So why develop for the iPhone

Nick commented on my earlier post claiming that the cost of a development machine (a Mac) is simply too much to sway him to develop for the iPhone. This mentality ignores the principle that good apps on the iPhone MAKE money.

CONNECTED DATA writes about why they develop for the iPhone:

When the pitcher releases the ball a batter has to decide where they will swing. If they wait too long the ball will be in the catcher’s mitt before they decide. The same logic is why we are developing for the iPhone.

In learning about development for the Blackberry platforms, we have to create a build for each phone and each network. As a developer, I just can’t afford it. Most of my customers right now have Blackberries. I think that in the next year or two they will have an iPhone.

Thing is, this problem already exists for Symbian devices and it will become an issue for Android devices as well. (It’s less of an issue for Windows Mobile because the UI is so generic ,and meaning that in the negative sense, that it doesn’t matter. It would be on a refrigerator and still be crap!)

David Pogue’s recent and damning review of the new BlackBerry Storm has the internet all a-twitter about the shortcomings of the device.

He writes:

“A light touch highlights the key but doesn’t type anything. Only by clicking fully do you produce a typed letter. It’s way, way too much work, like using a manual typewriter.”
“Remember: To convert seconds into BlackBerry time, multiply by seven.”
“Freezes, abrupt reboots, nonresponsive controls, cosmetic glitches. Way too much ‘unexpected behavior.”

Why do developers prefer the iPhone?

Developers aren’t a tricky breed. They like to code cool applications and get paid for it. The benefit of coding for the iPhone/iPod Touch is that the specs are the same and aren’t likely to change anytime soon. Coding across platforms takes more time, energy and money, and if the payoff isn’t there, then developers aren’t likely to adjust their code for the varying screensizes and hardware/software features specific to a particular phone.

Mark my words – it’s simple to develop for Android now that there’s a single hardware specification (in the form of the T-Mobile G1). It’ll be entirely different when there’s five competing hardware manufacturers.

Moving on…

invariably…

About a hundred years ago in 1995 I was being taught Modula-2. And I loathed it.

One thing I took home from it was to somewhat intelligently name your variables.

This is why the Hillegass Cocoa bible is causing some upset for me. They use terms like ‘tableView’ and I’m never sure if these are reserved keywords or if they’re variables. This means you’re groping around in the dark a lot of the time in the hope that you can figure things out. i.e.

-(NSInteger)numberOfRowsInTableView:(NSTableView *)taskList
{
return [taskStore count];
}

-(id)tableView:(NSTableView *)taskList \
objectValueForTableColumn:(NSTableColumn *)tableColumn \
row:(NSInteger)row
{
return [taskStore objectAtIndex:row];
}

took me an hour to figure out that where I have ‘taskList’ the book used ‘tableView’ which makes it just harder to understand. The code above still uses one ‘tableView’ but it works. If I replace that with something else, it breaks.

Yes, I am stupid. And a n00b. Sue me.

ooh, that’s soooo web three point zero of you….

I was forwarded this link by @surfsofa:”Chief executives still don’t get the web“.

A recent Heidrick & Struggles poll found that 56pc of senior business people had never logged onto Facebook. Clearly there’s a generation gap issue, as most CEOs are in their 40s or older. CEOs who got burnt in the financial fallout of the dotcom bubble in 2001, or over-invested in preparing for the damp squib that the Y2K computer bug turned out to be, typically have deep reservations about investments in technology

This isn’t surprising, really. If you’ve been burned or lost a lot of money you’re going to be sceptical and it’s going to take a while before you can seriously consider that sector again. It’s also not surprising that the older generation has not logged into FaceBook (or even LinkedIn) because they may need convinced of the value. I’ve seen the value of LinkedIn this week with replies from some major media companies that would have been almost impossible to find elsewhere. Likewise with Facebook – it tells you not only what a person presents but also a lot more qualities about someone, for example, whether you’re more or less likely to get on and, frankly, whether they spend a lot of time fighting werewolves and zombies online.

We’ve heard of the effects of Facebook in hiring: make sure your profile says the truth about you, you never know who is looking.

Visionary business leaders hope that Wave Three will include businesses waking up to and fully embracing the true potential of the internet. Narayana Murthy, CEO of Indian IT services group Infosys, states: “Web 2.0 has been focused on social communities, on individual relationships; things not focused on the office. I would like Web 3.0 to be about more interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, on making life better for the customer.

*deep sigh*

I’m sorry, Narayana, Web 2.0 is already about interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, it’s already about conversations, it’s already about improving the experience of individuals online. When someone trots out “Web 2.0”, I think that they may be telling me something about some new social / interactive / conversational / user-generated internet phenomenon. Web 2.0 is simply a way of saying “Not Web 1.0”, “Not static pages”, “Not one way communication”.

In contrast, when someone trots out “Web 3.0”, I think they’re an idiot.

ZunePhone to Zune WinMo smartphones.

