App developers plagued by piracy, poor cashflow – StartupSmart

Australian app developers are plagued by poor cashflow, piracy issues and lengthy turnaround times, according to development firm Shifty Jelly, publisher of various popular apps.


Based in South Australia, the Shifty Jelly team consists of Russell Ivanovic, Philip Simpson, Matt Kelsh and Nathan Swan.


It soared to success when it launched its Pocket Weather app in 2009, and has since launched other apps for both the iOS and Android platforms, including Pocket Casts and Weather Watch.


But in a recent blog post, the company outlined the many obstacles faced by independent app developers in Australia, referring to its own struggles to highlight issues.


The money issue


“We’ve been losing money for the last six months. By losing money, I mean literally every month the amount of money in our bank account has been going down,” the company wrote.


“Before we got featured by Google on the Android marketplace, we were about a month way from having no money whatsoever.”


“I’ve talked to many indie developers in Australia, and they are universally in the same boat.”


“Some have taken on client work to try and fill the gap [while] others are working from home to minimise every expense they have.”


Turnaround times


“You put an enormous amount of effort into every product you make. Sometimes you find people deriding it or dismissing it after spending 13.2 seconds using it.”


“When you invest six months of your life, day and night, creating a product, there’s no way in hell you can’t take other people’s comments personally.”


“It’s not a level playing field either. There are companies with millions of dollars behind them, making apps [with] whole teams of people.”


“At the other end of the spectrum, there are young, keen enthusiasts working out of their parents’ basements.”


The piracy problem

“When you’re a company of 2.5 people, piracy really hurts. Every lost sale makes it harder to stay around and keeping making great apps.”


“You can’t stop piracy – people that want to steal your app badly will find a way. You can minimise it, but… [your time is] better served devoted to your paying customers.”


“Up until now, all we’ve done to our software is put in server and client code so we know who the pirates are and who the paying customers are.”


In conclusion

“If you have the right personality then sure, being an independent developer is a huge blast… You get to do what you love and nobody is your boss.”


“Don’t come expecting millions of dollars to fall into your lap though. Chances are you’ll make less than you would working for a giant… corporation but you’ll enjoy [it] so much more.”

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