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Is a good time for independent developers gone? | WWDC 2

via:博客园     time:2019/6/7 16:32:15     readed:123

The annual income is $270,000. It works only from Monday to Friday every week. It takes 5 weeks to take a vacation. In May and December, it is basically playing the Hearthstone game. This is a summary of Dash's developer Bogdan Popescu's work in 2014.

At that time, independent developers seemed to be a godly work that satisfied both their hobbies and their rewards.

Now that the developer of the Apple Developer Project has reached 20 million, but "the good era of developers has passed" seems to be the mainstream argument, how are the independent developers? What do they think of the future of this industry? We interviewed several independent developers and wanted to know what they thought.

Windows is pirated. Can you make money from personal software?

"Developer" is not a new term, but in the PC era, software development, the highest rate of appearance is the software company, from operating systems, office suites to browsers, communication tools, etc., Microsoft has almost monopolized all software areas, in addition Several major software giants such as Oracle and IBM are also relying on selling software to enterprises. It is not easy for individual developers to get a piece of it. Even if it succeeds like Zhang Xiaolong, the father of WeChat, his famous Foxmail is purely used. Love to generate electricity, no half of the business income.


Image from: Baltimore Sun

In addition to free software, whether it is paid software or "pay-as-you-go" shareware, it is almost impossible to escape the fate of being cracked, not to mention the fact that once a large company is involved in the same field, it is enough to bring a devastating blow to individual developers. Netscape’s battle with IE was a classic case of giants fighting small teams.

Even if developers have the ability to solve problems such as technology and commercialization, how to let users find their own products is an insurmountable obstacle. In the early years, there was no unified distribution channel for software. Users with longer ages probably had experience in downloading software from forums or "Huajun Software Park" and "Sky Download Station". These lack of unified distribution channels are also pirated. One of the reasons for the rampant software, and to a certain extent, contribute to the spread of computer viruses.

When I asked Windows developers if they had a case of relying entirely on software development to survive, "empty", a developer who experienced the changes in the PC era to the mobile Internet era sent such a direct attack on the soul:

Windows is pirated. Can you make money from personal software?

What changed after the App Store was born?

In 2008, tickets for the WWDC conference were sold out for the first time in history. At this year's conference, Apple released the App Store.


Image from: Cult of Mac

Uniform distribution channels, no custodian fees, no credit card fees, developers who decide to apply prices and 70% of revenue, apparently the App Store was designed for small and medium developers from the very beginning, and more importantly, "it is The way developers touch every user.” When Jobs published the App Store on WWDC in 2008, it was simple, but it hit the developer's pain points.

The development of the application has also become more worry-free: Apple provides a one-stop service from development kits, documentation, UI resources, promotional materials, etc. As long as you write programming, your products can be combined with those of large companies. Face global users in the App Store, compete fairly and even defeat your opponents.

The first batch of 500 apps on the App Store were mostly Facebook, Yelp, Evernote and other well-known companies. After one year, the number of apps has exceeded 65,000. As early as iOS did not open the SDK to third parties, it was tossed through jailbreak. The individual developers of the various functions of the iPhone are all supernatural. The early applications of enjoying the bonus are mostly tools and games.

Tools developed with iPhone features: Camera360 surpassed Instagram's top-of-the-line App Store free photography list at the peak of the year; Xu Zizhan's translation tool developed by the iPhone SMS bubble dialogue Translator became profitable 100,000 in the first month RMB; you may also have used iBeer —— pretend to use the iPhone to drink beer, MouthOff—— take special effects photos such as licking your mouth and mouth.


Image from: Talking Tom and Friends

Small game companies don't have to rely on publishers to distribute games —— Outfit7, a group of 8 people, developed the popular game "Talking Tom Cat" in 2010, which was worth $1 billion when sold to Chinese consortium seven years later. "Angry Birds" saved Rovio Mobile on the verge of bankruptcy; even the free download of "Crossy Road" relied on advertising to make its developer Matt Hall a financial freedom.

The myth of all kinds of overnight riches began to spread in the square, as if you can develop an application at will, you can embark on the peak of life. At the WWDC conference each year, it is also the most talked about what developers have gained. For example, Apple's scores for developers in 2017 reached $26.5 billion.

Other big companies are beginning to realize the importance of developers. Google Play is closely followed by the App Store. BlackBerry's BlackBerry App World went live in April 2019, and even operators have followed suit, such as Verizon App Store and China Mobile's MM. Application malls, etc. Some people joked that the App Store allowed developers to get rid of the title of "code farmer" for the first time.

This is the best era and the worst era.

StatistaThe data shows that the App Store has more than 1.8 million apps, and the rich choices are a good thing for Apple's ecosystem and users, but for developers it means that their apps are getting smaller and smaller.


Whether it is the Central or the App Store in the US, the free leader is basically contracted by a large company.

The App Store wants to provide "excellent business opportunities" for small and medium-sized developers, but the big company finally divides most of the traffic with its strong user base and resources. The most popular applications in the rankings, the top 10, enter the top 100 There are very few independent applications. Regardless of the platform, the "Matthew effect" seems to always be verified.

