What It's About
A developer weighs in on phone apps.
Words of Wisdom
Apps are not the gold rush that they were in 2010, but there are still plenty of lucrative opportunities available for the right concept. If you have an idea for an app, make sure that you think carefully about what value it provides—just like you would for any other business.
Apple's iPhone App store is a profit generating machine. Since launching in 2008, it has earned the company over $134 billion dollars in revenue. That money is generated from a small fraction of the 2 million apps available, most of which are completely free.
Notes from Chris
When Apple launched the iPhone App Store in 2008, they kicked off a modern day gold rush. Software developers everywhere submitted their apps and fortunes were made overnight. With few apps on offer at the time, people were installing almost anything. It was a glorious time where you could create something truly ridiculous and get paid for it. But all good things must come to an end and, like the California Gold Rush of the 1800s, a few got rich and the rest died trying. Or, you know, their apps just weren’t downloaded. In just a few years, there was more competition, and it became harder for apps to stand out from the crowd. Lewis Smith missed the Gold Rush, but he came in afterward with something heftier than those initial apps. At the time, Lewis was a programmer for Barclays Bank in the UK. He loved learning new technologies and building things. Creating an app seemed like a good way to do both. If Lewis was going to build an app, he figured that he might as well make one for himself. To start, Lewis began looking at problems in his own life that he thought might be made easier with an app. And it didn’t take long to come up with something. Lewis was getting married, and the wedding date was fast approaching. To get in shape for it, he’d started on the Slow Carb Diet. The diet proposes measuring different parts of your body to track your progress: variables like weight, waistline, hips, and shoulder width. Together, these give a much better indication of progress than simply weighing yourself, which can be affected by building muscle. Lewis figured an app would make it easy to track everything in one place. A quick search of the App store revealed nothing like it existed, so it became his project. He called it The Progress App. It took some time, but eventually, The Progress App became Lewis full-time job. Two years ago, in 2016 he was making enough to quit full-time work and make a living entirely off his app. Like weight loss itself, the progress was slow and took a lot of hard work, but in the end, it paid off. And these days, Lewis’ app has achieved critical mass! Over the last year, Lewis has generated an average of $6,500/month from his app. The money comes in even when he’s sleeping or taking a day off. This has enabled him to travel the world as a digital nomad all the way through to 2018. In 2019 and beyond, Lewis’ aim is to help a million people lose weight through his app. It’s easy to look at this story and think “he got in early” or “this could never work now”. But remember, Lewis didn’t launch his app until three years after the app store launch. Things were extremely competitive, even then. But Lewis found a way to stand out from the crowd. He built a very specific app that didn’t yet exist, for a specific group of people. And because he followed through, his progress app has completely changed his life.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- The Progress App: If weight loss is part of your New Year's resolutions, use Lewis' app to help you keep track!
- Code With Chris | How to Make an iPhone App: If you think that you'd like to try your hand at building an app, here's an 11-video primer for beginners
- Exercise App Encourages Fitness While Helping Sick Kids: A North Carolina man’s software app forces users to make donations when they slack off their fitness routines
- Game on! Seahawks Fan Kicks Off Six-Figure Sports App: When faced with the possibility of not being able to enjoy his favorite football games, this sports fan creates an app to solve the problem. Four years in, it earns him a full-time income in exchange for 30 minutes of work each week
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