A podcast discussing news of note in iOS Development, Apple and the like.


#191: Insulated Perspectives.


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Back from a delightful, extended vacation I want to take a minute (or 15) to talk about the importance of stepping back from the day to day inputs that can so easily mold or distort your views on things. The world is a varied and complex place and likely very different than the people and perspectives you interact with on a daily basis.


#190: Everything but a Business Model


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I will be on vacation for the next two weeks, so unless something monumental happens in between now and late July there won’t be any episodes of Developing Perspective.

Back at WWDC, basking in the glow of the river of great new announcements I had quipped “Wow, they gave us everything but a business model.” That comment is clearly absurd but it does drive towards a more honest and worthwhile point. In many ways the situation iOS developers find themselves in heading into the Autumn of 2014 isn’t about technology or tools, it is about business. As the market has matured the natural consequence is that older inefficiencies that may have propped up unsustainable models have fallen away.

The App Store and related ecosystems are now extremely efficient. If there is an opportunity to be exploited we can expect it to be found and exploited. If you come up with a great new idea it will be analyzed, dissected and the interesting parts copied with often head-turning pace. As I have navigated this transition myself I have started to see many issues with the approach I had been taking to my business. Some of which I have been able to address but many of which I’m still working through.

For the purpose of today’s episode I thought it might be constructive to take a quick tour of the various models and their various strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to be working in rough order of which I think they are desirable in the current ecosystem.

Subscriptions

tl;dr - People pay you on an ongoing basis for providing software and software related services.

Pros - So long as your subscription base is enough for your expenses and your renewal/signup rate exceeds your cancellations you are golden.

Cons - Often tricker to get someone to make a long term commitment. Managing credit cards, expirations, etc. Typically smaller user base needed (yay!), each requiring and feeling owed more (not so yay).

Advertising

tl;dr - People use your software and are presented a message from someone else you pays you.

Pros - Strong possibility for ongoing revenue. Can make your software free.

Cons - You need to show other people’s messages in your apps. Requires large customerbases for reasonable revenue.

Consumable In-App Purchases

tl;dr - People make (typically) small, repeated payments to continue to gain access to aspects of your software. Gratuity based models also fall into this category.

Pros - Strong possibility for ongoing revenue. Lets you segment your customer base by how much they are willing to spend.

Cons - Can quickly get very dodgy.

One Time In-App Purchases

tl;dr - People make payments to gain access to specific parts of the application or content therein.

Pros - Gives users a clear trial of the experience before needing to make a commitment.

Cons - Often very tricky to work out what part of the application can be segmented off. If you are too generous nobody will buy, too stingy and nobody will buy.

Up Front One Time Purchase

tl;dr - People pay money to be able to use your software.

Pros - Simple and straightforward.

Cons - Trickier to make sustainable since your effectively cap your income per user. Single Price. Long term support gets hard to justify.

Free

tl;dr - You create software, everyone uses it without charge.

Pros - Wide adoption potential.

Cons - Often hard to sustain long term. Most often seen in either altruistic or venture based software.

What is best?

It is going to vary for each business. What I have found over the last 6 years is that models that have more of a focus on ongoing revenue are more sustainable than things that are more one-time oriented. Mixing as many as you can often is important too.

It is also absolutely imperative that you have a good working definition of what success looks like for yourself before you can make a thoughtful choice.


#189: In the Loop


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This past week we had a bit of drama about the role of podcast networks. I don’t intend to wade into that discussion but as a result of it I was asked about the role that linking and recommendations play in expanding my own audience for this show. Which is considerable and measurable. I wanted to return the favor this week by talking about how I stay informed about the goings-on in Apple development.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but these are the places I always make sure I’m up to date with.

I actually use Twitter a lot less than I used to. The signal-to-noise (even with aggressive muting) is just too low.

Podcasts

Programming and Design
Business-y Stuff
General News

Blogs

Misc


#188: Thoughtful Accessibility


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Accessibility is an important aspect of software development. Apple’s platforms provide a wide array of tools for easily adding it into your apps. The return for this effort is often somewhat ephemeral but nevertheless rewarding.

  • Basic Accessibility overview
  • Triple-tap home shortcut
  • Thoughtful ordering of controls
  • Thoughtful ordering of words
  • Design the experience, not narration.

  • Pedometer++ (the app discussed).


#187: Explorers


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We are exploring a new territory within the Apple developer landscape. Here is how I plan my expedition.

Get a solid grasp of what’s new

Start with Apple’s own overviews:

Keep in mind questions like these:

  • What does this enable that isn’t currently possible?
  • How would Apple promote this feature?
  • Is this a evolutionary or ‘revolutionary’?
  • Does this seem to be a dead-end or a beachhead?

Short list your paths

Start to think about how you are going to spend your summer.

  • How much time do you have?
  • What are your ‘minimum’ required things? Not what could you do, what must you do?
  • What would you enjoy trying most?
  • Do you have any specific skills, connections or experience that give you an advantage?

Avoid the pitfalls

Keep a few things in mind.

  • New developer focused features are often really buggy to start with and your customers won’t care.
  • It likely need to be ready by September 1. So be careful how much you bite off. (It was Sept 10 for iOS 7).
  • Try to focus on what is going to cool in iOS 8, tackling lots of problems that aren’t specific to it might not make much sense.

And most of all, have fun!