ITNews Australias writes:

What do you get if you take an iPhone, remove the clean UI, user friendliness, nice industrial design, battery life, cachet, functional OS, and in general everything else that makes it worthwhile?

The new Microsoft phone, powered by Nvidia.

I’m sceptical of the truth of this but it does essentially show that life is going to be difficult for Windows mobile licensees.

iPhone developers: demand outstrips supply

Raven Zachary on the Inside iPhone O’Reilly Blog writes:

I love talking with entrepreneurs and people passionate about their ideas. It’s one of the things I look forward to most in my week. Unfortunately, we are at a phase in the growth of the iPhone ecosystem where there is a significant gap between individuals with the ideas and those who are actually capable of turning the ideas into iPhone applications. This gap is almost entirely financial in nature. The demand for iPhone developers exceeds the supply and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

This is a good thing. We have a situation where it is realised that while ideas do have merit, they are worthless without execution and unless you have the ability to execute it, or the money to have that execution funded, then your idea has only merit going for it.

This is why I think xCake, though not fully formed, has some amazing potential as a way to increase the iPhone development skills in the province. The problem being that I don’t know anyone locally who has the expertise and the time to do justice to it. Stuart Gibson and I are meeting weekly and setting homeworks to improve our iPhone/Cocoa development knowledge but it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.

How long does it take to become a Mac/iPhone developer? I’ve seen a lot of iPhone developers out there who have ten years of developing on the Mac and some with more (based on being developers for Mac OS 9 and/or OpenSTEP). It takes time.

Kids online time is positive

SFGate writes:

Rather than wasting their time, children who gab on Facebook or play online games are gaining valuable social skills and learning some technology basics, according to a study to be released today.
…children who don’t have access to some of today’s most popular online diversions risk being social outsiders lacking some of the basic skills necessary to function in the Internet age.
“There is this generational gap in thinking about the value that social networking brings,” she said.
Parents may find the new digital reality mystifying because it didn’t exist during their childhoods, the researchers said. But barring children from it, they concluded, eliminates an important social and recreational activity and could leave them ignorant of how to interact, not only in their youth, but also potentially in their professional lives.

Of course, the comments are pretty much what you’d expect from 1950s parents ranting about rock and roll or 1980s parents worried about too much space invaders…

vernondozier writes:

social skills?…what social skills?…text-messages,emails and facebook are not a replacement for actual human contact in real time…not virtual time inside a PC…youth today can’t spell,compose a paragraph or read at their grade level…but according to this article they can text each other with expertise…wonderful..

makesyathink writes:

wonder who paid for this study? They said that kids with no TV would be left behind too and it is simply is not true. Read most text messages between kids and it is all chatter with no real meaning.

gojira writes:

“Read most text messages between kids and it is all chatter with no real meaning.” Although exactly could be said about listening in on their conversations. The overwhelming majority of young people are, sad to say, pretty stupid. Which is not a new development. That’s certainly how it was for my generation, and most of them grew into equally stupid adults.

It’s kinda ironic. When I was growing up, my grandfather was concerned about the amount of television I watched. Then later my father was concerned after I got my first ‘colour’ computer that I was spending too much time in front of that. Really, the amount of time spent there is immaterial if the experience is positive. And we didn’t even have the internet back then. I was using the computer to write as opposed to play computer games. I still spend 99% of my computer time either reading what others have written or writing.

Is this considered negative because I wasn’t at the park with my friends? I’d have to remind my father that when I was eight years old he bribed me with a pound note to read an entire Alastair McClean thriller. And thus began my descent into nerd-dom.

But is it bad? Despite a diversion into biology which lasted me from age 12 to graduating with an Honours degree in Genetics, I’d always liked computers. I still don’t own a ‘grown up’ games console (the family has a Wii). I meet with gaming friends once a week (whom I met on the ‘net), I also have at least one other night a week where I’m meeting interesting people (Belfast OpenCoffeeClub), other Mac nerds (NiMUG), mobile technology enthusiasts (Mobile Monday Belfast) or any of the other events I get invited to. To be honest – there are many more that I have to turn down due to just not having enough days in the week. Hardly the image of a social outcast that ‘concerned individuals’ would have you believe – and I reckon I spend more time online than anyone I know…

Create or Facilitate

Ian Graham of TheCodeFactory.ca writes about whether we CREATE or FACILITATE communities:

Create is in fact a very strong word and implies that you make something from nothing. If you read the bible you will recall the story of creation. In seven days God created the earth, man and all of the wild beasts. Pretty powerful stuff. Most mere humans lack the capability to create something.
Facilitate is different and more of a catalyst in nature. When you facilitate you act as an agent on existing elements helping to bring them together. Communities waiting to happen exist everywhere. These communities can often be made more vibrant and dynamic with a bit of facilitation or the act of bringing elements together.

I tend to the side of FACILITATE.

