5 Options For Building Your App Empire

by Carter Thomas

The good news about building a company during times like this is that the companies that do succeed are going to be extremely strong and resilient.”Marc Andreessen

Let’s Build Something Together. Or something.

Over the last 4-6 months, my reputation has become the “app flipper” of the iOS world. It’s a pretty exciting business model – take some dormant source code, slap on some nice graphics, and publish like a pro and…voila – an asset with a nice ROI.

Easy, right?

Not really. The one thing this blog will always do for the readers is cut away the BS, even if it’s not in my best interest to sell you something. I’d rather you all know the truth instead of selling you the sizzle.

The reason I say this is because I’m starting to have a lot of people come to me and say “Should I flip apps? Is this the best way for me to get in the app game?” Often this is from people who have started the process and see the amount of unknowns when trying to build an app and are just looking for the best possible way to use their time and energy (and money!).

I wanted to give everyone a list of different ways you can get into the app store. These are the five I’ve seen, but there are probably others as well. At the very least, I think it will give you all some new perspective on how to tackle the ongoing issue of mitigating risk and maximizing profit potential.

Idea to Store

This is the most basic and most popular form of app development – you have an idea, you hire a developer (or learn it yourself), and then turn that idea into a live app.

PROS

  • Full customization – the most obvious reason to do this is because you can develop anything you want, exactly how you want it. This is awesome for creativity and moving the needle forward for the app market in general. You are in control of everything and can thus create something the world has never seen.
  • Ownership – this refers to intellectual property and everything else that can be “owned.” When you build your own app, you can create additional value on the technology that app has. Let’s say you create a whole new way to integrate video with car systems (maybe?). Not only do you build an app, you submit a patent and maybe even a trademark. By building the app from the ground up, you will have the full rights to that technology.
  • Huge upside – when you build something that’s never been done, you don’t know the potential and it could go viral.

CONS

  • Effort Intensiveanyone who’s been through this process knows how intense it can be to build something from scratch. This is not unlike other non-app projects – you’re responsible for every detail and every decision. What color do you want this button to be? Where does this screen go? What happens when a character wins 4 times in a row? It can be very exhausting and use a lot of your time, no matter how simple the app.
  • Lost in Translation – this is both in terms of language barriers and also in terms of you to developer (even if they’re in your native country). Try explaining that you want the swipe motion in a reference app to be smoother to someone in China and you’ll see what I mean. When you’re building the app from scratch, you need to use example after example in order to explain something that a developer should do.
  • Highest Risk – because your app is brand new (and thus, the business model of that app is new), you don’t know what’s going to happen. There are ways to keep that to a minimum (planning, strategy, partners, etc).

 App Emulation and App Cloning

This has been pushed by lots of marketers as a way to get into the market that blends the custom solution above and flipping apps (which I will talk about next).  The general gist is that you do market research first, find an opportunity, then build an app that’s very similar to a popular one to fill that opportunity.

PROS

  • Fast – it’s pretty easy to tell a developer to clone an app, especially when you know what you want the changes to be and have answers for them. If it’s a simple app, you can get it cloned in a matter of weeks (sometimes days) and can spend your time on the testing and iPhone app publishing, then market the hell out of it.
  • Less Headaches – there are fewer unknowns when you’re building a clone because the template is already there. Answers to almost all the developers’ questions can be found in the original app. Chances are you’re going to be changing a few things to make it a unique app, but you’ll be amazed at how little you need to hand hold for this type of project.
  • Cheap – Spinning a project as a clone can drop your price by over 50% on an outsourcing website because developers know the amount of time invested can be streamlined by the example app.

CONS

  • You’ll always be #2 – there is no clone out there that’s better than the original and the market will see that. You’ll be able to ride the coat tails a bit, but be prepared for bad reviews and trouble keeping long term stability.
  • The “good enough” syndrome – dove tailing off of the above reason, when building a clone, you’re probably going to get developers delivering products that are good enough to pass as a clone. It’s not going to have the details and smooth physics that makes the original app awesome, and that can be frustrating.
  • Moderate to Low ROI – this is mostly my own opinion, but I think the more “cloned” an app is, the shorter it’s shelf life. That means that you really need to push it hard at the beginning to milk the downloads before it gets crushed by the market. The cost of cloning apps is still enough to be a concern, so unless you do serious publishing and research, you’re going to have a hard time moving the needle.
  • Clones have competition – if you’re cloning an app, someone else probably is too. You’re not going to compete with the guy who’s got 2M downloads, you’re going to be trying to beat everyone else who built clones. That can get filled up quickly, so remember that you’re only getting a slice of the SECONDARY search market, not the primary off the top app.

