indie


Apps As Art

We seem to be on a roll again about this whole “indie is not viable” discussion. Next up, Allen Pike on Supply-Side Blues.

If you haven’t read them yet, I posted a couple other articles on this topic [see indie].

Allen’s post is spot-on with my assessment – the AppStore is becoming much like the music industry. Heck, when I was 16, I wanted to play professional saxophone. I might have actually had the chops to do it. At one point I started considering what my career outlook would have been. I noticed my saxophone teachers all had one thing in common – playing wasn’t their main source of income (or probably not; one guy played broadway shows in LA, but even that was inconsistent as shows come and go all the time). Average salaries were low.

Let’s look at another music angle. I have a family member with a reasonably good shot at making it big in the industry, but even then the sacrifice is large for an unknown, and certainly unrealized, payoff. Pick your poison – take a “real job” and do the things you love when you have time in the evenings, or go for it and make peanuts until (if) you make it big.

That’s why this whole thing is bananas. Apps are becoming art in much the way we approach music. And here’s the kicker – as indies, we LOVE to emphasize the care we put into the craft – paying attention to every detail, making it perfect. Tell me that doesn’t sound like something you’ve read on Etsy!

Friends, the gold rush is over, and we’re in this strange, mature, creative industry now. Customers expect loads of great things for free, we do it because we love it and have no expectation of making it big, and the only real money for most of us is taking that other job that actually pays. You know, that one converting CSV files for the sales team.

But you know what – it’s not going to stop me. I will keep on keepin’ on.




The AppStore Ice Cream Truck

Charles Perry (no relation), wrote this follow-up to Brent Simmons’ Love post (app store, indies, etc).

Here’s the question I posted to Charles – Does it change if the ice cream truck is the only one you’re allowed to sell on, yet the entire menu is only the top-sellers?

Sure – don’t blame the delivery truck, but there is significant impact when your product is effectively hidden from view. (How many times have you searched for the exact app title to be presented with dozens of unrelated results?).

Advertising is the obvious answer, and I think that has been the answer for years. I struggle with doing it right. How, where, and how much are all questions I don’t know the answers to. When bootstrapping something and your team is small, it’s a tough sell to spend money on things that may not have a direct correlation to income. BUT how else will people find out about our apps?

We (indies – I count myself as such, though I’m not making a living off it), need to figure this business out. Apple isn’t going to come to our rescue. They’re just the BigBoxRetail of apps. We need to do a better job getting the word out. More traditional advertising channels? Sure. Is there any reasonable way for us as a community to go about educating the average Joe and Jane that AppStore.app isn’t the only (or best) way to find apps? Actually, I wonder if they even care. See my previous post – perhaps the craft and quality movement will creep into digital.

Stay tuned. I hear the ice cream truck coming.

In the meantime a shameless plug: Have you heard about my latest project, Pocket Coach Pro? If you’re interested in getting fit (and I’m not talking about turning into a Hollywood six-pack… just about getting in shape and staying in shape – for your own health), then this app might be the one for you. Go, sign up, and you’ll be on my no-spam mailing list where I will send occasional development updates, take sign ups for beta testing, etc.




Indie Love

Is going indie on iOS viable? Nope. Don’t bother.

First, by Brent Simmons: http://inessential.com/2015/06/30/love

Then, Gruber follows: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2015/06/30/the-love-era

Hit the nail on the head. I have an app currently in development that might have a reasonable chance of doing OK, but I can’t see making my entire living off of it. Sounds great, huh? Here’s the thing – this is a concept I believe in (health), coupled with something I love to do – develop apps that I conceived. To try out-competing megacorp is foolish, but nothing says you can’t have a slice of the pie AND have fun doing it.

One thing I’m reminded of is how I sense parallels to the music industry (or any creative art, for that matter). We do what we do for the love of doing it. Few artists can make a full-time living off the art, but I don’t see that stopping them. Do it because you love it and because some people appreciate it. A few make it big, but not making it shouldn’t matter. That’s where Brent’s most poignant remark comes, “If there’s a way out of despair, it’s in changing our expectations.” True of everything in life, right? It’s often how you respond to circumstances rather than the circumstances you experience that matters.

Let me wonder this – we (Americans, at least) enjoy the big apps from well-known companies. The names sell themselves. Congratulations to them – that’s no easy task. We’re taking another turn. Things like the foodie movement, farm to table, hand-crafted goods, rejection of the mass-produced, etc are surging farther and farther into our society. We have a millennial spirit of idealism that may end up working to our favor. Will “hand-crafted apps” follow? Maybe. I mean, I don’t know if they actually will, but possibly there’s a chance, and I can hope they will.

So, if I may suggest – do it for the love. Any other benefit that comes of it is bonus.




The Human Connection

From Brent Simmons’ post: Why I Love Indies and You Do Too:

I’ve noticed something obvious about popular music — it’s almost never instrumental. There’s always a human voice singing a melody. We humans love human voices.

That’s what we get from indies that we don’t get from corporations. We get that human voice and the emotional connection that goes with it.

Knowing that I’m using software by individual developers or small teams, creates a special connection to real people that doesn’t come from the likes of Photoshop, Office, or any other Large Corp application. Indies, and those who wish they were, care about things like craftsmanship, creativity, human connection, dedication to the process, and the ritual. We are feeling the collective pang of defeat little-by-little as it all seems to slip through our fingers. Holding onto the “Indie” hope is becoming more like grasping the sand – we don’t quite know what to do as it slips through our fingers. If nothing is done, we’ll be left holding nothing.

I don’t mean to be doom and gloom. I think there is plenty of work out there – some of it rewarding. It’s just that doing your own thing, on your own product, on your own schedule is a dimmer possibility than it seemed in the past. I don’t think it has to be over.

So by all means – get a job or consult, if that’s what keeps the lights on. Spend your free time doing what you love to do. Create. Craft. Build & Run. Nobody is saying you have to do it  full-time to be a success. Success is paying your bills, savings, taking care of family, and may more things. Icing on the cake is making great things for people so their lives can be just a little bit better – because you stepped up to the plate and made it happen.