Who knew free would generate so much money?
Who would have thought developing mobile applications would become such a fine art? It’s no longer about creating an application just to get one out there and make money. It’s about giving the consumer something they feel adds value to their mobile experience.

So how is a developer supposed to create something meaningful without making the consumer feel cheated by spending money (or not), AND generate revenue? The answer: applications that are free.

Apps that follow the “freemium” model are one-third of the top-grossing iPhone apps, with 34 of the top 100 being free. Although the applications themselves are free, money is generated from in-app purchases, which Remco van den Elzen, cofounder of analytics firm Distimo, believes to represent about 30% of all iPhone App Store revenue.

To show the growth of applications using the freemium model, analytics firm App Annie said that at the end of October, 10 of the top 50 grossing iPhone apps had in-app purchasing options. That number grew to 20 by mid-November.

Gaming apps seem to fare best with this type of model because of monetized incentives to progress in the game. However, the key is to not have a consumer feel slighted during their experience if they decide to not spend money. — Katie Serignese

Deployment rising
I’m noticing that deployment is finally getting the attention it deserves from software tool companies. This is mostly because of data center operating systems, which seek to create the same deployment environment in every data center.

But elsewhere, there are new products arriving to help with those Java deployment headaches, and they’re long overdue. This is, perhaps, why Tomcat is so popular: Rather than simplifying deployment, you can just simplify the application.

But from what I have seen recently, deployment tools are coming together in a way that Java build tools were coming together eight years ago. Things were bleak back then for building Java applications, but now we have Ant, Maven, Hudson and dozens of other tools to make that process less painful.

I’m sure you’re all looking forward to the day when the same can be said of deployment, and you’re finally able to get rid of those psychotically long deployment instruction and compliance processes. — Alex Handy

Adult supervision required
The New York Times’ Small Business blog had an interesting post the other day about an auto salvager looking for a redesign of his website. Instead of turning to a $2,000 professional, he enlisted a pair of nine-year-olds to do it for what ended up being $700. He was impressed with the results.

While the kids did build a functional website (www.wrightsownusedauto.com), it’d be a bit of a stretch (in my opinion) to call the work exceptional. It is a nice starting point, though.

It’s great that kids grow up with far more computer savvy than even my generation did. However, the NYT blog’s author seemed to imply that, with a little adult supervision, hiring kids and teenagers to do Web design (or even IT itself!) is a good idea for most businesses.

I’m not entirely sure that’s a sound idea. The labor will be cheaper (which itself reeks a bit of exploitation), but so will the output. And why bother paying kids to do it when they will be supervised by adults, anyway? Why would you want to subject your business’ website to what is essentially going to amount to a training course for some youngster?

It might be possible for some businesses to truly benefit from this, but I think this kind of work is best left to professionals. — Adam LoBelia