 App Flipping

Flipping apps is what I do. It’s 100% exactly the way my mind works and gives me a great way to be an app person. Flipping apps means that you license source code from a game or app, re-skin (re-design) it, and then publish under your own umbrella.

The most important piece of flipping apps is to realize that I’m looking at business models more than I’m looking at apps. Cloning apps looks at volume and getting a slice of that volume, building a custom app is about getting new searches and downloads. Flipping apps is about creating new searches in existing markets using cheap code and great publishing. I spend nearly all my time analyzing markets and on the publishing of apps (games, mostly) instead of working on the actual app. Flipping apps allows me to drop winning models into markets and let them accelerate.

PROS

  • Mostly design work – when I buy some source code, it works already. It’s a fully functioning app that is ready for upload to Apple. Instead of spending my time coming up with new functionality and development, I just have to switch out the graphics, icon, and splash screen. That can be very nice for someone who’s a designer by trade.
  • ROI positive – I have found that nearly all my apps make their money back. The time they can make it back has been as little as 4 days and as long as 8 months. But they always do. More importantly, after publishing a few apps, I start to see where the real opportunities are. This is important because I started doing this with the intention of building 100-200 games in the next year with the sole intention of being able to predict winning models before I purchase them. If you’re in this for the long haul, this is where it’s at for ROI.
  • Cheap – similar a traditional job hiring, buying code can vary GREATLY. I had two firms offer identical code prices – one quoted $180 and one quoted $2,200. It’s just a matter of finding developers who want to make money. You have to search for it and be prepared to walk away, but there are some serious deals out there. Also remember that you can get deals if you bundle codes together or offer the work to the developer you’re buying them from.

CONS

  • You’re on your own – that’s a little aggressive, but it’s more or less true. When developers sell you the code, then take your money and tell you to have a nice day. You’re sitting at your computer staring at a zip file and wondering what’s next. That sort of autonomy can be VERY overwhelming for a new app star (you) and can cause a sense of panic. It always works out, but just be prepared to be moving the mountain yourself for a while.
  • You need to know something about coding – if I didn’t know the basics of Xcode, I would never be where I am. I still don’t know how to write much of anything, but I can definitely install Revmob or change where it’s displayed and remove certain things from the code. I also know what to tell developers and how to test what they send me. Knowing Xcode also allows me to publish the app via Provisioning Profiles and archiving/uploading to Apple. (If you don’t know what that means, you’re not ready to flip an app). The idea of simply taking a source package and sending it to someone to “flip” without knowing what was inside would terrify me.
  • You’re going to fail more than you win for a while – Like I said, it’s really hard to know if you’re going to make money on your first app. But, think of flipping apps the way you would think about investing in the stock market. You’d never walk into Scottrade and say “let’s put everything on this risky stock”  (at least I hope). You’d walk in and say “in 5 years I want this 3K to be worth 4K” and you’d diversify, understand the market, then strategically invest from there. Flipping apps is like investing in the app market – good investments will slowly pump out money, bad investments will not.

 Buying Full Apps

Buying an app means that you purchase the whole kit and caboodle from a developer. This is not just source code – this is the name, the icon, the code, the keywords, everything. Sometimes this means you can just take over their developer account, sometimes it means they remove the app from the store, then you re-upload it. There are marketplaces popping up (www.apptopia.com) that handle the entire transaction from start to finish. You can own a very successful app tomorrow with this method. All you need is a credit card.

