It is a natural situation that companies want to save money, reducing costs maximises profits after all, and when it comes to sourcing software development services, this is no exception. The iPhone and iPad development market is awash with budding developers, small agencies as well as more established software houses and do-it-all companies. Why is it that the iOS development market contains such extremes of people? There are two simple answers to this which explain each end of the scale…
Cost. Apple has made it incredibly easy and cheap for anyone to get into development on the iOS platform. The tools are pretty much free even if the cost of entry, a Mac, can be somewhat more. Yet compared to a decent .NET environment with Visual Studio, Resharper and the like, it is still one of the cheapest development platforms around.
Revenue. Apple has made the iOS market so appealing that every man and his dog wants an iPhone or iPad app, and some want several! This has made the development market surrounding iPhones and iPads a very lucrative one.
Many companies when looking to source development partners will evaluate the market, as they should, and will make their choice based on a number of factors. Cost is obviously a key factor here but it can also be the cause of increased costs further down the development process. We know the market, and whilst we are much better value than the majority of the larger agencies around, some companies simply decide to go with the cheapest option available to them. This usually means either off-shore development or a sole ‘bedroom’ developer who has picked up iOS development due to the low cost of entry, and this more often than not, has a less than favourable outcome for the company concerned. Here’s why…
Whilst off-shore development services are undeniably cheap, the process of working with such companies can be more time-consuming and stressful than you would first imagine. Given the time difference when working with such companies, managing the development process and flow of information in both directions can prove incredibly difficult, requiring increasing amounts of your time to keep the project on track. The inability to have a face-to-face meeting with the development team and discuss you ideas in person, is something that is often overlooked, yet is most likely the most important factor when working with any team. The language differences can also be an issue, often resulting in misunderstood requirements or cultural differences manifesting themselves in incorrect design approaches for your target market.
The end quality of these off-shore development factories is also generally well below par due to the low-cost / high-turnover approach used to make a sustainable business. The end result? Companies who initially chose this route return to us to help sort out the mess, which invariably means starting again due to the poor quality, unmanageable code-base.
The Bedroom Developer
We appreciate that everyone has to start somewhere and we are pleased that more and more aspiring developers are choosing the Apple iOS platform as their platform of choice but there are inherent issues that arise from working with developers of this type. Most are self-taught and lack the broader development experience that comes from a more traditional development background. Dealing with iPhone and iPad apps doesn’t simply end with those devices, often you will need experience of data architecture, client-server interaction, encryption…the list goes on. Sadly this kind of experience can not, and is not, easily gained from reading books and blog posts on a part-time basis.
As with off-shore development, the quality of work produced by these kinds of developers is often below par and of such a single-developer focused approach, that extending it in the future is next to impossible. Again starting the project again is often the most cost effective solution, as crazy as that may seem.
When working on a new project it is inevitable that you would wish to keep development costs down but try to measure the true cost of taking a route that may end up costing you more in the long run. Development standards vary greatly, so make sure you allocate your development budget carefully according to your needs, your expectations and you ultimate goal.