Developers Cubed: LithiumCorp

Developers Cubed: LithiumCorp

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: We chat with Sydney-based LithiumCorp, about Twitter, simplicity taxes and having tumultuous relationships with popular apps.

Developers! Developers! Developers!
It’s not just Steve Ballmer’s favourite sweat-laden catchcry! If you’d like to be featured in Developers Cubed, shoot a note to alex.kidman at I’d love to hear from you.

Who are you and where do you work?
I’m James Wilson, I’m a software developer and network engineer and I run LithiumCorp from Sydney, Australia, and I blog at

Why do we know you? What have you created?
LithiumCorp is known to Mac uber-geeks and IT professionals for Lithium, our Network, Server and Storage Monitoring app that is available for Mac and iOS. Lithium is used throughout post-production and creative enterprises, small and large as well as many universities and throughout Apple.

Recently LithiumCorp has embarked on a more mainstream product with our free app Tweed. Tweed is a simple app for iPad that takes your Twitter timeline and filters out just tweets with links. It’s like an RSS Feed Reader, but with Twitter as the source of what to read.

What platforms do you develop for?
At the moment: Mac, iOS and Linux.

What are you working on right now?
Tweed 2.0: A Mac, iPhone and iPad version of Tweed with iCloud syncing of your reading short-list and timeline position across Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. We’re going to make it the ultimate app you reach for when you think “What’s something I can read?”, no matter which device you’re near.

How did you get into development?
We built Lithium in-house from 2003-2006 to provide network monitoring services to our customers. Then in 2007, on a whim I took it to MacWorld Expo in San Francisco to see if there was a market for it. We had a huge response and it all took off from there. Soon after we said good-bye to the managed services business to focus just on software development.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?

It’s brilliant.

Since we started selling Lithium online we’ve tried having our own shopping carts, off the shelf or custom built, various merchant facilities with our bank or international clearing houses, paypal, eSellerate, etc, etc, etc. Now the way forward is simple: get it on an App Store. I’m happy to give up 30% revenue to Apple for having an app in the App Store. It’s a simplicity tax. And now the announcement of volume pricing and custom B2B apps changes everything for us as a business app provider. At present we license for the server-side component of our software while the Mac and iOS clients are available for free on the App Store. Being able to do volume licensing for the client software via the App Store means we can make the server-side component free, remove our custom license enforcement and management overheads and let the App Store handle a much more scalable per-client licensing model.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
Tough Question. Right now; Instagram is the first one that comes to mind. I use it, love it and don’t have an itch to try and improve it or build something better. 1Password is another favourite. I still can’t believe I only recently started using it. Evernote and I have a tumultuous relationship. I use it; but would love something better.

What phone do you use? Why?
iPhone 4. What else is there?

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
Creating an app is not hard. Making an iPhone, iPad or Mac do what you want it to do takes a bit of learning; a bit of experimentation and you’ll get the hang of it. Creating a great app takes a hell of a lot of hard work, attention to detail and relentless pursuit of doing things ‘right’ in a way that your users will probably never consciously notice. Getting it right is incredibly fun and rewarding.