Similarly, the guy who generated 800,000 books uses "Websters" in the book titles for his best selling books, which is also not trademarked  and can be used freely.
 American Montessori Society, Inc. v. Association Montessori Internationale, 155 U.S.P.Q. 591, 592 (1967), referenced in the Montessori Education Wikipedia article.
It's also nice to see an example of a lifestyle business rather than a mega-million-dollar exit startup that so often dominates the headlines in these communities. Quite a few developers would be more than happy to earn a third of what you have earned on a regular basis. And that would be considered to be an absolute success.
I too am delving into the educational-app-for-kids market inspired by my own kids. I'd enjoy the opportunity to get some feedback from you if you are open to it. My email address is in my profile.
In fact, there's been a large number of exit-focused threads filled with guys who are mad at the whole situation, while I don't see too many "lifestyle business" jibes being thrown around nowadays.
I was looking at your AppStore SEO. Like you mentioned, your position for "spelling" has dropped a lot. But there are other phrases where your positions are rising nicely...
For "crossword game for kids" you've gone from 10th to 7th in the past few weeks.
And your Android version has a few phrases moving up too...
For the phrase "kids words" you've risen 6 places, from 23rd to 17th. I know 17th isn't awesome, but that's a fairly popular search phrase, so at least you're moving in the right direction.
As a current App Store indie developer, I'd say you should consider the counter-examples also. I enjoyed a book called Buttonless (http://www.amazon.com/Buttonless-Incredible-iPhone-Stories-B...) which discusses indie games and discloses sales figures.
The average picture is not the rosiest.
The game market by comparison is much more highly competitive and has quite different dynamics, I would hesitate to use 'failed' games as a counter-example.
Those countries provide a hell of a lot to their citizens, and the citizens are happy to pay.
For most of his life in Australia, my Dad, a teacher, paid very close to 50% income tax on what he earned over about $60k. He was extremely happy with this, as Australia had provided a lot for him and his family of 3 kids. We had a very good uppder-middle class life.
EDIT: A couple of examples of what "crazy high" income tax gets you.
1. My brother broke his leg horribly, required multiple surgeries, ambulance rides, helicopter rides, multiple hospitals and close to 2 months in hospital. There was never a bill.
2. My 5 years of university for Software Engineering were paid for by the Australian government, and I now have a interest-free loan for the ~$24k. Whenever I earn over $40k/year, I just pay 3% more income tax to pay off the loan. If I don't earn that much in Australia, I never pay back the loan and that's fine. (actually, my Mum and Dad are angry about this - for them, university was free like High school.)
3. The Australian government will pay a "wage" to low-income students going to university/college (approx. $176/wk)
4. The Australian government pays unemployment benefits to any adult out of work (approx $228/wk). It does not matter if you have ever had a job or been fired or not. This payment will continue forever.
They will also help to pay your rent, with a program called "Rent Assistance"
Despite what you might be thinking, Australia has a very strong economy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Australia
UPDATE: Dole is $228/wk
>Those countries provide a hell of a lot to their citizens, and the citizens are happy to pay.
When you have a $600k per year income, those services aren't necessarily as valuable as they are to someone who makes $60k per year.
Seems that I've upset some people. Have you forgotten that international business does exist?
So, at some stage you might be comfortable with the conditions agreed, but you might also get to another stage of your life, when it is not comfortable anymore - thus you start seeking better deals.
There is nothing bad or evil in this.
For some people it is 20% and for others - 75%.
And be more than happy to pay high taxes.
I'm sure there's a threshold beyond which you just don't care, when you already have enough money to do everything you could possibly want, but whenever I've written a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government I think "well, that probably would've paid for the college education of one of my kids" or "well, invested prudently that would've let me retire years earlier." I've also thought "huh, I'm getting exactly the same services as everybody else but paying ridiculous amounts of money for them."
Neither's a particularly good feeling.
