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In programming mode

AT just 20 years old, Steven Troughton-Smith is a student of digital media engineering at Dublin City University, plus he is also a successful developer of applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, which are sold on Apple’s iTunes App Store.

Put simply, an application can be a game or any sort of computer programme such as Word, Outlook, Calculator or Photoshop, that you’ll find on a computer or, more recently, on our mobile phones.

Troughton-Smith had been programming on a Mac computer for years, but when the iPhone was released he was drawn to the powerful functionality of the handheld device.

Before Apple began allowing programmers to develop any application, he had already reverse-engineered the iPhone and was creating his own applications.

Troughton-Smith now has four official apps for sale on the App Store, including two games, Lights Off and SameGame, and two productivity tools.

While developing successful applications can be a challenge, he says it is not difficult to make a lot of money: “Even the most uninteresting 99 cent application can make €1,000 a month or more.

“For an iPhone developer, consultancy/freelance fees are incredible; most of the major developers charge upwards of US$200 an hour for their work on a project.

“It's a desirable position because many companies and independent innovators are looking for iPhone developers, even in this current climate.”

Troughton-Smith says that if someone was interested in getting into this type of career, the best way is to go out and buy an iPhone or iPod touch and get to know the device very well.

“Other than that, artwork is very important; you'll often want to get a proper artist's help instead of creating art assets yourself.”

While there are perks to being an iPhone application developer — the potential to earn good money and a more usable programming language — success can be tricky.

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“Sales are very dependent on chart position, similar to music on iTunes,” explains Troughton-Smith.

“The more visible your application is on the store, the more it will sell, but to become visible it either has to sell very well initially or has to be ‘featured' by Apple on the front page.”

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