Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Place You Come To...

It has happened to me in about every venture I have ever encountered. The wall. It is the place that forces you to stop and take measure of your own size.  It is a place that holds you where you stand and makes you aware of just how human you are.  You know your limits, not in a depressed way, but in a realistic way. I just know that beyond this wall I must rely on something bigger than myself to move forward. I imagine for many, this wall is all too real.  For our friends in Japan that wall metabolized in to a very real, very scary earthquake & tsunami. For many, that ‘wall’ was their end. My wall is more metaphorical... It is more of a day to day wall.

Its a great thing for a person to start a venture supposing that he himself can conquer the world. It’s a catalyst to one’s own evolution. As time lashes you with life lessons, that notion of 'going vertical’ in your own personal development forces you to go horizontal instead.  Now you rely on the power of friendships.  Those can take you pretty far.  But even the power of our dearest friends is finite.  You realize this before the end of that wonderful momentum you friendships provide you. Beyond friendship there needs to be something of a higher nature to help you become what you know you must.

In the world of app development you realize pretty quick that you are in the stock market of ideas and that there are all differing types of players. Even if you rise to unbelievable heights you will encounter many inevitable lows.  There is no such thing as perpetual growth by any cleverness you can devise on your own.  You can take the advice of even the smartest of friends and success stories, and still you will fall short.  Mother Nature is bigger than your plans. If there is a force that governs all of us we see it best when we try to combat its authority most.  If you want to know the power of the wind, run into it.  Feel the surge of what a current is by swimming against it. See how long your well-trained muscles can resist its force, a presence that will not falter. Good luck with that.

At some point you will hit that very wall, and when you do you have a choice. You can give up or you can go with it.  The wall won’t move for you.  Now, I never suggest giving up entirely. The trick is to change your point of view. Realize that there is a power greater than you at work here. Call it what you will. I call it God.  That power called you on this venture, didn’t it?  It stirred you like the moon stirs tides.  It called, then you answered, and instead of being a humble agent of its calling you fell into a trap- you claimed authorship. That’s a bad choice.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned in this bold venture of creating something new is that I can’t create anything truly unique by myself. Something bigger drove me to create, and it’s not my job to guide that idea’s ‘life journey’ or to define its purpose.  Every mother or father knows this all to well when they realize the limitation of parenthood. You do your best, but one day you will have to let your child live his or her own life.  It’s the same with ideas, companies,  and apps.

It’s time I let my app be what it is, and I will go along with it.  It’s a good app.  I trust it can go far.  I will offer suggestions on its direction but it will go where it wants and help whom it wants to help.  It is, after all, just a thing.  Its worth is nowhere near the importance of one person in Japan for example.  My hat is off to that Nation in a gesture of humility and of awe of the Japanese’s amazing resilience and strength.

So on Friday April 15th, every cent we make will go to Red Cross efforts. The wave of devastation that hit this proud nation reminds us all that we are in fact small in this world, and our plans are best given up to a Higher Power than plotted over, like some sort of scheme for world domination.  Please join us in our small effort to support Japan.  We won’t save the world, but every little bit helps. Tell your friends, tell everyone about our efforts & join us in helping Japan this Friday.

Thanks for your time & support,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's The Wild West In Here!

Well pilgrim, be forewarned.  You can find gold in the Apps Store Hills. Ya may find a lot.  I reckin’ you saddled up to start your first app thinkin' all you have to do is look pretty and tell a good ol’ tale and that there gold would come a rushin’ in. Well here’s what I figured in my first month in this wild, wild country. I pass it on free of charge...

I seen good apps shot dead in there first weeks. Maybe its because they didn’t now how to get the word out that they was comin’ to town. I also know that there be folks playin’ a hand with an ace up their sleeves too!  Cheats, snake oils sales men looking lookin’ to steal you customers by speakin’ ill of ya on your reviews page. They do it without even trying your app out.  WHY? They do it to convince people that your apps no good, even if it is.  You’ll know its when it’s them they write lies on your reviews. Nobody else knows they are lies but you.  But what can you do? Ya can’t complain to the Sheriff Jobs. You see, the sheriff, he don’t, maybe cant, regulate all these crooks. The know it too. Tey do all sorts of foul play in the open daylight. Sometimes buy their way to a top ten spot simply by gifting hundreds of apps to friends.  Its not illegal to do it, but it aint an honest way to make a livin’ either.  Heck there ain’t much law here anyhow no matter how decent you try to be.

I came to this here land to make a new start for myself.  I wasn’t all that naive, but I will admit that I did think that there would be some law.  Something that would make me feel like I could raise my kin in these here lands without the worry of bandits hijackin’ me at every turn.

You see if your competition thinks that you have claim of land thats got gold on it they will do what ever they can to run you off your land. Thats just the way the Wild West is...

Just hold tight Pilgrim. Do updates often. Address all the concerns you can. Get your beloved happy customers to review you newest updates often. Be the best gold miner you can be, because these hooded varmints who try to hamstring you can’t stay around for long. The only reason they take shots at you is because the curs are scared of you. Scared of who you are, and what you bring to the table. So cowboy up Pilgrim, and show those lilly nannies what true grit is all about!

