by Tom Kaneshige

Loving Smart iPhone Apps? Who’s Going to Build ‘Em?

Feb 18, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Shrinking pool of good developers may stymie next-gen apps.

iPhone owners love showing off amazing apps that awe their friends and family. Want to see your house on Google Earth? Shazam will tell you what song is playing on the radio. Need voice-to-voice language translation? Try Jibbigo.

There seems to be no limitation to the creativity and sophistication of apps, save one: too few good iPhone app developers, says Christopher Young, CEO of Momentum Mobile, a 12-person iPhone app development firm.

Young wants to grow his company but can’t find good developers to handle the rising workload. “There’s a lot of people who say they are iPhone app developers,” he says, “but if they’re good, then they’re probably working already.”

For iPhone owners, this problem could stymie progress of smarter apps making their way to the App Store. That is, there could suddenly be a step backward to mass production of junky apps by second-tier app developers that clutter the App Store.

“There’s a wide range of developer ability,” says Gregg Weiss, founder of, a matchmaker for app developers and people who want to develop their app ideas.

Weiss has a couple hundred developers in his network categorized by their strengths. “Gaming apps are the most expensive to build,” he says, “and not everyone can do it.” Other developers are good at adding social networks to an app.

Lots of people have ideas for an app, Weiss says, so generating leads isn’t a problem. But spotting quality developers among a sea of “bedroom developers” to bring into his network is a challenge.

At the very least, an app developer must already have an app on the App Store before he can join Weiss’ network—and this criteria weeds out a lot of so-called app developers.

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for in Silicon Valley. Send him an email at Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.