Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 6th, 2009

iPhone Gold Rush: There Be Apps In Them Hills!

Ever since Apple hit the market with the iPhone, its been raining nothing but apps. You can get an application called iSteam, which simulates a fogged mirror that has dripping condensation and even makes the noise when you swipe the screen. If you have trouble sleeping, iPhone has an app for white noise. You can even revisit The Oregon Trail, the classic game that broke the boredom of social studies throughout your life. There are more than 25,000 programs, or applications, for the iPhone and not all of them are created by a highly-paid developer that eats crepes every morning with his job sandwich. Recently, there has been a rush of amateur developers that have struck gold with applications that Apple has approved and sells for the iPhone. Call in the old prospectors, watch out for coyotes, and don’t forget your lantern, because a gold rush just hit on iPhone Apps.

Last August, Ethan Nicholas and his family were scraping by their mortgage payments and medical bills. Nicholas considered looking for a second job and selling their house. Then he remembered a guy who made significant coin by writing a video game called Trism for the iPhone. Although Mr. Nicholas had years of programming experience, he had never used Objective-C, the code of the iPhone. So he gave himself a crash course in the language using the Internet. Because of his experience with shooter games growing up, Nicholas chose to write an artillery game. He sketched some basics graphics and collected inexpensive stock photos and audio files. He continued to put in more than enough hours into his day job, while feverishly writing code at night, with one kid on a knee and the other on his shoulders. After six weeks of paying his dues, he sent the project to Apple for approval, which they quickly granted, and iShoot was released on the online Apple Store on Oct. 19.

The chances of hitting iPhone jackpot are still possible, but getting slimmer. The Apple Store is beginning to get crowded with look-alike games and campy applications that are diluting the shelves from the simple but clever concepts, like iBeer, which makes your screen look like a frothing beer. iShoot earned Mr. Nicholas $800,000 in five months, and peaked out on January 11, with 17,000 copies sold and a $35,000 day. There be gold in them hills! It’s starting to become a longer shot, but that hasn’t stopped people from stampeding towards programming success.

Application programming has surpassed almost anyone’s expectations, and people can’t help but compare it to what happened in Silicon Valley in the early dot-com era. This is on a much smaller scale, but still has influenced society. Stanford University offered an undergraduate course last fall called Computer Science 193P: iPhone Application Programming that attracted 150 students for only 50 seats. Simple party tricks, highly efficient applications, and enduring software programs make our lives more convenient and have sparked a new generation of inventors. It doesn’t take much money to write these programs, but it can be a valuable and basic application of everyone’s day. Volacci is passionate about helping Entrepreneurs find the spirit and freedom that they had when they first began their businesses.

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