PROS

  • Good selection – you can be in complete control of your purchasing. You don’t have to settle for something because you only found one developer who will sell to you – there is a full store of options. You can target a niche or category using this model.
  • Turnkey – you don’t need to “add value” the way you do with flipping apps unless you really want to. When you purchase an app, you’re getting everything, so you can just continue using it (if you buy the entire iTunes account) or you can republish with all the same info and continue down the same path.
  • Fast – If you want to own apps as soon as possible, this is it. You can buy 20 apps in a day and be managing them tomorrow if you want. It’s amazing how fast someone can get into this market using this model.

CONS

  • Expensive – this is not always the case, but it’s going to be hard to find a real bargain on these app marketplaces. If you want to buy a really good and proven app, expect to spend a few thousand dollars for it. There are cheaper apps, but typically they’re in the early phases of launch so you don’t know how well they’re going to do.
  • Maintaining After Transfer – if you’re buying one app from a developer, they’re going to take it down and then you’re going to re-upload it. That means you lose all the reviews and users (usually) that the old app had, which can be tough to get back.

 App Partnerships

It’s easy to think that you need to own an app to be a part of the app market. In some ways you do – you have to know somethingabout mobile and the market before you can expect to be a part of it, but you do not need to actually “build” an app. This is most often the case with marketers or people with access to distribution – if you can add something to the app that has very tangible value, you can definitely negotiate a slice of the pie. Examples may be as simple as you being the sales person all the way to you own a big blog or email list.

PROS

  • You Do What You’re Good At - I’m an enormous proponent of sticking to what you’re great at,then partnering with people that are great at other things. Partnerships allow you to focus on your speciality while the developers do all the app-related stuff.
  • You Can Help Make The App Awesome – if you’re going in as a partner, chances are you have something very valuable to offer. This may be your design skills or marketing prowess, but it’s something that can make the app really take off. That’s a pretty sweet position to be in.
  • Zero Cost – most of the time partnerships are just about equity and time, not money. That means you just invest your time, work, effort, connections, and brain in exchange for the upside.

CONS

  • Very Hard to Determine Worth – it’s very, very hard to keep things black and white when you split on revenue. Think about it – the app is doing very well…is it because it’s built so well, or because of your addition? Similarly, the app is tanking. Does it need an update or are you just not marketing it well? These are questions that can get complicated FAST.
  • Long Term Roles – if your partnership is not necessarily built on a long term strategy, you might become more of a commodity than a partner. Make sure you have something to contribute for the next 12 months.
  • Resentment – If you come into the project after it’s built and have input on certain pieces of the app, you might get some dirty looks. Be sure that you check your ego at the door when you’re working with someone else’s hard earned project.

 

And there you have it. I’ve seen all these models done and also had experience with all of them in some form or another. You can become wildly successful using any one of these….you just need to choose one. My best advice is to remember that this is a 12 month effort and that apps are a business, just like anything else.

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on this or if you have another interesting idea.

Keep rocking!

Carter

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Lev September 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hi Carter,

Thanks for this — very well structured and informative. Several questions re: App Flipping — a) where do you find developers/firms to sell/license you the code? and b) do you buy the source code, or license it (for royalty), or both? When you re-skin an app, have you ever faced a rejection from Apple with a reason that the app is the same as another app on the App Store (though the design is different).

Thank you.

Carter September 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Hey Lev,

Lots of questions for the flipping stuff and I definitely need to do a serious blog post to show people how it works. In the meantime, here are some answers:

1. You can check out sites by Googling “buy iphone app source code” as a place to start. From there you’ll see what the open market looks like. You can also look through developer forums to see if anyone is advertising their code. I know in iphonedevsdk.com they have an area that you can advertise your code in. Another way is to simply as developers straight up – I’ll send personal emails to developers all over the world and ask them if they’d ever be interested. A lot of times they’ve never even thought of it, which is pretty fun.

2. I typically license it, the way I would license a Wordpress Theme. Usually the agreements are pretty loose, but I dont think I would ever go out and just sell the code again (that’s just lame). What I would do is create a new, awesome app then market that and eventually sell it if it has unique value. Irregardless, flipping apps is about creating new, unique with a common base foundation which kind of solves the problem anyway.

3. Yes – I have been rejected for duplicate apps. The biggest flags for them are Name, Icon, Screenshots, Description, and intro area of the game. Often I will delete the app, then re-upload it with a new name and icon and it’s no problem (if you just upload a new binary, the resolution center history is there and they are much more strict + you’ll have the same reviewer).

