There's an app for that. This little phrase manages to describe enormous chunks of the smartphone landscape with just five simple words. But as long as there is "that" that doesn't yet have an app, there will be room for more apps to come. From games to photos to music, there are plenty of things out there that need doing, and people will increasingly turn to their smartphones or mobile devices to get the jobs done.
Making money doing so, a topic of increasing urgency in an economy that's still, at best, faltering, is a goal that's within range for more people than would be readily expected. Making money by making apps is a process that can work, with three simple considerations to keep in mind.
1. Proceed with caution with HTML5, for now.
HTML5 may be the future of app coding, and it's understandable to want to jump in while the future is still young to ensure the best longevity for the work in which a creator will put a lot of time and effort, but the plain and simple here is that HTML5 is still just getting started. Some have even suggested that, especially for game developers, HTML5 coding may do more harm than good. For instance, in game development, many APIs necessary for coding don't come with support for HTML5. Moreover, while many apps use GPS in one way or another, HTML5, at last report, doesn't offer the necessary APIs to include it. It likely will, one day, but for now, staying out of HTML5 is for the best.
2. Protect your work.
The process to apply for patents has often been seen as cumbersome and difficult, which to most people who don't also happen to be lawyers usually means the need to hire lawyers. But considering the number of patent fights currently going on in the tech world – Apple and Samsung, Motorola (News - Alert) and Microsoft, and right on down the line – it makes sense to get your patent protection as rapidly as is possible. Getting patents can even be a help when it comes time to go after venture capital, as it shows an increased likelihood of longevity and the best chance at return on investment.
3. Manage expectations.
New app developers have heard the tales of Zynga's (News - Alert) IPO and Instagram's billion dollar sellout and thought, hey, why not me? The truth is that most will never see that kind of success; consider the sheer number of apps out there, then the number of stories out there about huge buyouts, and the ratio of apps to buyout offers is vanishingly small. But just because an individual's chances of nailing a billion-dollar buyout are approximately as good as winning a billion-dollar lottery prize doesn't mean, much unlike the lottery, that a good living can't be made. To do that, a long-term approach will be necessary, focusing not on making money today, but on making money a year from now. Whether the app is free but charges for upgrades--the "freemium" model--or costs just a little with priced upgrade--the "paymium" model--each approach has advantages, so consider the individual app carefully before deciding which is right.
With hard work and a little advance consideration, many are already making a good living from writing mobile apps. It isn't easy to join their ranks, but it can be done.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin