Have you ever sold an app you have built?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by Totty, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. Totty macrumors member

    Apr 27, 2006
    I've been working on this project for the last 2 project courses in my major (computer science) at the university. I think it is a good enough idea that if I polish the program up real nice, I could possibly sell it out right to a company or even sell it to users myself. The program is actually developed in Visual Studio 2005 (please don't crucify me), but I thought that some of you might have done this before.

    Do any of you have experience with that sort of thing? Either selling your work to a larger company or selling your own software personally through some type of licensing?
  2. rhix macrumors newbie


    Jul 1, 2004

    I've done it.

    It's quite the experience. Making the app "ship-ready", building a website for it, picking a method of selling, doing the support for it afterwards (there WILL be support, don't fool yourself) etc... all tasks that, as a programmer, I had never needed to do before. And all that, and you still don't have people buying it. Doing the PR/advertising for it is another adventure.

    A lot of work, definitely. But I've loved every minute of it.
  3. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus


    Jan 15, 2006
    The Kop
    What application? Tried going to the website in your profile but unfortunately it didn't work.
  4. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
  5. Nutter macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2005
    London, England
    That looks really cool, caveman!


    I'm just starting out as a developer myself, but my brother makes a living as an independent Mac developer, so it can be done.

    As rhix says, there are an awful lot of things to think about, developing a great application is just the beginning. I would stress the need to consider support in advance - I handle support for my brother's applications, and it takes about 12 hours a week. Having good documentation and thorough error handling in your application is a must.
  6. seanf macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2006
    The University most likely owns the copyright to your application then. Have you checked with them?

    Sean :)
  7. semaja2 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2005
    I thought about selling WiFiScriptor, but when it came to the legal and tax issues with becoming a small buisness and such i decided it was not worth the effort and many users still would not pay 7.50USD for the app, and if you lower the price users would not be wanting to pay 1 buck for app.

    However if you have the time and your sure you want to go down the commercial path im sure it will be fun, just remember people expect great support.

    In all my projects i still offer support but i think if i was getting paid i would have to clean up my act a bit more.

  8. toddburch macrumors 6502a

    Dec 4, 2006
    Katy, Texas
    I sells apps that run on both Windows and Mac 24X7. Shopping carts are a good thing. I'm in partnership with two other guys - one in Kansas and one on Romania. We have freeware and licensed software. We'll all independant authors, but share in marketing, maintenance of the web site, customer service, etc. One of the guys wrote the back-end accounting that makes sure we all get our share after the paypal fees are met. At the end of every month, I get a nice little email from paypal telling me the good news. ;)

    On the other hand, I write commercial software for a living (mainframes, in assembler language). That's a salary gig. The way the industry used to work, mainframe authors would get a commission check for their work, along with a base salary. With the majority of mainframe software selling for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars, commissions checks were a good thing while they lasted. Those days, for the most part, are pretty much gone except from the small startups.

  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You have more to gain by making it Open Source. Respect in the community, reputation and the contacts you will make are worth more than the few $ you might (read "might") make. If you did this work at a public university then likely the public owns the software and you can't legally sell it anyway.

    If you do sell it outright, a smart buyer will know only to pay you the profet he expects to make (that's after his expenses to market and support the program) but he will add a BIG multiplier for "risk" and then reduce the offer to include profit for himself. Do the math and you don't get much. that "risk" factor is huge and squashes the value of your work. Do something to reduce that and you gain a lot.

    Also remeber any sucessfull bussines will require some investment. You will need to pay for marketing. You will also need to file taxes get a bussnes licesnse and so on. Maybe hire an accountant to consult with.
    Think about insurance, payrol taxes and so on too. If you are so small you can just ignore all this then you are working for less than minimum wage and would be bettr off with Open sourse. Don't bother selling software unless you can make $50/hour because.

    Yes I have had software I've written paid for. But through my employer. How else to support wife, two kids, house, cars, sailboat, travel hobbies pay for kids education,..and so on. But doing it myself as "shareware". I'd literally make more money at Mcdonalds selling burgers. Literally. How many hours have you invested so far? Double that to get it to market and figure how much per hour you worked for. It is minimum wage? If not the fast food industry pays better. On the other hand you have a lot to gain by being the leader of a successful and popular Open Source project. Networking with many peers will pay off big later. At your age think more about investing in future payoff then making a couple $ today -- that's what school is all about.
  10. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    I did this a few years ago with a very small app I wrote (won't name it here, it was one of the many "dock switchers" that came out back then). It turns out to be quite tedious. You have to polish everything up, test it on a number of systems, build a website to host it and document it, create the copy protetction scheme, setup online payment and automatic key distribution, and handle support issues. Just creating a nice looking icon for the application took me many days of trial, error, and reivision, and it was still pretty crappy. The website took even longer as I uploaded screenshots and movies of the application in action. I found that visitors used far more bandwitdh looking at all the media than actually downloading the application.