Monday, March 28, 2011


I see it everyday with my app.  A very large disproportionate number of people who buy an app actually rate an app.  If you are like me, and I suspect many are, rating seems like a pain.  "Why should I rate an app? It seems like work.  I already gave this app company money now they need a pat on the back! Or if not that a slap on the wrist, I don’t want to do that its just mean.”  Why rate?

The answer, I’ve found, is if we don’t rate, we don't effect the kind of change we want to see at in the app store to make it a better store.  Look at it it this way.  When a movie comes out like, My Big Fat Greek Wedding many people who went to see it loved it.  They told friends.  Sales soared.  The amount of money spent to make and sell that film was pretty low, but the word of mouth on it allowed us all to have a fun night at the movies watching a movie we might have otherwise missed.  Conversely, if someone had saved me money by telling me that the last Superman movie was not good, I would have been grateful for not having had paid IMAX ticket prices on it!

So many of us don’t know the power word of mouth has on the iTunes store.  It has a HUGE impact on sales. HUGE.  What does that mean for you though? It means if a company makes a dud they need to be told so.  Why? Because if they are not told so they will keep going on making duds thinking people like the duds.   What if an app is good, but it can be better somehow? Give it a three stars and tell them why you did.  The app you spent your hard earned money on in a store that allows you to talk to the producer directly to say how they need to improve what they make. Don’t be surprised if you see an update making the app three times better because of your comment either.

When I worked for Big Idea making Veggietales and we saw harsh comments on Amazon regarding what we were lacking in, we took it to heart.  We know that every one comment might as well have been a thousand comments.  The great thing about the App store is its like being in a restaurant, getting bad food, and its okay for you to tell people all around you “Don’t get the pasta it’s waaay undercooked!”  Don’t think for a minute the cook wont change how he does things.

You have the power to make the app store better for yourself and others.  Rate things. Be honest.  Get your money’s worth.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nothin’s Over 'Till The Bell Rings

I love Rocky.  You know what I love about that guy? He takes his hits, he puts it all on line to to do more than just box. Most of the times he is fighting something inside himself rather than the guy in the ring.  He has something to prove to himself.

In a world that is full of people who are in tough spots and know they have a voice if they can only fight the nay-sayers to have it heard; you have have no choice but to fight for yourself to say ‘I Am.”  The fight to get an app noticed is very much about that.  Sure there is competition (tons of it) but who cares.  Fight your way through it.  Put fear on the back burner and see how far you can push forward.  You don’t have to be a jerk about it.  You just have to believe deep down inside that you have what it takes to make it to the last round.

My friends, its a tough world. So much is beyond our control.  What is in our control is how we react to the blows that hit us. They will knock us down. You will feel like a failure for a moment.  Dust yourselves off, stand up, and FIGHT BACK!  Many people give up.  Don’t.  Failure can’t be an option.  If that were the case we would have no success stories. You have to fight for whats yours in this world.  You fight for your family, to keep a home, to take a chance, to sell an app.  Its not about success in the end though, its about character.  Prove to the world that you will always rise to your feet no matter how hard the blow!  Show people that they can too.  Inspire the dream of America.  An underdog can win if the actually have the heart that it takes.  We all want to believe we have that fire in us.

Light a match and let it burn!

Fight the good fight, and dare to say to the world, 'I am!’

Never loose heart!  The second you believe you are done... you are.  Don’t believe that, fall on your ideals and  fight back. Fight well. Fight fair. And listen to the roar of the crowd.  They will roar because they want what you have...Fire.

Go forth and conquer!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Hello I’m a Mac.” “And I’m an Idiot"

The iPad 2 is days way from release.  I just watched the video of all the new and cool things it can do.  I was watching it on my ‘old’ iPad. It feels like I’m a kid enjoying a Wonka bar on brisk sunny morning, and this kid runs by me shouting loudly that he has a Golden Ticket.  "Lucky punk.”  I continue eating the chocolate bar, but now it doesn’t taste so good.

Technology moves so fast these days! You can hardly wear out a computer before someone wont even give you ten dollars for it on Ebay.  I accept it. I know that thats how it goes, but this time around I feel like some of the features could have been done on the last iPad.  The camera comes to mind.

Now, this new iPad is way faster, and it seems to have a bunch of iLife stuff on it.  Pretty cool, but I hope we can ditch some of those built in programs we don’t usually use them to free up space though.  I liked on the last iPad that it just had the essential programs. For me, Garage Band is cool, but if I had to choose between that and another large app that I want to put on my iPad;  I will want to get rid of it.  I’m not much of a 'music guy’.

So, I committed the cardinal sin as many of you have, I bought first run Technology.  It’s crazy I am behind the times already, but then, I am not alone.  The other night my wife asked me “If your app sells well, and we pay of all our debt; what will you buy for yourself? “  I said, “I’ll get us dinner,” She smiles.  I add, “Then we head over to the Mac store and I get an iPad 2. I’m a Mac junkie and its a write off.  For me.”  She smirks.  She’s right to.

