This is the third installment of our on-going series of iPhone Developer interview. Last time, we had an interview with Ky Yu, the developers behind iLoader for iPhone.
This time, we have a chance to catch up with Valerio Dutto, the iPhone developer behind the EasyTrail GPS. In the interview, Valerio will share with us the experience on developing the app.
[SB]: Could you please tell us a little bit about EasyTrail app, your company and how you started as an iPhone developer?
[VD]: EasyTrails is a GPS tracker useful for all outdoor activities. I can say that with the possibility to work in stand by mode, the friendly sharing system, the multimedia waypoints and the compass (just to say the main features) everyone can enjoy it in disparate situations.
It was quite natural for us to start to develop for iPhone: Zirak srl (our company) was founded ten years ago by young people keen on new technologies and IT so we always look for be keep up to date on what is going on in this sector and to invest in what is hot and interesting: so we released not only EasyTrails GPS but also Document Scanner, Scanner&Fax and Autovelox Plus (a speedtraps scanner that had a great success in Italy).
[SB]: What attracted you to the iPhone platform and start to build iPhone application? Do you develop application on other mobile platforms such as Android?
[VD]: There are several reasons we decided to build iPhone apps. First of all the AppStore, a marketplace that permits an innovative model of business. Another essential element was the diffusion of the iPhone and its broad success: doubtless it is the today’s most important mobile platform. Moreover, with the iPhone the developers don’t need to worry about fragmentation, because there are only few models with highly consistent features and behaviour between them: in other platforms different devices have different characteristics (screen sizes, color depths, input technologies, and so on) and different implementations leading to the “write once, test everywhere” methodology.
Anyway we develop also for other platforms as Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Mobile because we believe these are the technology of the future and we think it?s important to not get left behind.
[SB]: How long did it take to build the app and how do you determine the price of the app?
[VD]: To build the first version of EasyTrails GPS we took around four months. We needed additional four months to develop the others features that are conveyed in what is now version 3.3.
To determine the price of the app, our marketing department conducted a market analysis. They saw that the most popular paid applications are in tier one (i.e., $0.99) or two (i.e., $1.99). Given the advanced features, we decided to stick to the tier two. Once we developed new features and we released the 3.0 version, we decide to pass to the tier three. And you know what? The sales not only didn’t get lower but instead they increased.
[SB]: What’s the best way to learn iPhone programming? Any advice you can give to those who just kick start the iPhone development adventure?
[VD]: A good way to begin are the Stanford University’s iPhone development videos. With them, beginners could read the Apple’s Technical Documents, particularly the iPhone Application Programming Guide. And, of course, do a lot of practice.
[SB]: With over 170,000 apps in App store, how do you promote your app and make it stand out from the crowd?
[VD]: With thousands of apps you need the best promotion for stand out: for this we decided to focus on the quality of our apps and of the customer support service. Of course we have a website, a facebook fans page, a lite version and we submit the apps to review websites but we think it?s thanks to the word to mouth that we arrived to be known and get good results. We got also great ?award? as to appear in the staff favourite box of the US AppStore (and other countries) or to win the award as BestApp for outdoor use. Besides another thing that helped I think are the tutorials we released for all ours apps. Our idea is not just to sell the most but to make the best apps to satisfy people.
[SB]: I’ve heard from some developers that they would like to quit the day jobs and build iPhone apps to make a living. Any advice for those would-be-full-time developers?
[VD]: Of course it would be great and there are some apps that had a huge success but for our experience I don?t think it would be easy to make a living with it. To develop and manage several apps, to release new features and follow the marketing of all of them it?s necessary to be a group of people well organised. My advice is to work in team with other people.
[SB]: iPad is here. Any plan to release the iPad version of your apps?
[VD]: Definitely yes, it?s a really interesting device and we think it will have a good success.
If you are an iPhone developer and would like to be featured in our developer series, please contact us. We are glad to share your iPhone development experience with our readers.