    I made a couple hundred bucks (I was selling licenes for about $3 IIRC and sold about 100), but in the end college and other life events prevented me from building my portfolio and making a real business out of it.

    Surprisingly, the marketing itself isn't that hard. I listed my program on MacUpdate and VersionTracker, then I went to websites that reviewed Mac software and sent them each a nice, short email asking if they would like to evaluate the program. I got a few favorable reviews and all of a sudden got a lot of downloads -- about 10,000 in all.
  11. cruzrojas macrumors member


    Mar 26, 2007
    ChrisA, What would be the difference between making it an open source project, vs a freeware or a shareware. And witch one would you recommend??
  12. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    I sold Pod2Go (later renamed Life2Go) from fall 2004 to the end of 2006.

    It was fun, yet very stressful. Looking back at it now, I would have changed how I did a lot of things.

    Right now I'm working for other companies, which is far easier :)
  13. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    Selling your own software as shareware is not about the money. Few indie developers make it big financially.

    It's about working for yourself, owning your own business. It's about doing something different. It's about improving your skills in software development, business, marketing, and customer service.

    Making a project open source isn't any better. You would still be doing the same or similar amount of work, plus you're working at <insert crappy job> because you need to pay the rent. That idea just doesn't make sense.

    I think I'd rather be working for myself 60 hours a week, taking breaks when I feel like it, working on something I and other people care about, than 40 hours getting paid minimum wage helping others gain weight ;)
  14. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    I've been billing my time to companies rather than selling them software.
  15. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Now that's what I call a proper program!
    Well done sir!!
    Once I'm Tirgered up I shall purchase a copy!
  16. GothicChess.Com macrumors regular


    Apr 6, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Programs I have made and sold

    I wrote Blackjack Deluxe, which was voted one of the 50 All-Time best shareware programs by MacUser magazine way back in 1996.

    I also wrote The Sniper (Mac chess program that played in United States Chess Federation tournaments and broke 2200 for a while in 1987), Poker Deluxe, and I co-wrote World Championship Checkers.

    I am working on a new checkers program now for OS X called "Only Perfect Checkers".
  17. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK

    Every sale makes me happy ;)

    I know the Tiger requirement has put a few people off as quite a few brewers are still on Panther. I would've preferred to support Panther but for various reasons it didn't work out.
  18. MacDonaldsd macrumors 65816


    Sep 8, 2005
    London , UK
    Out of curiosity caveman_uk how big is that application in terms of code ?
  19. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2006
    Only Windows programs to date. I'm trying to change that though...:cool:
  20. Dunepilot macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2002
    My experience as a buyer tells me that it's worth your while if your application is a bit sexy - if I think about the shareware products I've paid for, it's been those that offer some amazingly cool or well-packaged functionality that wasn't previously possible - Salling Clicker (remote), Delicious Library (barcode scanning of your library), Visual Hub (the swiss army knife of media conversion).

    I'd say that your typical Mac user is more likely to pony-up for those kinds of functions, as we've all been schooled in the wow-factor as part of our Apple experience.
  21. mrzeve macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2005
    All my software is donateware. Unfortunately, thats totaled about $90 in 2 years.
  22. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    According to sloccount just over 32,000 lines.

    It also says it would cost over a million dollars to develop and take over seven man years. Thankfully neither is true!
  23. mags631 Guest

    Mar 6, 2007
    Back in the day, I had multiple companies wanting buy Jamoria, but I had to refuse given that it was built on the Moria source...

    This is tricky business -- and many lesser applications have been sold for good money while better applications have languished unsold.

    Polish may not be a defining, nor necessary, characteristic to be sold... I strongly believe it is need on the buyer's part, which you can assess but not necessarily fully know.

    You can attack this on multiple fronts: assess user need by making it available; and shopping the application to businesses who might be interested in acquiring technology. Clearly, the latter approach is a lot harder and requires a lot of (sales) art, unless you have something clearly special.
  24. hircus macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Mid-west, USA
    Making it an open-source project means that the code is available for re-use by others. Depending on the license that you choose, there might be restrictions -- with GPL and LGPL, for example, any derivative work based on your code has to also be made available under the same license, if the resulting binary is made available for distribution or sale. Others (the BSD variants) are more lax and just ask that you credit the original developer.

    With freeware/shareware, you'd have to provide good user documentation and support. With open source, apart from that you'd need to provide good technical documentation as well, and (if it takes off) how to manage a team of contributors. Probably a good experience for later working in larger software development teams.

    Oh, and you can always sell support or ask for donation for your software :) Not sure what the tax requirements are for receiving donations, though.
  25. jsalzer macrumors 6502a


    Jan 18, 2004
    Database Fun

    Well, I'm a week away from launching a private beta of a FileMaker-driven database solution I've spent the last 18 months building (it has a full user interface - which is why it took so long).

    Hopefully followed by limited public beta in August and full release in January.

    'Tis extremely scary. And exciting. And exhausting. And scary.

    I'm running it through a company that sells related services, so someone else gets to worry about the legalities and the money parts. :)

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