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November 18, 2012


Mac Mini is the cheapest option and the basic $599 model is just fine for iOS development. Especially if you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Even if not you can use cheap ones that should cost well under $200 total.

Also, most Windows games will work fine in bootcamp (dual boot), many will work fine with Fusion or Parallels (virtual machine).

Do realize that the Times profiled this particular couple because their story has ample pathos value. My reasoned guess is that most app developers have day jobs and work on the apps in their spare time, either to make a little extra money and/or as a hobby. Of course the article gives no statistics beyond saying that "some" developers have other jobs. Wow, that's precise.

In a sense, app development is akin to selling real estate. Most real estate agents make relatively little money, the typical agent sells only two houses a year,* but most also have other jobs and treat the real estate gig as a side venture.** App development is NOT like selling life insurance, where most agents make next to nothing but they're also required to work full-time for the insurance companies.

* = the standard 6% commission actually works out to about 1%, after you split your commission with the other side's agent, pay your brokerage its share, and pay assessments for expenses like desk rental, which brokerages charge on top of their commission shares. Selling two $250K houses a year nets you an annual income of about $5,000.

** = this includes housewives whose husbands support them, but who want to make a little extra cash of their own

Prole Detector, there's your billion dollar idea.

If you're an informed pirate you can install the MacOSs on any Intel PC.

You should have bought one of the new Android devices from Google, Amazon, B&N, or Samsung. Awesome screens, great prices, and all the apps you really need.

The only thing you give up is SWPL cachet, which is being scavenged by Apple anyway as their upgrade cycle becomes a parody. As you've explained, status is zero sum and dependent upon scarcity; with +300M iPlasticSchlock shipped, there's plenty of pie to go around.

hmmm. i find the ipod superior in every way to the ipod touch.. bigger screen. more fun to surf the web on a big screen

Sorry - i find the new IPAD four to be superior! check it out

I once got a groupon for iOS app development. They advertised it as teaching you a lot of the basics and also showing you where you could hire a developer for more difficult stuff. It was on groupon so it was pretty cheap, so I pulled the trigger even though I figured it was probably a rip off.

And it was. Total rip off even at the low price. Although I did learn enough from it to know that developing an app is way to expensive for anyone who doesn't have a lot of money sitting around (they gave development costs for some famous apps, I was shocked how much even the simplest ones cost). I wouldn't recommend it for any middle class person and I gave up on the idea myself before investing anything.


I don't know if you are joking, but that is a really good idea. It utilizes HS's strengths.

Games are the key. The market is not winner take all. Plus they never bring the consumer satisfaction so the $1 game junkies will always be in the market for another game. This cheap game market is why the iPod touch exists. You need to get kids hooked as young as possible. (you can't take your apps with you to android phones)
If you don't believe me, check the iTunes app charts. Top Paid apps, top free apps, and top grossing apps are all games.

Of course, the Indians still have a cost advantage at churning out crap games so it's still not easy money for Americans.

[HS: Do young kids have credit cards to buy these $0.99 games? And I still can't think of a game for young kids that hasn't been done that I would be able to effectively market.]

I just recently (last month?) realized that you had a short lived programming blog. What I read was pretty good. You should consider reviving it.

As for Macs, I switched back to a mac after a decade in the PC world and I haven't regretted it for a minute. I was learning Ruby/RoR a bit over a year ago and nothing was working. I bought a Mac and all my problems disappeared. From what I can tell, if you want to use Ruby/Rails, you buy a Mac.

Also, I just got back from my first computer conference, the Clojure Conj in Raleigh, NC. I virtually never feel like I'm bringing the IQ down in a room with hundreds of people, but I felt below average there, lots of smart people who get paid to get things done... and they overwhelming used Macs. Granted I think Clojure found an early following in the Ruby community so it isn't a totally separate sample.

From the times article...

>>Even as unemployment remained stubbornly high and the economy struggled to emerge from the recession’s shadow, the ranks of computer software engineers, including app writers, increased nearly 8 percent in 2010 to more than a million<<

So the ranks of computer programmers has actually increase, to 1 million, that's one programmer for every 300 Americans, yet the Times will still editorialize and the politicians will still demand immigration access for even more programmers because Microsoft, Google, et al. keep telling them that there is a shortage.

A wise man once told me, don't go into a business or profession that attracts lots of smart people (law, Wall Street, medicine, academia, software, take your pick....), why burden oneself with competing with the brightest. Find a trade where you can still make good money but most of your competitors are proles and dummies, and those trades are out there. So true.

[HS: That man wasn't very wise. For starters, smart people LIKE being with other smart people and won't be happy working with manual laborers. Secondly, all the money is in the smart-people jobs.]

iPod is nice for keeping music around when you're at the gym and don't want to drain your iPhone's battery life. But as revolutionary as it was when it came out it's not the best Apple product today. The iPad is Jobs' greatest invention.

I had never owned any Apple hardware and didn't understand their appeal until I bought my iPad 3. It's one of the best things I've ever bought and I'm now hooked on Apple. The retina display is beautiful and reading is better using an iPad than any computer.

Try the iPad 4 (which I won't be upgrading to because the iPad 3 is good enough for me until iPad 5 comes out) and review it.

[HS: And Half Sigma gives Apple Inc another $499 of his hard-earned money.]

