The Trouble With the iPhone Apps Business

It's no secret that being an iPhone app developer is at times rough business, mostly due to Apple's goofy authoritarianism. But judging by some recent soul-spilling by a few leading devs, things are getting rougher.

Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory, developers of Frenzic and Twitterific, started things off with a post lamenting the difficulties of rising above the iPhone app's endless sea of 99-cent mediocrity (a sea I have spent plenty of often painful time wading through for our Week in iPhone Apps column). In his post, he worries about being damned to endlessly producing 99-cent so-called "ringtone" apps rather than well-designed and innovative apps that take more resources to develop.

Hockenberry's "Dear Steve" states that an iPhone dev's life would be a lot easier if they could accurately track who exactly is downloading their apps (and which ads/links they clicked on to get to the store), and the ability to offer free demo version of apps that expire after a given time, prompting people to buy the full app.

After setting off quite a ruckus of folks accusing Hockenberry of groundless complaining, the folks at Appcubby came to the rescue with a full monty on their financial records, showing, down to the dollar, what goes into keeping food on the table for an iPhone app developer (wherein we learned just how much Jason's post on Gas Cubby spurred sales). The Cubby folks backed up the call for free demos and more ad-tracking capabilities as two things that would greatly help the situation.

Both posts are really interesting reads if you're into knowing how the delicious iPhone app sausage gets made. [Furbo Blog, App Cubby Blog]