Interview with Doug Gatza of Manta Innovations

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Doug Gatza, CEO of Manta Innovations, is the mind behind PocketArnold the entertaining Arnold Schwarzenegger quote app. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?

We started seriously developing software for the iPhone around October of last year. Up until that point we mainly did work developing web applications and had really only played around with the SDK for fun. It wasn't until we all sat down one night and started brainstorming, that we decided to set our sights on this market.

What / how many apps have you made so far?

So far we've only released PocketArnold. Objective C is still a relatively new language for us, so we've designed our project schedule to work sequentially towards the final and most ambitious app that we've planned for later this year. We laid it out so that each app we release between now and then is literally the next piece of the larger project. Since we aren't a very big company, this method allows us to continually develop code for our largest project while still being able to capitalize on the smaller apps that we also wanted to make.

What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

We're really into entertainment and games right now, but we will be releasing some utilities pretty soon, so that should be interesting. A lot of our ideas come from thinking of ridiculous apps, joking about them and then backtracking and realizing that there's some real potential there.

How do you settle on the price point for your apps?

If we're not giving our customer the best product for their money, we're not doing our jobs. So we usually price our apps to be less than or equal to the price of similar apps that have less functionality than ours. That way, our customers get the low price and the high quality at the same time. Our customers seem to appreciate this.

What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?

I think it's the freshness of the platform. This platform still seriously has so much untapped potential with only the existing features and tools. Then, on top of that, every time Apple introduces another update to the iPhone's OS, they increase the size of the playing field, giving us more opportunities to innovate. Some of the functionality they just introduced with OS 3.0, will be a lot of fun to play with.

What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?

The biggest challenge has been getting used to Objective C, clear and simple. At first it was like putting together a thousand piece puzzle, there were just pieces all over the place. Though after a couple months of dedicated development with this language, we're getting pretty comfortable with it and have come to like it.

Is your company venture backed or privately held?

Our company is owned privately between three of us.

Do you have any other apps in the works?

Yes, we will be releasing another app this month called PocketCrowd. It is part of our PocketSound series of apps, along with PocketArnold, but this one will be a bit more functional. I don't want to give it all away right now, but think open mic night for the iPhone.

What apps do you have on your iPhone?

A lot of games. A few of my favorite apps so far have been Trace, Numba, Monopoly, Sudoku, Labyrinth, Now Playing and Bloomberg.

What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?

Working on other side projects, writing flash apps, snowboarding, gaming, scuba diving, watching movies, listening to music.

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