It pays to be an enterprise mobile app developer

Given that we’re a Mobile App development company, it may not be a shock that we tend to get a budding mobile application developers coming to us hoping to get a job as a coder for iOS or Android devices.

As we talk to these potential mobile consultants, we often find that there is a lack of focus as to the type of apps that they might want to develop. One recent discussion was with a gentleman who said “all I want to do is make games, like Angry Birds.” A fine a goal as that might be, it wasn’t the type of career goal that we could really endorse. While games and certain social media apps are seen as “cool and sexy”, that isn’t where the real money is in mobile.

Build Apps For Business

If a mobile developer is looking for a career with longevity and steady compensation, it is time to ignore the consumer market. Even at ninety-nine cents an app, think how many copies of your cool game you’d have to sell in order to make a living – and then think about how Apple or Google will take a cut of that revenue. Then think about all of the competing gaming apps that are available on those platforms. Finally ask yourself how you’ll be letting people know about the app in the first place – marketing isn’t cheap, and social media alone likely won’t tip the scales in your favor.

The answer, then, is to look at developing productivity apps for business. This isn’t just us saying this – the Developer Economics Q3 2014: State of the Developer Nation report polled over 10,000 app developers They say that working on enterprise apps puts a developer at the top of the revenue pile.

“Contract development is the highest grossing direct revenue model for mobile developers. At the bottom of the app revenue pile, 24% of all developers that are interested in making money make nothing at all. A further 23% of developers make something but less than $100 per app per month. This level of revenue is unlikely to cover the basic costs of a desktop machine for development, test devices and an account to publish apps.”

We don’t mean writing a mobile spreadsheet or a word processing app. Instead we mean working with a business or non-profit organization that is looking to create a custom app for their employees, partners or customers.

Such an organization would be seeking to solve a specific business problem – perhaps they need a secure method to do inventory in a store or a warehouse. A talented mobile app developer would be able to use a smartphone’s camera as a scanner, and iBeacon or GPS to track location. Data could be stored locally in remote areas, and then uploaded to a server when internet access is available.

Sure, they could use old fashioned scanning guns, but those would mean investing in a lot of single-purpose hardware, and likely would mean being tied to one solution. But by leveraging the smartphones that they have already issued to their field personnel, now they just need the app to be built.

From a developer’s point of view, the benefit is pretty obvious – the business will be paying off an invoice, and the developer isn’t taking a leap of faith on an app that may or may not win market favor. The business gains because of lower hardware costs and being able to ensure that the app will integrate with their existing systems securely.

There are countless examples of “great games” on iTunes or Google Play that are polished and compelling, yet that languish with few paid downloads. While we don’t suggest that you give up your dream, you might want to do the gaming work at night, and focus on apps for the enterprise as your day job.

What do you think? Are we off-base, or spot-on? Let us know in the comments section below.