You’re a developer. Or at least you could be. Maybe you have a day job. Maybe you don’t. Is it worth your time to build an app, for free, send it to Google, and see if they’ll pay you for it?
Depends: Google (GOOG) received more than 1,700 applications for its first Android Developer Challenge. About 97% of them walked away with zilch. But 50 winners received $25,000, and are in line for another $3.75 milllion. So was it worth their while?
Again, depends: Based on our conversations with some of the lucky 50, it looks as if they earned anywhere between $10.42 to $25 an hour for their work.
We asked 8 winners of the first phase of Google’s Android Developer Challenge how many hours they worked on their apps. The answers ranged between “not much time” to “all our free time over the past three months.” In practical terms, they told us, that’s somewhere between 500-1,000 hours.
If that was a single person slaving away on an app, that works out to something like $25-$50 an hour. But given that many of winning apps were put together by two or three-person teams, that brings the pay rate down. Based on our conversations with Android winners, we figure that best-paid teams made about $25 per hour, per developer, while the worst earned about $10.42.
Meanwhile, according to the Department of labour, the average software engineer pulls down $85,660 a year, or $41.18/hr. This means that a lot of these guys were working at substantial discounts to market rates.
So are the Google app winners actually losers? Nah. For starters, Google has another $3.75 million to give away in this challenge, so some of the 50 will see their hourly rate go up considerably in later rounds of the contest. At least as important: Getting a nod from Google, no matter what they’re paying you, can be worth quite a bit for a developers’ resume; worst-case scenario, it makes for pretty-hard-to-top bragging rights.
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