AppCraver recently heard from Pit Garbe the developer of THTouch. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Pit Garbe: That was back at the end of March. I started doing this on my linux machine as I didn’t have a Mac until July, when I gathered enough donations from my fans
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Pit Garbe: I bought the iPod touch in November last year out of curiosity and played around with it for a while. At some point Apple announced the SDK event and I was eagerly awaiting this to try it out myself, but it was postponed until July. So I sat down and looked for other means to program for this device. I learned some basics and then I felt that I had to either channel my learning process into something useful or fun, or just stop developing for this device.
That was when I watched the market for places to fill and I watched it for about a month to decide which game is absolutely missing and wished for. It happened to be Poker Texas Hold’em, and so I started the biggest project I’ve ever worked on so far. As a student of computer science it was a nice opportunity to experience project management first-hand, even though I’m the only developer behind it, I still had to work with beta testers and public opinions as well as dealing with multi-linguality and web page administration.
The real inspiration came from the people. The thousands of people that watched early YouTube previews, and were impatiently waiting for the game. The tens of thousands of people who actually downloaded early beta versions in June and July and the approx. 200 people who actually went so far and donated so that I could buy myself a Mac to continue the work on it and bring the game to the App Store in the end.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Pit Garbe: Prices on the App Store are a mystery. There are great apps in there that really got the price point right and deliver either great fun and joy or on the other hand immense usefulness.
There are, however, a lot of apps in there that are overpriced (in my and many customers opinions). Especially I, as a developer, often see games or small tool like apps, that appear to be not much more than a programming exercise mixed with some half-hearted artwork. I always wonder about their pricing concept and if there are acutally people buying these apps nonetheless?
Many people I told about my price point (and it's not an entry price) wondered about my reasoning instead and told me, that I could easily set it higher. But I was always aiming for a price that is so casual that people don’t worry about it at all, if they have the slightest interest in a game like this or just for curiosity about all the nice reviews or the nice screen shots they can see. It is a casual game (although it can take long, since it is Poker after all) and I want as many players as possible to play it and not worry about the price. Still I need to live and catch up for the last half year of work that went into this game. That's why it is not for free and can’t be. But $0.99 is a no brainer in my opinion, and whoever played this in its beta stages, will absolutely love where it has come now.
4. Roughly how many units have you sold?
Pit Garbe: Available since 6 days, about 800 units.
5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Pit Garbe: The SDK and the developer tools are very nice to work with. Especially since I did a lot of the work before using the SDK with a simple text editor with no IDE around it. So, yeah, it rocks!
6. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?
Pit Garbe: Not a company, just me alone as an individual. Backed by my parents in critical phases
7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Pit Garbe: What I installed and kept until now: MotionX Dice, Banner Free, Remote, Facebook, Twittelator, Seismometer, Tris (still got my copy), Mocha VNC free, Solitaire City Lite, Galcon Lite, Hanoi. Well, as you can see, they are all free apps or have been available for free once. I only bought Apples Hold’em game so far, as I didn’t want to spend money on the store which I don’t have. But there are apps I’d like to buy, once my money suffices again
8. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone /SDK?
Pit Garbe: Push notification, please, finally? Wireless sync? (not music, but calendars, address book etc.)
9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Pit Garbe: It felt pretty straight forward at first. Just go write some code, compile, test. (I had no simulator back then, which makes many things easier of course).
Do it over and over again. Well, reading a lot of documentation and hints eats a lot of time. Creating artwork for pieces that are needed eats another big chunk of time. Programming the game itself eats most of the time and nerves. Especially with the sun shining outside.
In between it needs to be tested by more than my own pair of eyes, so I need to cooperate with testers and coordinate all their input and so on, so there is always a lot of email traffic going on. Spare time was a rare good during the development, and I had to use it wisely and not spend so much of it on party and entertainment.
In the end it was an organizational boot camp. Really interesting to live through. And definitely helpful for new projects either for the iPhone or something completely different. I’m looking forward to the next challenge
10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Pit Garbe: I’ve got some ideas floating around, but have not begun working on any of them yet. I’ll have to do support work for this game right now and also want to add a few more features to top it off and make it a really nice piece of work.
Suggestions are welcome anytime