1) You don't want your fair share of government services. You really don't. You don't want to be in prison. You don't want remedial literacy training. You don't want drug rehab. You don't want your children taken into care. You don't want to live on unemployment. You want to pay for these things to exist in case you need them one day. Also, the fact that other people get them may also be to your advantage.
2) The value of the welfare I received as a youngster is more to me than the cash value plus interest. I grew up poor but now I'm comfortably middle class thanks to care and opportunity that was blind to my ability to pay.
I am happy to pay now for more than my share of the burden of education and health care for others, while having more money left over than I strictly need. I have benefitted from the education and the healthcare. Without it, I would not be financially comfortable, healthy, or have children. I did the work myself, but I would not have been able to do it without educational opportunity and occasional medical care.
If you grew up comfortably off, you might not feel the same way I do. You might resent paying for those less fortunate than yourselves. I don't, because I was one of them.
I do get the point you're trying to make, but no matter how you feel about taxes intellectually, I don't think anyone ever says "awesome, I get to write a very large check to the government" before they've reached the threshold where they have enough money to do whatever they want.
I find it really interesting that back when I was a poor grad student, the small amount of money I paid in taxes would've made a much bigger difference in my standard of living than the large amount of taxes I've had to pay in one of my good years. Because of this, you'd think the small amount of money I paid when I was poor would be much more painful to pay, since it could've meant the difference between (say) living in a garret or a decent place. But that wasn't the case.
Psychologically, at least for me, the absolute dollar amount seems to matter a great deal, and so does the absolute dollar amount others are paying. I don't think I'm a freakish psychological outlier, so perhaps this provides some insight into others as well.
For me, it helps to think of all the things I have my country to thank for. I saved up to my first computer when I was 10, with government subsidies, which later led to my career. I attended university for 5 years without paying tuition and without being a burden financially on my parents. The government paid my tuition when I went to a US school for a year. They even got me a lawyer when my US landlord sued me for $30,000 for a leak they were responsible for. I'm thankful for my cousin, whose mother died in cancer and father died after having to have his leg amputated (becoming an orphan at 17), and he himself suffering for his whole life from an incurable disease even after a kidney transplant. I'm thankful that he can life a normal life today with no medical debt and a normal job. I'm thankful for the government providing living assistance to my grand mother, who recently suffered a stroke, so that she can continue living at home close to her friends. I guess I have a lot to be thankful for, and I try to think of that when I pay my taxes.
And sustainable societies have moral hazards.
And if you really want to live in true freedom, where freedom to knock down the house around you is not specially excepted under some theory of Objetivist morality, good luck finding off the hordes.
Intestine transplant costs more than $1 million. Heart transplant - $700-800K. Bone marrow transplant - $600-700K.
That said, I think france is a pretty good example of a place I'd never want to live if I planned on producing anything of value. I don't think it's a coincidence that france is not exactly a hub for startups. Australian and French economic policies are quite different.
So regardless, it's not an apples to apples comparison and not all tax spending is created equal. Personally, I think the French have really bad economic policies if they're interested in anything more than stagnation and taxation is partly to blame.
Things have changed in the last few years where they will actively make you apply for jobs, and possibly force you to work on community projects (known as "work for the dole"), but essentially you still get ~$228/wk when you don't have a job, forever.
UPDATE: Sorry, since moving to North America I keep getting fortnight and week mixed up. It's $228/wk, or ~$400/fortnight.
Governments have no such competition, except for the single case that a citizen can leave if they feel the value proposition is insufficient for the price (aka tax). Of course, in some countries, even that is not an option.
I'm curious what infrastructure Belgium lacks that is unique to France to justify the difference in rates.
People and businesses don't leave a country because "they feel the value proposition is insufficient". They leave because they've already used all the resources and infrastructure the country has to offer, and now it's payback time. Only problem is, payback time is voluntary, so of course most of them go elsewhere.
I don't know enough about the difference in tax rates between Belgium and France, but somehow I doubt that Belgium is some sort of tax free haven where public utilities are made with fairy dust and bunny kisses. Public service costs money, and sure there is much waste in most systems and there are differences, but in the end it will cost.
