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NY Times: App gold rush leaves many struggling developers


The New York Times appears to have finally caught on to the big secret that many independent developers have known for a while -- the days of grabbing a pot of gold by writing an iOS app are over. In a Saturday post, the Times regaled readers with the stories of two app developers who have seen very different results on the App Store.

The success story noted in the Times article is that of Ethan Nicholas, who released the iShoot artillery game (icon at right) back in the early days of the App Store. Nicholas was able to get his app into the store in 2009, and made over US$1 million -- in fact, he sold over 17,000 copies of the $2.99 app on January 11, 2009 and quit his day job the next day. Nicholas is now part of a healthcare app startup and attributes his early success to "sheer dumb luck and being in the right place at the right time."

At the other end of the spectrum is the sad story of couple Shawn and Stephanie Grimes, who formed Campfire Apps to develop educational apps for kids. The couple started Campfire Apps after Shawn lost his job as a computer security specialist at Baltimore financial firm Legg Mason. Stephanie quit her job as a teacher, and the couple estimates that they've made a paltry $4,964 from the eight apps they sell.

The moral of the Times story? Don't expect to become a millionaire independent developer overnight, as those heady early days of the app gold rush are over. But we already knew that, didn't we?

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