Developers Cubed: Australia’s First Passbook Developer Speaks

Developers Cubed: Australia’s First Passbook Developer Speaks

When iOS 6 launched in Australia, people tapped open their Passbook app to find a blank canvas, an empty digital wallet in which to store their many coupons and trinkets. When users went to install new Passbook apps, though, they were met with just one single app: ShopperNova. It was built by Darren Winterford, and needless to say, he’s pretty chuffed to be the first with a Passbook app for Australia.

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week, we caught up with Darren to talk about mobile deals, the rise of app stores and Pamela Anderson.

Why do we know you? What have you created?
At the moment we are most well known for creating ShopperNova, the first iOS app in Australia to integrate with Passbook, a new iOS6 feature.

ShopperNova has been charting pretty well on the App Store charts for a little while, it hasn’t been outside the top ten for the last two weeks and is #1 in its category.

Its a location based offers platform that we built in conjunction with dmg Radio Australia, the company that runs Nova FM. It’s a little like social shopping. You tell the app which brands are your favourite and it sends you a notification anytime they run a promotion. It will also let you know those favourite stores are nearby. It works great for online shopping as well, and with more and more mobile websites it’s a nice experience. We have quickly got some of Australia’s biggest brands using it, McDonalds, Westfield, BWS, Lorna Jane, Superdry, Boost, The Iconic, General Pants Co, Diesel, Pie Face, Mossimo, AussieBum, Red Balloon, AMF Bowling, Oporto and more.

It is going from strength to strength and there is lot of buzz around it at the moment.

We have also just completed Study Break! a student app that lets you share the free time you have on campus with your friends so you can be sure not to miss them at the bar!

It was one of the first hybrid apps we built and we are really pleased with it. We are getting a lot of attention from UK and US students who are right now just returning to school so that’s always nice to see.

We also achieved a small amount of infamy back in 2009 when we did some work with Pamela Anderson of all people. The team identified the iPhone high resolution screen was going to really set it apart from the rest of the players in the space, and we wanted to do something that would show it off and at the same time had a global footprint. We decided a video alarm clock would be unique and over drinks one night Pamela was selected as the most globally recognised personality to whom generations of guys would like to wake up with with.

A few months later we were shooting Pam with a film crew in a friends apartment in London. It was quite surreal, her manager turned out to be the inspiration for the Mike Myers character, Austin Powers so we were surrounded by super-stardom.

It was a really fun project, and it performed really well, it was #1 in over a dozen countries throughout 2009/10.
Not all of our work is in the consumer space though. We build a lot of Enterprise applications for which we have managed to snare a few awards. Last year, we won four ‘Mobies’ at the Australian Mobile Awards. One of our platforms Field InTouch is a field force mobility platform that provides e-detailing capability complete with gamification, on the job training, incentives and a host of other great features. Much like Pamela!

It is used by some of Australia’s leading pharmaceutical, textile and FMCG companies and provides a great toolkit for field forces that effectively enables them to free themselves from their laptops and make the transition to tablets.

What platforms do you develop for?
We are primarily driven by iOS, but increasingly using hybrid solutions that utilise both native and HTML that makes cross platform execution easier.

There is no doubt HTML5 is exciting and we enjoy pushing it as far as we can, Study Break! is a good example of that.

What are you working on right now?
Right now we are working on new iterations of ShopperNova, it has a really large user base that are full of great ideas on new features that we can’t help but build.

We have a number of custom enterprise apps in the works and are also looking at some exciting new developments in Field InTouch. We have a client taking it to 7 countries across Europe after an Australian trial so that is keeping us busy.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?
The App Store’s emergence as a distribution platform has obviously transformed businesses like ours. Discoverability remains the key issue however and, like any product, it has to be absolutely on target and really appeal to a particular audience to cut through. I think that’s the biggest challenge for developers working on consumer titles.
This issue is only going to get larger as the bigger players begin to dominate and more and more content is produced.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
As far as games are concerned I really enjoy Field Runners. My daughter and I still play Plants vs Zombies, it’s great. Utilities wise, I think the locally made TripView is also a great product.

What phone do you use? Why?
We are playing around with the iPhone 5 at the moment of course.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
If they love what they do, come and work with us!

But seriously I would say look for opportunities where as a developer you get to work in a team environment with leaders you can learn from. Mobile is moving so fast at the moment, and there is lots of opportunity in the corporate sector as large companies decide mobile skill should be brought in-house. It can be financially attractive, but if you are the sole mobile in-house developer you are not going to grow as fast as those in larger teams at potentially smaller specialist companies.