1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
James Thomson: The day they posted the first dev kit I started working on a Sudoku game. A few months later I found out I was one of many that decided to start with Sudoku (doh) – though my version did get some popularity (at first) it has leveled off to about 10 new users a day. Current user count is around 1500, with 10% actively using the online score-board feature..
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
James Thomson: My parents were both English teachers. It was a pretty natural fit for me to do a grammar/vocab game. First up is the current GRE Vocabulary Scramble. I’m currently going through the word lists for the SAT Vocabulary Scramble game as well.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
James Thomson: Originally I was planning on pricing it at $2.99. Then I spent 3 months of nights and weekends putting the word list together and smoothing it out (to prevent multiple occurrences of the same word, illegible characters, GRE/Collegiate definitions, etc). After that I spent another 2 weeks of nights and weekends to put the actual game code together. When I started thinking about it I realized it’s a niche market and I’ll probably get a few hundred users at most – so I bumped the price up to 5.99 to account for the effort that went in.
4. Roughly how many units have you sold?
James Thomson: It went on sale officially 18Oct, 6:16PM. It showed up on App store about 2 hours later. I’m not sure why it lists as being posted last week – but the first day of sales is 6 users! WooHoo!
5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
James Thomson: I’d like to see a SOAP interface like Microsoft has. It would make life a lot easier. Currently the developer has to write the remote calls and parse the responses through the xml library – it’s not much fun.
The code-signing feature can be a bit of a pain at times (normally takes about 2 hours to clean up when it starts giving code-signing errors).
The SDK itself is decent – it’d be nice to have linking between UI and code-behind done in the same application – I find I’m manually adding and tweaking UI elements in the code quite a bit. I start to complain but then I remember its a free dev environment so I’m happy as is. MS charges a fortune for theirs.
6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?
James Thomson: I am a one-man shop. I have a full-time job as a software engineer for a pharma company. I write these games on the side just for fun. It’s all at my own expense and I don’t really make any money from it. I basically do it because I can.
7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
James Thomson: I love my Sudoku game – it’s the one about 3/4 the way down the list that is titled Sudoku (bunch of foreign titles for Sudoku) 10000 puzzles (and also 20000 puzzles) (sorry – had to plug it).
I’m also a big fan of SuperBall 2, de Blob, and Enigmo. I played Labyrinth for about 3 weeks straight – but it got old pretty quick. I still re-play Enigmo once in a while. My wife likes Trism and JibroMatch (I don’t know why – she’s weird like that).
8. What kind of features should apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
James Thomson: A formal SOAP interface! A single dev program to write code and UI in. Oh – and allow the developer to modify all the UI elements in the GUI editor.
9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
James Thomson: Quick, though there have been moments of pain. When one of the settings on the environment is changed it can be a major struggle to get everything working again. Overall though I can’t complain – they gave a decent and pretty powerful set of tools to work with.
10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
James Thomson: Yup. 3. I’ve got ideas for another handful after that, but as a one-man shop I run ideas one-at-a-time.