Here’s a story that gives new meaning to the term Apple fanboy. A 9-year-old youngster from Singapore, prompted by his younger sisters’ love of drawing, created an application for the iPhone called Doodle Kids. Budding artists create pictures by dragging a finger across the screen and then shake the phone to return to a blank canvas.
According to news reports, fourth-grade protege Lim Ding Wen has been using computers since he was two and already knows six programming languages. Doodle Kids might be his first app in the App Store, but it won’t be his last. Wen is already working on a sci-fi action game for the iPhone called Invader Wars.
Of course, the story of a 9-year-old whiz kid is great to hear, but it also illustrates a larger point about the development process of iPhone apps. It’s clear that we’ve gotten to a point where technology is becoming less mystical and more approachable.
A mere decade ago, computers themselves were still viewed as elusive gadgets and programming was left to people with only the highest levels of geekery in their bloodstream. Now we have kids programming smartphones before they’re old enough to drive a car.
Stories like this — and the proliferation of apps in the App Store created by people with no special training — are a great testimony to the aptitude of the mainstream consumer. Apple offered its user community the opportunity to participate in the development process and people have taken to the idea in droves.
Apple deserves a lot of credit for its willingness to open the App Store for people who want to share the applications they create. Of course, Apple isn’t the only community that develops home-grown apps for its platform; and of course, Apple gets something out of the deal as well. It’s great, however, that Apple has created an ecosystem that encourages developers of all ages and skill levels.
It’s tempting to assume that young Lim Ding Wen is an exception among app developers. While he may be one of the youngest people to have an app in the App Store, he isn’t the only one interested. Just this week my 9 year-old son came to me clutching a wish list for his birthday next month. Number two on the list (right after a brand-new Wii game)? The iPhone Software Development Kit.