As it turns out, some of the hottest mobile apps in the Apple App Store today have been created by bright young iOS developers who are driven to succeed. And that’s about all they can legally drive at age sixteen and under.
Forget after school sports and video games, many of the teenagers in our midst have bigger fish to fry – and fortunes to make. According to a revelation straight from Cupertino, California-based tech giant Apple, the app developer community is skewing younger and younger… and younger.
More Than Childs Play
Last week, as Apple kicked off its twenty-third annual World Wide Developer’s Conference to showcase next-generation Apple software and hardware, the youngest audience in WWDC history was on hand.
This month’s conference marked the first time Apple allowed developers under the age of 18 to attend. Developers aged 13 to 17 were allowed to participate in the annual iOS extravaganza that routinely sets the stage for the coming year in the Apple ecosystem.
By Apple’s own admission, some 150 teens with scholarships to absorb the $1,599 entrance fee were present at WWDC 2012. Apple also partitioned off a special section of the facilities to create a student lounge with beanbag chairs where parents could tag along to chaperone the underage developers.
“We used to think that inviting students as young as 18 years old was great,” said Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller. But with each passing year, iOS developers age in reverse. That is, the devs get younger while their maturity and skill sets expand vastly beyond their years. “We would get emails after the developer conference from students, 16, 15, 14 years old, saying I already have X number of apps in the app store. I’m a developer. Can I take part in this too?” Schiller admits.
More Than Lunch Money
Ryan Cohen, a 15-year-old iOS app developer said his mom worked, saved, and sacrificed to foot the $2,500 her son needed to get to the conference and stay in San Francisco for three days.
“It was an once-in-a-lifetime thing,” the young developer subsequently told the Wall Street Journal, while boasting of his photo with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cohen is among the fast-growing segment of teen mobile app addicts whose penchant for technology is shaping up to be profitable over time.
So expansive is the base of young developers today that new organizations like ID Tech Camps in Campbell, California are rolling out elaborate summer programs aimed at helping youngsters learn to build apps and market them to the masses.
Such programs now draw thousands of paying students annually. But the investment, says ID Tech Camps VP Karen Thurm Safran, will pay off in the end. “I think kids see how much money can be made from these apps,” Safran says.
And as long as Apple continues to embrace the young developers who are embracing iOS, the opportunities for success and huge financial sustenance will only grow in lockstep.