The size and fast-growing nature of the iPhone and iPad ecosystem gives app development a natural appeal to entrepreneurs looking for a way to get into the market. But the most serious challenge facing books on how to develop iPhone apps is that app development is still a complex, expensive process that requires a firm grounding in Apple’s hardware, programming standards and approval process.
A programmer can know all this and still have no idea how to answer the most basic questions that make a successful app: What purpose does it serve? Who is going to use it? What does it do?
Ryan Theil solves this problem by sidestepping it. “The Expert Guide to Pitching Your App Idea” advises entrepreneurs to focus on developing a good idea, and then license it to a larger company that can afford the time and expense to answer the technical questions and develop it right. Where other books on how to develop iPhone apps might focus on programming languages or emulation software, Theil provides a guide to pitch documents, license agreements and patents.
Theil’s ebook is structured as a step-by-step narrative walking the reader through each stage of the process, from creating pitch document laying out the app idea to identifying and contacting potential licensees, the first meeting, and the waiting period before the license agreement arrives.
These sections don’t come until halfway through the book, after Theil has laid out the case for licensing apps rather than developing them solo and offered his brainstorming techniques. But they represent some of the most compelling moments in the story. In part, this is because they describe the most intimidating steps of the process — cold calling large firms, dealing with patents and non-disclosure agreements — and seek to deflate the challenge. Theil offers a series of simple techniques, supported by straightforward explanations that puncture the mystique surrounding the process and frame the relationship with a potential licensee as simply another business interaction.
Interspersed throughout the ebook are several examples. In the brainstorming section, these take the form of different subjects that might inspire app ideas, but Theil also includes samples of a pitch document, a letters of intent, confidential disclosure agreement, and other documents that feature in the licensing process, complete with blanks for the reader to fill in. This is where the ebook delivers most fully on its promise as a how-to guide.
Overall, Theil’s narrative is easily accessible and displays a clear familiarity with the app development process. Books on how to develop iPhone apps can only take a reader so far: Theil himself calls it “just the starting point” on the road to licensing. But his ebook provides a solid grounding for the reader moving forward. And for those intimidated by the challenge of developing an app on their own, it offers an avenue that just might make a successful iPhone app seem within reach once again.
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