AppCraver recently spoke with Michael D'Ulisse, Chief Marketing Officer of More Blu Sky, Incorporated. He shares his experiences developing for the iPhone and iPod touch.
When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?
Me and my brother, Matt, started developing apps in february of this year. I had purchased a Macbook Pro with my bonus money from my day job and I surrendered the computer to my brother so that he could learn Objective-C As a Computer Engineer, Matt has written code for years.
Recently he had been more hands off with the code and was working as a IT Manager. Part of what made it so exciting for him to program iPhone apps was that he was back writing code, which is what he loves most.
I think for both of us it's sort of a release from our day jobs. Matt is use to working on projects for months or years, and I'm use to having my ideas and designs molded by what the client wants. So iPhone apps gave me the ability to be creative on my own terms, and for my brother, it allows him to see the fruits of his labor at a faster pace then corporate life.
What / how many apps have you made so far?
We currently have five apps. Our first app was iPhaser & Tricorder. It was something we decided to do just to get acclimated to iPhone SDK. It actually turned into a moderate success and still is going strong 6 months after release.
Our second app is actually featured by Apple on the "What's Hot" list. It's called Ransom Letters. The app has gone through many name changes in an attempt to find something that works best for it in terms of marketings. First it was called Nabbed (and was reviewed on this site under that name) and after that it was called Crazy Letters. Now we have changed it yet again to Ransom Letters under the idea that calling it exactly what it is would be the best way to capture peoples attention. Currently, Ransom Letters is selling just shy of the top 100 list on the entire app store but we hope that soon it will make that list.
We also have a Halloween app called Costume Ideas - Halloween. It has over 2,000 costume ideas in it that cover everything from toddlers to adult costumes. It also helps you find the cheapest price for the costume.
What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from every day life. Things that I see in my travels. Stuff people say. I talk to other developers and brain storm. I talk with my girlfriend and we come up with ideas. My brothers wife comes up with ideas. It's funny...because it seems that everyone who knows that we develop iPhone apps wants to give us ideas. Some are good ideas, others not so much...but the best ones sort of just come to me while I'm not really searching for ideas. I guess it's sort of like dating, if you don't look for it, it will find you.
How do you settle on the price point for your apps?
As everyone knows, the price point that sells on the app store is 99 cents. Ransom Letters, for example, is something that we felt should maybe be priced at $1.99 but we wanted to keep it as an impulse buy. I guess the goal is to price it low so that you can get as high as possible in the charts. With some of the recent changes Apple has made in the App Store, our strategy might change, but for now, 99 cents is our price for all our apps.
What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?
The best thing is showing your apps to other people! It's almost celebrity like. People can't believe that they are talking to a real life iPhone developer. The first thing is always "let me see your apps" and the second thing is "Hey I have all these ideas I want to run past you". It also feels good to know that something we created is out there being used by thousands of people!
What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?
Time. Finding the time to do everything that we want to do. Both me and my brother work full time jobs. He has a family and a child. I have a girlfriend. We have a list of over 70 ideas. Some good, some not as good, but we have only had the time to fully develop five of those. So time is the enemy that we are always battling.
Is your company venture backed or privately held?
We are privately held. It's just me and my brother but maybe eventually we might hire some programers so that we can work on two apps at once.
Do you have any other apps in the works?
We do have other apps in the works but recently we were approached by a large company to consult on their move into the mobile space. So we will be working on that app first and foremost before we get a chance to finish any apps that we personally have in progress.
What apps do you have on your iPhone?
I recently bought Canabalt. What a great game! The screen shots do it no justice. Everyone owes it to themselves to check out the flash version of the game at the very least.
What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?
When Matt isn't coding he is hanging out with his family or visiting our family. It's pretty much the same for me. I hang out with my girlfriend every free moment I have. For the most part we spend the majority of our time at our day jobs or working late into the night on apps. It's a tough life but the end product is worth it.
One Last Thing:
I would just like to ask everyone out there to at least take a look at Ransom Letters. We need your help to make it onto the top 100 list. We are so close and every single sale counts at this point! Thank you to everyone who has ever picked up one of our apps. The people who have written iTunes reviews or who have email us, those are the things that keep us working on these apps! Again...thank you all!