Tag Archives: app

Approved! Want a free app??

Apple was kind enough to approve our app last week after we made some minor tweaks to it. And Frypan is pleased to offer it up to you for free today.

The Minneapolis Skyway app, for the iPhone.

The approval process was pretty simple, and the dudes at Apple worked pretty quickly. Both times it took less than a week.

What I didn’t realize is that when it is approved, it goes straight to the App store, for free. Which is cool. But we wanted to dial in the last bit of Marketing, and release it a week later (today). Some of you have gone through the “Developer Removed From Sale.” Luckily it was pretty simple to put it back on the App Store. Here’s how we did it.

1) In itunes Connect, click Manage Your Applications

2) Click the App you want to put back in the App Store

3) Click Edit Information

4) Click Pricing Tab

5) Check all the stores where you’d like your app to be available. Mauritius was an important market for us, for obvious reasons.

And that’s it. In less than two hours it was available in the App Store, and at about 4 hours it was searchable in the App Store and online.

I’ve got to Thank our most awesome developer, Jane Mitchell of Rainbow Rabbit. She’s poured a whole lot into this thing, to make it very cool and to work beautifully! She’s a fantastic developer and designer, and an awesome human!

From day one, we wanted to make something that would be valuable to both the fine folks who call Minneapolis home, while promoting the wonderful merchants who make a living in the Skyway. I feel we really accomplished that, and hope you guys think its as cool as we do!

Oh, and it looks very fresh on the iPad.

Cool story done by my new friend Anthony Carranza of Examiner.com. Check it out here !!

Frypan

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Image Is Everything

Isn’t that what Andre Agassi used to say, somewhere between Brooke Shields and a crystal meth habit?
andre

Well, we needed to find an image. An image for which to build the Minneapolis Skyway App. Initial research left much to be desired, but gave us a building block. At the very least we needed a primitive guide to the eight mile maze in order to begin logging the hundreds of businesses…..and one public bathroom. Seriously, if you don’t want to have swing into Arby’s to buy a French Dip and Swiss Combo for $5.01 in order to get a bathroom token, you might want to check out the Minneapolis Skyway App. If not, you can pick up the App later and map your workout in order to burn off the 1100 calories you just slammed to get into the john. Back to the image, here is where we started. Our initial image we were running with was this one from the University of St Thomas.

Not exactly our everything, but free and good enough to get us logging some mileage and familiarizing ourselves with the belly of the beast.
We discovered the skyway has some maps of its own that were updated in July 2009. It really only complicates matters, especially when blocks are divided into buildings that aren’t clearly designated or marked. Where are you in that circle? Do they think you are the State Puff Marshmallow Man? Are you at the Orchestra Hall? Convention Center? or maybe you are somewhere at then end of the dotted line where it reads, “you are here.”

As we continued to log data through the skyway we stumbled upon Minneapolis Geographical Information Systems, or GIS. Destiny? I think so. They provided us with an image that is everything we needed to make a custom map fit and feel right for our mobile application. Check out our little preview of it below, and check the full version on the soon-to-be Minneapolis Skyway App.

Cost of Cartography: $135.79
Frypan

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Minneapolis Skyway App – For the iPhone

We are very pleased to introduce the Minneapolis Skyway app for the iPhone. Not in the AppStore yet, but we’re darn close. Coding is 90% complete, Design is 90% complete, and a large part of it rests on Apple’s shoulders once we officially submit it.

sw

The very talented Jane Mitchell of Rainbow Rabbit, having lived and worked in Minneapolis for a number of years, quickly grasped our vision. She knocked out a perfect design, and we’re pretty pumped to release this thing. Jane’s designed a number of other cool apps too; Shopaholic, Pet the Cow, gScale, and my favorite, eMaze.

emaze

The Minneapolis Skyway first opened in 1962, connecting the city’s first mixed-use building, the Northstar Center, with Northwestern National Bank across Marquette Avenue.

skyway

It has often been compared to a “habitrail for humans,” very similar to habitrail for hamsters. Every day hundreds of thousands of people use the Minneapolis Skyway; business professionals, travelers, vagabonds, street performers, and sometimes even Prince.

