Developers! Developers! Developers! Steve Ballmer's favourite sweat-laden catchcry is a reminder that all those great apps we spend so much time using on our phones and PCs are made by someone, somewhere. Developers Cubed looks to get a behind the scenes look at some of Australia's up and coming development scene. This week, we speak to Lachie Stuart, an indie developer creating apps for his family baby wear business.
Who are you and where do you work? I am Lachie Stuart, a project manager for E-Branding & Online Media for a Melbourne based company, C.Stuart Pty Ltd. We are a 4th generation family business, that my great grandpa started in 1948. My aim is to add strength to a baby wear business with exciting digital solutions and provide value to our customers.
Why do we know you? What have you created? It’s difficult to ask babies what type of digital media interests them the most, so I concentrated on their parents. Instead of merely selling them another product, I decided to explore more deeply into a way to make their parents’ lives easier, uilitising the iPhone. I discovered some parents are buying expensive baby monitors, thinking it will do a better job, with some commercial ones offering ‘motion sensing feature’ for over $300. However, the more complicated they are produced, the less portable they became.
I created a simple free app called 'Snugtime', after one of our brands, utilising the microphone feature and created a remote baby monitor that places a phone call after detecting sustained noise, i.e a baby crying. We discovered mothers are aware their babies cry a lot, so we went a step further and decided to incorporate a unique feature not found in similar applications that plays a one minute lullaby sound which encourages a baby to back to sleep and ideally giving mum & dad a break. Our app is a true take-anywhere free monitoring option, handy for babysitters and parents.
What platforms do you develop for? At this stage, primarily IOS, but our app is also Android capable, I believe there is stlll huge potential for ideas, primarily for ‘freemium’ apps with subscription based in app purchases. This next evolution in apps allows the user to stay ‘in app’ and iAds will drive enormous commercial advertising interest but developers must now work smarter to remain distinctive.
What are you working on right now? We are developing a multi purpose iPad/iPhone app that allows will allow our consumers and retailers to fast track shopping and allow sales agents to showcase our ranges to potential customers in stores and trade fairs. We are also exploring into combining this app with brand ‘interaction’ capability of iAds.
How did you get into development? With primarily a business background, I had to outsource the actual coding, but was still heavily involved creatively. I could see how the ubiquitous iPhone with potentially endless applications could allow small players with creative minds and clever marketing skills to make an impact on a global scale. Same applies for small business; local companies can experience global branding through combining a strong web presence with a unique app that provide growth and allows customers to connect with the brand in a new direction.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? You have to appreciate the App Stores dominance, it has been strategically positioned by Apple to offer users new software instantly and conveniently. However, there are inherent problems, licensing issues, open source programming restrictions and the inability to upload an app to ITunes connect without a Mac.
What's your favourite app that you didn't create? Eurosport- This app isn’t some programming marvel, but a good example of what an app should be. Eurosport just condenses all my favourite sport news into one convenient app and makes my life easier. Too many apps are over complicated. Aim to make the consumers’ life easier and save them time and you will succeed.
What phone do you use? Why? iPhone 3GS- I actually prefer it's slim design to the 'brick' style iPhone 4. I like knowing there is a charger in almost every home/office I visit but restrictive hardware issues still plague its existence. But ultimately, I consider it the most important tool of our generation and we still haven't scratched the surface of what it's capable of.
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? As an independent developer you must do more with less. Establish your ‘ideas’ factory, source key people, ask questions and do your homework; there are many developer hurdles Apple enjoy making you negotiate. Make the app distinctive, accessible and relevant. If there are similar apps like yours then aim to be the best in that category. Continue to grow and promote your app before & after Apple gives birth to it and you will succeed.