iOS Developer Salary – Classy vs. Coin Bag

ios developer salary featured

After listening to a few podcasts this week with subjects about iOS developer salary, I heard a few talking points that resonated in my head. Two, in particular, the App Store revenue models and the almost forgotten apps with “class”.

If you’re into iOS or make apps for a living, then you know the story well. We go from premium apps at the opening of the App Store to $1 apps, to freemium. Now, we work in subscriptions and some well thought out in-app purchases. In what direction does a developer go next to generate revenue? How does a new iOS developer make a living in today’s App Store?

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Outside the Box

A quote in “The Millionaire Fastlane” by MJ Demarco says, “If everyone else is digging for gold, sell shovels.” There must or we must discover different ways to create revenue.

ios developer salary shovel
Here’s your shovel.

A great idea from a “company selling shovels” is selling plans to “maintain” apps. Monitoring bugs, crashes, or those frequent updates Apple loves to give us, this company will take care of the task of maintenance. Instead of paying a developer $100k a year for simple maintenance, the subscription service costs $10K – $12k a year. They also offer differently priced plans for various app needs.

There’s a lonely developer somewhere that will be losing a job over this. Unfortunately, companies want to lower budgets to increase revenue. It’s the nature of business.

This is the way, I believe, we should focus our attention. Thinking outside of the box to build sustainable business models that involve our iOS development but don’t necessarily work in conjunction with the App Store.

Looking for B2B (Business to Business) opportunities will be much more profitable in revenue generation and recurring revenue. Honestly, building a B2B business model is far more interesting than building the next “Candy Whatever” or “Clash of Silliness.”

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Bringing Classy Back

The other topic that really had a strong impact on my subconscious, was “CLASS.”

When Steve Jobs and Jony Ive built the iPhone, it had to be perfect. It had to look and feel a certain way. It had to deliver an experience like no other. Both of them even meticulously designed the “right” packaging for the iPhone.

ios developer salary original iphone
The original iPhone.

The iPhone was designed as a high-end piece of hardware for consumers. Every aspect was designed to be “classy.” Which leads to the question, “Why are the top grossing/top chart apps so cheap?” Not all, but a lot of these top apps are cheap.

How Cheap?

Cheap as in “buying lives or coin bags” to unlock or achieve new levels.

  • Why are these app “trinkets” making more money than an app with a unique and emotional experience?
  • Are these “apps” cheapening our beloved iOS platform?
  • Why are developers building these “cheap apps” although the iPhone was intended to be high end?

This is all a debate for another time. The point is, building classy, unique, and emotionally connected apps are vastly diminishing. The vision that Steve and Jony had for the iPhone is slowly vanishing.

“Cheapening” iOS apps should not be worthy of the App Store. We should be thinking on the high end of design, function, and “class.” We should be building our apps to entice our high-end customers to buy the hardware/software because the experience is second to none.

By no means am I excluding anyone from the higher end mobile market. My hope is that everyone with the ability to purchase the hardware, will. It’s also my hope that since buying the high-end hardware, the consumer will also buy the high-end app.

Giving the consumer the high-end experience will hold developers to a higher standard as well. “Cheaply” made apps should be pushed out of the way by apps that deliver great user experience.


I intend to build beautiful, stunning, and emotional apps with great functionality. I know that this decision will not be as profitable as lives, trinkets, or coin bags. It will, however, give me peace of mind knowing that I delivered a high-end software experience on a high-end device. That was the intention when iPhone was developed. That is how it should be now.

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