iPhone Pricing

April 10, 2010 · Posted in advice, iphone, work · Comment 

As with any product or service, the question of pricing is always one of the many challenges of selling a product or service. Many price their products or services low in an attempt to under cut their competition or initially sell a lot and get their name out there. Others charge way more than a person is willing to pay for such a product.

With iPhone development, more often than not, you’re selling a product as opposed to a service, which may be a compliment to your physical or web based service. If your iPhone app is a complimentary product to a service that you already offer and charge for, your iPhone app should probably be free (depending on complexity). Look at it as a value-added feature to put you above your competition and make using your service more convenient and enjoyable. By creating more ways to access your service, you provide more opportunity for your customers to use it more often and really benefit from what you’re trying to offer them.

So what’s the sweet spot for a price for your iPhone app? It obviously depends, but there are some guidelines we came up with.

Be Unique with Your iPhone App

The more unique your application is, the more you can sell it for. By being unique, you have less competition and thus a higher demand.

Complexity of Your iPhone App

If your application can be easily reproduced by a 16 year old kid on a weekend, you either shouldn’t charge for your application, or if you do, don’t charge more than a dollar because that 16 year old kid won’t.


If your application uses proprietary information, software, APIs or other technologies that aren’t easily implemented or obtained, you can charge more for your application. This relates to complexity, but be aware that people will often create equivalent systems if it’s popular enough so proprietary systems and information require a lot of maintenance to keep them relevant.

Usefulness of Your Application

How often will someone use your app? Is it just a novelty or something someone will only use for a certain chore that they rarely do? If so, the demand for the app diminishes and so should your price.

No application should be more than $10 with few exceptions. Remember that you’re developing for a mobile platform and the software is limited and your price should be limited too.

If it’s a game, how is the quality and length of game play? The quality, the game play and the fun factor all play a part in your price. Obviously, people much prefer spending money on entertainment than on a new fancy laundry list application. Games are usually unique (to the App Store at least), are complex and provide a greater satisfaction to buyers, which allows them to enjoy a higher price tag.


Having a higher price on the App Store shows more confidence in your application. Giving your app away usually means you don’t think people would be even willing to spend the price of a soda on your application. These applications are fine, but for some of us, we need to make a living.

Making your app a dollar usually means, I want to make some money, but I don’t think people will pay any more for it. But charging a dollar can also be good if your app has a wide appeal. What you lack in big numbers, you make up with bulk sales. So, if it’s a game, you could potentially have a larger market as opposed to a utility application that the user spends 30 seconds on. So you really need to look hard at your application and keep several factors in mind before you price your app. You can always change it later, so one approach is to start low and see how sales go.

How to Program for the iPhone – A Plan

January 16, 2010 · Posted in advice, code, work · 1 Comment 

This is not so much how to make applications for the iPhone, since there are so many on of those on the web already. This is more a syllabus on how to get started with the vast amount of information already out there and where to start from to quickly become proficient at iPhone development without getting frustrated or discouraged.

Development Requirements

An Intel-based Apple Mac
$99 (optional – if you want to actually publish your app)
That’s all!

Apple Developer Account

Development for the iPhone is initially free. So feel free to head over to http://developer.apple.com and sign up for a developer account if you don’t already have one. This will give you access to the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called XCode, which is required to develop applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It also serves as a treasure chest of free information, sample code, tutorials, how-to videos and news, all of which I’ll talk about how to use later.

Once you’ve signed up for a developer account, you’ll need to download XCode and install it on your Mac. PC users are, as they always are, out of luck since a Mac is required for development. Once that’s done, put it aside as you won’t need it for a bit.

Learn to Program

An Important Design Pattern: Model View Controller

If you already know how to program a little bit, but haven’t gone through the rigors of a four year university Computer Science degree or something similar, start with learning an important design patterns, namely one called Model View Controller (MVC). Of course, a 4-year degree is not necessary, but you need to understand basic software engineering principles, design patterns and basic usability practices, which practically none of the programming tutorials, books and online articles teach. Also, a lot of practice helps as you’ll learn how to fix non-obvious compiler and runtime errors, how to structure your code, and pitfalls of each language you use.

Objective-C: The Language of Choice

After you understand the basic principle of MVC, you can then move on to learning the language of choice, Objective-C. Why Objective-C? Why didn’t Apple just choose a common language like C++ or Java? The reasons will become obvious as you learn about the language, it’s power, and how it fits into the MVC methodology better than any other language you’ve likely seen before. So here’s a nice tutorial on how to program in Objective-C.

If you already have a great understanding of programming and know a C-based langauge, skip the lengthy tutorial and take a look at this primer to get a sense of the additions to C that Objective-C brings to the table. For most people who are familiar with a C-based language, this will be all you need to get started.

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