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Phoenix developers embrace mobile applications

March 5, 2010

A recent story written about mobile application development in Phoenix mentions Net-Craft.com. The full article is below.

Phoenix’s community of mobile application developers ranges from beginners interested learning to retired developers that been lured back by the new medium.

By Salvador Rodriguez

PHOENIX – Only 20 minutes after he bought his iPhone in 2007, Brad O’Hearne realized he’d never be without one again.

A year later, when Apple announced the addition of the App store, O’Hearne, the owner of Big Hill Software, said he knew it would revolutionize phones the way iTunes had revolutionized music, and he wanted in.

“How often in a software developer’s career does he get to start at ground zero?”

he said.

O’Hearne, a software developer of 18 years, is one of many mobile phone application developers in Phoenix and runs the Phoenix iPhone Developer Group, which has 384 members according to its Google Groups page.

O’Hearne, who has multiple applications in the App store such as “Local First Arizona” and “GPS Me,” said iPhone application development attracts people as young as his 9-year-old son to developers that have been lured out of retirement by the new mobile medium.

The backgrounds of mobile application developers is also vast, ranging from with no coding experience to people that have developed other kinds of software for years.

“It’s just a matter of having a good idea and bringing it to market,”

he said.

Mobile application development attracts so many people because of the buzz around it, the possibility of getting rich and because it’s leveled the playing field for developers, allowing hobbyist to sell in the same store as companies like Google and Electronic Arts, O’Hearne said.

Patrick Bertinelli, who works for the Arizona Republic’s information technology, said he got into mobile application development after coming up with an idea that no one else has done and because he really likes the emerging market.

“That’s where technology is going,”

he said.

“We got a little computer in our hands. I think the potential to be a part of it at the beginning is just amazing.”

Bertinelli, whose application is related to transportation, said he’s working on his first application and hopes to have it done by the end of summer.

“Starting out, it’s pretty intimidating how much you don’t know,”

he said.

Jason Tayles, president of Net-Craft.com Web Design, a development firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., said his company began making Web sites but now makes mobile applications as well.

Tayles, whose company developed an application called “Series 6 Preparation,” said developers usually charge clients around $2,000 for an application, though he also said he’s heard of other companies charging $100,000 for applications

“It really boils down to time,”

he said.

“That’s all we’re selling really is our time. So some apps might take 40 development hours. Another app might take 400 development hours.”

Though his company’s only developed applications for iPhones, Tayles said applications need to be developed multiple times to work on different kinds of smart phones, such as Blackberries and Google’s Android phones.

“Usually people will kind of proof their idea on the iPhone, and if it’s successful, it’s popular they’ll go ahead and say, ‘Hey, let’s do an Android application as well,’”

he said.

Jeffrey Tarala, lead engineer for Software Sliders, a software company that develops mobile technologies, said his company began developing mobile applications because they saw such a big boom in the field.

“It just was attempting to meet a demand,”

he said.

Tarala, whose company has developed an application called “Funny Face Game,” said one of the biggest challenges facing mobile application developers is finding ways to set their applications apart.

“In order to stand out you need to have really something unique in your functionality or aesthetically pleading that’d going to set you apart,”

he said.

“There’s traditional marketing ways, advertising online and word-of-mouth and social networking, but ultimately, if you don’t have something that really catches fire with the end user, you’re not going to rise to the top.”

O’Hearne, of the Phoenix iPhone Developer Group, said he compares the interest in mobile applications is to that of the dot-com boom of the early 2000s. However, he said he’s building his business for longevity.

“Even though I’d love to strike it rich on a particular app, it’s still building a solid stable business,”

he said.

“I basically want to retire doing this. I don’t want another career.”