By Neal Goldstein, Dave Wilson

Why should you develop iOS apps? Because you can. Because it’s fun. And because the time has come (today!). iOS apps are busting out all over, and developers have been very successful.

Developing iOS apps can be the most fun you’ve had in years, with very little investment of time and money (compared with developing for platforms like Windows). Here’s why:

  • iOSapps are usually bite-sized, which means that they’re small enough to get your head around. A single developer — or one with a partner and some graphics support — can do them. You don’t need a 20-person project team with endless procedures and processes and meetings to create something valuable.

  • The apps tend to be crisp and clean, focusing on what the user wants to do at a particular time and/or place. They’re simple but not simplistic. This makes app design (and subsequent implementation) much easier and faster.

  • The apps use the most innovative platform available for mobile computing. It’s completely changing the Internet as a publishing medium, the software industry with regard to applications, and the mobile device industry with regard to the overall digital media experience.

  • The free iOS Software Development Kit (SDK) makes development as easy as possible. If you can’t stand waiting, you could register as an iOS developer, and download the SDK … but (fair warning) jumping the gun leads to extra hassle. It’s worth getting a handle on the ins and outs of iOS app development beforehand.

iOS has these two other advantages that are important to you as a developer:

  • You can distribute your app through the App Store. Apple will list your app in the App Store in the category you specify, and the store takes care of credit-card processing (if you charge for your app), hosting, downloading, notifying users of updates, and all those things that most developers hate doing.

    Developers name their own prices for their creations or distribute them free; Apple gets 30 percent of the sales price of commercial apps, with the developer getting the rest. However, keep in mind that Apple must approve your app before it appears in the App Store.

  • Apple has a robust yet inexpensive developer program. To place your app in the store and manage it, you have to pay $99 per year to join the Individual or Company version of the iOS Developer Program (which includes iPhone and iPad development support).

    Apple also offers an Enterprise version for $299 per year to develop proprietary, in-house iOS apps that you can distribute to employees or members of your organization, and a free University version for educational institutions to include iOS development as part of a curriculum.

    But that’s it. You don’t find any of the infamous hidden charges that you often encounter, especially when dealing with credit card companies. Go to the Apple iOS Developer site and click the Enroll Now button to get started.