AppCraver recently heard from Nick Glassman over at iSports, Inc. He answered our questions about developing iPhone and iPod touch apps.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Nick: We first came up with the idea in May of 2007. In June, we started working on the designs and the partnership with STATS, Inc. for our data. In July, we started authoring the application. In November, we we were complete and released on iTunes.
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Nick: Honestly, Apple did. We've been dreaming about having a device capable of high end graphics and realtime gamecasting for quite some time. I have built applications for all the major carriers in the United States and for a very wide range of devices. But the iPhone simply presents far more options for development, from the screen size, the quality and depth of the SDK, and the ability to maintain a persistent network connection.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Nick: iSports is a free service. Our goal is to create a service of mass appeal to a huge audience.
4. Roughly how many units have you sold?
Nick: iSports is currently a top 10 free service across all of iTunes and is #1 in the Free Sports Category.
5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Nick: We are very happy with the iPhone SDK. We have a great deal of hands-on experience with the BREW Developer Kit, as well as tools for J2ME. The iPhone SDK is of course in its infancy, but we consider it to be an amazing initial release. It is far, far easier to build applications in the iPhone SDK than any other environment we have used to date. There are larger challenges with iTunes and the organization structure as the App Store goes well over 10,000 users that there are challenges with the iPhone SDK.
6. Is your company venture backed?
Nick: No, iSports is backed by independent investors.
7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Nick: We want to separate games from other apps, as they are such a different genre. With respect to games, we love Brain Challenge, Scoops, and Enigmo. Space Deadbeef just came out, and it is a lot of fun. As for other apps, we use Shazam an Easy Wi-Fi all the time. Pandora is a great utility for music fans.
8. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
Nick: We feel we are more challenged by iTunes than the iPhone SDK. One clear issue is changing the way ratings are done. Ratings are incredibly important to developers such as iSports because users often make a decision based on the application's overall ratings. In the new release of iPhone Software, when a user deletes an app, they are asked to rate the app. That means only users that are not happy with the app are asked to rate it. It is very hard to maintain a positive rating as you go north of 100,000 downloads. Let's say 1% of the users delete your app, and only 10% of those users give you a negative rating. That means 1,000 people give you a negative rating, as opposed to the 99,000 that kept the app and love it, but were never asked to rate it. Trying to balance out 1,000 users that probably rated the app a 1 star upon delete is near impossible.
Additionally, we would like to see Apple figure out a way to prevent Jailbroken phone users from leaving ratings. Jailbroken devices are far more difficult to support, because first Apple does not support them, but second, it is very hard to setup a QA environment for Jailbroken devices because there are so many ways to Jailbreak a phone. That said, Jailbroken users are able to leave comments. Many, many app developers have built apps that crash on Jailbroken devices, and the users of these devices, while not supported by Apple, are allowed to leave negative feedback. Once again, it affects the rating and it causes problems.
9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Nick: It's a decent amount of work, but it is easier than BREW and J2ME, largely because a developer creates one piece of software and it works on every iPhone, as opposed to the work you need to do to build a BREW or J2ME application that has to scale over many, many devices. The relative ease of development for iPhones was one of the reasons we were so excited to start iSports.
10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Nick: Yes, we are. But you'll have to wait until they release to find out all about them.