Hope that helps!

Carter

Mike September 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hi Cater, can you explain a little more as to what is involved in re-skinning an app? How do I re-integrate the new graphics to the source code?

Carter September 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Mike,

Two parts to this answer:

1. Big picture – you come up with a new theme, name, characters, colors, fonts, etc. The entire app should look different.

2. Small picture – you will take the Resources file in Xcode (images folder) and replace almost all of those images with new ones (same size and file name). SplashScreen.png will be replaced by your new SplashScreen.png but they will fit exactly the same into the app.

In terms of re-integrating, usually you can just re-save them into the folder. Sometimes you’re going to have to do some deleting/re-importing to your Xcode project, but not usually.

Good luck!

Carter

bee September 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Whoa. I didn’t know such thing existed. Carter, can you just show us how it is done via a video. Maybe a How-To-Video. I’m a visual learner and you are right, I have no clue what you just said. But I understood the concept. I always want to get in the app business. but I can’t write a single code. I learn that you can outsource to someone in China or India for $2,000 or whatever. The problem is I don’t have $2,000 to waste, let alone trust someone that far. Where can I find people who will sell me the source codes for certain app for $200 or less? Afterward, I think I can hire a developer or elance someone to improve on the code.

My copy-app would be Angry Bird. The idea is to add arsenals to the birds. When they hit a target, everything explode violently like Michael Bay’s movies. :D After all, violence and sex still sell.

Lev September 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Thanks much, Carter, 1) and 3) are particularly helpful.

Marcin September 20, 2012 at 12:03 am

I think cloning and flipping apps is pretty the same thing. The only difference I see between these strategies is:
- one doesn’t buy code when cloning, but outsource development
- flipping requires only design change, cloning (emulating) apps involve ability to add some extra features to improve “targeted” app AND design change.

“Cloning apps looks at volume and getting a slice of that volume, building a custom app is about getting new searches and downloads. Flipping apps is about creating new searches in existing markets using cheap code and great publishing.”
If we change the design (and even add some features) in the cloning process, IMHO we create new searches in existing market too…Or other way round – flipping can mean that we want to get a slice of the volume that already successful apps have. That’s just my 2c :)

I wonder what you would suggest for somebody who doesn’t have any coding skills and wants to get into the business with lowest risk. What do you think would be cheaper – outsourcing development of simple apps (emulating) or buying source codes+new design and outsourcing the creation to a developer?

Carter September 20, 2012 at 12:18 am

Hey Marcin,

Interesting points. They are very similar techniques, but not the same, in my opinion. When I say cloning apps, I mean making an exact copy or a copy very similar to that.

Example of cloning would be to create a game exactly like Angry Birds and call it Mad Pigeons to had a name and keywords focused on Angry Birds searches.

Example of flipping would be to create a game using the Angry Birds physics engine (that you bought off some guy in Argentina) called Robot Towers that looked completely different with meta data targeting entire different search terms but used a winning app model.

If you cloned an app, then added a bunch of features, you’re basically flipping a cloned app. And yes – if you clone an app and re-design it at the same time, you’re basically flipping it. I guess I would wonder why you’d want to spend that much money on the development instead of just buying the code then :)

Instead of looking at what’s cheaper, look at what your 12 month net return will be. Who cares if you pay $10K if you’re going to make back $11K? Flipping apps gives you a better chance at success – at least that’s been my experience. You don’t necessarily need to know how to code, but if you are concerned about dollars and not hours, then I would recommend signing up for Code Academy or something like that and spending as much time as you can understanding Xcode. That’s the #1 way to keep your costs down.

Otherwise, do what I did and max out your credit cards, then make it successful.

Carter

Rich September 20, 2012 at 3:22 am

Has anyone here used Apptopia to buy or sell an app? I was just glancing through their site and it looks like they have a ton of different apps, though some are way more than a couple thousand dollars. I’m not really clear on what you retain as far as users/reviews/rankings when you buy it, so I’m curious to hear from someone who has done it. My understanding is that at least on Google Play you can do seamless transfers from one account to another. Assuming there isn’t a ton of post-purchase work required, it is probably faster than buying source code because it doesn’t need to be skinned and it has already been published.

