Interview with Mason Weems of IMAK Creations

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IMAK Creations is a family business based in Austin, Texas. The company's name comes from the initials of spouses Mason and Karen and sons Anthony and Ian. IMAK has been releasing apps an average about one per month since the ribbon cutting on the App Store, where they now have 12 apps, mainly in the education category. Mason provided AppCraver it well-focused and firm answers to questions we posed to him recently:

1.What is it that you think differentiates your company from other App Store developers?

We focus on creatively delivering original content in a fun and educational way

2 . In what ways, if any, does your app take advantage of the new OS three-oh?

Our immediate plans are to add peer-to-peer game play to Hold On! and That Aint't It! Trivia Game. We are also looking at how to best incorporate In-App Purchase and Push Notification, such as in-app purchase of trivia packs and daily trivia delivery. The compass feature will also be making it into one of our applications.

3. What's your take on the rumor surrounding a premium app section in the App Store for apps selling for $19.99? Think it's a good idea and if so, how do you think buyers benefit?

One problem with the App Store is that visibility is directly correlated with popularity, and popularity is directly correlated with the number of purchases. This benefits developers that price their apps in the lowest price tiers and encourages quick-n-dirty apps. Buyers may benefit in the short term because prices are driven lower. However, long-term, the number of quality apps on the App Store will decrease.

By having premium app sections of the App Store, buyers will benefit in two ways. They will be able to find and compare premium apps. They will encourage the development of more premium apps. Rather than have a separate premium app store section, I think Apple should just add price tier filters to the App Store: One for $.99-$3.99, one for $4.99-$8.99, one for $9.99 to $18.99, and one for $19.99 and above. Then, application developers could attempt to be the best application within their chosen price tier and devote development resources accordingly.

4. It's well established that low prices can lead to high sales but not necessarily to high profits. What does it take to succeed in this marketplace?

For short-term success, you just need a unique idea that has broad appeal, a quickly developed application, a pretty icon, a nice app description, and a $0.99 or $1.99. For long-term success, you need also need great reviews, which will normally require more effort put into the application development.

5. Increasingly, bigger companies are entering the app biz with huge marketing budgets and dev teams. Whenever that happens in the software business, it's almost always followed by a shake out of the smaller players. Do you think that's what will happen in the App Store?

Larger companies do not have an advantage in the App Store as it is currently designed, so if there is a shake out, it will involve the large players going away, not the smaller players. I think that is one of the reasons you hear rumors about a premium section'of the App Store is to keep the larger players engaged. Otherwise, they would go elsewhere.

6. Dev cycles will get longer as buyers expect more from apps. What does that mean to your company and other companies? Do you foresee pricing climbing over the next year?

The average price of quality apps will definitely be going up, especially if you factor in the revenue generated from In-App purchases. There will still be $0.99 sales and other pricing promotions, but the current low prices in the App Store can not sustain the current development cycles, much less increased development cycles.

7. Evidently, there's a clause in the developer contracts that requires developers to offer refunds. What are your thoughts on this?

This is unfortunately necessary because of developer abuse. Developers should not be trying to shake money from their customers with Apple's blessing. I would support a 3-day, no questions asked, instant refund, so long as Apple did not insist on keeping their 30 percent cut.

8. Many devs have concerns about the App Store pricing model. Has it been a problem for you and if so, what do you think is the problem and if so, what's your solution? Would trial apps be an option for you?

A quick solution would be to factor price into the popularity equation. A not-so-quick solution would be to add pricing tiers to the App Store as I mentioned earlier. Rather than trial apps, I would support a 3-day, no questions asked, full refund. 10.

9. Do you plan to release your apps in Nokia, Blackberry and other app stores?

We develop our applications exclusively for the iPhone. We don't foresee a day when it would make sense to port all of our applications to another platform.

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