The app economy – interview to MovingWorld

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A recent report claimed that “the App Economy employs now 466,000 people in the United States, up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced”. The author, Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics, LLC, concludes that “Innovation creates jobs, and in this case, lots of them”.

Some insiders are slightly less impressed about the potential of the industry to keep all those jobs growing. According to some, tens of thousands of developers are investing their time and (their) money in apps without the slightest chance for success  not only in the US, also in Europe and Asia.

Easy app money still exists

The common sense of ‘easy app money’ still exists, but just how durable is it? MintMe takes a look at the growing industry of app development.

We asked the developer of one of the most brilliant iphone apps launched in late 2011. Maps 3D is new offline topographic mapping and gps tracker app. It allows for stunning 3D views of cities and mountains alike. Targeting skiers and hikers, the app is visually appealling even for iphone users who would not leave their

We interviewed Moritz Gaupp of MovingWorld to find out more. MovingWorld is the name a of  small app development company based in Germany. Together with his wife, responsible for the artwork and marketing, Moritz focuses in developing iOS apps for iPhone. They outsource all other areas like testing, press, advertising, communications and translations. They intend to keep the team small to be able to react quickly and agile to market needs and customers’ wishes.

Question: For an audience not familiar to programming could you explain why did you develop the app and how you did it?

Coming from the navigation industry, where I was responsible for map display at Navigon, I always wanted to have an outdoor tool with great terrain view, because we both travel a lot and love to be outdoors.

It’s not about looking pretty and being useless. I’m really convinced that a compass-oriented 3D map helps orientating in situations you need directions. In 2007 I started just for fun developing a 3D Map display for Nokia phones. In 2010 (much too late, I know…) I started converting the project to the iPhone.

Question: Which are the limitations of the current technology for GPS apps? Are there areas that are developing slower than others? [mapping, libraries, network and bandwidth, OS, apple store, etc.]

Actually, the tools provided for development are just great, it feels like: do what ever you want.
One limitation is GSP accuracy, so you will never be able to provide a really good positioning or realistic speed readings. When using OpenStreetMap it’s important not to mix other data into the map, because of the OSM licensing model. For example it’s not possible to mix Google imagery with OSM overlays. But the license is about to change.

Question: Which features would you like to add to Maps 3D if you had enough time or resources?

My ideas list lasts easily for the next three years. For every version I plan to bring 4 weeks later I work 8 weeks and skip 50% of the planned tasks, because of so many new features coming in, while developing.
The main goal is to create an app, giving all the tools at hand you need outdoors. I’m in contact with many users asking for features and I have to decide what to support next.

Certainly an Android version would be good to have (just for commercial purpose, don’t like the system though), the iPad version is under construction, there are more maps coming, and there is always the urge to make things more convenient and easier to use.

Question: Which are the biggest challenges to be successful in marketing apps: finding a good idea, the limitations of the platform, promoting the app or monetizing it at a profit, other?

I only can tell from my experience. It took me 1,5 years to get noticed in the Top 20 navigation ranks in the important countries. In this time I improved the app for about 10 versions.
If you don’t want another flash in the pan, compare your idea, artwork concept and the target audience to the apps you want to beat. Then be super honest to yourself, or ask professionals, if you really can compete. Only start working, if so.
Another thing, never underestimate your marketing budget. Consider steady marketing expenses – they will never stop and are the highest at the startup phase.

It really is a business, with all the business rules you will find on any other market. Imagine 500.000 apps out there and only some 1000 developers or companies able to make a living of the revenue.

Question: Maps 3D allows to upload tracks to Everytrail.com. Have you considered Wikiloc.com, GPSies.com, MapMyRide.com and other sharing communities? How important is the social dimension for GPS apps?

Not all of the mentioned platforms offer an API, an interface the app can communicate with. But you can open any track portal in the iPhone browser and download tracks directly into Maps 3D.
Social dimension is surely more important than I support it right now.There are functions coming to share the whole track, all the data and a link that opens the track in google maps. Also a buddy finder would be nice – just to see where your friends are in realtime, e.g. in a ski resort.

Thanks very much Moritz for sharing your thoughts with us – and good luck with other projects at MovingWords. If you want to test the app yourself, download it now from the iTunes store.

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