How to Make an App for That
The iTunes app store is ripe with stories of weekend programmers making significant returns on their investments. With a little hard work, a modest investment in equipment and a creative idea you too can join that pantheon of geek gods! Then when all your friends are in awe of your new found cash flow and ask how you did it, you can just smile and say, "There's an app for that!" The iTunes App store has provided a system and marketplace that now allows just about anyone with a computer program or game idea to create, market and distribute that product. The store is full of eager consumers who can justify 0.99 cent purchases for the latest entertainment trend or $3.00 for the perfect task list organizer with multi-touch zoom control. And it is this built in customer base that can insure that even modest success for your program is translated into thousands of dollars in your bank account. So how do you break into this veritable treasure trove? Simple: Start with an idea. Then walk through these easy steps.
The first step is to come up with an idea for a program that gets you excited. Some widget or gidget that would make your life so much easier or something so entertaining that you, yourself would gladly fork over a dollar to play with it. Write it, sketch it, sculpt it, whatever you need to do to visualize and describe what it is that you will create.
The second step is to research and learn about Objective-C programming and Cocoa Touch, which are the programming language and framework for development, respectively. I recommend looking on iTune University for Stanford and UC Davis' excellent video courses (free too!) After digesting these you may want to pick up a book or two from Amazon or your local library.
Step three involves the most painful part, financially speaking. To actually write the software you need an Intel-based Mac computer and a developer's id. The computer can cost anywhere from $300 to $2,500+. Check the local classifieds, Ebay or other websites for the best deals. The developer's license is $99 and with that, you're off to the races.
The next to the last step is to produce the actual product. Between the video courses, books and the developer's forums and documentation, you have all the tools you will need for standard projects. With a little exploring you should also be able to come up with one or two tricks all your own. Take your time developing new ideas, approaches and implementations; a well-designed, simple program will outperform the quickly mashed together one in the long run.
Lastly, you will submit the program for Apple to review prior to them allowing it into the market. There will probably be one or two corrections to make and resubmit. But be patient, you are close to receiving your well-earned reward! Once the program is on the site, simply let the world know about it through email, Twitter, Facebook, knocking on doors, all of the above. Then be ready for the accolades and paychecks to start rolling in. Just in time to support your next great app idea...