23 February 2019
Nick D'Aloisio, 18, sold his news-collecting app to Yahoo last year for US$30 million. Photo:
Nick D'Aloisio, 18, sold his news-collecting app to Yahoo last year for US$30 million. Photo:

Look what kids are doing these days

They’re getting younger and that’s how Apple Inc. and Google Inc. exactly prefer their developers.

Apple has lowered the minimum age of attendees at its developer conferences to 13 from 18 and Google hosts tech geniuses as young as 11 at its training camps.

And they don’t pay peanuts, either.

Overall, Google has paid developers more than US$5 billion over the last year and Apple paid about US$10 billion over the same period — and US$20 billion since it opened its app store in 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So who wouldn’t want to start young?

“If you start young, you will have an advantage over people who start in their 20s,” said Grant Goodman, 14.

“Your brain has more plasticity when you’re younger.”

Goodman is among a generation of teenage developers to seize opportunities from the spread of smartphones and app stores.

He developed Prodigus, an advertising-free app to play online videos “fast with no compromises” after Apple took down the pre-loaded YouTube app from its iPhones last year.

Software wunderkinds are being courted by Apple and Google to write for their mobile operating systems with all sorts of incentives.

Apple made younger teens eligible for scholarships that waive the US$1,600 registration fee. Minors claimed roughly half of the 200 scholarships at this year’s conference where Apple introduced Swift, a new programming language that streamlines the app-making process.

Google started its own youth program at its developer conference in June. It hosted 200 children between 11 and 15 for a half-day, introducing them to some basic tools used by its developers.

Goodman, an Apple scholarship winner, has created an app for Google Glass that displays remaining battery power of the Web-connected eyewear.

But he said he prefers making apps for Apple’s iOS devices because he is “obsessed” with the iPhone maker and its emphasis on simplicity.

His mother Becky says it’s worth it to see Grant happy and fulfilled. “We’re not emotionally invested in him being the next Mark Zuckerberg, ” she said. “We just want him to be happy.”

Or at least Grant could be the next Nick D’Aloisio.

Last year, D’Aloisio, now 18, sold his news-summarizing app Summly to Yahoo Inc. for US$30 million. 

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