I came across a post on Linked In this morning about apps and how it's possible to make your own. At first I was intrigued but when I started to use the website I was reminded once again that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
iPhone apps are big business. Apparently, over 70% of the world's population now owns a mobile phone. There are over 425,000 apps for iPhone, and Apple's competitors aren't far behind. Prices for apps vary between free and $300 USD, and people can make their own and make them available to the public, either paid or free. Some people have gone on to make money from their apps.
Becoming a developer
That's all well and good, but as the last article I linked to pointed out, you need to have a good, original idea. Otherwise your app ends up as just another RSS feed reader that displays a list of posts from your blog, as the one I came up with here does. What I ended up with isn't terribly impressive unless you're a web design and internet nerd like me. On createfreeiphoneapps.com you get more of a choice of what you can do with your app, but you need to pay to get onto Apple's developer program. Since it costs the best part of $100 USD and the average paid-for app costs under $3 USD, whatever has persuaded you that your app is the next big thing had better be right because there are better ways of spending that money.
The bottom line is, if you want to make an app that only you and perhaps your immediate circle will use, i.e. the rss feed for your blog, you can make it for free but it might not be approved. If you want to make a decent one that is either useful or popular you may well have to pay for the privilege.
The most popular apps
The most popular apps, according to Apple, are the trivial or games ones. The most popular is Candy Mail, which sells via iTunes for $1.99. People's blogs feeds apps are presumably far down the line. The idea I had was to present people with a way of exchanging business cards via their phones using an app that displays their details in the same way that paper business cards do, but hundreds of people appear to have gotten there first, including these eight developers. Or you could take the lazy way out and use a business card scanning app.
I've already mentioned the QR code revolution which is quietly taking over the way we look stuff up online with our mobile phones. It's a pain in the rear to tap in the URLs on our touch screens or using those tiny buttons so QR is a Godsend because all you have to do is get the app required then use your phone to scan it, then you will be taken straight to the website it leads to. Since that is a shortcut to the information people want from a business card, it's probably your best bet for an app - and there are loads of them. This is probably why I keep seeing them on business cards. I'll have to put one on mine.
All I really wanted was an easy way to pass on my business contact details or to advertise my website. It transpires that there have been simple ways of doing exactly that for ages and some of them are free.