AppCraver recently spoke with Todd Bernhard, Founder of No Tie Software. 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?
My degree is in Computer Engineering, but for 100sounds, I worked with a terrific programmer, Dylan Beadle to implement my design. We submitted it around Thanksgiving, and it was approved December 12th, and it's been a wild ride since! 100sounds has consistently been in the Top 50 in Entertainment, and as high as Top 32 Overall.
What / how many apps have you made so far?
To date, we have been focused exclusively on 100sounds, adding hundreds of specifically requested sounds and of course, hundreds of free ringtones. But we should be submitting several new apps in the next few weeks, and we have plans for more.
What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
I have more ideas than time, but I am particularly interested in apps that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the iPhone, such as the accelerometer, the touchscreen, the microphone, etc. I like the idea of creating an app that could not have existed a couple of years ago.
How do you settle on the price point for your apps?
I feel very strongly that prices should stay fairly constant. That's not to say that you can't run a sale or increase a price now and then, but as a consumer I find it frustrating to learn that I paid too much. It can backfire as people might wait for an app to go on sale. So when I see apps go from $9.99 to $.99 then $4.99, etc., I think that does more damage to the App Store's credibility than $0.99 apps do.
For 100sounds, we decided free wouldn't allow us to continue to invest in the app, but at $1.99, people would wonder if they paid too much or wait for a sale. At $0.99, nobody can say they paid too much, and instead we get rave reviews that say it was more than they expected and well worth it. So we went with $0.99. A number of people say that we made a mistake, but the success we've achieved, at $0.99, is hard to argue with. In fact, I'll be releasing a free e-book soon that discusses my strategies and can help others looking to market an app.
What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?
Apple has created an ecosystem that enables any individual to market a product side by side with the established game developers. Sure, there are constraints, but it's reasonable when you compare it to the barrier to entry to create and market a game for a Nintendo DS or Sony PSP.
What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?
The biggest challenge has been getting updates approved and the limited communication with Apple. One of our updates took five weeks to be approved, and the only change was enhancing the instructions!
Is your company venture backed or privately held?
Do you have any other apps in the works?
We have several in testing and more on the drawing board, but providing enhancements to 100sounds has been a priority. Since Apple does not allow an app to install ringtones, we spend a fair amount of time providing customer service, walking people through the process. But it's helped us, because our reviews consistently mention our level of service.
What apps do you have on your iPhone?
I love Pocket God and I am amazed at the frequency and quality of updates. I am also addicted to iDice and even though I'm new to the game (Yahtzee), I have posted some of the high scores! My daughter is learning cursive, so ABC Cursive is helping!
What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?
Hanging out with my kids. In fact, they help me with development, suggesting sounds and telling me what apps they like (Pocket God!) or don't, and why. There are so many apps that are unsuitable for kids, so our focus is on family friendly apps.
One Last Thing:
We try to treat each customer as if they bought a $100 program from us. I had one customer who needed help with ringtones but my support emails were being rejected! So I used Classmates.com to sign the user's guestbook and get the support message to the customer! I think sometimes users don't expect to be able to reach a developer for support, so they give up, or worse, post a negative review. Early on, we got a lot of such reviews because people couldn't hear the sounds. If they had checked the iPhone's MUTE switch, they would have solved the problem! So we got some bad reviews, but it helped us make the app better by adding specific instructions. So my message is, if you have any question about an app, contact the developer and give them a chance.
Watch a video about No Tie Software's contest: