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I have been in the Java programming for the last 4 years, basically doing Java web development and JEE. I have spent the last 7 months investing in learning Objective-C and iOS development for fun. Now I'm considering to scout a professional iOS development career.

My question is does iOS development career considered a serious profession (like Java or .NET)?

Am I going to hurt my career in the long term if I switched to iOS development after four years in the popular platform?

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"No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back." Turkish proverb –  user2567 Jan 18 '11 at 14:28
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Any choice you make could be seen as damaging your career if you think about only making the best move at any given point in time. Do you really want to try to be that good in every choice you make? I know I'm not that good at making choices and accept that I am human so I'm not perfect. –  JB King Jan 18 '11 at 16:00
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@Pierre : Java = Wrong road ?? :-( –  Geek Jan 18 '11 at 17:10
    
I read Pierre's comment as more of the idea that things can likely turn around regardless of how far one has gone the wrong way. Advocating a cautiously optimistic view, but that's my interpretation. –  JB King Jan 18 '11 at 17:20
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@Geek: Java can be the correct road for ones, and a very bad for others. I just wanted to put emphasis on the idea of switching path. It's not always a bad thing. In fact, in many cases it's a good thing. –  user2567 Jan 18 '11 at 17:29
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9 Answers

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My question is does iOS development career considered a serious profession (like Java or .NET)?

Given the size and value of the iPhone/iPod and iPad market I think you can safely say that an iOS development career is a serious profession. If it's isn't now it will soon have to be if developers want their applications to be used by the widest possible market.

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Probably Not

If anything the diversity would increase your desirability. iOS development (if you look at the numbers) is a "serious profession." The fact that you find it more fun or enjoyable notwithstanding.

I find PHP enjoyable1, does that mean I'm not serious about my job?

My question is does iOS development career considered a serious profession (like Java or .NET)? Am I going to hurt my career in the long term if I switched to iOS development after four years in the popular platform?

Considering this above, are you planning on going back to .NET or Java after doing iOS development? If you are then I would recommend simply staying in shape with the languages and frameworks, essentially keeping current, while you peruse other options. If you don't plan on going back then why should it matter?


1: Hard to believe I know, but it's true.

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I'm assuming if I want to come back to Java programming after a couple of years. My problem is today a company in the health care industry contacts me for a position in their team immediately. Their stack is purely and heavily Java platform. I don't know what to do? Scout and discover the iOS development or to stick with Java and strict working policies ? –  Chiron Jan 18 '11 at 15:30
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What does 'hurt your career' mean? If you mean 'make it harder to make more money or find other jobs' then, no, pursing iOS development will not 'hurt your career'. In fact, keeping up with newer technologies usually helps you, because newer tech is sometimes easier to find jobs in.

The biggest thing you can do to 'hurt your career' is to get locked into a small niche, programming in one language, for one narrow industry, or perhaps just one company.

If you don't mind having the same job for the next 30 years, that's OK, but if you want to do different things over time, then you had better be able to do more than just Java.

As to whether iOS is a serious profession: the only thing that differentiates the serious from the not-serious is money. iOS is (right now) pulling in a lot of cash for a lot of companies. So yea, it's serious.

I would recommend perhaps also learning to program for other mobile platforms. It's pretty clear that while Apple may stay dominant for a while, their near-monopoly on mobile is quite over, and I imagine that having Android or other mobile knowledge under your belt won't be a bad thing.

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Correct. Also correct on Android -- especially with the asker's Java background. And it would also be worth looking into Windows Phone 7 (Silverlight) programming. –  Mark Freedman Jan 18 '11 at 14:36
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+1 for keeping up on newer tech. Learning other languages/APIs also means you learn what makes each one different as well as each's pro/con's. –  mummey Jan 18 '11 at 19:00
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My question is does iOS development career considered a serious profession (like Java or .NET)?

In my opinion the carrer in iOS dev isn't serious. You're writing some small apps for a TOY, in most programmer unfriendly enviroment invented, EVER. Look what Apple does to their devs, one time they made illegal developing using some technologies (eg. cross compilers), every app needs to be approved, they made whole programming ecosystems illegal on the device, etc.

