I was fortunate enough to run a successful iPhone Recruitment Agency during the boom of the App Store. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the space of several years.
Back in the day (OK, only three years ago) it was all about paid Apps – that’s where the money was being made. Developers could be hired in for a reasonably cheap price and then the success of the App would be able to offset the cost of a developer. However it didn’t always go to plan, as people always believed their App was the next big thing – wouldn’t you?!
I made contact with a high ranking member of staff at a small, at the time, iOS advertising company, AdMob. Sadly I didn’t get any business from him, but our emails back and forth were all about the future of mobile profits and where the industry was moving. Whilst I did believe that there was money to be made from this, I wasn’t completely sold. My Google Adsense (pay per click) account probably made about 10p a day at the time, so the similarities were set in my mind.
So anyway, the company was bought by Google for $750m, so I guess I’d undervalued them! It was a big eye opener to what sort of money was to be made and I thought that was going to be the future. Then ‘In App Purchases’ were introduced.
When I heard about it, I was pessimistic as usual… There’s me playing a game and it tells me that I need to pay to upgrade, no way am I doing that, I thought. Sadly, I was wrong! When you play a game that’s; free, addictive and very difficult, you almost feel compelled to pay to get better weapons, more money or better colours (Out and out Draw Something addict).
So now this has changed the development industry completely. Developers are on short term contracts, with a portfolio which spans hundreds of Apps. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still money to be made with the big development agencies who do hire on a permanent basis, but the smaller companies are just happy to throw their budget at a £400 per day contractor for a month for a quick turnaround App. The developer can also create a number of In App Purchases which can lengthen the lifespan of the App and ultimately make the company the money they need. Some places will rely solely on In App Purchases, but the Apps which combine a paid for (usually a free version is on offer to tempt the user to upgrade (bolstered with iAds though)) are the big winners.
With an ever evolving smartphone market, the industry is certainly here to stay and the need for Developers is going to increase. The release of Raspberry Pi (tiny computer) for people to learn how to code will be a great influence on finding hidden talent, especially as schools are buying these by the bucket load for their IT classes.
So what does the future hold for the smartphones? My personal opinion is the integration of NFC (Near Field Communication) Chips will be a big game changer. The ability to replace your Oyster card or just buy a coffee with a wave of your phone will be the next step for the all-in-one smartphone.
See you next month; Will Harford