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Exclusive Interview With WiFi Photo iPhone App Developer – Matteo Rossi

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1, Can you tell our readers how your app was orginally thought of, what were your thoughts behind the marketplace, specifically?
WiFiPhoto was written for me at first. I’m a civil engineer and I need to take photos at work. Transfer to my PC was a problem: most of the times I forgot to take the USB cable with me and images sent in emails were low quality and took too much time (I had a first generation iPhone, then). I needed a simple way to do my job and I didn’t want to install apps on PCs I transferred photos to. A web interface was an ideal choice. After all there’s a browser on any computer.
I started thinking that I could sell it on the AppStore when I discovered that many people had my same problem. And indeed I was really curious in seeing how it would perform in the global market. A single app sold all over the world ! I think it’s really amazing what Apple did. Many developers complain about their poor sales but nevertheless it’s unbelievable how easy it is to deliver your apps in multiple countries at once. Before AppStore it was impossible for a developer like me to gain visibility with so little effort.

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2, Can you tell us how you came up with the colors and themes ideas, design?
User interface design was my primary concern. I didn’t want to waste a good idea with a poorly designed app. The problem was that I’m not a graphic designer. I drew and thrashed many sketches before finding the right one. UI design took most of my time even more than programming. Solution came at a sudden: in a night I was able to rearrange all UI elements and draw the final graphic. WiFiPhoto is such a simple app and yet it took me a great effort to make it that simple. Simplicity is the hardest thing.

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3, Who do you see as the main target market for this app?
I think that the main target market is composed of people like me who use their iPhones at work and may need to transfer photos anywhere. Moreover the Slide gallery option I added in update 1.2 might be appealing to many others. I’m on vacation and I want to enjoy on a TV the photos I took in a day. I’m attending a meeting and I want to share my slides or images. I bet people can find many other different uses.

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4, How long did it take from the original planning to the production process of your app?
I started developing WiFiPhoto in late May 2009. The basic implementation took two nights of hard programming. Then it took me two months to get rid of all bugs ! Indeed I wanted a very stable app. I hate sudden crashes and inexplicable behaviors; I wanted WiFiPhoto to be the more bug-free I could. The problem was that I couldn’t find enough time to focus on iPhone development. But I eventually found it when my house was visited by thieves and I was compelled to stay back home on guard for the following three days.
Then I was able to complete my app.

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5, How do you view your sales, is there a good solid market for this style of app?
I’m quite happy with my current sales. iPhone development is not my first job and I’m not too worried about figures nevertheless I think that 13,000 apps sold is a good result for a beginner. I don’t know if it’s a lid market. You know, Apple could just decide that next iPhone OS will bring photo transfer over WiFi and WiFiPhoto would become useless. Anyway I think that Photography is a very competitive section. Many apps from this category reached #1 in many AppStores.

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6, What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding this app development?
The hardest obstacle was the US AppStore. I knew it was by far the most rewarding in all manners but at first I didn’t succeed in promoting my app. Some negative reviews from users who had misunderstood WiFiPhoto’s capabilities drove me nuts for weeks. I could do nothing. Complaining with Apple about wrong reviews is useless (I say ‘wrong’ because they stated false things). At last I received a positive review from CNET and everything changed suddenly.

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7, Would you consider developing apps for third parties?
Not at this time. Too focused on my projects. All in all the good thing in iPhone development is that you can work for yourself.

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8, What have you learnt from the App Store since you launched your app?
I’ve surely learned that surprises hide behind the corner. I hand’t great expectations in the beginning. WiFiPhoto launched in September and AppStore was already a crowded place. Moreover I didn’t know that it was possible to change your launch date once your app was approved and so I found that my app was buried among other tons of apps and didn’t show in Just released section. Nevertheless thanks to some good reviews on popular websites WiFiPhoto started to sell quite well. I was really surprised when I found that it had been selected as Staff favorite in the US AppStore. The greatest lesson anyway is that a good ad campaign is the basis of each success story. If you don’t promote your apps, they will be fast overwhelmed by others. Attention is hard to gain and easy to lose.

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9, Have Apple supported you well with your app?
Apple have always been great at giving developers all necessary tools to create stylish and well crafted apps. With AppStore they took us to another level. From registration as iPhone developer to app submission they did a great job in simplifying each process. Indeed I found all I needed without further support. It’s really true that you can focus on developing and marketing.

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10, What next, are you developing another app? Would you go for the same genre again, if not which?
I’m not developing iPhone apps at the moment. I’m finishing a couple of apps for Mac OS X and I’m going to start a new iPhone project very soon. I’d like to focus on my daily business and write apps for engineers.

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11, The Apple Tablet – what are your thoughts about it?

I bet Apple will keep up with our highest expectations, just like they did with the iPhone. I’m really interested in this new device since I think there are a lot more of possibilities with a wider screen. Just think about my daily work: as a civil engineer I need to constantly update my drawings and reports in accordance with my customers’ requests and inevitable changes during constructions. If I had the chance to do it on the fly I’d save a lot of time. Obviously iPhone is a great companion but its screen is too small for this kind of tasks. Moreover I really hope in a AppStore for the new device.

By Joanne Carter

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said.
Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London.
Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art.
Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK.
She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: joanne@theappwhisperer.com

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