Plus I like the fact that I can download the actual app and see what I’m getting. I feel like if I got source code I would be worried it would not be as advertised. I have had some very mixed results with things like eLance and oDesk. Great article!

Joe September 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

@Carter – great article! I considered all of these options except for partnerships. Might give it a try in the future.

@Rich – I sold my Android app on apptopia like over a month ago. Yea, it was a seamless transfer to the buyer. I listed it at $3,000 but he worked me down on the price a little bit, which I would guess happens a lot.

Just so you know – they take a 15% commission on what you sell it at. Thought this was a little high so I asked them about bringing it down (didn’t happen) but I’ll say that after going through the process and them helping me with pricing my app and transferring all the necessary stuff and doing all the legal behind it and doing it pretty quickly it was worth it.

You might also wanna check out sellmyapplication if you want to buy just parts of the app like the code or something else. Expect there to be a lot of dupes of what you buy though. Problem for sellers is that they charge you to list it. Apptopia doesn’t take money unless you sell.

Haven’t sold an iOS app yet but seriouslly planning on it later. Happy to answer your questions if you wanna chat offline.

Gerry Praysman September 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Hey guys!

I run the Acquisitions team at Apptopia and just wanted to pop in if that’s alright. First off, Carter, thanks so much for writing this incredibly detailed and useful article. I know I speak for our entire team when I say how appreciative I am of your coverage. I’ll be tweeting this bad boy for sure!

To Joe: thank you as well for sharing your story here! I’m glad we were able to make you some money and very much hope to continue doing so if you decide to list your iOS app with us :) I’d also love to get in touch with you…we really value customer success stories!

To Rich: I’m happy to answer any and all of your questions about the buying process. I normally work with our sellers, but if there’s something I can’t answer I can always put you in touch with our VP of Business Development who assists our buyers on a daily basis.

My email: gpraysman[at]apptopia[dot]com

Gerry Praysman
Sr. Acquisitions Advisor
Apptopia

Ros September 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Once again your information is mind blowing. Didn’t even realise that any of this was out there and available.

It is has given me even more ideas to implement.

Thanks again Carter

Ros

J Sandifer September 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Carter…giving away the store!

Great stuff sir, keep it up!

Fred October 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Great article, thanks Carter! Very informative and to the point, that’s what we need…

Kat Im October 21, 2012 at 1:10 am

Excellent, informative article (but as an academic writer, it could use some editing lol). Thank you for feeding my brain with some useful information that will definitely assist me with my strategy with regards to making and marketing my app idea.

Saikul Islam October 23, 2012 at 2:43 am

Absolutely brilliant post. It was informative. Thanks for sharing…….

Nick (Appnific) October 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Hi Carter,

Excellent blog post you have here, i just stumbled upon your blog, and, as an app developer i have to say that i am grateful for all the information you give out here and the effort you put into educating people about this industry – which is still in its infancy in my opinion.

Licensing the source code from another app is a reasonable way to bring down development costs, awhenever is possible. Using open-source code sometimes can be even better, as you do not have to pay for a license fee.

Here is a list of open source iPhone apps (including source code) for those that want to mingle with it at no cost:

maniacdev.com/2010/06/35-open-source-iphone-app-store-apps-updated-with-10-new-apps/

alex October 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Hi Carter
How much mony you have earned with your apps?
Thanks! :D

Carter Thomas October 25, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hey Alex,

Ha, million dollar question, eh? This month it looks like I’ll probably make about $23,000 on my apps from various channels. Unfortunately, that’s not a net amount, but that’s only because I’m building about 10 new apps a month right now with a few big development companies.

Carter

Nick (Appnific) October 26, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Hi Carter,

I remember having left a useful comment on this blog post regarding how people can use open source apps code to build their apps at a low cost… but i see that the comment has not been approved..

Maybe it was mistakenly caught by wordpress akismet filters, so i am writing this comment to see if it goes through because i would like to be part of the community that you develop here and want to see whether my comments reach you or if there is a problem.

This is just a test comment. Thanks. Other people please ignore this comment.

