We know that the App Store is successful (Apple insists that we know, thanks to things like the billionth app downloaded competition that just concluded yesterday), but it’s not too often that we get to put a human face on that success and see what it really means for developers. Apple themselves gave us a look at Trism developer Steve Demeter in a video segment shown during their iPhone OS 3.o event, but how are others doing?
The two developers behind Tapbots are doing very well, apparently. Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad together make up Tapbots, the studio that’s responsible for two very successful apps, Weightbot and Convertbot, both of which I own and love, coincidentally. It’s not so much the function that draws me to Tapbots apps (though they work flawlessly), but the beautiful, unique, robot-themed design.
Jardine and Haddad have, until now, been working on their Tapbots projects on evenings, weekends and basically whenever they have a spare moment. They still both had day jobs to go to, and it would’ve been foolish to throw away a steady income for something as novel as App Store development. We estimate revenue for their apps Weightbot, and the even more popular Convertbot, at between $500,000 and $600,000 to date. Even once you remove Apple’s 30 percent, that still adds up to between $350,000 and $420,000 on $0 initial investment. Not a bad haul for only a 6-month period.
In a post on their blog yesterday, Haddad revealed that in light of their success, both developers are now giving themselves over full-time to iPhone development. The good news is that this means they can devote more time to creating the precious little diamonds in the rough that have made them so successful to date. Not sure if they’re taking suggestions, but I’d really love to see a Calcbot to replace the iPhone’s ho-hum built-in one (yes, I would pay at least a dollar for a purely superficial upgrade).
No word on what the forthcoming apps will be, but they plan on releasing four a year, and will be starting on a new one in May. Meanwhile, 1.3 updates for both Convertbot and Weightbot are almost ready to be submitted to Apple.
While Trism is a terrific example of what a great, innovative idea from an independent developer can achieve on the iPhone platform, the Tapbots story is a little different. It shows that you don’t have to come up with something completely original to be successful. The apps Tapbots creates are performing very basic functions, and ones that other applications often already offer. The difference is Tapbots takes the time to really polish the design and performance of their product, and the quality that results appeals to consumers. It just goes to show that despite the sometimes depressing quality of App Store chart toppers, the good guys do sometimes still win.