As humanity immerses itself into the information age, there are a number of digital skills that have become increasingly relevant. One of these skills is learning how to create digital content, more specifically, learning how to develop an App. A question that has been asked often is if learning app development is still a worthwhile and profitable venture. Every month there are about 60000 apps being added into the Apple store itself.
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Nevertheless, there are countless examples of people who have found success through developing various types of apps, some of which people find hard to live without. With that being said, there are signs of it being more beneficial for companies and entrepreneurs to simply outsource to a third party to develop their idea rather than going through development all by themselves. This in turn gives them more time to optimise marketing channels and brainstorm more ideas.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. This article will explore the profitability of these two options and show exactly why you should or shouldn’t learn mobile app development.
Examples of Success in App Development
If someone is able to create an app it means that they are proficient in coding. Obviously, there are opportunities to learn how to code at Universities and through other companies, however, there are some people that were able to develop a successful app through teaching themselves how to code. One of these people is Jonathan Suter, who taught himself how to code through Codeacademy. The app that Jonathan developed that has seen the most success is SimpleTax, which is financial app used in Canada, and helps People from Canada file their taxes. This app also has an option to calculate and estimate the amount of tax you will have to pay, which is extremely useful considering most people graduate with next-to-nothing knowledge about filing taxes.
Another prime example is Ryan Hanna. Ryan taught himself how to code by also using Codeacademy, and eventually developed an app which is known as Sworkit in 2012. Sworkit is a Fitness based app that gives People different examples of circuit training that they can do regardless of where they are. The app focuses on encouraging people to work out and keep fit, whether they have access to a gym or not.
These are but just two examples of people who had an idea, learned to code and then executed their idea from start to finish and achieved considerable success. However, is learning how to code and developing your own apps still the most efficient way to bring your idea to life? Or is it more logical for an individual to invest in someone else to develop and create their app for them? To evaluate this, we have to look at whether the app market is profitable enough to justify learning the skill.
Rob Percival, an instructor at Udemy claims to have taught 1,069,165 through his 41 courses.
One of his most successful courses is the The Complete Android N Developer Course. With more than 20000 students, it gives us an idea of just what the competition is.
There is also iOS 12 & Swift – The Complete iOS App Development Bootcamp available on Udemy.
Profitability of App Development
The app development industry is thriving thanks to the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and tablets. There are a wide variety of apps available for use, however, only a minority go on to make a liveable income to its developer.
As of March 2017, Google Play Store has 2.8 million apps, and 2.2 million apps are available in Apple’s App Store. Those numbers show how big the application industry truly is, and gives our first clue as to why there is a low probability of an app being successful.
To answer the profitability question further, it is important to know how much investment it takes to actually develop an App, and what is the ROI one can expect.
Searching online for “outsource app development” throws up the following results.
People can expect to pay between $1,000 USD to $300,000 USD in order to get their app developed. Naturally, only the biggest companies pay $100,000+ USD to develop an app, however, most companies end up paying between $100,000 USD to $300,000 USD to develop their app with multiple features . This cost, apart from including full access to the source code also includes a 2-year maintenance and updates as well.
Of these, outsourcing to companies in India seems to be the most cost-effective. Prices range from $1000 for a simple app to $12,000 for an app with multiple features.
Freelance websites like Fiverr.com and freelancer.com are not far behind with their competitive offerings. But most of the freelancers on these websites with cheap rates and high reviews seem to be from South Asian countries. App developers from North America on an average charge much more. If you decide to go the freelancer route do so at your own risk.
Now, although those numbers seem extremely daunting, it is important to remember that app development is a billion-dollar industry, meaning that there is a lot of money to be made through apps. Unfortunately, most of the money that is made by app developers is only made by the best, while the rest struggle to make a living wage.
The average salary for a mobile app developer in America is $107,000 / year.
Best/Worst Case Scenarios for App Development
Now that we know there is an enormous amount of money baking in the app development industry it is time to figure out how to get a slice of this pie.