Carter Thomas October 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Nick –

Weird, it was flagged as spam. Just approved it. Thanks for your input.

Carter

augustin October 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hi!
I have a plan with my friend, to make a company, that develops applications. We have couple of ideas, but we dont know how to program them. So we thought that we can ask money from coverment and then employ some computer geeks and also buy some new macbooks. What do you think of that idea?And how much money we need to make a good app?
Thanks ! :)

Carter Thomas October 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Hey Augustin,

Interesting strategy, but you might want to take a step back for a minute. You may be biting off more than you can chew if you think that the government is going to give you money so you can hire computer geeks. Simply put, if you’re not a computer geek on some level, you’re going to have a rough go at this stuff.

Maybe download my ebook as a first step?

Carter

Fred October 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hi Carter,

“Big development companies”, could you be more specific ? I’ve been having a really tough time finding reliable devs and even when I hired a team which was supposed to be good, I got crap work done by junior devs.
So would be very interested to get some tips on this ;)

Cheers
Fred

Carter Thomas November 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hey Fred,

Big meaning more than 20 people, but I only talk to a few of them. At the beginning, I got pretty mediocre work from developers too. Here are a few tips that I used to find better developers and also to get better results:

1. Post lots of jobs on Odesk. Varying skill sets and titles to see who responds. I always ask them to respond first with a custom message at the top of their response so I know it’s not just copied. That eliminates 50%. Then I go through all these jobs and ask a series of questions, even if I’m not interested in the answer this does a few things – shows their commitment, shows their response time, shows their knowledge, and shows their language skills. Looking back, I have talked to over 200 developers and firms in the past year. Yowza!

2. Ask them to do sample work. Sometimes you can get away with free, but I usually pay $30 or something. Give them a very basic task and ask them to complete it. I learned so much about how workers can deliver results based on these small tests.

3. Show them you’re legit. Early on, I would say to developers “I need this done really well and I need you to please do a good job” or something along those lines. They would say “Of course. Please fund the milestone.”

Now I go to them and say “I need you to install this SDK in this line of the Delegate and set it up on Testflight so I can do live testing of your work.” The responses I get back are much more serious because they know I’m going to call them out on something they don’t do well.

In terms of the getting junior devs, that’s a tough one. Sometimes you just need to tell them that you’re ready to get serious and if they don’t give you their better developers, you’re going to leave. If they don’t respond the way they should, screw them.

Bottom line is that there are some businesses that see profit in client volume and others that see profit in long term relationships. The latter is what you are looking for, just like in any other part of life. If a company has a really nice, professional website and they’re based in India – I won’t go near it. I can almost guarantee that profits are their #1 priority. I like the guy who gives me his Skype ID on Day 1 and says “please IM me with anything so I can answer immediately with my team and convince you that I’m awesome.”

I hope this helps. I know how frustrating it can be.

Carter

Jon November 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Hey Carter,
I am 20 years old, Im taking a few stepping to IOS development, I work for a private software company of there in Arizona, But im having some trouble with getting a kick start, Any tips or advice? I know CSS HTML some Java a little bit of C, Objective C for the IOS programming using Xcode is seeming to be an issue, I want to be the Next “Angry Birds” You said you pulling about 23,000 a month? Well news flash i make about 10% of that, And im looking to expand. Starting my life and want to start it off right.

Carter Thomas November 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Hey Jon,

I hear you on all counts. You might find that you’re going to have a much more accelerated experience if you use your programming knowledge to manage hard core Objective C guys overseas. You’re in a unique position to explain to them what needs to happen in a language that they’ll understand better than the average person would. You can also hire them to build the big pieces and you can fill in the gaps.

A good place to start would be to map out the game or app you want to build. Then break it into as many pieces are you can – intro, game play, monetization, levels, etc. Which can you do and which would you want to hire someone for? You’ll save a lot of money and the project will be more about you controlling it with contractors being hired out.

The first step for you is to determine what you want to build. Then you’ll be able to determine if it’s worth learning yourself or hiring out. Then you start crushing it.

Good luck!