The first community I worked with was the Northern Ireland Mac User Group. I created the mailing list, web site and the forum which allowed the community to manifest. The community was already in existence throug word of mouth and shared emails.

Some groups don’t tend to naturally congregate and therefore it’s hard to quantify the community as whole – though the internet provides a method of easily managing this side of community engagement.

My day job, as the Facilitator for the Digital Circle really means creating a focus to allow the digital media creation ‘community’ which then permits the “Steering Group” to focus the direction of those members of the community who want to collaborate towards the given goal. Yes, at times it’s a little like herding cats and everyone can joke about managing a committee towards a decision.

If we, as facilitators, focus our energies on creating an ‘oasis’ where communities can engage with each other, and then work through the process removing baggage where necessary, we can better achieve the stated aims of the ‘oasis’ (which, again, may not be core to the community aims).

Make Corporate Butts Pucker

I wrote:

A year ago Rich Segal wrote an article on how to make a corporate butt pucker.

As we inch closer to opening the CoWorking site in Belfast, I find myself having loftier dreams regarding it. I envisage a place where we can assist startups and if necessary turn a couple of dreamers into new entrepreneurs.

The level of support required for this would, of course, be minimal.

What does ‘Code4Pizza’ get out of it?

Well, the aim is kudos and ten percent. Ten percent? Yes, ten percent of the company created. Which means the directors of code4pizza are motivated to make it a success. It will be the only way that code4pizza can become self-sustainable.

What do students get out of it?

A real placement? How about a placement where they’re not washing the VP’s car (as happened in Nortel). Or making tea for line managers in manufacturing (again, Nortel). They’ll get real experience, real mentoring from real business people who are highly motivated to turn them into a success. And at the end they’ll hold 90% of a company they helped build.

So…

I’ve not yet tested the viability in terms of putting it in practise. I’ve spoken to lecturers and they think it’s a great idea. I’ve spoken to entrepreneurs and they love it too. I’ve even spoken to a few students about it and they’re convinced it would take off. So everyone loves it, now what.

  1. CoWorking Belfast
  2. Collaborative Contracts
  3. Initial Funding
  4. Programme Development

Okay….

…why will this make corporate butts pucker?

The idea is that a simple, lean company with three founders and one good mentor can kick butt.

Crazy? I don’t think so.

The BBC starts to take baby steps…

Steve Bowbrick, blogger in residence at BBC Future Media & Technology writes:

I want to learn how the BBC will adapt its magnificent, industrial-era guiding principles – Inform, Educate and Entertain – to the manufacture of tools that support learning (formal and informal), creation (for love, for fun, for profit), enterprise (encouraging entrepreneurship), participation (in the democratic process, in society and institutions) and community (linking people, finding common ground, social coherence).

These are brave words but I really want to see how the BBC begins to actually engage with people and not just through their arcane commission process. I’d like to get a workshop together with the BBC in Belfast to not only demystify the process but also to hear what they have to say on their future relevance.

In truth I have little problem with the BBC producing materials for ‘consumption’ because there will always be an audience. But it’s going to be dwindling as time goes on and it has to be more than phone-votes and red-buttons.

I think that the BBC, and perhaps Channel 4, need to consider what they need to do to interact beyond the television set not simply by listing what they want (collaboration, removal of the ‘audience’) but also looking at all the ways they as a company can create both content and framework and enable the accessing of this content everywhere. Data is now ubiquitous, it’s about time that our public service broadcasters provided a ubiquitous service. This means richer feeds, this means open protocols and file formats. Let us consume when we want and create when we feel the need.

To misquote Mao Zedong – “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences…”

A quick startup formula

Today I spoke to two guys in Belfast Metropolitan College. The subject line was regarding ‘placements’ for their students in Interactive Media and Software Engineering.

Placements for media students tend to be easier than for software engineering students. Reason being that in my experience you can set a creative person down in front of a workstation and as long as they have the standard industry tools installed (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc), they can be cracking out content in minutes. Not so much with software engineering – unless you’re doing something pretty standard it’ll likely take a few weeks for a smart guy to learn the language you’re using, get familiar with the frameworks you’re using and become a useful member of the team. Back when I was in Nortel, the saying was that a placement student you had for a year would be useful during the second half of his or her placement and that the first six months were just an attempt to acclimatise them.

This lag is what makes it difficult to place software engineering students.

My idea is to take your software engineers (and maybe some of the iMedia students) and get them to create their own company. They can apply for funding like anyone else, they can work together on projects and they can get a taste of what it’s like to run a business. Add a funder/mentor/visionary who can help them get started and you’ve got a formula for churning out new startups. this is like a self-motivated version of Code4Pizza.

Ironically, the first thing I’d have a group doing would be to create the engine behind the code4pizza site itself.

I’m very encouraged by this concept – and have offered to talk about student entrepreneurship at BelfastMet as well as suggesting they publicise the Digital Circle throughout their courses.