Drunk Dialer Economics / by Nate Westheimer

Put this one in the "Low-Brow" category... My friend Naveen's and my iPhone app, Drunk Dialer, just got named by Yahoo! one of the "Weirdest iPhone apps" (and then got picked up in PSFK). (Hat tip Michael)

Yeah -- it's weird. But it's also fun (everyone who tries it giggles while trying it, which is a good sign I think). And it's also a way to learn more about the economics of putting applications in the iPhone application store.

Here's the back story:

Before I left for the Obama campaign in October, Naveen and I were getting coffee and got to talking about iPhone applications. What fascinated were the applications which put only a very light layer on top of  the iPhone's APIs to create admittedly stupid apps.

What really fascinated us was that people -- including us -- were buying them... in droves!

So, Naveen and I started brainstorming, and, when we came up with an idea, we ran back to his apartment, set a two hour timer, and emerged with "Drunk Dialer:" a phone number dialing application where the buttons jump around as you move. The name "Drunk Dialer" refers to the fact that if you're drunk, it's probably harder to keep the phone still and hit the key you're aiming for, thus making it harder for drunk people to make phone calls (which, unless it's for a cab, they should be doing).

The interesting thing, however, is not so much the applications as much as the economics.

When the application got accepted to the store, I posted a link on my Tumblr account and Naveen sent a message on Twitter saying that it was available.

Since then, before getting press about it today, it had earned about $150.

Not much.

However, we built the application in only a few hours. And, now that it's in the store, we don't have to -- though we probably will -- touch it ever again, and it will still produce revenue for us with zero operating cost.

So what are iPhone application economics? Tough to say so far, but it's trending towards $40/hr of development, and -- after today -- it's only going to get better.

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