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How Much is an iPhone Developer Worth?

The author of this article at O’Reilly says that in his experience, good iPhone developers are making $125/hour doing contract work, sometimes more. And that because of how lucrative selling apps is, many contractors are forgoing contract work altogether in favour of creating and selling their own iPhone apps.

He rightly points out that in this market, ideas are worthless. I’ve seen this in software development before – an idea, all by itself, is worth nothing, and it’s the execution of the idea that matters. The author of this article says: “I am someone who is highly motivated by ideas. So, it pains me to say that the value of an iPhone application idea right now is pretty much zero. A great idea isn’t worth anything under these conditions. There is no shortage of great iPhone ideas, just a shortage of talent to bring these ideas to market.” For someone like me, who doesn’t seem to have a creative bone in my body (kidding!), I think that ideas are worth slightly more than that. But not much.

Which brings me to my point. I see lots of people offer to work with a developer and split the profits 50/50. In this market where a developer’s time is so precious, I hardly think that this would be any motivation for a developer at all. The idea person gets half the profit and the person that does all the work gets the other half? Hardly seems fair. Especially given the fact that the split isn’t actually 50/50. It’s 30/35/35. That is, Apple gets 30%, the “idea person” gets 35%, and the person who creates the app gets 35%. That’s even more unbalanced.

As an experienced developer who’s now doing iPhone development, I don’t see any iPhone devs making $125/hour. Maybe I just don’t know where to look? I’ve been looking for good telecommuting iPhone jobs, and they’re hard to find. I’m starting to be open to finding someone who is willing to offer me a true 50/50 split (that is, 30/20/50). But I still think full time/contract work is what I want.


  • I had the same response reading that article that you did… 125/hr where? Doing what? I think that it’s big point, though, is fair. Everytime I tell someone that I develop iPhone apps, they tell me I should make a word game that shoots tanks or something. Having the idea is not the limiting factor here… something about the iPhone turns everyone into little mini product managers. It’s getting it done that counts. So I guess I could see why 125/hr could happen, if you can prove you’ve got the stuff to make it work.

    But… who needs it? Ideas are everywhere in this market right now, because its so new and exciting. I think, worse case scenario, if you can’t think of anything worth making… find someone with a good idea, that’s willing to work with you. I don’t see a lot of benefit in sharing the profits with a partner who says what he wants, then makes you do the rest.

    Now if they were willing to pay you for your effort, regardless of the success of the app… that’s a different story.. :)



  • Sometimes you don’t have to look for work, work finds you. Especially when you have your own blog. And one way to start talking to those people is to at least provide one way to contact you on your blog!



  • Ah, sorry about that. On all my previous blogs (of which is the one that’s still running) I made sure to have a contact page. I don’t know why I forgot this time around. Thanks for pointing that out – fixed!



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