Part mobile entrepreneur, part teenage millionaire

How much money can a single idea be worth? Sure, Twitter and Facebook started out as an "idea", but who says a good idea should be restricted by age? Thoughts
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

I don't need to tell you that the mobile phone has been one of the most revolutionary technologies we have ever come across. I say that as if we stumbled across it one day without realising, but as with all great inventions, the scale of the use or potential would never be initially quantified.

With that in mind, the smartphone market is taking on a similar paradigm to that of Google Chrome OS, in that what you have from the start isn't what makes a phone, rather the available applications and downloads for that particular brand's marketplace.

But the most fantastic thing about the mobile application market is that it is not restricted to the high and mighty, the corporations or those with venture capital or investor support. A 15 year old kid can create something amazing from the comfort of his bedroom in a small, rural town on the West coast with nothing much more than an idea and a basic broadband connection.


Some years ago, my sister asked me how to go about getting a job. A simple enough question but with a particularly difficult, complicated, multi-faceted and non-specific answer. Now I would tell her not to bother, and instead think of something ingenious that thousands of people would want, and to write it for the iPhone.

Problem is, she wouldn't have a clue as to where to start, automatically negating what I say and forcing these developers with years of practice into a small, niche group.

But it's not about the iPhone anymore. It's about the wider market and catering for the needs of all mobile users. Though iPhone fever was abuzz in 2008/09, one must admit that it still has the major marketshare even in today's race between more varieties of choice, from Android to BlackBerry, even the iPad and the new Windows 7 Phone Series.

To make money quickly and easily, you need nothing more than a development kit - available online from Apple in the case of the iPhone and iPod touch, and other manufacturers in their respective ways - and a killer idea. Though, with the iTunes App Store being as wide, diverse and as packed as it is with all kinds of everything, finding that killer idea at this point in time as opposed to before when it was still in its infancy, is far harder to do.

It is important to note, though the mobile platform is dynamically expansible and constantly evolving, so are other major areas such as Twitter integration or more notably, Facebook applications. These platforms may have more users in a concentrated setting, the mobile market changes regularly from quarter to quarter, with statistics changing much like search engine usage.

Of course, once you get past the hard part of developing (at least for some anyway, I cannot definitely say as I am not a developer; if anything my prior role was to do exactly the opposite of developing by ripping things apart) - selling it or gaining credibility will launch either your career or a nice trust fund for your future children. You can sell your application for as little as a few cents, or go the open-source route and open up your code online and offer it on the market for free. Either way, you will turn heads and gain experience, assistance and potentially a venture capitalist or an investor.

Then again, the whole market is based on celebrity protocol. Two people can make very much the same application where one will take off and the other won't. Marketing, imagery, price and branding are key, and often a sole developer cannot do this on their own.

But with star stories of those like Dave Castelnuovo, co-creator of Pocket God which sells for 99¢ and has over 2 million downloads, who doesn't take the flattery of being called a millionaire claiming taxes take a good proportion of it - presumably living costs and future investments and development take the rest - but reputation and mere success can propel someone into an idyllic lifestyle from the basic framework of a simple idea.

The mobile market has enabled all kinds of users, including those of teenagers and students, to create something not necessarily complicated but simple, fun, but importantly - at a price. Unlike in this day and age, it was unheard of to have anyone in anything less than the class of aristocracy to be wealthy and self-supporting.

But to cover all your bases, the iPhone isn't the be all and end all. Look ahead, see what's out there and target your audience. A business application? Target the BlackBerry. A touch-based game? Hit the iPhone. FarmVille? Thank you, iPad. An idea is good, but planning for the wider picture is key if you want to be a teenage millionaire.

Who needs a job when you can make millions writing a naff iPhone application in your spare time? Well, a 15 year old in a small rural town on the West coast probably won't for a while yet, and that's why I love the developing tech market. It's open to anyone and everyone, and there's no age restriction on a brilliant idea.

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