On December 2nd, the Moms With Apps developers gathered at their first Workshop in San Carlos, California. The afternoon was spent in small groups tackling issues from app launches to emerging mobile platforms. Special thanks to the team at Creativity Inc. for letting us use their offices. In addition, thanks to Ahmed, Ush, Michelangelo, Chris, and Sara for: facilitating / videoing & hosting dinner / logo creating / flying in & photography / and providing some refreshments – respectively!
There is an attendee list posted on the Eventbrite invitation if you are interested to see who signed-up, and there were at least 10 additional developers who stepped in on overflow. It was packed. Most attendees were app developers based in the Bay Area. Thank you everyone for coming, contributing, and following the agenda so productively. Feel free to add a link or a comment on this post to announce your attendance and impressions.
What did you cover?
We were able to cover our entire agenda, which included:
- Launching an app
- Pricing models for apps
- Branding apps
- Post-launch sustainability of apps
- Development platforms for apps (Android / iOS / Amazon / Nook / etc.)
- Light discussion on COPPA and parental consent
We did this by breaking into six teams of 8 to 10 people, had a 45 minute discussion, and had each team leader give a five minute presentation of their findings.
Unfortunately, I was so caught up in running the physical event that I turned out to be a horrible note-taker. I’m hoping others will summarize their notes in blog posts that can be posted on the link-exchange below.
Did you take any photos or video?
Yes, there were photos, and Ush grabbed my old Flip to capture some of the presentations on video. I need to think about privacy before posting all of this stuff, so I’ll work with the attendees on approvals and publication. In the meantime, here we are kicking off the second portion of the event.
What did you learn from the event?
The event made a significant impact on me, and I could feel the learning curve doing its work throughout the rest of the weekend. These are my personal impressions:
- Don’t make an app, just for that. What I mean is that if a developer doesn’t feel their app is “five-star-worthy”, then wait, and launch it when it IS. Take beta testing seriously. The competition is huge, and everyone in the marketplace is flooded with mediocre apps. For the past two years I subscribed to the “it’s fine if it’s a good effort” philosophy. That works if you are up for experiments in a new market. Today, the market is no longer new, so we need to be remarkable.
- Is Pro is a way to go? I like this idea of a “Pro” version of an app that has all in app purchases lumped into one premier priced app. This not only works well for educational institutions who need to purchase via the Apple Volume Purchase Program, but it also works for parents who have tested the regular version, deem it worthy, and want the option to purchase a “complete” version for their kids, sans interruption.
- Branding: what’s your story? Too many times I click the “about” page of a developer website and it reads just the same as any other. What makes you special? Human interest stories are cool, I’d like to see more of those highlighted because it helps people relate. In addition, Chris and Alesha gave a solid presentation on branding guidelines, and I’m hoping they’ve got a write-up coming from their group discussion notes.
- Get out there. There was a new developer there who had been retweeting me for months, and I recognized him from his proactive stance in social media. We made a great connection in person, and it was stronger because he had been “in my face” for so long. Relationship building doesn’t happen overnight, but social media can help lay a foundation for future interactions.
- Emerging leadership is important. Just as good branding helps consumers make sense of the marketplace, leadership helps people choose a direction. The choices we make now are important to ensure long-run diversity with family-friendly apps. I appreciate the leadership shown by team captains at the Workshop, and in particular Andy of Launchpad Toys. He is out there forging new territory, making connections, and proposing solutions. In this landscape of chaos, there are plenty of leadership opportunities – and I think those who take the extra steps to lead will help shape their options moving forward.
- Watch out for the Fire. At the Workshop I saw a Kindle Fire, and it looks slick and compact. The price point is attractive and I wonder how effective it will be in making “a tablet for every person in every home” a realistic trend. Try to get your hands on one to play around with it, and see how you think it might impact your development strategy.
- If you are developing on iOS, you are developing for a company with a point of view, so understand that point of view and how your app supports that vision. I’ve only just started “the book”, but as we know, Apple’s core is constructed of traits like excellence, efficiency, intuition and focus. Does your app incorporate those traits?
How would you change the event, if you did it again?
I would plan for a break after the first set of presentations. I would try harder to get sponsors so we could have resources for flying people in on “scholarship”. I would designate a person in advance to do communication with the remote audience so they could follow along. However, I did find the break from tech, and the focus on pen/paper/whiteboard, to be effective and refreshing.
Invitation to post content
Participants, feel free to post your observations in comments, or in blog posts on this link exchange. Readers, feel free to post questions. It was fantastic experience topped off by a lively dinner. Group cheers to that!