AppCraver recently heard from Zach Gage, the developer behind synthPond. He answered our questions about developing for apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Zach: 16 days ago! haha
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Zach: Well, It’s based on a program that I made about a year ago for fun. I was inspired by the work of Toshio Iwai, especially Electroplankton. I went to the launch party of his TENORI-ON instrument in nyc, and I thought it was cool but it didn’t behave how I’d imagined it would, so I went home and built my own, and that was the synthPond.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Zach: I actually thought about this for a really long time. I think the worst part of the app store is when apps change prices all the time. A lot of times I buy an app and then a week later the price drops by more than half, or sometimes I wait to buy an app until the price comes down because it’s so ridiculously high. I think it’s legitimate to maybe lower the price after a year of no updates, or if you release a sequel or something, but these random price points for apps i think have to stop.
A lot of people have left comments that they think I should sell the app for $0.99 and I think thats a legitimate request, but I think the jump from $0.99 to 1$.99 isn't that bad, it's the jump from free to paid thats huge.
When I settled on $1.99, I picked it because I genuinely believe my App is worth $1.99, and I believe it’s not a price I'm going to have to change.
I also plan on releasing a lot of apps for a lot of different prices from free to who knows, and I think it's important that I be honest about how much I think an app is worth, so that later when I make things more expensive, or free, people have faith in the brand and what I’m asking. I don’t want to rip anyone off, but I feel like I need to be honest in what I believe my work to be worth.
4. Roughly how many units have you sold?
Zach: The app isn’t in the store yet, but hopefully it will be in the next few days! (Editor's Note: synthPond is now in the App Store.)
5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Zach: I’m still getting used to objective-c and cocoa, but the sdk seemed to be pretty nice. I wish there was a way to access music stored on the device, or put music into the library on the device, but I’m a big believer in working within constraints to make great work, so its fine.
6. Is your company venture backed?
7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Zach: I love rjdj. Also I'm pretty partial to Blocked, BeatMaker, urbanSpoon, and iResist.
8. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
Zach: I think mostly the stuff I mentioned up above
9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Zach: Pretty fun. It's like 30% exploring and problem-solving, and then 70% cleaning up what you did so that people can use it and making it pretty. Actually putting stuff in the App Store is complicated, but now that I’ve done it once, it’s not so bad.
10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Zach: I haven’t started on anything yet, these past few days have been all about bug squashing and cleaning up my release build of synthPond. That said I have a few things on the backburner. At some point i’d like to port this app: http://www.stfj.net/art/2008/Cells1.0/ probably for free, but I’m going to ask some of my more prolific sound-engineer friends to re-do the sounds. Hopefully they won't want any money for it, haha.
Also I have designs on a few games that I want to make, but I dont want to talk about those yet.
Additionally I’m excited to see how people react to synthPond, and I’d like to keep some time open to update it based on feedback. I have some ideas of things I could do to allow people to compose more extensively with it, or share compositions, but I’m waiting to see what people really want.
Another thing that I’ve been working on that’s not exactly an iPhone app per-say is a set of wrappers called mobileFrameworks which im helping develop with Lee Byron. mobileFrameworks is a c++ wrapper library targeted at artists to allow them to write iPhone apps and not have to worry about knowing cocoa. It’s still early in development, but it’s pretty robust. I wrote synthPond in it!