He is moving, and thus won't be using anymore of the resources, and thus shouldn't have to pay for what he is no longer using.
Just fyi, from what I've read, Belgium's top rate is 50% vs France's soon to be 75%. I don't recall if the tiers occur at the same earnings level. I assume that what I've read is accurate but I haven't cared enough to follow up on it.
Taxes can't work as a real pay-as-you-go system. The times in your life when you're directly consuming the most services are pretty much the times when you're not capable of paying much in taxes -- you're too young to work, still in school, sick, old, disabled, etc..
The people earning the most money, and the most able to pay taxes, are done with their education, in good health, and generally very capable of taking care of themselves.
Especially at the beginning of that period of their lives, it seems extremely unlikely that they've already paid enough into the system to cover services they've already consumed. At some point (ideally) they'll pay off the debt from their pre-work lives and start paying down the services they'll need after retirement... again, though, this is not at all pay as you go.
(And of course this is ignoring taxes that fund more general and/or indirect benefits -- like economic infrastructure -- but those can be thought of more as pay-as-you-go).
I imagine that this is how it works for many middle class families - children generally aren't large marginal consumers of Federal resources, unless I'm missing something significant. Their healthcare certainly isn't that significant (generally some antibiotics and vaccines), and is generally covered by private insurance.
But the same argument holds true; if you assume your parents are paying for you with the money they put in, are you sure they paid their own
If your parents paid enough in taxes to cover your education (and assuming someone else in turn funded their "public" education, etc.), that's obviously not always the case. I should add that government services for children (like daycare and significant tax breaks to parents, in France) can be much more significant than in the US.
Children's healthcare is another thing that's not used in proportion to how it's paid -- there's a chunk of the population whose kids will only ever need a few jabs and stitches now and then (so those kids don't "owe" much). Then there are a few kids who will require thousands or millions of dollars worth of care -- including special schooling, etc., not just direct healthcare, and the problems they have may mean they will never contribute anything back.
That gets at the whole point of all this -- yes, of course some people pay more than they consume, because these are services intended to make life more fair. Imagine if your parents didn't pay enough property taxes to fund your schooling, so you didn't get to go. Or if you have a child with severe disabilities, and you have to leave your job to care for them and build every ramp you need by yourself (or mortgage your house to pay for medical treatment).
If the people who would otherwise be covering the difference all stop paying once they've covered their own services, that leaves a heavier burden on the people left. If enough of the lucky ones check out, services-for-all simply disappear.
Except it is compulsory, so it isn't even fair to call it investing. It is far more akin to the cliche of the mafia extorting protection money. You pay the mob, they keep lowlifes away from your business. You don't pay, you are punished, severely.
I feel no more allegiance to my government than I do my local grocery store. Actually I probably feel more for the grocery store because they are much better at what they do than the government is at what it is doing.
And I have some choice. If the quality goes down at my current store, I will take my business elsewhere.
I certainly don't think I should keep sending money to the old grocery store when I've moved on to a new one. And that is the way the law is written in the US. You pay taxes for the current year. It's not indentured servitude.
You might want to argue that the successful people rightly deserve their exponential wealth, but I believe that circumstance and chance is a large factor in success, and I also believe that it's in the best interest of the successful to fund the failures to some degree. Again, all evidence I've seen points to high income inequality being the main perpetrator in criminality, unhappiness and overall societal disfunction.
Full disclosure: I grew up in Sweden, so my view on government will probably be fundamentally different from yours. The Swedish system has many problems but also many benefits. I have seen enough benefits that I would gladly pay the high tax rate, yet there are many in Sweden who don't.
For me, paying taxes isn't a problem. Even paying more taxes than people who pay less is perfectly fine. The problem is I see far too much waste and far too little benefit. The revenues that the government is currently getting is more than enough to fund the things that most people want funded. The problem is we are also spending huge amounts of money on things that only a few special interest groups want. Roads are awesome. Police are great. I'm glad we have a military. etc. But that's only a small part of our total spending.
