With all of the bleak economic news in today’s headlines, there is one
hot industry that seems to be bucking the trend — Apple’s infamous
iPhone App Store. The proof of this lies in a recent Wall Street Journal piece
detailing a veritable mini-invasion of App Store developers into San
Francisco’s Bay Area, even as other industries in the area are cutting
Literally hundreds of App Store start-ups have landed in the Bay Area since Apple took the wraps off the iPhone more than two years ago. One of them is Snapture Labs LLC, whose 26-year-old co-founder Samir Shah proclaims, “This is our dot-com boom.” Snapture makes a $1.99 camera app, one of the top-ranked photography apps since September.
Apple has sold more than 30 million iPhones and 20 million iPod touches and the App Store is home to more than 100,000 apps, ranging from entertainment to utilities. The majority of apps are free or cost just 99 cents, with Apple taking 30% and the developer the remaining 70%. It may not sound like much, but many developers feel like they’ve struck it rich with a proverbial gold rush.
“A large concentration of people who are doing [iPhone apps] are Internet entrepreneurs… and a lot of Internet entrepreneurs are in the Valley,” said Matt Murphy of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture-capital fund that backs iPhone app developers with the iFund.
Indelible Software LLC founder Edward Marks is one such start-up. Instead of moving to Hawaii after taking a Stanford University course on app development, the 23-year-old set up shop in Palo Alto this past June. “We just realized that this was basically the center of the iPhone world,” he said.
Stanford’s app-building course, taught by Apple engineers, launched in September 2008 with about 130 students. However, the course is also offered online as a series of free downloads from iTunes, and more than one million people have downloaded the lectures, said Julie Zelenski, a Stanford lecturer in computer science.
According to statistics from ad-exchange network Mobclix, Inc., 41% of its 4,000 app developers are in Northern California. The New York-New Jersey area ranks second with only 14%.