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jclermont
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on: April 11, 2009, 12:27:59 PM

I'm new to iPhone development, but I've done software and web development for over 10 years. Even though I'm only half done with the Objective-C book, I have a client wanting to hire me to develop an iPhone app he dreamed up. I explained I'm new to this platform, but I've done several successful projects for him on other platforms, so he's willing to let me work at a slower pace while I learn.

I'd like to get some feedback from other developers here on how they bill for iPhone development. I've thought about it, and I see three primary ways of charging for iPhone development: straight work for hire (bill per hour or per project), hybrid work-for-hire + percentage of sales, or no up front dev fees + percentage of sales.

Each approach has its own advantage. Straight work-for-hire has very low risk for the developer. We get our money whether the app is successful or not. The hybrid approach lets the client higher you for a lower up-front cost, and the developer has a potential for higher reward if the app is successful. Granted, there is some risk on the developer's part if the app is not successful. The final approach has the developer assuming quite a bit of risk, but also for the potential of higher reward.

Any thoughts on this? Anyone have any experiences to share?
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esc
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Reply #1 on: April 11, 2009, 05:15:39 PM

I think it depends on how you value the app/idea, i.e. if you believe it will do well and you could afford the investment (your time).  Another thing to consider is who will own the code -- if you are hired, can you reuse the code you developed?
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skochan
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Reply #2 on: April 11, 2009, 05:40:33 PM

I agree that you have to believe in the app and it's ability to sell well.  However, everything related to its success (e.g., advertising, branding support) will likely be out of your control--other than the quality of the work--which I'm sure will be excellent!   Wink

I would tend to go for the sure thing--that is the cash!  If you think it's a good app and you're a risk taker, then trade a little of the cash for some royalties. 

Just my opinion!   Grin

Cheers,

Steve
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jclermont
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Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 05:30:41 AM

When hired by a client to develop an application, I always relinquish the code to them. However, I retain the right to reuse the code to a reasonable extent. For example, let's say I built a custom real estate site for a realtor. I wouldn't turn around and sell the exact same site to a competitor of my original client. I might, however, reuse the membership system or the MLS integration on the back end.

So in this regard, for an iPhone app, I could reuse some of the classes or business logic I built, but I would never reuse the UI.

I really appreciate your input on this. I, too, am leaning toward work-for-hire. In fact, I think the client prefers this arrangement too.

One more related question: This client doesn't own a Mac and isn't inclined to buy one. He plans on signing up for the iPhone developer program online. Do you see any ethical dilemmas (or business dilemmas) in having him give me those credentials so I can publish his app from one of my Macs?
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skochan
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Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 06:02:32 AM

You can register under his company name on your Mac; I don't see any problem with that.  But I would get him his own user id so he can use it later or give it to another consultant if he chooses (for maintenance, updates, or development of other applications).

You should also invest the $99 yourself and register as a developer for your own purposes.   Assuming you want to continue in this business, it's money well-spent.  Of course, that can be done later.
 

Cheers,

Steve Kochan
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jclermont
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Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 06:05:03 AM

I already have my own developer account, but he didn't want to publish it under my existing account (which I understand). I just wasn't sure if there were any issues with me publishing under his account from my machine. Does Apple frown on that?
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skochan
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Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 06:18:13 AM

Okay, so the Apple iPhone developer agreement says you can't share your Apple ID.  However, your client doesn't have a Mac, so it's not being shared.  Anyway, you have your own developer ID, so I just don't see any issues here.  You're not cheating anyone out of anything or violating any non-disclosure agreements.

Cheers,

Steve
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