Messing with the iPhone - How Many Countdown Apps Can There Be?
January 05, 2010

Over the holidays I’ve been messing about with the iPhone SDK, just for the hell of it.

I always prefer to have a project in mind when learning new tools, but I didn’t have much time, so I fairly randomly decided to do a little countdown application - something that tells you how long you’ve got before Christmas (for some reason this topic was on my mind).

The app itself was pretty simple to get going (less than a day), and doing the UI for the preferences has proved to be far more time consuming than the actual functionality! Once again I’ve been reminded how much fun it is to work with Objective-C / Cocoa.

If this had actually been intended as a commercial prospect, I’d have checked the iPhone store first, but luckily I always viewed it as a made-up project for test purposes only. Having said that I thought that I might conceivably post it to the store, just for the hell of it, so I went to have a look at the competition.

I figured that it was a totally unoriginal idea, so there’d probably be a few up there already. I wasn’t prepared, however, for there to be about forty! What’s more, I’d say that over half of them are paid apps (though costing only a dollar in all cases).

This is quite boggling, and it makes one wonder. Does anyone ever pay for these apps? Some of them have reviews, in some cases quite positive reviews, which suggests that they do. There are supposed to be more iPhones out there than Xbox 360s and PS3s put together. That’s quite a big market, but is it really big enough for 40 applications competing for a tiny and almost pointless niche? I’d love to know if anyone has sold more than 100 copies.

I guess the moral of the story is to check the store before you put any serious time into an application. Although, perhaps not. Perhaps the moral is to check the store, rip off the good features of your competition, then do the app anyway because it’s a big, big, market. Or maybe not!