Interview with Michael Alvarez, CEO of Avantar


AppCraver recently spoke with Michael Alvarez CEO of Avantar, the developing team behind Showtimes. He answered our questions about the process of developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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

Michael Alvarez: Several months before the App Store opened.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Michael Alvarez: What made us choose these particular apps is a bit of a long story. It begins with the President of Avantar’s passion for everything Apple. In his youth, Mr. Adrian Ochoa’s kicked off his successful career with his purchase of Apple’s first computer, which eventually led him to grow a very successful advertising agency and movie production studio.

More recently, he was also one of the first to get the first generation iPhone and it allowed him to envision what the future holds for a mobile Internet and the effect it will have on the advertising industry. Research and data support his conclusions of hyper-growth market opportunity in this sector. Recently, research firm Informa Telecoms & Media stated that “the mobile ad market is expected to grow to $12 billion by 2013, up from an estimated $1.72 billion for 2008.” If you think about it, it just makes sense. Not everyone has a computer, but cell phones are more readily available to the masses. The population of this earth is 6.6 Billion and 3.3 Billion mobile handsets have already been sold.

When Mr. Ochoa and I learned about the plans to launch the App Store, we were in the process of ramping up our interactive yellow pages business and saw the marriage between mobile, Internet, & GPS as the perfect fit for what we had in mind. A few of our developers downloaded the SKD and begun programming our apps several months before the launch of the App Store. We now have nearly 1 Million downloads, and the rest is history yet to be discovered.

Our applications are meant to be locally relevant, where we use the iPhone’sGPS capabilities to locate the user and then provide relevant information in his or her surrounding area. This is the ultimate stop gap where the brick and mortar business world meets the most relevant, and targeted, digital advertising solution. And, no one is doing it better than we are on the iPhone right now.

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

Michael Alvarez: We set the price points before the App Store opened so we didn’t have any historical data or competitors to study. So, bottom line, we guessed.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

Michael Alvarez: Our most popular apps are free. Collectively we’ve received nearly 1 Million downloads.

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

Michael Alvarez: It’s been a good tool. What I would ask them to change is to make the SDK backwards compatible with previous versions.

6. Is your company venture backed?

Michael Alvarez: No. We are self funded.

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

Michael Alvarez: Facebook, Weather Bug, and definitely Jelly Car. Jelly Car keeps my daughters and me entertained for hours.

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

Michael Alvarez: Make interface builder more intuitive and less buggy.

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

Michael Alvarez: It really depends on the app.

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

Michael Alvarez: If I tell you I would have to kill you, but I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with GPS and providing the users with locally relevant information :-)

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  • Matt Hanson

    Good writing. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed my Google News Reader..

    Matt Hanson