Back in October 2007 Dan Burcaw, was an Apple employee (on the corporate side of Apple Retail group) and was in Cupertino, California for a meeting. He was watching a product manager for iPhone, give a demo. Somewhere during the demo he learned that Steve Jobs had released an open letter that morning that stated they were going to be releasing a SDK (software developer kit) for the iPhone.
Fast forward to June when Dan tendered his notice and then launched DOUBLE ENCORE, a firm that consults business as to how and why they should create applications for the iPhone. The name of the business is indicative of the culture they are trying to create. ‘In building a different type of culture, we wanted to constantly be reminded of the magical energy created when a band couldn’t imagine being anywhere else so they just keep on playing. That’s exactly how we want to feel coming to work every day.’
Somewhere between January and June, Dan determined that if Apple accessories for the iPod were generating 10s of millions of dollars (some estimate 1 Billion), then the iPhone App Store would dwarf that amount very quickly. “Would I sit here and pay $1 for an application? Of course I would”.
DOUBLE ENCORE has been in business for 8 months now and is having to turn away business, due to the difficulty around finding development resources. He has a team of eight and his business has been focused on creating iPhone native applications.
He says the best way to develop for the iPhone is to work within Apple’s metaphors. “Apple has a way of doing things. First understand it and then you can customize it.” (I call this a pattern language a la, The Timeless Way of Building.) There are several hurtles for developing for the iPhone (aside from finding qualified developers at $300 an hour!):
- Language – Objective C
- Tools – The tools are in Xcode
- Hardware – You need a Mac server running Leopard
- Platform – Frameworks
The primary overriding issue is that you’re dealing with a “resource constrained embedded device”. This is not the Internet. This is not the mobile Internet. It is an iPhone application. That’s right. Although I’ve been preaching about consolidation towards everything online; the iPhone has created yet another screen. (It’ll be okay. iPhone good.)
When I asked about whether he was concerned as a consumer about Apple becoming another walled garden, he replied that in many ways they already were and that consumers don’t care or at least shouldn’t care. Apple provides undeniable value. Apple has done a great job at forcing their competition to address what Apple currently has on the market and not able to leapfrog what Apple is working on. “Apple builds things you want, before you want it.”
We discussed privacy as it relates to mobile applications. Currently when you download a LBS enabled application from the App Store, a message comes up asking if you’d like to allow for your location to be known (paraphrasing here). This is great and I’ve always said that I’ll give you all the information you want if you only promise me that you’ll send me news and marketing offers that are pertinent to me and of good quality. Dan made a good point that there is value in Brightkite’s situational marketing but the real value comes from someone’s intent. In other words, businesses really want to know about what I want to do, not just what I’m doing (contextual/situational advertising). This is why Google is so perfectly placed for personalized marketing. They have access to what you’re searching for.
We talked about the G1 and where that device fits into the grand scheme of things. Dan said that Android was created with a developer mentality and carriers like it because it takes them out of the OS business. He also said; “The main reason for the Android platform is to extend Google advertising presence.” (Google has recently pulled back its radio and print ad efforts, a rare error in the machine that is Google.) I hadn’t thought of it this way and I have to agree to some extent. I was thinking of Android as a phone for developers, not consumers the same way Linux is an OS for developers, not consumers.
We also discussed briefly the chance that Google will become the walled garden of the Internet. They keep providing compelling tools for free (like this little thing they call “search”) and to Dan’s point, no one is really going to care as long as the quality of the offering is there. I’d also like to see the control put in the user’s hands.
Dan also mentioned that along with consulting, DE will work to develop the intellectual property they create. Developers that create iPhone code with co-own that code. The goal is to monetize what they have created and not just rely on consulting monies.
In the end, I believe that Dan and DE are in the right place at the right time. Businesses are going to figure out how to use the iPhone as a compelling business tool, because they use it for personal use.
When I arrived at the DOUBLE ENCORE office, I looked at the marquis in the lobby and saw that they were on the third floor. Suite #400. This little analogy speaks to what DE and Dan are trying to do. Create something unexpected within an existing framework.
. . . and yes. I’m sorry to say; I took this picture with my Blackberry.