A 10-Year Mission

Emoji – Rocket Liftoff from EarthPhotics.com is about to enter its 20th year of existence. That’s a fairly significant milestone. After publishing A Book About Hype, hitting #1 on the iTunes Book Store, there was an unanswered question about the future of this website – what’s next?! After two years of serious consideration, Photics is getting back into app development. Starting today, a 10 Year Mission officially begins. The idea is to create 10 apps a year for the next 10 years.

Just like Star Trek had a 5-year mission, to explore strange new worlds, Photics can build strange new virtual worlds… or maybe just make helpful apps. The plan is to create games, apps and maybe even some more books. The point is to keep complete lots of short and simple projects. That starts with the renewal of my Apple Developer Program membership.

Your Apple Developer Program membership has been renewed for another year and your membership details are below. We look forward to the innovative new apps you’ll bring to Apple platforms.

I figure a good app can make about $1000. That’s a low estimate. Actually, in a Forbes article from 2013, the average is higher.

At $4,000 in average revenue per app, Apple has a lead but it still begs the question as to how many developers can actually make a living directly from apps on any platform.

Can I make a living from this? I don’t know. Even if I do hit the goal of 10 apps a year, at $1,000 per app, that’s only a $100,000 over 10 years. That’s nice money, but that’s not anywhere near a livable wage in NYC. Obviously, I hope the final numbers are more favorable to me, but that’s not main point. The goal is to do something! Instead of wondering what to do, this project gives a direction. Two years is a long time to pick a new project.

The first of 100 is “Circles with Grandma“. This game took a couple of weeks to make, then another couple of weeks to figure out the changes to Xcode and WKWebView. While the game is simple, it is probably better than the majority of my previous games. It certainly has a wider appeal.

Now that the process has been established, I figure I can do this once a month – with a two month break to either relax or catch up. Also, if I really believe in a particular project, I can dedicate more time to it. Although, that has to be balanced with the harsh lesson from BOT. After six months of hard work, the app made about $1500. The game underperformed, knocking out the momentum of app development. If too much is invested in a single project, the damage is worse if the project fails.

So instead, the 10-year plan focuses on quantity. Although, I think the quality is going to be up there too. I’m a much better developer now than I was about a decade ago. And design wise, Circles with Grandma is the start of a new style… clean, sharp and with mass appeal.

Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.
– William Clement Stone

My Great Uncle liked that quote too. But also, I am reminded of another quote. “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.” (I saw it in episode 9 of Star Trek Continues.) There was also another nice line before that. “An undefined finish line means you never have to finish.”

Instead of wondering what the next big project is going to be, I should just get working. Let the market decide. If a clear winner of the 100 appears, then the focus can be centered on that.

There’s another big factor in this project. Big changes are planned for the United States Federal Tax Code, changes that are favorable to business. It was demoralizing to put so much extra work into a project, only to take such a massive hit in taxes. If the Senate and the House of Representatives can find common ground on their two tax cut plans, and then get that plan passed, that’s a boost to business ventures like the 10-year plan.

But again, the goal is to get working – and the work has already started. Aside from the numerous technical challenges, it’s off to an exciting and fun start. I can’t sit around waiting for idea business conditions.  JUST MAKE APPS!

After carefully considering projects from YouTube based journalism, to Hydroponic gardening, making apps seems like the best match for me. (I’m not planning to give up on journalism or gardening either. Both of those ideas have a place in this 10-year plan.) I think Apple said right, “We look forward to the innovative new apps you’ll bring to Apple platforms.”