"Do young kids have credit cards to buy these $0.99 games"

Prepaid iTunes cards, $15 at many supermarkets, Target, convenience stores, etc.

"[HS: And Half Sigma gives Apple Inc another $499 of his hard-earned money.]"

Return the iPod and get the iPad. You can return the iPad too if it's returned in less than 14 days. Play with it for a fee days and see how you like it. There's also the iPad 2 which costs $399.

[HS: I need the iPod for professional development.]

"their upgrade cycle becomes a parody."

People have the option of skipping the upgrade cycle. I'm skipping the 4th generation iPad and keeping my 3rd gen.

Also, Sigma, you could look at buying an iPad mini for $329.

[HS: I think I'd rather have the Retina screen on the full-sized iPad.]

In response to HS's comment: Kids can add credit to their iTunes account with a gift card. Those can be purchased with cash at best buy. Even some grocery stores have them in the checkout lanes. The games don't have to be innovative. Check out the Top grossing games on iTunes. They're all "free to play" but you can optionally buy in-game currency. They make a game that's boring, but you can spend the in-game money to speed things up. Imagine SimCity, except everything takes 5m-24h realtime to build unless you "pay for overtime" and then it builds in seconds.

You missed one point of the article, which is that the apps are much of what makes iOS devices attractive. If you're not using any apps, you won't grok that intuitively.

For example, Twitter's iOS app has functionality that the web version doesn't have, e.g., you can quote & edit tweets.

And for basic stuff, I prefer using the iOS app version of my hedging tool Portfolio Armor, to the web version. I can enter all the data I need in a few seconds with one thumb.

Also, the iPhone 4S has a zoom feature for its camera. I'd be surprised if the iPod 5G doesn't. Try putting your fingers on the screen and dragging them away from each other.

*But is it worth $300? Not as an mp3 player.*

Until this generation, there was a $200 8GB version of the iPod Touch which for all intents and purposes served as a cheap way for somebody to get hooked into the iTunes universe. As the owner of an old iPod Touch, I'd note that when the device first came out, it was a cheap way to have many of the features of an iPhone, but without having to buy the phone, which was great for those of us who didn't want to pay for data plans or pay for said plans for teenagers and tweens. Eventually, after using the iPod Touch and dealing with its limitations, it makes you hunger for the real thing more, and the inertia of the apps, music, and video makes you stay within Apple's universe and buy an iPhone.

Mind you, I suspect sales are no longer as robust given that some Android phones can be had for dirt cheap prices on pre-paid services, and those phones when combined with Google's app store can serve as an effective substitute for Apple's products and service.

*To skip a song on the iPod Touch, you have to use the touchscreen*

I'm a bit surprised that Apple doesn't include the headphones with the remotes in the packaging for the iPod Touch given that the product retails for $300. They're standard in the iPhone...

Welcome back David Alexander...

I have a free Blackberry through work too, but it's a piece of shit, and also I don't want them having records of all the seedy stuff I do, like go here. Thus I have a droid.

Are apple products cheap and easy to use for a woman roughly 70 years old?

No one is talking about the fact that the husband in the struggling couple was in tech support, which doesn't attract the smartest folks. I work with programmers, and iOS development has a higher bar to it correctly. Even the only ok ones are sharper than regular web developers, and both are sharper than the desktop support folks.

It's certainly hard to make a living publishing your own apps, but very easy to do well developing apps for others.

I too started with the Ipod touch. You know, I wanted to use it to keep my contacts and send phone numbers to my non-smartphone through Bluetooth, something that could be done 10 years ago with a Windows PDA or a Palm (remember those?!?).

Well, you can't do that with an iPod. Bluetooth is castrated.

Does anybody think that Apple does this so that you HAVE to buy an iPhone? Can you say MONOPOLY?

Prole Detector,

I assume you would take a picture of alleged prole along with precise GPS coordinates. Either artificial intelligence or some crack research staffer(possibly a smart prole) at Half Sigma high command would be able to tell you the odds of if that person was a prole. Possibly, a warning message would appear telling you the odds of being assaulted in the next ten minutes. Eventually, with a enough data Half Sigma would become the Google of prole knowledge. Wow, when can I invest?

"But is it worth $300? Not as an mp3 player. It's too big and kludgy to be an mp3 player."

Yeah but if you listen to podcast or audiobooks it ideal. You can set it up to wirelessly download and never have to worry about syncing. I never have to even use itunes.

"As a camera, the lens is surprisingly good (but very sensitive to flare) if you don't mind that it doesn't zoom." The camera does indeed zoom. Pinch to zoom. Easy peasy.

I got my iPod touch in late 2009. It's almost identical to the ones coming out today. I like it a lot but frankly, my phone, a samsung, has more power than it. And mine did not come with a camera.

I'm convinced Apple's laptops are expensive just because of how they're market. I don't see much that sets them apart from PCs in the ways that matter. But their touch items truely are unrivaled. No tablet in my opinion out does the iPad.

Also, the Android market is far superior to the Apple app market. It's growing faster too.

//Does anybody think that Apple does this so that you HAVE to buy an iPhone? Can you say MONOPOLY?//

Apple has a minority marketshare, so is pretty definitionally not really really a monopoly.

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