Lawyer Gives Up Day Job To Get Into iPhone App Business

If it’s not enough that everybody who got to learn how to code, is now a dev and always complain about this or that, now lawyers become iPhone devs. Let me put it another way: it not enough that anybody with lack of experience in the software business can be a iPhone dev, now somebody with a background in a law firm and with tons of connections (maybe) will be a developer. Wonder how he will act when his app will get cracked. Wonder how he will deliver. Personally i welcome the dude, so let’s get to his story :

Attorney Michael Schneider quit his corporate gig at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati last month to develop iPhone apps. It is hard to say goodbye to a six figure salary — especially in this economic climate. But the Seattle lawyer-turned-iPhone-app-developer said it was the right time to strike out on his own.

He’s now operating a new startup called HiveBrain, with plans to roll out additional applications in the coming weeks. (His latest is an instructional dog training app.)

“I am heading out on my own to pursue the entrepreneurial dream,” said Schneider, who developed 13 iPhone apps prior to leaving the law firm. “I’ve been doing it on the weekends and at night, and so now I will be able to spend my days doing the kinds of stuff that I used to enjoy on the weekends.”

Schneider isn’t the only one looking to cash in on the iPhone. Several startups have either formed or repositioned in recent months in order to develop new products for the popular device. In the Seattle area alone, companies such as Mobui, Melodeo, Zumobi and Zero260 are transforming into full-service iPhone development studios.

And The New York Times published a story last week titled “The iPhone Gold Rush” in which it described the how small development shops and individual developers quickly made in excess of $100,000 with their iPhone apps.

With more than 25,000 applications now available in Apple’s app store, it is getting harder to stand out. And that means it’s tougher for the small developer to make money.

“It is still a big opportunity out there, but it is not the gold rush that people think it is,” said Schneider. “If (an app) is not in the top 100 in its category or the top 100 overall, people are probably not going to find it. So, I don’t know what the market is going to look like in six months when there are 40,000 apps or something.”

Still, Schneider said there’s room to develop high quality products for the iPhone. And he believes that those developers who establish a name for themselves will be able to rise above the clutter.

“It is like the Web. A lot of big companies are going to have to have a presence,” said Schneider, who is hoping that HiveBrain can establish a top-notch reputation. “It is just a matter of time before you start seeing a lot of Web site like applications.”

Schneider started iPhone application development as a hobby last summer, and quickly discovered that he was good at it. Many of his applications – including TouchType, Private-I and Direct Line — have won critical acclaim from bloggers  and users who like the simple functionality of his inventions.

The 99 cent Direct Line application, for example, allows iPhone users to quickly connect with live customer support agents without getting stuck in a corporation’s automated phone system. Meanwhile, TouchType (also 99 cents) allows iPhone users to turn the device on its side in order to send email messages in the wider landscape mode.

To date, iPhone users have downloaded more than 500,000 of his applications.

Despite the success, Schneider is not giving up entirely on the law. The 34-year-old attorney plans to funnel some of the money from his iPhone apps into a new software-as-a service startup that’s designed to help companies get a better handle on legal bills.

“The iPhone apps are fun and I am going to basically use that to bootstrap this other business, which is more ambitious,” he said.

The success of the iPhone apps also gave Schneider the confidence to launch the new business, something he said would have been a lot harder without the cash flow.

“I had the fortunate situaiton that I could leave with some security knowing that I had an income stream,” said Schneider, who is now making about the same income as he did as a corporate attorney.

“I figure if I put more time into it, it is bound to have better results,” he said.

So what’s next?

Schneider is working on a casual game and the instructional dog training application, with plans for the latter to launch as early as this week.

Here’s a look at some of Schneider’s iPhone apps, including the relaxation, weight loss and smoking cessation apps that he developed in conjunction with hypnotherapist Andrew Johnson.

[via TechFlash]