Another week, another interesting installment in the DBG ’10 Questions’ series. This week we’re talking with Simon from Conduct in Melbourne about the development of mobile applications and their potential business uses.
Question 1: What first got you interested in developing applications for mobile devices?
SK: Conduct has always had an interest in emerging technologies, but I would say that our move into developing mobile applications was a natural progression for us. Of course I think it is safe to say that the mobile platform is more than a trend. Mobile interaction is helping pave how business will be done in the future across most industries and applications make up a large part of our mobile use. With this in mind, I would say our first interest in mobile applications came out of part necessity and part passion for innovation.
Question 2: What was the key factor that made you decide to turn application development into a business model you could use in your business?
SK: When we first looked at taking this approach we had to take several factors into consideration. Modeling your business around new technology and new media brings its own bag of obvious risks with it but it also offers unique opportunities. It was ultimately these opportunities that led us down the application development track. More specifically, it was a ripening market, few competitors and the opportunity to assemble experts from all areas to form our team.
Question 3: What is the key to a good application?
SK: This is a good question but unfortunately the answer is a little subjective and I could write a small essay on this, but I’ll try and keep it brief. I believe what makes a good app is made up of several components with varying importance depending on the overall objective of the app. Are your measurements sales driven or do your objectives lie elsewhere? These questions are relevant to what makes an individual app good. You have some more obvious features, however, that you would expect in any great app such as a well designed user interface, clever functionality and an overall ‘best practice’ approach. This is your bread and butter for a good app. However, what I believe makes a good app great is its innovation and its ability to offer users real benefits. Being unique pushes you to the front of the common crowd and helps you stand out, set standards and, with hard work, become a leader in your area – apps work in the same manner.
Question 4: How can businesses use an application for their business?
Developing an application is not for everybody. However, mobile technology is now almost naturally intertwined across most aspects of business simply as a result of consumers embracing Smartphone products. The result is that you almost see an application for every possible business application out there. What we largely see for businesses though is using an application as another channel to offer their customers some type of related product/benefit or to simply use an application to augment an existing product. In most instances these will be in the form of free applications that tie into a larger strategy and not just a money maker.
Question 5: What are some common mistakes people make when having an idea for an application?
I guess the most common mistake we see is inadequate market research. There are now over 225,000 apps for the iPhone and 50,000 for the Android and this number is growing rapidly. If you have an app idea you have to first ask yourself if it has been done before and if so why would someone purchase your app over your competitors? If it’s a new idea, offering meaningful benefits to a user and planning how to tackle weaknesses you recognize in your idea are sometimes overlooked.
Question 6: We’ve heard a lot about the iPad and you were one of the first in Australia to get one, thoughts?
Yes it’s true that Conduct was lucky enough to get their hands on one of the very first of these great devices. I think the sheer rate of consumer adoption to the iPad speaks volumes for the product itself. The tablet market as a whole is now gearing up to boom as a result to Apples forward thinking. We’ve seen several competitors recently enter the market to try and steal their share but, being the trend setters, means Apple has a tight grip for now. The space in-between a mobile and a laptop, that the tablet targets, is an exciting and revolutionary step. It brings with it a whole new level of capability for mobile devices and will play a major role in the way we’ll consume content in the future. Where I see the most potential though is in the business application of such devices.
Question 7: What sort of development work are you doing with the iPad for consumers / businesses?
Well we have been lucky enough to have worked on some great concepts for the iPad and currently have several others in the pipeline. A lot of iPad development is extending current iPhone versions of applications, which spread right across the board of consumer and business products. Earlier this year we announced the official launch of Touch Boards, which is an iPad game built in collaboration with jTribe. The concept behind Touch Boards was to build a stylish replacement of the traditional board game box. It requires 2 players to play the 3 games (Chess, Go or checkers). It was a fun project to work on and we couldn’t be happier with finished product.
Question 8: What is the craziest application request you’ve ever had from someone?
Conduct has had a couple of out there proposals but craziest of them all was an idea for Wired Magazine for a mobile AR gaming concept for the AR.Drone quadricopter. The quadricopter is a wi-fi remote controlled flying hybrid helicopter which has a speed of 18kph. The idea was that you control the quadricopter via your iPhone through a series of tilts. It was an awesome concept.
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Simon is one of the Directors of Melbourne-based company Conduct, who are specialists in both web design and development, and iPhone or iPad application development. View their website today to see their impressive portfolio of work and get in touch.