When the Windows Phone 7 SDK finally dropped it gave me all the excuse I needed to get into and absorb all the polish and goodness that was invested in Visual Studio 2010. I was loving the opportunity to take advantage of my as yet unused Silverlight skills and the chance to play in a brand new non PC operating system. An OS that was replete with alien concepts (for a Web and Windows developer) like tomb stoning, GPS’, battery life, Push Notifications, and Gestures just to name a few. All these topics and toys had the wonderful effect of stimulating my curious mind and produced about 8 weeks of solid software learning, at the end of this period I had produced a couple of apps and couple more apps in the works.
After releasing these apps onto Marketplace I started to look at the reports and it seemed that my apps were actually quite popular (relative to expectation) and in a very short space of time I had almost a 1000 downloads. Now to be clear this is not a staggering number, but it is was significant for me. You see the truth is I never gave any thought to who my target audience was or even how well my app would be received. While I fully understood the specs and capabilities of the phone I never spent much time ensuring that the cost of the app matched the value of the service I was providing. So while I freely admit that I was impressed by the download stats, I also admit was not ready for the accompanying feedback. While I was happy with the purchases of my products it was not until later I started to think about how I could improve my apps and make them even more worthy of the hard earned cash that was being spent.
My fundamental problem here was that providing a valuable app\service was secondary to the discovery of a new shiny API on a new shiny Phone OS. As a software engineer this was a great exercise and success but as business man and entrepreneur it was less than ideal. Seeing the potential and actually having my software directly placed in the hands of end users (without the benefits of customer support) has been a thrill, but I now have to learn more about User Experience (UX) Design, customer feedback, product roadmaps, ad supported apps (that are not tacky), software maintenance and marketing.
Well, I am glad I have got that off my chest! Tomorrow I head to Barnes and Nobles to see if I can find a few books to help realign my engineering proclivities towards a broader business focus.
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