• Indie iOS Apps Are Just Like The Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird

    Look at your favourite iOS apps. Go on, grab your iPhone or iPad and look at the apps you've collected. Chances are, the best ones, the ones you adore, were developed by small teams, with just a handful of people.

    These small teams are creating apps that are used and enjoyed by millions of people. Not hundreds of people, not large multi billion dollar companies - just a bunch of passionate people doing what they love. If anything the apps made by larger groups kinda suck and keeping things small can work in an app's favour.

    Some of you may be familiar with Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works. It's a wonderful story, so go check it out yourself if you haven't before. Basically, a small group of talented engineers split off from the rest of the giant Lockheed Martin and made the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft ever made. There's also the story of the Mac's graphic calculator app, where an engineer snuck in to the Apple campus to work on this program, unpaid, because the idea of it was too cool not to.

    This sort of "fuck youse suits, we'll do it better ourselves" spirit is the epitome of a great iOS app. Just scrolling through my iPhone, I know of the following apps, that couldn't get any better than they are, made by less then 5 people.

    This approach to software development leads to apps that make you smile. Personal apps that exude the passion of the creators. Much like indie music, or indie games, indie apps just feel nicer to use, as opposed to their 100 person team big boy apps from corporate overlords.

    The size of your team and your financial clout no longer matter when it comes to creating A-grade software. If your idea is good, your implementation perfect and your marketing targetted, there's no reason why the next game changer can't come from you. Or not. Just make a nice app, sell it, and make a living out of it because you love the work and love the idea. Don't go chasing VC money, or attending wanky startup nights and listening to people from the Valley. Make your app, make it not suck, sell it and see what happens. Matt Comi, who spoke at One More Thing in 2011 calls it a lifestyle business, and I really like that idea.
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