Fear of coding and a lack of experience with computer programming are the major deterrents that prevent people from developing their apps and in turn they hire other people to do the heavy lifting for them. They spend a lot of money on an idea that may or may not be successful. On the other hand if you learn to code and develop an app, even if your app is not successful you have at least learned a valuable skill that could land you a potential well-paying job.
With children learning to code in school itself, it is an exciting prospect to see how the market reacts to so many developers vying for the same piece of the pie.
The absolute best-case scenario for any serious app developer would be making far more money than what they used to develop the app. This, however, is extremely improbable, especially for someone that doesn’t have the amount of experience that other developers will likely have. The majority of developers that do have a high amount of experience even struggle to create apps that become successful, so it is safe to say that the best-case scenario is unlikely for most people.
A more realistic best-case scenario would be for a developer to earn at least the average salary that developers are expected to have, which is around $95,000-$107,000 USD. It is likely that if someone is able to create a successful app, that they will be able to develop more successful apps in the future.
The difficult part of App development, especially if you are someone who is new to coding and developing Apps, is that the worst-case scenario is much more likely than the best-case scenario. Due to the high cost involved to develop an app, and the immense amount of competition that app developers face, it is extremely difficult to be successful in this market.
That brilliant idea you had in the shower? Somebody has already developed an app for that.
The worst-case scenario for an App developer is that they spend a high amount on the development of the app, release it, then find little success. Desperate developers resort to shady tactics to increase sales and end up getting their developer account banned. It is even worse if someone put all of their eggs into the one basket that is “this app will make me a lot of money”.
Hello, darkness, my old friend.
There are opportunities, but there is also competition. Mediocrity will not be tolerated. Persistence is the name of the game, but it is also important to know when to accept defeat and cut your losses as in most things in life.
If people choose to use a 3rd party Company, it is not as simple as simply telling them the idea, and then sit back and wait for the perfect app. You need to constantly follow up and get yourself deeply involved in the process. Keep insisting on getting the features correct. After all, you are spending considerable money.
There are many companies that would happily steal an individual’s idea if they think that the idea and the app will be successful. Contracts be damned. They can afford better lawyers than you anyway.
Precautions for 3rd Party Companies
If an app has the potential for making their developer a lot of money, there is no surprise that 3rd Party coding companies would gladly take an idea for their own personal gain. There are precautions, however, that can be taken to make sure that an Idea isn’t stolen, as this can be devastating for a budding entrepreneur.
Obviously, the best way to avoid this is to develop the app yourself, however, this is not always realistic for people, considering the amount of time you need to invest to develop an app that is event remotely as good as the ones that are available now. The most important thing to do if outsourcing to a different company is to make sure that all the paperwork is completed and kept secure. This will include a Non-Disclosure & Non-competent agreement, which are agreements that will protect people from Idea and app theft.
Another way to avoid this issue is to develop relationships with app developers and find people that you can genuinely trust, as they are less likely to betray you for a financial benefit.
We have analysed the advantages and disadvantages of mobile app development and the merits and demerits of outsourcing.
Developing your own app means that the idea behind the app is safe, and that all features you wanted to be incorporated into the app will be there. However, unless you are very confident in your coding skills and have vast experience in this specific field, then it is likely that the quality of your app will be lacking, which can be crucial considering how the quality of apps being released is only getting better.
Sourcing to a 3rd party company is more likely to result in a higher quality app as you would expect a company that revolves around aiding in app development to be able to produce quality. But there is also the problem of companies stealing an Idea for their own, which although is simple enough to avoid, there are instances where this has happened. They are not in the public domain due to cunning lawyers. Whether you chose to develop your app development skills, or simply use a 3rd party company, it is important to plan thoroughly, be smart and patient and stick to your vision no matter what.
In a nutshell, you are better off learning to code than outsourcing it to a third party.
Cover Photo by Eduardo Rosas from Pexels