whether or not the ipad is a step in the wrong direction, i feel bad for the kid learning how to program by having to save up to pay for an apple developer account (and having to use his parents' bank account information since he's under age), learning with apple-supplied-and-regulated documentation, then submitting his work to apple, stressing out over whether they'll approve of it and think it's good enough, and then probably not making much money at all on the whole thing and taking that to mean he's a bad programmer. not to mention all of the idiots dismissing his software with "this app sux" on the app's review page.
The reality is that this 13 year old kid has positive reviews on his app, has the increased confidence to go along with actually making something, and will undoubtedly use that confidence and passion to create more substantive projects as he gets older.
The bar is ostensibly higher for the inexperienced to get involved with programming. But $99 for a developer license is nothing compared to the cost of an Apple ][e, Amiga, Atari, etc. Most kids already have a Mac anyhow. And if they don't, a Mac mini + LCD is not prohibitively expensive. PcC developers have to start on something, too.
I see the iPad as an easier way for a 13 year old to show off his work. And at that age, since you're not living off the money you make, you are largely living off props. And what better way to boost confidence than to have real live customers.
Most kids already have a Mac? You know, I thought I came from an average middle class family, but now I realize I must have been living in poverty. My 17-year-old budding programmer brother recently had to practically enter into a contract with my parents so that he could buy a crappy $350 Dell laptop (his first computer) with their financial help. There isn't a chance in hell that he'd ever get a Mac and a $99 developer license to go with it.
One of us, either you or I, is completely out of touch with the economic state of an average teenager.
i think we both know that the particular 13 year old mention in this article is rare and that developers of any age have a hard time making a hit iphone app. it's nice to focus on the few that have made lots of money, but the reality is that there are many thousands of apps that haven't made any money (especially considering the $99/year fee) and some that were never approved in the first place.
while you state that "most kids already have a mac", which i'd disagree with, the costs to acquire that and the iphone/ipod touch that they're actually using to run the app, are much higher than an old computer running linux, where they can make whatever they want for free and distribute it on the internet or at school without having to have anyone else approve it or anonymously judge its quality.
i think we both know that the particular 13 year old mention in this article is rare
I think most of the commentaries have overlooked the fact that the people who fondly remember typing in programs from the back pages of magazines are themselves extreme outliers, and only become more so with the passage of time. Many more programmers today get their start playing around with web technologies, for example, or through simply deciding to take some classes in college and learn how to do stuff.
He can program his heart out for the rest of his life and never get near Apple (other than to pay $99/year for updated SDKs and certificates), building, downloading and running thousands of his own apps, entirely independently of the rest of the world. If he wants to share it with his friends (up to 100), he can.