I have a physics degree from the University of Auckland, specialising in laser physics. Prior to doing mobile apps I was doing web development, Flash websites for instance. I was mostly working for ad agencies and local web companies. I've probably been solo for more than 10 years. As soon as it was technologically possible and I got a paying client, I was working on apps for mobile.
Who are you creating apps for these days?
I do work for TVNZ, looking after their One News and Shortland Street apps. A lot of TVNZ apps are extensions of what they are doing on the webspace. I've also done work for Localist, working on an app rebuild for them this time last year. Clients like these are using mobile apps as a way to engage with customers. Many of these firms have in-house developers on their staff already and I work with them.
I have done some work for international clients as well, including 7 Digital in the UK, a music provider similar to Spotify. I worked on an app for HMV in the UK, which was a way for people to discover music.
Other than these, I partner with other web companies and agencies to help them with their mobile offerings, and build apps for small businesses.
Is there strong demand from businesses for building apps at the moment?
A couple of years ago, companies had been quite tentative about investing in mobile apps but it's definitely picked up again. A lot of companies are interested in solving their own business problems using iPads. For instance I work with a loggging truck company who trace their trucks through an iPad app. Businesses are using tablets for work and are looking for other ways to use them. An iPad or tablet is a great way to get a sales catalogue across to customers too. I have also worked with a property surveyor to develop a tool to calculate floor areas with an iPad app.
How much does an app cost?
To develop an app, you are looking in the tens of thousands of dollars in New Zealand. I would certainly look at building a website first, if you are a small business.
What are the challenges with apps?
It is hard enough getting people to download your app, the next challenge is to encourage people to keep the app on their phone. That's why news apps, games and social platforms all work very well, because people want to open them. If companies are wanting to talk to consumers through their app, then they should make sure that it's something that they want to keep. If it is an app for staff, the app has to make their life easier, not harder or it won't work.
What new technology are you working on?
I am working on payment solutions using mobile phones with the company Pushpay.
This is a very exciting area, so much of this technology is on the brink of happening but it's about doing it the right way so people feel secure. NZ has shown that we can do Eftpos, we are technologically advanced at using screens, we could well be the ones to lead the way.
Where do you find new talent?
I am looking at hiring because of the sheer volume of work out there. I am going to bring in some interns. Most of the people I know in the industry are already in jobs. They tend to have taught themselves as no one is teaching app development as such.
Next week: New Zealand has a vast number of one man/woman bands - people happiest working on their own, doing what they do best - piano tuners, software developers, electricians, plumbers, artists. They don't have staff to hand over to during the year so they tend to soldier on for the greater part of it without a break. Most of them at this time are counting down the days to the summer holiday when they get to relax for a change. Tell me your stories, how do you cope with up to a month of no invoices coming in?