Tag Archives: development

It’s okay to ignore the iPhone

I talked in “Core Intuition episode 22”:http://www.coreint.org/2009/08/episode-22-not-just-a-hobby/ about how I’ve stopped working on my indie iPhone apps. Mike Ash is also done with it. “He writes”:http://www.mikeash.com/?page=pyblog/the-iphone-development-story-one-year-later.html:

“I have abandoned the platform. Apple’s nonsense is just too much for me. There’s no joy in iPhone development, and an enormous amount of frustration.”

Reading through the comments got me thinking. I’m not abandoning the iPhone just because the App Store is such a frustrating environment to run a business in, or that I have a bunch of real work I could be doing instead of playing games with Apple. It’s also because most of the apps I would write have already been done, and in some cases done very well.

I love having a small computer in my pocket and mine is full of third-party apps. I’m thankful for the developers who are coming from other platforms and focusing all of their attention on the phone. And they are thrilled to be an a platform that is such a step up from traditional mobile development. The financial success stories of developers hitting on a great idea and it just taking off in the App Store are real and inspiring.

But the iPhone doesn’t need me.

As a user there’s no way I’ll give up the phone, but as a developer I can focus my time on “things that I have control over”:http://www.riverfold.com/, and add value to places where no one else has a good solution. Perceived gold rush or not, stretching myself too thin with both iPhone and Mac development is a great way to fail at both.

Imagine for a moment that “Yellow Box for Windows”:http://www.cocoadev.com/index.pl?YellowBox wasn’t killed off — that we could build Windows apps using Cocoa. Should I make my apps cross-platform just because it’s Objective-C? No. Writing software for a platform I don’t use would be like still supporting Mac OS X 10.2; there’s no way I’m going to boot into that thing to test and fix my app.

If you’re a Mac developer, my message to you is the same: just because the iPhone is awesome and runs on Objective-C does not mean you are required to build software for it. Maybe your time would be better spent refining old apps or building new ones on the Mac. Maybe… the iPhone doesn’t need you, either.

A fan for your unreleased app

Every product needs a believer. Not on the product team, but outside. A champion beta tester. Someone who sees the potential and will offer such constructive criticism and feedback early on that if you don’t make the app perfect you will be personally letting them down.

This is so critical, that many products succeed or fail to reach 1.0 on this point alone. Without inspiration from your peers, it becomes difficult to push through “the dip”:http://sethgodin.typepad.com/the_dip/, the rough times in development when everything goes wrong and you can’t imagine how your app will ever see the light of day. Seek out that one person — friend, spouse, blogger, anyone — who will light a fire under you to ship a quality product.

Yes, I want to hear how much you like my app, but I also want to hear where it fails and frustrates you.

The feedback I’ve received for “Clipstart”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/clipstart/ is astonishingly well thought out and helpful. I like to think the app is attracting the best kind of customers: articulate and experienced enough to know what they want. If I could only implement half the suggestions to improve the app it will evolve into something great.

Of course, great beta testers only go so far. We still have to work really hard. “Merlin Mann said it best”:http://www.43folders.com/2009/03/11/kutiman: “The only person who can sit on your ass is you.”