From a purely technical point of view, it is the best time for developers. Tolecen is a developer of applications such as Bai Xiu, Xi Jiang Yue, and two grapefruits. He believes that independent development is now easier to achieve:

You can develop on many off-the-shelf technical frameworks and templates, or have ready-made UI templates and icons, or off-the-shelf cloud servers, making it easier for one person to navigate all of these aspects.

But an application success has never been as long as the code is written. Matt Gemmell, who used to be an iOS developer, wrote a blog in 2014 that is a good summary of the industry's confusion about the current situation of developers: the mobile Internet began to fall back to the year. In the era when a few giants control the market, small teams are difficult to sustain and can only be sold to large companies; once products stand out, a large number of imitators come one after another; each application store is closed to each other, and applications may be removed at any time.

Although Matt Gemmell's statement may not fully reflect the real situation of the developer, it is a recognized fact that the era of at least one application is not lost. It is a recognized fact that Zhou Yiwen, who has 9 years of development experience, believes that it is now independently developed. The difficulty is that "the scenes that everyone needs are mostly done by the company's products." His app, such as second-view, small-note, and a fragrant, has repeatedly appeared on the App Store recommendation, so there are deep difficulties in accessing traffic. Feeling, he told Ai Fan, most of his app download traffic comes from the App Store recommendation, and the paid app recommended by the new app is between $300 and $500 a day. "Search only accounts for a small portion." .

The proliferation of apps and developers has made promotion and channels particularly important, and it is difficult for independent developers to compete with big companies in this regard.

"Advertising is also something that indie developers can't do. They naturally feel that they have no money to advertise." Liu Yi is a developer of the well-known application Price Tag. "Domestic developers are basically only good at writing code. It is really neglected in design. The operational skill is 0."

But is the good age of developers really gone?

It’s said that the App Store traffic bonus has passed, and developers are still very optimistic.

The competition in the application market is more intense than it was a decade ago. This is the fact that several independent developers or independent developers who we have come across recognize, but they think that the difficulties of promotion and insufficient flow are all solutions. of.

Unlike the outside world, in the eyes of developers, the explosive growth of smartphone users and the increase in media reporting channels have given them the opportunity to get more traffic.

"I don't think it's hard to be discovered now, because there are more media companies that are willing to recommend good apps. It's mainly related to products. It doesn't really matter who developed it." Zhou Yiwen recently worked on developing a project called " The 50-tone Japanese introductory learning app has been reported by many media, and he himself has also received an exclusive interview with AppSo's AppSo.

Liu Yi, who paid the same opinion, posted a theme app on the App Store a few days before his paid app "Photo Album Butler": "The traffic is more than before, the media has become more, and there are many personal bloggers, if now Doing a good job is easy to be recommended by the media."

"We have a huge population base. As an independent developer, you don't have to worry about going out to sea." Tao Xinle is very direct.

The admission of large companies does not mean that individual developers and small teams have no living space.

"Now all the scenes that everyone needs are done by the company's products. It is really harder to do, but now the total number of users is several times that of the previous ones. Many small scenes can support some developers, and the company can't look at these small scenes. Developers need to use a bigger brain to carefully discover these scenes," Zhou said in an interview.

Liu Yi also believes that the dislocation competition is the way out for independent developers: "If you look at the top 100 of the paid list, there are still quite a lot of independent developers. The free list is very competitive, the opportunities for independent developers are few, and the apps of big companies are basically There is no direct charge, so it is staggered."


Paid or built-in paid apps are indeed the main choice for many independent developers, and the price of app pricing is a new problem for developers. Although the user's awareness of payment has improved in recent years, it is affected by the consumption level. The psychological price of the app is still not high: "The same one sells 68 yuan. The domestic price may be high, but the 9.9 knife in foreign countries is actually good." Liu Yi told Ai Faner that an app has invested more than 1 million yuan in foreign countries. Circles are relatively easy to do. In addition to different payment environments, foreign developers pay more attention to product design and packaging.

Optimism is optimistic, and it is still a minority to rely on app to make a fortune. Developers generally say that income is “mostly for the day to eat”, which is enough for daily expenses, but it is still difficult to buy a car to buy a house.

"There are all warriors who can work full time." Now Liu Yi has set up his own studio puzzle technology.

Despite all the difficulties, independent developers still have their obsessions & mdash; — freedom, do not have to work step by step, do not have to deal with the company's cumbersome system, in the words of Liu Yi is "enjoy a person's state."

Perhaps it is not just the developers who want to be freelancers. Zhou Yiwen thinks that "the generation after the 90s will wake up sooner or later, decide to go out and do what they like. Then they find that they can actually support themselves."


Image from:Apple's official website

Of course, the most optimistic is Apple, who announced that China's first design development accelerator will be available in Shanghai this summer, providing professional training and resources for app design and development for iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS app developers. Apple deliberately chose to release this news on June 6th, probably also hopes that developers will "six-six Dashun".

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