iPhone Development: Developing Apps for Fun and Profit – Part 1

Hi everyone- Jesse Waites here, Founder and CEO of Beacon Hill Apps. We are based in Boston and make iOS and Android apps for individuals and corporations. As a developer with experience in dealing with clients, I was asked to write a guest post about helping regular people bring their app concepts to reality. There are a few technical and legal hurdles that you, as an app developer, will have to go through to make it happen, but no worries – I’m an expert and I’ve got you covered.

Now that the app sales ecosystem has been around for a few years, it seems apparent that the smartphone software industry is here to stay. New platforms and devices are still launching (looking at you, Windows 7 phone), so clever folks that are attentive to the marketplace can still do very well for themselves. Whether you sell it for 99 cents or give it away for free and collect ad revenue, there is a very good chance that your app will be profitable, especially if you can keep a few things in mind.

Launching a successful business or product is a bit like starting an engine – the cylinders have to fire in the correct order or it won’t work. The first step of any business is to check the competition, and I don’t deviate from that here either. When the App Store for the iPhone launched, I noticed that there weren’t a lot of apps for medical students and nurses to use to educate themselves, so I had the distinction of launching the first medical terminology and abbreviations dictionary for the iPhone. That was easier at the time because the App Store was so new (there was much less competition) but your perfect idea is out there, you just have to find it.

Go for a run or walk your dog around the block – it will come to you. It will probably hit you right as you’re going to bed – thats when I usually get my best ideas. I once had an idea for an Android app that woke me up in the middle of the night, so I put it together and published it the next day. And within the first week, I made $500 from the app. Now I keep a moleskin notebook at the bedside so I’m prepared the next time lightning strikes. It will happen. All ideas are already out there in the universe, floating around like radio waves. You just have to be attuned to the frequency and listen for it.

OK.. Got an idea that will work? Something with little to no competition, in a niche field that you can expand into? Great. Now you need to analyze the app concept and decide if it will need server side assistance or not. Some apps, like my Medical Terminology and Abbreviations software I mentioned earlier, exist only on the device with no backend needed whatsoever. I suggest placing your phone in airplane mode for a little while and poking around some of the apps you’ve downloaded before. You will see which ones still work and which ones don’t and get an understanding of whats possible to do without a server.

For your first app, I would suggest going with something that does not need a server back end- it is much less complicated and affordable to launch. This way you can learn to navigate the submission and approval system and get a nice overview of the process with as few headaches as possible. You can always update it later to add any extra functionality you want.

You will also want to make sure that the device is capable of doing what you want it to do. I have clients that come in to my office requesting things like turning an iPhone into a remote control. I have to tell them, sorry mate, there is no infrared emitter on the iPhone. It’s just not in the hardware. Short of designing the hardware yourself to do it, it’s not going to happen. Take the time to do the proper research to make sure it’s technologically and economically possible. You don’t want to embarrass yourself and end up in A Day in the Life of an App Developer part 3 (see my video for part deux, which by the way, really did happen). It is important to know exactly what you want so you can communicate that to your developer. I’ll cover that in part 2 in the coming days.


Jesse Waites
Founder and CEO, BeaconHillApps.com

Interested in more iPhone development articles? Take a look at these TMA posts:

Next ArticleSOS Penguin! gets updated with Halloween Edition + 10 promo code giveaway