The Realities of Developing Mobile Applications


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The Realities of Developing Mobile Applications

  1. 1. The Realities of Developing Mobile Applications. Steven Mitchell, Ph.D. Componica, LLC
  2. 2. About us. Componica, LLC ( Memorize Words for Spanish / Russian / French Between February-March 2010, top 4th selling app in education. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  3. 3. Convergence of Disjointed Talent Programming in Objective C, Javascript, Java, C++ Graphical Interface Design Data / Music / Game Levels Marketing and Advertising Project Management Michael, Sarah, Patrick, Steve (myself) Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  4. 4. Programmers are expensive $3,000 to $8,000 per month per person just to pay salary and benefits. Typical project takes 1 to 5 months. Specialized skill. This isn’t web design...your best friend’s brother probably cannot help you here. A good developer can literally be 10x faster than a mediocre one saving money in the end. Do it yourself? Some people can, most people can’t. It’s free but time consuming. Outsource? It’s very tricky to find an effective developer. Steve (myself), Patrick, Donald Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  5. 5. Adhere to guidelines There’s always a risk your app may be rejected. Designers sometimes apply web paradigms onto mobile: There are no hovers. The user isn’t using a mouse. Not using standard GUI controls increase development costs and risk rejection. Buttons and widgets must have a minimal size otherwise people with fat fingers can’t tap them. Must adhere to published human interface guidelines. Must not crash. Duplicate apps might be rejected. This also means don’t compete with an app that Apple or Google is developing. You might not know you are until they reject you. No more stupid fart apps or other “trivial apps” (Apple actually states “no Fart apps” in there guidelines). etc... Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  6. 6. Your app must look awesome to compete. People buying decision is very very influenced by the screen shots and the app icon. Graphic designers cost a few hundred to a few thousand. Quality and style varies a lot. Difficult to find a good artist, so you need to see their past creations. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  7. 7. Planning ahead, the storyboard. The client might not be aware apps design requires this much detail. Poor planning wastes development time and that will cost you thousands. Everything must be explained and diagrammed: This button goes here, that screen looks like that, the app will react this way when the user does that. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  8. 8. Limitations of the Device Sure that iPad costs as much as a decent notebook, but it’s pretty weak as a computer. Apple’s making a killing selling a computer weaker than a $150 netbook for $600. 1 Ghz CPU with 256 Mb of RAM. (I benchmarked it at 10x to 30x slower than my Macbook Pro depending on iOS device and use.) A custom GPU to create the illusion it’s a fast machine with hardware-based 2D animation, video decoding, and OpenGL (3D graphics). Example: A real full-featured Photoshop-like iPad app is unlikely. Not enough RAM to hold full-size DSLR images and CPU too slow. (iPhoto fakes it by shrinking the image in iTunes). Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  9. 9. Interfacing the Device to Hardware Apple charges thousands to have access to the iPod/ iPad/iPhone port. By default Bluetooth only works for headphones and microphones. They also charge thousands to get access to Bluetooth for custom use. Access doesn’t just mean the legal rights to it; it mean special passwords from Apple or Google so that our code is allowed to talk to the hardware. (Clients often ask “Well it’s not going on the App store so can you do it anyway?”...”No.”) Wifi and audio jack are the only ports you can use for free. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  10. 10. Data doesn’t magically appear. For example, each language took six months of development: Developing a flashcard dictionary Recording a native speaker (difficult to find.) Sound editing...carpal tunnel galore. Costs ~$6k - $8k per language. No, we’re not going to create Swedish, Icelandic, Dutch or any other minor language. We can’t afford it. Stephanie, Katya (Russian Speaker), Nicole Not stock photos, and we really own a soundbooth. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  11. 11. Will it talk to others? Servers. Sometimes a client will request their app must have a forum, connect to Facebook, upload the user’s location to somewhere, etc. Costs will dramatically increase because you’ll need to implement servers. Requires a completely different type of programmer(s). Server are not free. Hundreds to thousands a month for the client. Is this a critical requirement or just a feature? Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  12. 12. Market your apps, or don’t bother. Apps DO NOT sell themselves, there’s at least 150k apps to compete against. Hire a marketing group that’s good at it. They suggest design changes, price points, and selling tactics. They do mysterious things to create buzz and sales. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC ( Marketer group redesigned the Logo Marketer made reviews of our app mysteriously appeared. Twitter feeds popped out of nowhere without our direct consent. Marketer group suggested a better price.
  13. 13. Ideas are cheap, implementation is not There are many people with many ideas, but most people lack the means, persistence, or desire to implement them. There’s a lot of talkers out there and very few doers. You are competing with our own ideas and unlike you we can create whatever we think of (You wouldn’t be approaching us if you could) So... Just as you’re trying to find good developers, we are trying to find good clients. When I’m (Steve) listening to your pitch, I’m trying to decide if I should halt our in-house projects and work on your project. Our in-house projects are quite profitable, so the threshold is very high. Is your idea more profitable than ours? Is it really? We don’t take equity as payment. Your idea isn’t that awesome, trust me, you’re wasting time for both of us if you think it is. Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (
  14. 14. In Conclusion... Unless you do it yourself or are very savvy at outsourcing, it will cost tens of thousands. Will you sell enough apps to recoup that investment? Planning is everything. Be realistic, ask seasoned developers. Fill a niche. Easy ideas are gone. (Roxio wrote many games before Angry Birds became a didn’t happen by accident, it happen by insane tenacity) On the bright side, seeing an idea come alive is very rewarding. “I am a paramedic for the FD and it is helpful to learn body parts, symptoms and other medical terms before learning about train stations, bus stops or other tourist type things you have to learn first in other programs.” “Something fun and effective’re doing it right.” “I needed to improve my Russian for a trip to eastern Ukraine without a laptop and Rosetta, this is a great little tool for on the go and impromptu learning on the plane train bus airport etc” Copyright 2011 - Componica, LLC (