During the development of our marketing plan, we have come across many great iPhone ads and celebrations of AppStore milestones.
When the AppStore approved its 10,000th app for sale last November, this first major milestone was celebrated not only by Apple ads, but others also created their own tributes.
Tap, tap, tap created an amazing mosaic made up of all the 10,000 app icons:
A high resolution version can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tap-tap-tap/3074199062/sizes/o/
We’ve all seen the various iPhone ad parodies, but the best one in my opinion is the infamous iStalkHer ad. Note the excellent built-in password decoder.
What are your favorites (for any of the milestones or parodies)?
We are now ready for beta testing and have difficult choices ahead. I’m sure we won’t get to include or finish every feature we want and it will be interesting to see how the beta users interpret the choices we have made so far. I wish that I could explain to each one why we chose one feature over another when they mention that they’d prefer the one we gave up, but of course, that’s not how it works. Each app has to stand on its own and we have to be sure that we feel good about the trade-offs we have made.
This reminds me of our first set of difficult choices we made – the initial filtering down to the two apps for the first development project. Indulge me in a flashback:
About six months ago, when we decided to get serious about developing some iPhone apps, our family had already looked at a list of 25 potential ideas. We knew we couldn’t do more than a few at a time, especially in the beginning (little did we know that even ‘a few’ was incredibly ambitious! Thank goodness we chose an experienced partner, Night & Day Studios, the creators of beautiful apps, including Peekaboo Barn and Cocktail Compass, so we set out to filter the list down to three.
Our initial list had, in fact, been the product of a tongue-in-cheek gift, so we felt that we should step back and make sure that the long list was, in fact, long enough. We brainstormed a bit more, thinking of every problem we faced in our daily lives and what type of app could address these problems. We have such a wide variety of ages, professions, geographic locations and general attitudes towards life within the family that we felt pretty confident that we were tapping into many veins of gold.
We weren’t looking to develop a technical breakthrough like AirSharing or WorkSnug. We just wanted to use the iPhone platform to make life simpler and to reduce the time people spend on those little problems in order to create more time for them to spend with family and friends. It didn’t hurt that the iPhone platform allowed you to do this so elegantly!
Our focus is on niche markets to resolve a specific challenge. The final choices, myPause and myShoebox , were premised on the writer’s missive – ‘write what you know’. Our target audience includes members of our own family and this gives us a great insight. This first in a series of difficult choices still feels right and we know that our apps will be in a unique space offering a unique service.
Slogging through our functional specs and making those crucial user experience decisions, often cutting out features or functions that seemed crucial but now seem to clutter the interface, is made just a bit easier by keeping one word in mind – Sprezzatura.
Although our family has Italian roots, I must admit that I learned about ‘Sprezzatura’ from an Indian friend! Sprezzatura is what grace and elegance are all about – it defines the Apple approach to everything.
According to Wikipedia, Sprezzatura is an Italian word originating from Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”
According to a class at Williams (complete coincidence that this happens to be where our father went to university!), the most important aspect of sprezzatura is its two-layered nature: it involves a conscious effort which is disguised by a concealing act. Things which require effort are to be performed casually. Obvious effort is the antithesis of grace.
It seems that this word was created to describe Steve Jobs in all his dimensions. From the very beginning, he understood (and has often quoted) Leonardo da Vinci’s phrase “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” In fact, he used this in one of his earliest brochures in 1977:
“Jobs: If you read the Apple’s first brochure, the headline was ‘Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.’ What we meant by that was that when you first attack a problem it seems really simple because you don’t understand it. Then when you start to really understand it, you come up with these very complicated solutions because it’s really hairy. Most people stop there. But a few people keep burning the midnight oil and finally understand the underlying principles of the problem and come up with an elegantly simple solution for it. But very few people go the distance to get there.”
That quote can be found in many places, but a blog post at The Rat Race not only begins with this quote, but is also very interesting in and of itself. . If you’re interested in further history of Apple ads, see Web Designer Depot’s great review (thanks to TUAW for pointing me there).
It takes an enormous amount of work (or ‘thought’) to make something look easy. You will find this phrase in every book of quotes, in several different forms and coming out of the mouths of industrialists, designers, scientists and authors/poets alike.
The best compliment someone can give our apps is ‘It looks so simple, but does so much’!!
Anybody else have some favorite phrases you use to describe your goals or work style?
PS – Sprezzatura is also an Italian History Chick in DC!
I’ve had my iPhone for over a year and have just discovered that I can take screenshots. I’m on a screenshot binge right now – this is fun! Actually, it’s also very useful as we are finalising our functional specs and since we are a team with desks located across 8 time zones, we can’t just turn to our colleagues and show them examples of screens we like!! This was a screenshot of Total Baby’s slide up data entry that we liked – very smooth and clean.
I learned this particular trick from John Casasanta over at Tap, Tap, Tap. If you don’t know them yet (but really, how could you not?), check out their apps after you’ve read the blog entry. Their blog is always full of great stories, info and tips for iphone developers.
For our global audience, the ‘extra key’ trick (#5) is also very handy. Several of the alphabetic keys, most notably the vowels, give you international versions if you hold them for a bit longer than normal. For both myPause and myShoebox , there will be field entries for which our users will want to use these extra keys. A great shortcut.
Any more secrets or tips that have come out recently?