Those (sometimes) silly iPhone apps may make you laugh, but their money-making potential is no joke.
FOR BRENT POPE, an advertising-agency group creative director whod recently been downsized, the idea for his iPhone application came to him while he was standing in line at Disneys Magic Kingdom theme park. For Todd Moore, a would-be video-game designer who was toiling away in network security, the motivation to develop an app was provided by reports that a woman was pulling in two grand a day from sales of a crossword-puzzle app. For Greg Grunberg, an actor who has starred on Heroes, Alias, and Felicity, inspiration struck upon entering a Bed, Bath & Beyond and realizing that hed left a money-saving coupon at home.
Its almost become cliché to recite the litany of adventures that have given rise to applications for the much-beloved iPhone. Tales abound of individuals who, faced with a logjam on the local bicycle path, an inability to remember the name of the band that sang Hocus Pocus, or some other random frustration, have slapped their heads in Wow, I could have had a V8! fashion and promptly set about creating a fix accessible via iPhones. Just like that, theyre technology mavens -- and a select few are clearing serious money in the process.
Welcome to the era of the accidental entrepreneur. More than two years into the life of Apples technological blockbuster, the device continues to inspire a borderline pathological level of devotion from its users. Chances are that if you look to your right or to your left, youll see at least one fellow traveler pawing away at one of the 26- million-plus iPhones that have been sold.
To ensure that these millions do not use the device merely to surf the web and check e-mail, Apple opened its App Store on July 11, 2008. Within a year, the store was offering nearly 60,000 applications designed specifically for the iPhone by third-party developers -- programmers fluent in several coding languages, frustrated techies, moms, English majors, you name it. The billionth download of an iPhone app occurred on April 23, 2009; by the time you read this, the App Store will be well on its way to two billion downloads and will be offering somewhere in the neighborhood of 70,000 applications.
These applications include everything from utilities (a mobile dictionary, anyone?) to games (if you dont see how a diversion that asks players to toss garbage into various projectiles can be addictive, you havent tried Paper Toss) to well, iFart (which is everything its name implies and then some). The only thing most of the applications have in common is their relative simplicity and the keen do-it-yourself spirit of their creators.