For me personally... (15 years part time, running my own business specialising in FM Dev)
1. Competition, certainly has increased over the last 5-10 years. I have seen a lot of FM developers from India who charge a lot less than I do and they also have tonnes of other skills (web/sql/etc etc) There are a few cowboys along the way though... grrrr
2. I question my platform choice/career choice DAILY, especially when things are quiet... but I've come to the conclusion that I actually like what I do
3. I think FileMaker is an excellent platform for App development/deployment because it's a rapid development and stable platform, however, things like not having charting and pdf in runtimes really limits it's scope.
4. I think the amount of work is drying up a little, at least for me it is... so if there's any work out there my fellow developers, PLEASE let me know ! ;-)
5. Apple software development restrictions don't bother me, because I don't put things on the app store...
A few thoughts:
I think you forgot one big risk/consideration in the Product section: support. Setting up a proper support structure is not trivial. Multiple languages / 24x7, responses within x hours,...? It all has to be spelled out and then staffed. Even if it just yourself, you have to budget enough time in your day to take care of it.
You ask if the Market is increasing / decreasing: the first question really is "what market are you in". For me, FM is just the tool. The Market I am is in helping customers with their processes.
Wim makes an excellent point. Key to doing a good job in database / application development is understanding the target market or workflow. There are literally hundreds of market sectors - retail, government, ecommerce, service, health care, nonprofit, legal, etc., etc., etc. In order to build a good application, you really need to have a good grasp of what the people who work in that environment need and how they do their work.
So it's usually good to start there. The tool will dictate certain elements of what you can do, but your ability to insert yourself into the customer's business and really understand it is, IMHO, far more important.
Good on you for putting this post up here. I am going through the same process as you.
I am currently spooked by the amount of quality genreral business offerings out there. I wouldnt touch general process / business tools. That leaves developing a solution for your field of experience or some other niche idea. There are a lot I dont see in the market yet.
I have a 20 year background in a specific industry and I am currently thinking that the best path forward to build a solution for what I and my clients used to do. The FM solutoin probably needs to be part of a broader offering to even further stregthen the business. eg. I am the consultant using the system and marketing it to clients and other consultants in my field?
Being a service provider helping others improve workflow looks ok too. Every friend I know has a pigsty of spreadsheets and an ipad waiting to finally link into thier day to day proceses. It just comes down to convincing them and thier managers. On that note it is often those poor employees of large business who are stuck with systems which dont match thier workflow and yet it may be very hard work getting a solution integrated with core data. I know it took me 2 years to get my old IT department to provide data access for my access solutions.
One thing I am grappling with as a newbie to filemaker who has escaped 15 yearsbeing locked in a windows business environment is can you allow users to customise a solution but without being able to market it / share it .. or is it black and white runtime or open source?
My other consideration is being beholden to apple and a product. What happens when FM isn't the ducks nuts of solutions .. one just has to keep eyes open and dig in I guess!
Good luck ! I think we'll need it
"What happens when FM isn't the ducks nuts of solutions"
This is a great line.
Seriously though, that's an issue any proprietary platform (and lots of open source) developer deals with. Google and Twitter frustrate their developers all the time, sometimes destroying million dollar businesses with technical or policy changes.
Indeed. Compared to many other technologies, FileMaker has been remarkably stable over its history.
That said, of course it can't solve every problem. No technology can. Nor should it be expected to. You'd be dishonest to suggest otherwise to your client base.
(P.S. Being honest with clients is a really good practice. Even if you don't get that job, it pays off huge dividends.)