Carter

Matt Courchesne December 10, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Hey Carter,

Have you had good success contacting developers directly about buying source code? I’ve looked online at a few different sites, but haven’t seen anything that exciting…

Thanks,

Matt

Carter Thomas December 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Hey Matt,

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. It’s hard to find a good source code. Honestly, my best luck has come from posting jobs on Odesk about a generic iPhone app. When the developers contact me, I simply ask them up front if they have any codes for sale. You’d be surprised what you can find that way.

Good luck to you.

Carter

Matt Courchesne December 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Great advice, Thanks! I’m looking forward to seeing you talk on the replay of the AE San Diego event! This blog is an amazing resource, hats off to you..

Matt

Steve December 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Carter,

Think I got a pretty good idea(as everyone probably does), but read that you only have to copy someones existing app to make your own. What about the legalities of the whole app world. Can your really just copy someones app, change the look, and you are in business? Would dislike the thought of creating a new app and someone else take it, make it look or function better than mine, and my app becomes # 2,3,4? Can you patent an app or the functionality of the app?

Thanks

Steve

Carter Thomas December 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hey Steve,

Haha you wouldn’t like someone making an app that’s better than yours? Not sure I agree with that. If someone wants to take an app I built and make it better, they should reap the benefits. Just means I should be making better apps, yeah?

There is little IP protection in the app world, the same way you can’t patent a biz model. You can’t steal graphics or music or names, but you can definitely copy gameplay or app functionality…and I think that’s how it should be.

Good luck to you.

Carter

Reda December 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Hi Carter,

Thanks for your article, really great, very useful !
Iam tending to say that flipping apps is an art ! And you better know and learn how to do it. there are a lot of comments/questions on how to get the source code, but I don’t see anything on how to get a great deal for designing the app. Any tips ? :-)
Thanks for sharing all this.

Reda

Carter Thomas December 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Hey Reda,

The design is tough. A good place to start is a site like Graphic River and see what you can grab there.

Another good place is the Game Salad marketplace. I’ve skinned a bunch of apps simply by getting assets from these areas and making the app a new design that way. A big factor often overlooked is Fonts, too.

Good luck!

Carter

Colb February 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Hey Carter,
I’ve been watching your videos/reading your blog posts about app development and I had a few questions for you. I recently took over an ios/android app from a friend and I have experience in marketing and social media etc….
I would love it if you e-mailed me so the idea behind it all is not misused.
His app is already developed and is kinda buggy and basically has barely got off the ground. I want to re-do basically everything from the website design with my experience and my SEO consultant who does great work in that area. I have access to the app through a guy named spence hackney from North Carolina. Are there ways to either edit GUI or interface once app is already developed/published on itunes store.

Thanks,
Colb

lee auerbach May 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Hi Carter:
Excellent website.
I am recently retired and in the midst of creating a 3D mobile phone puzzle app for Apple.
I am seeking a free lancer for the design and programming who’s located in the NYC region. Having small response from Elance.
Any recommendations or suggestions.

Thanks…Lee Auerbach….

Carter Thomas May 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

@Lee – I removed your phone # just so that it’s not out in public :)

Unfortunately I don’t have any NYC contacts that would built for freelance work. Have you tried odesk or weblance?

Carter

Jon Neal October 24, 2013 at 1:08 am

Carter,

Being a newcomer in the App. world and committed to cracking it, how much coding experience do you think I would need to learn at the minimum? I really just would like to use source code as you’ve explained the benefits of it in other posts and it is clearly the cheaper, easier, smarter option in terms of development for a noob. But how much coding knowledge would I need to know to make sure source code is correct, implement revmob etc.? Anything I could use as a benchmark and at what point did you feel ready to an extent? Also, any particular online tutorials to recommend other than maybe the obvious Udemy or CodeAcademy? You may have posted on one of your other blog posts about this and I may have missed it.

Anyways, Thanks for reading.

Jon

olga bruno November 6, 2013 at 9:00 am

Dear Carter,
thank you for all great and frank infos upon source codes and re skinning….
one question, I’m looking for a app calendar to reskin, could you suggest one, wich will work? moreover is there anyone that could eventually put it together for me? I could only make the illustrations and hand them to them…with a graphic set base…
I’m not sure You’ll give this sort of infos, by I’ll give it a try!

best regards and thank you again
olga

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