Interview with Matt Griffith of Mobile App Center

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matt griffith interviewAppCraver recently spoke with Matt Griffith from Mobile App Center, the developing team behind Tranquil Alarm. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?

Matt Griffith: Mobile App Center was recently formed to explore the new, upcoming mobile applications industry. Tranquil Alarm is our first offering and development began on it only about 6 weeks ago (September, 2008). 
Once we made the decision to enter the industry, we started making plans for several application offerings and started development almost immediately. That is one of the great characteristics of how this industry has been started by Apple. A company or individual with the right mindset and ideas for great applications can get started with very little capital investment.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Matt Griffith: Observation and personal need were our inspiration for Tranquil Alarm. Simply looking for just the right application on App Store, and not finding it, led us to start brainstorming for how the app would function and look. As with any business, it is easier to capitalize on ideas that you are passionate about.

3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?

Matt Griffith: Again, observation played a key role in this portion of our rollout plan. We simply compared the functions of our app to other paid applications in the same genre. There were other digital clock, relaxation, and alarm apps available for $0.99 but they lacked most of the functions that we believe are key to what we offer. Part of the allure of Tranquil Alarm is that it combines several features from other applications on the App Store.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

Matt Griffith: Tranquil Alarm has been available for a little over a week and as of the time of this writing, the app has received a couple thousand downloads. However, in anticipation of our first version 1.1 upgrade, we are temporarily reducing the price from $1.99 to $.99. This action is being done in an effort to increase sales and expose this useful application to more users. We have received extremely positive feedback from our customers, much of the time as direct emails to our support department and not by App Store review. The only negatives are being addressed in the upgrade, and we are including 15 more tranquil sounds, so we expect consumer interest to grow even more with this and subsequent upgrade releases.

5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?

Matt Griffith: Overall the developer tools are good. The iPhone simulator has proven to be a very accurate simulator. As for things that are missing, there are a variety of productivity features that developers on the Windows platform are very accustom to that are missing in Xcode. A couple of examples are more robust intelligence and the equivalent of the document outline feature in Visual Studio.

6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Matt Griffith: Mobile App Center is privately held, but would consider funding partners under the right conditions.

7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?

Matt Griffith: Both simple and complex apps appeal to me. On the complex side, there is an app called Pocket Dyno that is uses the accelerometer to measure acceleration and horsepower of your vehicle. Simply press the start button and floor it! Very cool. The app is very well written and also performs very accurately. Bloomberg and Shazam continue to amaze me and for simple apps, VoiceNotes, the free voice recorder by GarSoft
 is very useful.

8. What kind of features should apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?

Matt Griffith: This may be obvious, but Apple needs to open up the SDK to allow more control over the operating system functions. They need to allow apps to run as daemons on the iPhone, and they need to break down the sandbox walls around apps to allow much better integration between applications.

9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?

Matt Griffith: We have very high quality, highly experienced product managers, developers, and testers. Because of this, once we identify a new product idea, we can have a spec for the new app ready to hand off to development within 24
hours. Obviously the complexity of the app may extend this time and will extend the development process as well, but generally development is feature complete 2-3 weeks. Testing immediately begins at feature complete. The test cycle can last anywhere from 1-3 weeks and ends after a full regression pass on the application yields no new priority 1 (crash) or priority 2 (loss of functionality) bugs. Priority 3 (work around available) bugs may not get fixed, but our experience is that these are few and far between. At the point of zero priority 1 and 2 bugs, a final determination is made by the product managers on whether or not to ship the app.

10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?

Matt Griffith: Yes, we have several applications in development that cover a variety of categories and target market segments, which we generally segregate by age group. Be sure to follow our iTunes offerings, visit our website at
www.mobileappcenter.com or on Twitter at MobileAppCenter.

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