For all of you that bought a holiday iPad at Best Buy, do you really wonder why they were running all those adds for selling back outdated items 90 days after Christmas for new and improved versions.  It wasn’t for TVs I don’t think.  Pretty clever.

Anyway.  Apple did need to draw a line in the sand however because of all these other iPad knockoffs out there.  It did the same with the iPod. It dominated that market.  It will dominate this one too. I wish I owned stock in Apple right now.

Next up, I hope Apple improves its iPhone.  That Droid is getting pretty darn popular.

Well, as I am going to bed I know there is some one walking over to a mall.  They are setting up a tent.  They have called in sick to work.  They must be the first to have that new juicy Apple product.  I’ll wait a little longer this time around... heh or maybe I wont.  I’m an easy sell.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Launching an App...

There is a sense of something dangerous, new and exciting about launching an app.  From the outside looking in, you might say, "Big deal".  Trust me - it is.

If you were me, you'd find that months of your life and a lot of your money all hinge on how well you executed your ambitions and fulfilled your dreams.  You have made concessions to accommodate reality, but you still feel like you have reached the highest point you can reach given all you have learned. You'd think, "This is it. This is what people will like."  And you'd pray to God you are right.  In the end, there are only a handful of times you put it all on the line.  I have gotten a look of disbelief from people who have heard that my partner Tod and I have self-funded this ambitious project.  People sometimes give us this kind of Are you crazy? look. I wonder if those people ever believed in their own visions enough to risk as much themselves. I hope they have. You see, you don't have to live your life on crutches.  We are each our own people. The limitations we place on ourselves are fears with an excuse. I want to try walking on water to see if I can,  to swim with sharks to see if they bite, and to dream a dream to see if it's real.

At the end of my life my family will be the only thing of importance to me. I'm making this app for my daughter, Alairyn. I hope she likes what her dad made.  I hope your kids will, too.

This is Joe Spadaford signing out.  Till next time, Space Cadets.

 Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Money For Nothin’ and Your Apps For Free…

I was talking to a friend of mine about a reasonable price to sell my app for.  I was doing it strategically, basing our price on what the market would bare.  What do our competitors’ apps price for, and what exactly do we at Brain Freeze offer?  We’ve finally honed our research down to a price that seems right. So, after having done all the typical calculations that any businessman would do ~ figuring out my break-even point & hoping for a profit ~  my friend asks me, "Why should I buy your app when I can get all the apps for free on the Droid?”  OK ~ major road block…

First of all: NOT all apps are free on any mobile device.  If they are free at the start, the creators are going to find a way to create a revenue stream, either through in-app ads or in-app purchases.  Some of the really high selling apps (mostly games) will start out free, but eventually they will want to upsell you into a paid version.  This may work for the gaming apps, but when it comes to books, the model just doesn't hold up.  I invest thousands of dollars and countless hours of my time and effort to make my customers a high quality app for their children. So, I really don’t think is too much to ask to put a price tag on it.

That being said, there are people out there who price their apps far too high for the content given.  For instance, a lot of history apps price-out high at the start, based on the expectation that teachers will "pay through the nose" to educate their students in a new and engaging way.  I know that because I’ve bought a few of those and I know others (teachers) who have, too.  However, it turned out that the educational content we paid $9.99 for, was, in the end, equivalent to about one chapter of a book. Sadly, this is other end of the spectrum, where some apps are overpriced, and you have no way of knowing that until you've made the purchase.

Next, my friend poses this question, “Shouldn’t all apps just be free?” Well, in a perfect world, I would gladly give all my stuff away for free.  In that world, I could go to a store and buy groceries paying only with a smile.  My daughter could afford college simply on a hope, and I could pay my mortgage by wishing on a star.  I do wish we lived in that world, but this is capitalism.  Just look at the price of gasoline, or the money we’ll pay to see one film in a theater on date night.  I know the value of a buck.  People ought to get their money’s worth at all times, but why do so many people still think things should just be free?  If you want quality entertainment, you’re going to have to pay for it.

As a remedy, I think that our ‘Lite’ version of the app is a very good option. It’s the perfect way to try before you buy. And in the app world, I think a lot of folks agree that you ought to be able to taste the food before you know if you want it.  Many a time, I wish I had the opportunity to do that before I carved into a $25.00 steak.

The mentality that I am trying to emphasize is this: if a parent will hand-over $16.99 for a hardcover version of a Dr. Seuss book, then what’s the issue with paying $4.99 for a fully interactive children’s book? A book that teaches your child reading while you are in the other room cooking dinner for them, doing the laundry, or checking your email. To me, at this price the app is a steal.  For a few bucks, you’re getting A LOT of content in return.  I have to say that the only thing missing is the new book smell.  I’d put a money value on that; how does 10-12 dollars less sound?