The OP is from France, and that is how this discussion started. I think they have a 75% top tax rate. To me that seems really absurd, and is way past the point of paying someones fair share, or "paying back" any investment in them. To follow your analogy, did they get 75% equity in him? Were the roads really that key to his success?
Let this be a marketing lesson, I suppose. I know that I'm getting things for my tax dollars, but I don't see them.
For instance, I want to go to Mexico right now, and getting a passport is ~$130.
Why? Why am I paying money for something that feels like a "government thing that I have to have". Isn't this what taxes are for?
We have public schools, sure, but they're awful.
We have police...but the majority of people I know see them as predators, not protectors.
We have awesome national forests, and state parks...but you have to pay every time you want to use them. Some of them are just plain closed.
America is an awesome, awesome place. But we're bad at marketing to our members.
There have been several people in this thread suggest that the government has been largely responsible for their success so they should be happy to pay tons of taxes, and then given examples like roads and police as their reasoning. I really like having roads too. Guess what, roads and police are a tiny tiny portion of our current spending levels, so no I'm not happy to pay huge amounts of taxes (note i'm not in the top tax bracket and have no worries of my taxes going up further).
If we stopped spending absurd amounts of money on so many ridiculous things we'd probably have more people not complain about their taxes. On the other hand, if we stopped spending the absurd amounts of money, our current tax revenues would be more than enough.
In this way, it's the epitome of "getting value". You don't need a passport, and if you don't have one, you're not paying for people who do have one to receive consular assistance.
Isn't this a federal agency? Why wouldn't this be covered by federal taxes? Likely import/export taxes.
So when it's something you personally want, everyone's supposed to chip in and pay for you.
But when it's something you don't personally want, the government is spending your tax dollars wastefully.
In the US we pay income tax. That is, a percentage (a large percentage) of my income goes directly to the federal government.
In addition to this, when goods I buy that are manufactured in other countries are imported, there is a tax levied against them.
I was using the passport thing as an example of "poor marketing" on behalf of the US Federal government because my perception is that I already did pay for it.
What are the alternatives?
1) Everyone only pays only for what they personally use. Services utilized by a relatively small subset of the population become prohibitively expensive, such that only the wealthy can afford them, or they are discontinued entirely.
2) Everyone pays completely for every government expenditure and every transaction between the government and the public. Taxes go up because now everybody's paying more for a larger number of expenses they'll never use.
3) Taxes pay for the things almost everyone uses, plus they subsidize the essential things that many people use to the point where they're not cost-prohibitive to only the wealthy. Additional required operating costs for these select services can be paid for through fees to the people utilizing them.
Yes, my theory is that the third option is the best.
I wish pro-tax types would stop providing a smoke screen for bad governance.
$500,000 for a car could be considered theft, until you see it is an italian supercar. Then it may not seem so out of kilter, depending on your values and point of view.
Paying more than 50% of the money I earn to the government is theft. It doesn't matter what I get in return because I really have no choice in the matter.
"$500,000 for a car could be considered theft, until you see it is an italian supercar"
You aren't forced to purchase that sports car, so I would hardly call it theft.
Or, choose a country with low tax rates before setting out to make a fortune. Then, there's no conflict.
Would you be able to comment on how your process and decision on picking a speech engine company?
The actual question of course is: how does establishing a unifying brand fare compared with a bazillion of generic apps?
Wikipedia and discussions with another techie friend:
90M is a lot; maybe we could work something out? :)
Otherwise, if it's still just dictionary words, it's just a lot easier if the dictionary already breaks down the word into phonemes, and the speech engine then collates the phoneme sounds together. You're not actually using most of the features of a text-to-speech engine, so I don't see why you'd have to pay for the full price tag.
So: how many words? And what's a price that would make you want to buy a license to a simpler engine? :)
An average teacher posting about what they earned teaching children would be boring; "my salary last year was $X; this year it's up 2%".
This is interesting because making educational apps is far riskier than applying for a salaried job as a teacher -- you might make a grand total of $0 or only slightly more after many months of work.
