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iPhone Application Development—Costs and Thoughts

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iPhone Application Development—Costs and Thoughts

By Pat Flynn on

In our last post, I unmasked the mystery behind what I’ve been doing for the past few months, going into detail about one of the iPhone applications my partner and I created, as well as our LOLer Apps brand. I was quite pleased with the response, and have yet to hear any “that’s stupid!” type comments—so thank you!

I have, however, received many questions about the development process and costs associated with getting our application to turn into a reality. I plan to answer some of those questions here for you today.

It was our plan to document all of this stuff on our LOLer Apps homepage, which we still will (and go into far more detail so that anyone can get into this if they wanted to invest a little money into their idea), but I’ll go over the main points and some other things I’m guessing you have questions about right now.

How Did We Find a Developer?

As you know, we’re lazy and we didn’t create the iPhone applications ourselves. Actually, let me rephrase that. We’re smart and decided not to spend hours learning how to code the applications ourselves, just to end up with with a mediocre product that someone we could have paid would have done a better job on, in a much quicker time frame. Yeah, that sounds better.

I’m a big fan of outsourcing the work you’re not an expert on, because it can be done faster and better (and ultimately cheaper once you consider how much time you’d spend on it, which could have been used doing other things that earn money). We kept this philosophy in mind when deciding to get into this market.

We posted our criteria on Elance (now Upwork), and within 2 days we had 6 different developers come at us with their bids. To clarify, this was for our iPopit! game, which you can read more about here.

How Much Did It Cost?

The bids ranged from $3000 to $6000, and we chose to go with one of the lower tiered bids of $3500. Split between the two of us, it didn’t seem that bad—but it was still a lot of money, especially considering we were basically just throwing ourselves in the deep end and just seeing what happens. Sometimes though, that’s what you have to do.

How Long Did It Take to Get Developed?

Well, the development process happened in a few phases. First, we had to exchange our ideas and finally come up with a final product that we’d be happy with. This was important because since we were new to the market and the iPhone, we didn’t know much about what we can and can’t do. It’s safe to say that our app did evolve during the development process, and we’re quite happy with the results.

Next, we were given a very preliminary version of the app after about 2 to 3 weeks. The graphics and such were not up to par, but this was expected since we were just working on the actual game play and mechanics first.

Bugs were worked out and a “pre-final” product was ready for us within about a month.

Our Biggest Hitch

As I said, the product was ready for us within about a month—but we didn’t get it in hand until about 3 months later, and this was definitely our fault. Read carefully in case you want to pursue the iPhone app market yourself later on. We didn’t do such a good job of planning everything out, which delayed almost everything in the developmental process.

Apple’s iPhone Developer’s Program

Signing up with Apple’s iPhone Developer Program allows a person or a company to be able to submit their apps to iTunes for sale. If you’re a person (not a company), the approval process takes about a day. When doing it as a company, however, it takes much longer. This is the stage we’re at now, and we should be approved within a day or two. The reason we’re here now, and didn’t do this earlier, was because of our DBA.

Our DBA: LOLer Apps

We had a hitch in the DBA process. We entered a wrong address when doing it through legalzoom, that when it finally reached the County Office of San Diego, they denied it, and we had to go through the entire process all over again. Each time, it took about 1.5 weeks—so almost 4 weeks total here. Of course, we couldn’t submit to the iPhone Dev Program without our DBA paperwork.

Developer’s Certificate

So, the whole process involved with developing an iPhone app and being able to play it on your own iPhone to test it out is nuts. There are so many things you have to do in order to make this happen:

  1. create a certificate, which is like a profile that says you’re the developer or one who can use the app and test it on your device
  2. you have to set up your iPhone using your Identifier Code which is unique to each iPhone
  3. you create an ID specific for the application you’re using
  4. you create a provision license, which gets uploaded to your device which then connect all of the previous steps so that you can finally use the app (from step 3) on the device (from step 2), only if you’re the right person (from step 1).

At least Apple, within their Developer’s Portal, gives us great descriptions and instructions about how to do this.

Where we ran into a HUGE problem is when we didn’t yet our developer’s program set up yet (again because our DBA hadn’t gone through). The app was ready, but we couldn’t play it or see it on an iPhone because of this issue, and this was just bad timing. We wanted to play the game so we could see how it worked and forward any bugs, and our developer wanted to make it a final product as soon as possible—it was a stressful situation.

Finally though, we’re at a point where the app is pretty much finished and we’re just waiting now. You can be sure that once it’s ready to go and on sale, we’re gong to go full stride in making this happen. Woo hoo!


We didn’t do any of the graphic work ourselves either. A lot it was done by our developer, but we also hired someone on the side who is doing an outstanding job. We’re using him on all of our projects so that there’s a little bit of consistency with the apps and the LOLer Apps brand.

So yeah…

I hope this post answers a few of your questions that you may have. Once we’re live, I’ll be putting everything we did from start to finish on the LOLer Apps homepage, partly to help anyone who wants to do the same learn from our experiences, and partly to help market our apps too.

If you have time and would like to help us build some buzz, please point your audiences (twitter, other blogs, facebook, your office) to our iPopit! homepage, found at

Cheers! Thanks everyone!

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