Today I heard from an iOS developer who is working a staff augmentation gig, billing for it hourly, and not happy about that. The opportunity in the iOS space used to be a lot better for independent devs/consultants a few years ago. What happened?Coincidentally, tomorrow is the 10 year plus 1 month anniversary of the iOS SDK. What a ride it’s been!Here’s some stuff I believe but can’t definitively prove or support with extensive data.I’m curious if it matches your experience:The “good years” for a major technology or platform are the first 5 to 7 years of its life. After that, the skills needed to derive value from the technology become highly commoditized and–if you lack a compelling business-layer differentiator–buying decisions are largely made on cost, team size, or other factors.The opportunity progressively shifts from favoring nimble, independent firms to favoring slow-moving, big firms over that 5 to 7 year period of time.Early on in the 5 to 7 year window, clients seek to mitigate risk by “renting” raw technical talent. Later on in that 5 to 7 year window, they seek to mitigate risk the way big businesses do: acquiring raw technical talent and slotting them into a process, following established best practices, benchmarking what other firms are doing, and buying “insurance” in the form of big, safe firms with deep benches and lots of warm-and-fuzzy-feeling overhead.Here’s all of that wrapped up into a visual:Caveats: I’m mapping this out on a somewhat arbitrary scale, using an area chart (I’m sure the data visualization experts on my list are vomiting a little bit in their mouths right now–sorry y’all). Those numbers don’t represent concrete values, just relative values.Does this match your experience?If so, what are you doing about it?-P
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