Apps are popular so James Schramko interviews Software Integrations expert Steve “O” (Steve Ovens) about apps (and other geeky stuff like ‘gyroscopic’).
Steve Ovens was a software developer in Silicon Valley when the first tech boom occurred. Will it happen again?
Listen in for our discussion surrounding IPads, iPhones, Androids, Apps, Games, User behaviour and more. Enjoy!
James: James Schramko here, and today I have a special guest from Internet Software Systems, Steve Ovens. Welcome Steve.
Steve: Good day, James.
James: So you’re up visiting the lab, and we have been discussing all things Internet marketing for the last few days. I thought it would be good to record some ideas that we’ve been talking about. You up for that?
Steve: Sure. Yup. Up in the spaceship? It’s good.
James: You’re quite a technical fellow.
Steve: I’ve heard it said, yes. Back around in software development. Yes, I do tend to the technical.
James: Right. So something on my mind that I don’t have a huge technical knowledge about is applications. We’re hearing a lot about technology changing. I’m currently writing a post about Kindles because I’ve switched from books to Kindles.
Steve: Yeah. A lot of people are doing that apparently.
James: And I’m interested in publishing to the Kindle format. But the other thing that’s pretty popular are apps.
How to build an app
Steve: Yeah. I mean a lot of people are asking about making apps and lots of businesses are interested in, can somebody make an app for them? Yeah, a lot of people have that question. How do I start, you know, how do I go about building an app?
I guess the first thing is just like a website. What’s the purpose of it? Why are we making app in the first place? Just because the boss thinks it’s a good idea or Bill down the road’s got one, I think I should have one, is not a good idea. So we want the app to have some sort of purpose in a business.
It might be just to extend your reach. Real estate companies for example are using that to encourage people to go to open homes and that sort of thing. They’re giving them those sorts of applications. But the thing that people struggle with is often that they just don’t know where you start. How do you actually go about making that. Do you want me to talk a bit about that?
James: Yeah. I was just thinking why someone wants an app. There’s a few groups I guess. One would be, you have a business, like the real estate agent. They want to extend something of value to a potential audience. I guess there’s the other type who watched the webinar by a guru who told them they are going to be rich.
Steve: Yes, there’s plenty of them.
James: Do those people generally succeed or are they just 2000 bucks out of pocket?
Steve: I suspect the largest number then would be $2000 out of pocket.
James: What do you think is, what would cause that? Is there a big disconnect between the fantasy of having a money-making app and actually implementing it. Is it harder than they say or is it just as easy as it’s made out?
Making and implementing it
Steve: Look, there’s a lot of business models that work. But you often have to have the context to be able to approach them and succeed. What a lot of people are missing is that initial context that really allows them to evaluate, is this the right business model for me? Do I have the skills that are going to predispose me to be likely to succeed in this thing? Just to be able to evaluate the claims that are often made. When they put in the small print, these results are not typical. That’s exactly what they mean. These results are not typical.
James: Right. So it’s people who have the context to be able to make it work and do quite well with it. Look where you are up with your Apple app revolution. You used to design software in Silicon Valley at some point.
Steve: Yeah, I did. I spent four years in San Jose, California, which is down the road from Apple, a little bit down the road from Apple. That was really fun. We did some really cool stuff. I used to create. So before there were Google Maps, I was working with a company that made mapping applications. It’s probably still the most fun that I’ve had doing something I was really passionate about. I loved doing it with a great group of people. It was just really good fun.
James: So the chance that apps will be that next wave of passion for you.
Steve: Yeah. I think there’s a fair chance. I’m certainly interested in the topic. I’ve actually been along to some introductory training on what is all this stuff about because even though I’ve been building software since I was in short pants, it doesn’t mean that I’m a good app developer. I can’t just start building apps. There’s a whole bunch of staff to learn. Now that’s because I want to know enough about it to make good decisions about who do I hire to build the apps for me, what should I be thinking about when I’m designing an app? Because you know, one of the things that the typical app device, the mobile device, it’s really designed for content consumption.
You think about how you use a mobile phone or an iPad. It’s 10 seconds while I’m staying in the banquet. It’s not something that you necessarily spend hours on crafting the document. It’s not designed to be a Word processing platform. So you’ve got to build an app that fits in with how people use it.
James: Yeah. I was just thinking with games, I know some spend more than 5 minutes on certain games. I think maybe some of that “get rich” biz opp was focusing around the game side of it. So we’re talking about two different things here maybe.
Apps vs. games
Steve: Certainly. I think the games market is very competitive. I think the typical approach that people were taking was the saying, let’s look at an app that’s doing really well. So we see Angry Birds is doing really well. It’s a super popular game. Let’s go and create something that’s a lot like that in terms of maybe the game physics or the gameplay.
James: Does it make a little bit of vomit come into your mouth by just the thought of how unoriginal and uninspired people are?
Steve: (laughs) Yeah. Let’s just go and get a model of somebody that’s already come up with a great idea.
James: Yeah. Why reinvent the wheel when you can steal one?
Steve: The things that I find interesting and exciting are the ones where you actually do have an idea and you go, “Wouldn’t this be cool as an app?” When we’ve talked about your Wealthification process for example, that’s one that to me stands out. It’s something that would be an original app. I should be giving away such great ideas as these.
James: I mean there are things like that, like business model generation apps. That’s the sort of thing that I would use as a consumer, and I do. And then I find that it’s…
Steve: It doesn’t do quite what you want.
James: It’s not quite solving the problem that I’ve been able to solve with Excel spreadsheets. So I guess we’re coming in a completely different angle here. This is a business extension of something that I already have in my information division, and it would probably cross across into the software area of my business, where I want to extend the problem solving ability of my offer beyond just the format that it’s currently in and take it into a portable arena.
Steve: Yeah. That’s right. And you could use that in a number of different ways. I mean you might say, “Here’s an app,” which it could be there to create an audience for you, or which the business model generation one is a good example of that. It kind of presumes that you know the information that’s in the book, to be able to use it really effectively.
James: So it sells the book.
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
James: Right. And it’s also the sort of app that people who are interested in business share with each other.
Steve: Oh. I don’t know whether you gave it to me or I gave it to you and said, “Hey, you’ve got to check this out. It’s really cool.”
James: I think Mike Rhodes gave me the book and then I’ve been sent the PDF and the app by several other people saying, “This is the sort of stuff you are interested in.” So they’ve identified that level of interest.
Steve: And I think with those types of apps too, unlike the games where it might be $1.99 for an Apple, I think the business model generation one is $42 or something.
James: And for someone like me, I’d buy a book worth that much. And a thing that’s on my iPad is great. So how much does an app cost?
How much is an app
Steve: To build, or to make, or to buy? (laughs)
James: Ha-ha. It depends. Are we buying? Are we selling?
Steve: Well, to build an app, you’ve got a couple of different options for making an app. The first thing is you could just create a mobile-friendly website. That’s certainly an option.
James: That’s the basic form of app.
Steve: It’s a basic form of app. When you consider that an app is just a way for you to create interactive content that’s available on a mobile device, it’s an app. It just happens to be packaged in a mobile-friendly format. But there are limitations with that because you know, from inside of a Web page, I can’t click on a button and take a photo, or some video, or go into my user library, or read the “Jaroscope” if I’m on an iPhone. None of these things are available on the device.
James: I didn’t understand anything you just said.
Steve: The propeller starts spinning.
Steve: Well you know, I can’t press a button on a webpage and make my iPhone take it.
James: The Jaroscope. I’m massively impressed.