Great App Idea! Crying Need! No Market?
Allen Pike, founder of Steamclock Software in Vancouver, BC, published a great piece about his idea for a prosumer podcasting app. People who make podcasts know well that there are a lot of technical headaches involved in recording multiple hosts and/or guests. As podcasting explodes in popularity (at least according to some sources), you'd think that software that cures these headaches would be a natural success. But Allen runs the numbers and discovers that it probably isn't a sustainable business for Steamclock.
(Allen gave a great talk about the value of pursuing a prosumer audience, aka people who actually value your software and will pay accordingly, at 360|iDev in Denver. If you have a chance to see Allen speak, you should.)
Rob Rhyne of Martiancraft countered with his own piece on professional software pricing. He makes some excellent points as well. It comes down to how much can you realistically charge. There is no right answer. Anyone interested in launching a new app should read both of these posts.
(Rob is also a great speaker. I've had a really good year in 2014, in terms of getting to see some great talks.)
NaNoReadMo: Week 4
I did not reach my goal of reading 50 hours in the month of November. I thought I would do more reading over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but something about having 16 guests to dinner derailed my good intentions. I continued to read in December to finish the latest book I started, a short novel by Ursula Le Guin, and ended up with only 44 hours total.
Current status: 44 hours through December 3
Books read: 5
Book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (cont'd)
I finished this book, and liked it a lot, though I wouldn't put it in my "favorite books of all time."
As an Apple nerd, one thing struck me about the circus: the attention to detail, intended to delight and surprise the visitors. I couldn't help thinking that if Steve Jobs ran a circus, this is what it would be like. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," wrote Arthur C. Clarke.
Of course, in this novel, the circus really was magic. But many of its effects could probably be replicated by non-magicians with the right technology.
A note about "readers' guides"
I personally loathe the trend of adding a readers' guide to the end of a novel. To me, that destroys the magic of the book and suggests that we all still need a high school English teacher to know how to interpret what we've read. I know that they do it to encourage book groups and give them a ready-made discussion. But I'd rather be in a book group that can think for itself!
However, in addition to the readers' guide, there was a short interview with Erin Morgenstern at the back of the book, from which I learned this salient fact: Night Circus was started during NaNoWriMo 2005!
(Congrats to my dear friend, bandmate and App Camp co-conspirator Erin Gately, who did reach her NaNoWriMo novel writing goal!)
To help support my resolution to read more, I also resolved to spend more time in bookstores, especially the world's largest independent bookstore, Powell's, a Portland treasure. I came across this book on the remainder table. Ursula K. Le Guin is another Portland treasure, a revered writer who has won every major science fiction award. Le Guin was recently in the news for her provocative acceptance speech at the National Book Awards. It's 6 minutes long--go check it out. She nails the problem of sales dictating terms to editorial.
We need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.
So Le Guin was already on my mind. The Lathe of Heaven is short and it had a great blurb from Michael Chabon, another one of my favorite writers. So I bought it. It's a fascinating look at our near future, written in 1971 and set in Portland in 2002. The main character has dreams that retroactively rewrite reality.
I've been having some weird dreams since reading this book...
I'm going to continue to keep track of my reading hours. (With a more modest goal of 20 hours per month.)