Maybe you're saying that any educational software should be permanently priced as cheap as the developer can afford, to reach the maximum number of kids?
That's not obviously the best approach, though, even if we assumed that every developer choosing this market would be so philanthropic as to forgo all profit; that would also force them to all remain tiny one-developer shops with minimal support, etc.. Is that necessarily a good thing?
Also, publicizing moderate success in a risky endeavor (apps in the education market) is a good thing for the market as a whole -- anyone who reads Pierre's post and realizes "hey, if I do right, maybe I can actually make a decent living doing that" will mean more good apps for students.
Having said that, every time I read one of these types of success stories I'm reminded of Jacques Matthieu's "So you're making good money. STFU" post. http://jacquesmattheij.com/So+you+are+making+good+money+now+...
It's that kind of selfish, greedy outlook that makes life suck. Jealously guarded secrets retard the growth of industries - and presumably, if you really care about your customers, and you're building good stuff, then you want more good stuff in the world. Of course it sucks if you get undercut, or your product gets cloned. And you can't rely on your market to know the history and do the right thing.
The saving grace, and why Matthieu's post is horse shit, is that software is a lot like art. People don't want clones. They want Plants vs. Zombies not a clone. It's music, it's art, and guarding your secrets about how you make your art is unhealthy.
One of the things you get, too, is influence and respect from your peers. Pierre certainly has mine. He's put together an excellent resource for those who want to follow in his footstep writing and selling apps having realistic expectations about what it takes, and some great links to resources for doing things like promotion. It's still a lot of hard work, clearly, but he's increasing the size of his community, not giving away the secret sauce.
This is the truth. I know I've gotten ideas from posters like the OP talking about how profitable an app is. If I have a bigger team or more resources, I could take away your customers pretty quickly.
"Jealously guarded secrets retard the growth of industries"
Really? Rather than everyone using the exact same idea/code base and branching off from it, we have completely different products. It helps the growth of industries and ends up being better for the consumer (more choices, etc).
"They want Plants vs. Zombies not a clone. It's music, it's art, and guarding your secrets about how you make your art is unhealthy."
Don't blame anyone when you can't make any money because you gave all of your best stuff away for free.
Making money from the app store (or any startup) is hard enough as it is.
Do you really want to take a chance and give away any competitive advantage that you may have had?
And sure enough, everyone starts taking bribes. The corruption spreads to every level of government, because every individual makes the same calculation: take the bribe, more money for the family, don't take the bribe, less money.
Secrecy is a bribe.
I started doing an Android spreadsheet which could handle Excel. I got XLS files working, but more modern XLSX files were tougher. I hit a brick wall and saw it would take, at a minimum, months of work, maybe even more than a year. So I open sourced what I had (a bare bones spreadsheet which could handle XLS), announced its existence and moved on. You would think I might have gotten some interest - a spreadsheet which can handle XLS, and with some work, XLSX. But I did not. As Paul Graham said in his essay on Viaweb, it was "running up a stairwell". The number of people who know Java is a certain size, the number who know the Android API are smaller, and the number with the skills to work on this advanced problem is quite small. I am sure if ABS author and Square employee Jake Wharton wanted to help me on it it could get done, as he is an expert Android programmer. But he is too busy building up Square and maintaining ABS and his other projects. If you choose a difficult task, you do not have to worry about competition in the way you do with low hanging fruit. I myself have had some success with more easibly attainable goals on Android to where I don't know if I myself would have the time to work on that spreadsheet nowadays, even with a capable partner. There are too many sure things that would generate money with a few weeks of work to devote time to a big project like that. Maybe when my apps generate even more revenue, and competition crowds out all the low hanging fruit will I go back to a more ambitious project like that. Worry about competition? It is as sure a guaranteed money maker as there can be with a few months of expert work, sitting on Github and interest is minimal.
Now I have learned a trick or two to get my apps noticed that I do not share with people, but 99% of what I know I can share with little fear. It requires some domain knowledge and some work, and those 2 things are a big enough barrier to get people from doing what I talk about any way.