the description does too . They look only at the icon and name. Reviews are like a place with write-only mode.


    If the application is simple, quietly does its job, then it will have neither reviews nor ratings. It may also mean that it is not for sale at all.

    If the application is quite complicated, but cheap, wait for a bunch of units: to use it, you often need to read at least an annotation. Putting a unit without understanding is easier than reading anything. Such applications usually have equal positive and negative ratings.

    Extremely excellent ratings are only for simple beautiful simple toys.

    Maybe the conclusions that can be drawn from this about the public are sad, but such is the reality. If someone reassures, then in the States it is much worse. Although this selection is only for the store.

    Fee. "Kashchey's Chest"

    We are talking about Russia. Apple’s money doesn’t come right away, but only after its reporting period, usually not earlier than 45 days later, and if it has accumulated at least a couple hundred dollars. Not all Russian banks will transfer this money to an individual’s account without any problems. Especially if there is a lot of money (probably, there should be enough to enable financial monitoring).
    Because There were no reports of such cases, which means that either this happened to someone and he did not tell anyone about it, or this did not happen, or the person’s account was not in Russia.

    Costs of work persons (especially when the developer is not yet 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).


    Developers : Feel free to share experiences. There are several Russian-language websites on iPhone-related topics for developers. In my dreams, of course, is Russian stackoverflow.com. If anyone knows something like this for Russian speakers, advise all your familiar developers.

    For novice developers and those who spam in the App Store : do not spit in the well ... For

    users : read at least the annotation to the application before buying. And do not think that we profit from you. It happens that we do not sleep at night, answering your letters for much less money than you can earn in a comfortable office.

    UPD: added a link to an article about support work .

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