How Aussie iPhone developers found success in the App Store

Behind the scenes at the Collect3 development house

What do you think about the Australian iPhone developer community, and how do you see it growing in the future? As a whole, is it particularly competitive compared to development communities in other countries?

Funnily enough, one of the first things I did in looking to start Revolutionary Concepts was to seek out potential partners locally who might have the experience and skills needed to develop some of the ideas I had at the time. The problem wasn’t finding people with the skills — it turned out to be finding people who weren’t already flat-out building their first iPhone projects. Thankfully I found Dave and the rest, as they say, is history.

We’ve since got back in touch with a number of these independent developers and been introduced to many more, and discovered that there’s actually a bit of an Australia-New Zealand Silicon Valley going on. With locally produced apps like Flight Control, iStat, Sound Grenade, iWobble, and our own efforts, as a region we have had more than our share of chart-topping apps. I don’t think this is realised or understood by the government, or they might do more to foster development of this emerging industry.

Dave: There is certainly a growing interest down here as I found when seeing all the people that attended the iPhone Tech Talk tour back in November.

I don’t think it’s currently a particularly competitive environment as most people are working on very different things. Some Australian developers have been very successful on the store and we are really happy to see that.

We do think there is some great talent here in Australia and in the future will be hoping to seek out developers interested in collaborating with us.

Have you seen better reception for your Picture Safe/Video Safe products or those based on XBMC (Xbox Media Center)? Where do you see your company focusing more of its attention?

Picture Safe launched start of February and we were delighted to see that it quickly became one of the top 20 utilities in over 30 countries, making it easily the #1 iPhone app for privacy worldwide.

What isn’t immediately apparent to those looking at the charts are some of the things that separate those developers that experience a degree of success from those that disappear without a trace.

In the case of Picture Safe and Video Safe, we knew the idea was sound but by the time we had built it to the point we were happy with, there were four other apps that beat us to market.

In the end I think it is less about the one great original idea (though that is increasingly valuable in a sea of copycat apps) as it is ensuring that whatever you attempt you carefully and honestly evaluate it’s worth, understand your market, and then execute it so well through superior design, rock-steady performance and reliability, and a great user experience, so that you set the bar impossibly high for those that follow.

But separate to building good quality applications, be prepared for the work involved once you have released your app.

Thirty-thousand plus apps mean it’s foolhardy to invest your time and energy on an app on the assumption that if you build it they will come. It is a full-time job to find new ways to ensure your product stays front of mind — and most importantly rises up the iTunes charts.

This ultimately means finding new ways to continually breathe new life into the product; marketing to news sites and blogs, communicating virally through YouTube etc., building a forum for your users — the list is endless. This is on top of continuing to refine and improve your app and release free updates, and responding to customer e-mails 24/7.

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Tags iPhoneiphone appsapp storecollect3revolutionary concepts

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James Hutchinson

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