Aug 262009
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

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It’s a keyboard … it’s a mouse … no, it’s the Binary Boys twice in one week! (cue cheers from imaginary fan girls that we wish we had).

This week’s topic is “How to get rich quick” — no, we haven’t succumbed to the pyramid schemes all of those old high school friends keep phoning about.

Today, there are various “app stores” available on multiple platforms (phones). The concept is simple: Download any of the cute little apps directly to your phone through your iTunes or PayPal account.

What makes the mobile application business special is its model. Apple developed what has become the standard business model for app (application) sales for use with its iPhone in 2008.

Here’s how it works: Private developers (even you or us) can program your own iPhone apps using Apple’s Software Developer’s Kit, then send it in to Apple, who will approve it in most cases, and BOOM! You’re in the App Store, making a 70 percent cut of the retail price (which the developer sets themselves).

Most apps cost 99 cents, which may seem like chump change, but let’s say that a measly one-tenth of one percent (.01 percent) of the 45 million iPhone and iPod Touch download the app at 99 cents apiece, that’s more than $35,000. Not bad for what in many cases is only several hard days work.

Don’t think that scenario is realistic? Think again. It has happened to many savvy (and lucky) programmers out there — and right in Fort Collins’ backyard.

Joel Comm is a Loveland resident who led the development of iFart Mobile, an extremely popular, varied collection of fart noises.

Loveland, which sits 20 minutes south of Fort Collins, is more largely known for its sculptures and retirement homes than its farts, but this didn’t stop Comm from netting more than $40,000 in two days last Christmas.

Every self-respecting programmer is thinking about getting into the business, leading us into our next featured developer, a dude named Forrest Heller, an undergraduate student at CU-Boulder who happened to attend high school with us.

His iPhone app, TrippingFest, which makes psychedelic pictures with various shapes and colors, made the Top 10 of the App Store this summer and has been downloaded over 240,000 times.

Upon opening the app, one should find him/herself staring into a mostly blank screen. Instinctively one will touch the black void and quickly discover the motivation behind the title.

Colors, hundreds of them, seem to pour from your fingers in over 20 patterns. We found the effect to be quite fun for about two minutes, until we realized that we’re no artists. We found ourselves with a picture of what we can only imagine Care Bear droppings would look like.

Though we didn’t spend the time to create a masterpiece with it, the app has developed a cult following, netting Forrest some decent wages for his first foray into iPhone app development.

Tuesday we promised a review of $3.99 iRams CSU Campus Map app, which recently came out from Bounce Software and the hands of one CSU alumnus.

To be honest, we were unimpressed with the app upon opening it up for the first time. The map is detailed, yes, but at the $3.99 price point (four times as much as most apps) it was missing some expected features.

The biggest problem was that the map didn’t have a GPS locator — it’s a lot easier to navigate if you know where you are.

Another feature we expected the app to feature was a directory of phone numbers for campus locations. We assumed these numbers would be accessible from the map itself, but the directory remains separate. It has only 14 phone numbers, which can’t be dialed while navigating the directory — a feature that has been with the iPhone since the beginning.

The one thing the map is useful for is its parking lot designations; it makes clear in which numbered lots exist, which no CSU-published map fails to present.

Overall, we reject that a map and 14 phone numbers are worth $3.99 — maybe with the features we would like added. For now we would only buy it for the price of free (perhaps the developers could make money by including ads within the app).

Columnists Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons are hosting a Pokemon tournament at Hyrule Temple. Email for more info and/or additional queries.

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