Sign In

Communications of the ACM

ACM Careers

As Boom Lures App Creators, Tough Part Is Making a Living

View as: Print Mobile App Share:
Henry's Smart Headlamp app

Independent mobile app developers work in a crowded market, with hundreds of new apps introduced every day in Apple's store.

Credit: Daniel Rosenbaum / The New York Times

Shawn and Stephanie Grimes spent much of the last two years pursuing their dream of doing research and development for Apple, the world's most successful corporation. But they did not actually have jobs at Apple. It was freelance work that came with nothing in the way of a regular income, health insurance, or retirement plan. Instead, the Grimeses tried to prepare by willingly, even eagerly, throwing overboard just about everything they could.

The couple's chosen field is so new it did not even exist a few years ago: writing software applications for mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad. Even as unemployment remained stubbornly high, the ranks of computer software engineers, including app writers, increased nearly 8 percent in 2010 to more than a million, according to the latest available government data for that category.

Apps have inspired a new class of entrepreneurs. These innovators have turned cellphones and tablets into tools for discovering, organizing, and controlling the world, spawning a multibillion-dollar industry virtually overnight. The iPhone and iPad have about 700,000 apps. Yet with the American economy yielding few good opportunities in recent years, there is debate about how real, and lasting, the rise in app employment might be.

From The New York Times
View Full Article


No entries found

Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account