I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.
Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.
As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.
Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.
At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun
Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.
Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.
New today in the App Store is Nature Images, a free collection of 108 closeup nature photos for use as wallpapers for your iPhone or iPod touch. The press release says that these images have long been available on other platforms and are among the most popular wallpapers in the world. Once you select an image is selected, you tap a button to save it to your photo album. Then, as you likely know, you can use the Photos application to set it as a wallpaper (the app includes simple instructions).
Updates have rolled in and Laan Consulting's iVideoCamera (.99) which works with 2G & 3G now sports two recording options; the standard 160 x 213 and new 320 x 426 size!
For 2010, Mashable.com - which has just retooled its look for the new year - had compilied a list of all 700+ iPhone Apps they reviewed in 2009.
As we begin 2010, there are over 100,000 iPhone apps available for download — an overwhelming array of choices, but plenty of gems if you know where to look.
The MusicSkin (for my iPhone) with John Lennon in front of the Statue of Liberty has arrived, just in time for holiday photo-taking.
The plastic skin fits nicely on the back of the phone. Line up the camera hole (after first punching it out of the plastic) and the rest should fit. It was easy to peel off and reposition. I notice only a few wrinkles.
It changes my color scheme from pure black to a mix of black-and-white. (Other MusicSkins are quite colorful, but this one is more stark.) But it's noticeable. The first time I used it my cool nephew asked, "Where did you get the Lennon phone, Uncle Tim?!"
The image is so clear that you can even read the sign behind John and right at the base of Lady Liberty, which says "Keep Off Grass." I wonder if he thought that would be in the picture. Hmm...
One mistake I made was assuming there was also a clear sheet for the front of the iPhone, so I took mine off. When I put the old one in place I had way too many air pockets and bubbles, so I'll probably have to replace that and do a better job of it.
The packaging says you can also download matching wallpaper from the MusicSkins.com web site, but when I tried from the iPhone I got an error message, telling me it couldn't download the file through Safari. Huh!
This $14 accessory is certainly not essential -- unless you're a Beatles freak. Smile, and say "Peace..."
i.TV is one of my favorite apps... The reason is that I hardly ever watch TV. You see, because I'm a cable remote dummy, it takes me forever to find shows/channels. It's great to be able to quickly pull up an easy to navigate listing, even tune in previews and rent movies right from my iPod touch. The app had some recent challenges with stability evidently, and it's top rating suffered as a result (was even pulled from the store at one point). It then took a double-wammy due to a problem with Apple's download services (erroneously sending an old version).
iSpy - Web Cams is a very cool app that can be used for fun and/or education. See live web cam shots from around the globe - even control some of the cameras!!
The sun is slowly setting right now somewhere on Earth. Watch it as it slowly dips below the horizon line. Then switch views and gaze upon the sun reemerging on the opposite side of our great planet.
I must admit that some of the most fun I have with my iPhone also requires a cat. Or three. Yes, I have no fewer than four apps that meow and make other cat sounds. That sounds a bit weird, but if you're a cat owner (or a cat owns you), there's lots of fun to be had with such apps. See, cats may think they're really smart, but in reality few cats understand how an iPhone works. So if there are meow sounds and there are no other cats around, that is certain to raise a few whiskers.
The Christmas Card App by Equinux is a fun app, but very limited creatively. You are able to choose your picture to place in a ready made frame. The picture can be adjusted and zoomed. Text can be changed, however the note area at the bottom is very small and can't be centered. The card comes through fine on email - but when attempting to copy or save image the greeting line is not saved. Forwarding the email results in gibberish and HTML code splashed all over the place. Any text written at the bottom of your email bleeds into the card.