By Karen Axelton

AAAAC12DMdkAAAAAAB25SgIf you have an iPhone or smartphone, I’m sure you know how addictive the apps (applications) available for these phones can be. And you’ve probably read about entrepreneurs striking it rich by developing apps. Sounds easy, right? Especially when many apps are downright silly, like iFart, one of the most successful apps.

In fact, apps have been a hot entrepreneurial opportunity for some time now, but this Los Angeles Times article takes a closer look at the phenomenon and how it’s getting both easier — and more difficult — to profit from apps. Easier, in that there are now companies that handle the whole process for you–so you don’t have to have any programming skills; you just need an idea. Harder, in that it’s easy to get ripped off by unscrupulous companies that promise to develop your app and make you millions–and more apps these days are offered for free.

Appsnminded, an app development company profiled in the article and founded by three moms, is one of the success stories. The company has developed 30 of its own apps, including titles like “Thumb Wars” (OK, I want that one), and is now helping other entrepreneurs get into the game.

But some entrepreneurs hoping to get rich quick from apps aren’t so lucky, as they soon find themselves mired in miscommunication with programmers overseas. One entrepreneur mentioned in the article spent $23,000 having developers create his app, only to end up with nothing to show for it. (Having worked with overseas programmers on seemingly simple projects myself, I found lots to relate to in his story.)

Thinking about getting into apps? Go in with your eyes wide open, and for your first step, read this article.