I always wanted to write and sell my own software. Even though I have a successful career as a Java developer I am sick of making money for other people. Over the last 4 or 5 years the cost of running a one or two man software company has plummeted. This has a lot to do with the increase in productivity modern developer tools provide as well as the large number of internet services which solve real business problems. For example, by using Google Apps the cost of email, basic web site hosting and a calendar is the cost of registering your domain, 11 bucks, or whatever it is.
Another service provided at very low cost is distributing and charging as can be seen with iTunes and hopefully the Java Store. However this model is not perfect, as many high quality apps never make any real money for their developers. This is because many developers simply lack the money or the "know how" to promote their application. I, for example, lack both the money and the "know how". As you can see from my two, part time attempts to create an internet business, QuackDuck and ClayWare Games, you have never heard of them, and this is because they have never been promoted properly. But I think I know a solution to this.
I recently started messing with the Amazon affiliate program, this is a program which rewards people for driving sales on Amazon.com. For each sell, you earn between 4-15% of the sale. Not bad if you can get people to the store for a reasonable amount of money. I found I did not have the time or the money to figure how to do this well, but it made me realize that Amazon is using a sales services in much the same way as I use Google for an email services. Much to my surprise, I was the one providing the service to Amazon.
So what I am suggesting is an affiliate program for the Java Store, but not just an affiliate program like the one for Amazon. I want an affiliate program were the developers can set terms for potential affiliates, receive feed back and generally provide sales as a service. Here are the features I would like to see:
Negotiate Percentage: The developers should have the power to set the percentage that the sales people receive. This should be more complex than just selecting a percentage number, this should include sliding scales for volume as well as a place where sales folks can make offers, even make guarantees on the number of units sold. Maybe some rates could be auctioned off.
Feedback from Sales: The sales people are going to know what customers want out of the next release or the next app. This should also include a bug report system, no software is perfect. There should be away for this information to get back the developers.
Media Files: Developers should provide media files, images, sounds, fonts, etc, that are used in the app so sales people can create ads or web pages with them. This could be as simple as a zip file to download.
Basically I want to see a store where professional sales people can find products that they think are worth something and sell those products. I want a store where I can post a good application and know there are people looking for good apps, not just for themselves, but because they want to help sell them. It seems to me that sales is the only thing missing for me to be successful as a independent developer.