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07 April 2011

First Appy Hour A Success (and a lot of fun!)

So Ben Zotto suggested having a little get together of some local San Francisco iOS and mobile app developers just to shoot-the-breeze. Super idea! Yesterday was our first soiree at Elixer in the Mission and it was great. What was so great about it? First off, it was a bunch of really nice folks who have a passion for what they’re doing. Secondly it was nice to talk to folks in the same industry and share our experiences. Creates a sort of fellowship and puts your own experience into context. What you really find is that we’re all kinda in the same boat going through the same growing pains and having similar goals. I think the first big shared goal is being driven by the product and the engineering. Whether it’s the programmer or the designer, everyone wants to do high quality work that they can stand behind. Being able to indulge ourselves by producing quality work is what makes the job interesting.

Who was there? Well, Ben of course, recent Minneapolis transplants (“you betcha!”) Nate and Nikki of Read It Later, Jeannie who runs product for Smule, and Kalani and Karl from Smudgeproof (awesome name for an iOS company).

Most of us left our corporate lives behind because we wanted to have the flexibility to work on projects that we could really drive both the design and the technology. The iOS and mobile projects are really perfect for that, most of these projects have a short(ish) development cycle and the scope can easily be handled by a team of 1 or 2 talented software engineers and an excellent designer. By the time your ADD starts kicking in, you’re done with the project!

One thing that I was bouncing around in my head after this get together was I had the feeling that there are A LOT of small development shops with small teams of 2-10 folks. I think the reason there’s so much productivity and creativity in this space right now is with this distributed model of software publishing (lots of individual shops cranking out apps) you have a lot of people driven by passion and flexibility. Rather then large companies with large bureaucracies with managers and marketeers who feel the need to have a finger in everything and making “small” changes that have big impacts. You have small streamlined groups with a fairly flat organization who help craft a project from beginning UX design through development, testing, and launch. Basically no BS that derail projects and crush moral. I may be a little naive but that’s my experience so far. Now I’m not saying this is a perfect world, you have clients and all their issues and expectations–but that’s for another blog entry.

EDIT: (04/08/2011)

A Cautionary Tale:

I came across this article about The Life and Death of Bing, it pretty much sums up anecdotally what I was driving at in this blog post. Article: Here