I hate sloppy and irresponsible articles like The iPhone Gold Rush piece in today’s NY Times. OK, it’s in the Style Section, but still.
It’s a mini profile of three successful developers of iPhone apps who have made, respectively, $800,000 in five months, $100,000 in three months, and $250,000 in two months. The article’s subtitle — it almost reads like career advice — is “Develop a popular app and quit your day job.”
In the 15th paragraph, there is this dose of reality:
“There are now more than 25,000 programs, or applications, in the iPhone App Store, many of them written by people like Mr. Nicholas whose modern Horatio Alger dreams revolve around a SIM card. But the chances of hitting the iPhone jackpot keep getting slimmer: the Apple store is already crowded with look-alike games and kitschy applications, and fresh inventory keeps arriving daily.”
But it’s a short detour into reality. The article’s final words on the matter:
“‘I’m going to milk the gold rush as long as I can,’ Mr. Nicholas [one of the fabulously successful developers] said. ‘It’d be foolish not to.’”
I’m trying to imagine an article in the Times under the headline “Independent Movie Goldmine: Make a really good feature film and quit your day job,” with a profile Slumdog Millionaire’s simple formula for generating a $290 million global box office.
Congratulations to the 3 developers who’ve hit pay dirt. There are probably a few others, too. But 3 of 25,000 is a 0.012% hit rate. Let’s not all go quitting our day jobs just yet.
UPDATE: The article’s author, Jenna Wortham, strikes a much different tone in a related post on the NYT’s Bits Blog, starting with the more cautious headline, “Will the iPhone 3.0 Fuel a Second Gold Rush?” Should I blame the editor for erasing that question mark? By the blog post’s second sentence, Wortham’s already casting doubt on the easy path to iPhone riches:
“But the chances of hitting the iLotto have grown increasingly slim. As more developers seek their fortune in the glossy curves of the device, the App Store is becoming crowded. Competition is spiking, driving down application prices — and the chances of becoming the next iMillionaire.”