inessential by Brent Simmons

Who at the Table is an Indie iOS Developer?

Until last night’s unofficial Xcoders I hadn’t thought to ask this question.

There are a ton of Mac and iOS developers in the Seattle area — and almost all the iOS developers are making money either via a paycheck (they have a job) or through contracting.

The only local indie iOS-only developer I could think of was me — and even that won’t be true for much longer, as we’re working on Vesper for Mac.

There probably are other local indie iOS-only developers, but I just can’t think of them at the moment. At any rate, they’re rare.

To be fair, there aren’t that many more indie Mac developers. There’s Gus with Acorn. John Chaffee and BusyCal. Chris and Napkin. Hal Mueller and SkunkTracker. The Vellum folks. But that’s a bigger list than indie iOS developers.

(Noted: not all of the Mac developers are making a living solely through their Mac apps. Gus and John are, but Chris, for instance, also does iOS contracting.)

I think I have two points.

One is that indie developers — people who make all or most of their money via products they create and sell — are fairly rare these days. Most of the local developers I know work at Omni, Black Pixel, or Apple or do contracting.

The second is that indie iOS developers are more rare than indie Mac developers. Though iOS developers outnumber Mac developers by a huge margin, they’re under-represented in the indie community.

This isn’t scientific or anything. I’m just observing the local community, and I could be missing important data.

But if I’m right that this is the general trend, then it means that people making a living as indie iOS developers just isn’t a thing these days. Some money for iOS development is coming from companies like Omni that do create products — but most of it appears to be coming from corporations that need apps (or think they do). Places like Starbucks and Target.

The dream of making a living as an indie iOS developer isn’t dead — see Overcast as a recent example — but, if I’m right, hardly anyone believes in it any more.

I’d love to be wrong.

Who are the indie iOS developers? Who, that is, is making iOS apps only and supporting themselves solely or largely via sales of their apps? (Anywhere, not just in Seattle.)

You could say Q Branch, but we’re working on a Mac app. Marco has a new app, so that’s one. You might say Loren Brichter, but it’s possible his money comes more from Facebook than Letterpress. (I just don’t know.) You might say Michael Simmons and Flexibits, but they have a Mac app.

Found another one: Tutu Lab. That makes two. Who else?