If you take iOS dev, you may find yourself unemployed and with nothing one day, because Apple will just ban all your dev tools. That means make all your knowledge illegal to use!

Taking the time it takes to master any technology into account - no this is not serious, very risky. To me it looks like russinan roulette.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman Richard Stallman giving a speech at WSIS-2005 => watch the video. You're having preety much freedom with Java and .NET. On iOS - you're an Apple's slave.

If you have some self respect you should choose to develop on some platform that is free, or at least the owner show just a little respect to the devs. Let's face it - you can develop anything you want on Java / .NET and no one will be telling you what you're allowed or disallowed to do based on their humour. Just that makes iOS absolutely 100% not-serious.

Look at Windows Phone, Android. I don't know if that's serious compared to Java but Microsoft/Google will at least treat YOU seriously.

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Well, the way that Oracle is handling Java, it looks like you'd be a digital sharecropper working on Java as well. I'm mostly a .NET developer, and somedays I feel like a digital sharecropper here too. –  Tangurena Jan 18 '11 at 16:33
    
Yes, that's sad, but unfortunatelly i start to think the same. When you bring patent lawsuits to Java users it sends all the wrong messages. Microsoft get so much nicer, compared what it was before. Today i can say they have the most developer friendly closed-source enviroment. Fortunately Oracle goes only for big players now, Apple will sue / lock-in anyone. In my opinion, where Oracle is closing another and another former Sun's projects and brings lawsuits to big corporations... it's at least SANE, planned and some thinking is taking place. While Apple is out of his mind. –  Slawek Jan 18 '11 at 16:39
    
I must clarify further why i said Jobs/Apple's insane. When one week you ban some developement ecosystem, that is a HUGE one only to make it legal again 2 weeks later. It means that your ego is so big that you literally don't give a f* or you're a 100% lunatic. Seriously not a DEV enviroment i want to have anything in common with. Taking into account that all what the "game" is about is some stupid fun apps like jumping boobs... that's just ridiculous how much "legal struggle" and limits are there. They're just treating their devs like some kind of clowns. –  Slawek Jan 18 '11 at 16:41
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Anytime you can say "I learned XYZ for fun", you are automatically set apart from most of the field. There are millions of people who list "programmer" or some variant thereof on their tax forms in April. Only a small percentage of them would ever consider programming in their free time.

I don't think that following a different path can be considered detrimental (as long as you weren't saying, I've taken up COBOL development and want to do that professionally). For an example, look at Josh Smith who is a very respected individual in the WPF/Silverlight community and has transitioned to do iOS development. (Well he still does MSFT development as well). But it highlights a beautiful aspect of our field. With enough initiative, you can transition to any specialty. (Compare this to medicine where you rarely hear of Neurosurgeons who decide to take on Cardiac surgery in their spare time)

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I was confronted with the same question a while back, but approached it somewhat differently. Being mainly a microsoft developer (.Net and WCF), I wanted to try something new and got into mobile development. The company I work for doesn't actually do any mobile development, so I started my own company (on the side). I wouldn't dream of NOT doing .Net development anymore.

As many mobile applications (at least the ones I build) also use service components, my experience complements the skills needed for building the actual apps.

I have to admit though that moving to a new environment (mac, xcode, cocoa and objective-c) can at times be a frustrating experience. However, moving to android for you, which is java based and has Eclipse integration, should be relatively easy.

I can't see how it will damage your career. You are just learning new stuff right?

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Learning new things and exploring new technologies on your own initiative is not going to harm your career. Even if the whole iOS thing fizzles, you will have demonstrated to future post-iOS employers that you are able and willing to learn on your own, and that you are comfortable with getting involved in new technologies outside your area of expertise and in growing your area of expertise. Do it! :)

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In IT, technology changes at a blazing speed. You could probably ask the same question 10 years ago about Java and JEE. I don't think that kind of investment is going to hurt your career. If anything, the specialization will help you stand out. One word of caution though, technology changes at a blazing speed.

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Most high-grade hackers are polyglots and polyplatform.

If I had an iOS idea I had buyin on, I'd go for it like a shot. Why not make some extra bucks?

I also guess that regular OSX will eventually become capable of running iOS code, probably in the release after Lion.

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