Interview with Xin Zhao, iSpreadsheet developer


Recently AppCraver heard from Xin Zhao, the developer of iSpreadsheet and snake. He answered our questions on developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

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

Xin: August was our first App Release. I live in Australia so we hear about these things a little slower than the US :( The funny thing is when our first app – Snake was released.. I still didn’t have an iPhone… hmmm. strange isn’t it.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Xin: Most of the time… I’m in the toilet… and then these strange ideas just come to me..

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

Xin: Pricing is probably the toughest thing to get right. Something I think that has helped me is to adjust the price up and down one tier for a short time period to “test the waters.” At the end of the day, you want to maximize PRICE * UNIT SALES. The lower you price the product the more you’ll sell, however the less you’ll make on each.

Even when you find the right price, another competitor may come in and change everything, that’s just life unfortunately. In the iPhone Apps market this happens like every 2nd day.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

Xin: Hmmm…. I’ll answer that in 6 month :)

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

Xin: The SDK is fantastic. I was a little apprehensive about the SDK at first.. but then again when I first usedOSX I didn’t like it much either & now i love it. It’s like anything Apple, once you get used to it you’ll love it.

6. Is your company venture backed?

Xin: No, in my opinion, unless your trying to build Windows Vista the worst thing you could do in a small scale technology solution is go for VC. There’s so much overhead in obtaining VC you end up putting more effort in the deal than the actual implementation. Besides you end up like someone’s dog. They say sit and you better not be standing. Yes.. evil evil VC.. but if anyone out there wants to approach me for round 1 funding I’ll welcome it & mow your garden for free :)

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

Xin: I LOVE TAP TAP! it’s so simple yet addictive. And, Shazam, if you haven’t got that GO GET IT… it’s like magic!!

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

Xin: Well both are fantastic already.. but I do have a practical recommendation for the iTunes store:

I would suggest Apple put a subscription based pricing available on iTunes store. It means applications of various types can be offered for cheaper and gives more flexibility to consumers. Also some apps just work better as a subscription.

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

Xin: It really varies.. I know that’s a bad answer.. but seriously... could take a day, could take 6 month.

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

Xin: Yes quiet a few, I’ll definitley let you know when that happens in the next few weeks!

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