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Most professionals know how to get from their parking spot to their desk, and a few favorite lunch spots. Most suburban shoppers know even less than that. And out-of-towners are almost completely in the dark. The few maps scattered about are few and far between, not to mention dated. I mean, is the Target Center even still there? But at its very core, the Minneapolis Skyway is a thriving pedestrian, socio-economic ecosystem, replete with banks, clothiers, hotels, art, music, jewelers (LOTS of jewelers for some reason), food, and of course, PEOPLE! Oh, and our favorite hot dog stand, Franks a Million.

We hope our App will help you explore this crazy second story world with ease, whether you’re just looking for a super sweet gold chain, or want to browse the permanent Dale Chihuly Macchia exhibit at 225 South Sixth.

chi

The Skyway – By the numbers

Blocks : 70
Miles: 8
Bridges: 78
Businesses : 1000
Condos: 2000
Hotel Rooms: 4000
Pedestrians/Day : 200,000

Skyway Apps: 1

Frypan

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Learn stuff

I swear to you all I am not going to turn this into an app review blog. Lord knows we have enough of those already. But from time to time, a great app will come along with a clear vision, great functionality, and a wicked cool website promoting their wares. And I’m not going to dismiss such creativity; I plan on learning from it.

Winston Churchill once said, “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

church

We are taught lessons and concepts and facts in school and college, from parents hopefully, and possibly a mentor. For me personally, it’s way more fun to be an astute observer, and learn from real life experiences. I’ve learned quite a bit from app developers and designers, and picked up a few more things from the good folks at Busy Cursor Software, the makers of Minneapolis’ Train Brain App. The app was developed by Andy Atkinson and designer Nate Kadlac.

Essentially the app brings the Minneapolis Light Rail schedule to life, with a very slick User Interface. It’s hard to make train schedules look sexy, but these guys came pretty close.
brain

Most importantly , it works. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned was just how important a promotional website specific to the app is. Train Brain’s is clear and concise, looks sharp, and has a couple effective and simple features. The site basically consists of 4 sections: 1) Features, 2) Screenshots, 3) Support, 4) FAQs. That’s it. I think one of the coolest parts is their support/feedback section powered by User Voice. This allows all of their users to provide feedback or suggest ideas, and quite a few have. It’s an excellent way to stay connected with your users , so you can continually provide a rich and meaningful user experience.

With that said, we’ve secured our app domain for two years from GoDaddy for $21.74.
Now we just need content and design…

App Website – $21.74

Frypan

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How we Google

Google and its offerings continue to grow and expand every day. Almost all of its product offerings are free, which Frypan loves. It’s an interesting model, and one we won’t get too deep into here (though we all have a lot to learn from Google.) They’re able to offer these free products, because 99% of its revenue is generated from its advertising programs; roughly $10 Billion a year (only $112 Million in licensing).

Some of Google’s best products have come from what they call “Innovation Time Off.” All of their engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time (1 day a week) on projects that have significant interest to them. Luckily for us, almost 50% of Google’s new launches, and some of its most popular services were hatched under this program; Gmail, Adsense, Google News, etc. In my mind, Innovation Time Off looks a bit like this:

nerd

But whatever – they make real, useful, cool stuff without using the term “cloud.” (yet)

Our needs are pretty basic. Since my business partner and I live 55 miles away from each other, we’ve leaned on Google Apps to stay in touch and collaborate online often.

We email on Gmail

We chat on Google Talk

We use Google Maps to find out where we’re going to have our next Fulton Beer

I use Google Reader to catch up on all my blogs so I can get smart …Sidenote – My Favorites:

Mobile Orchard
Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategist
No Identity Blog
Tapity

And most importantly we use Google Docs

We have spent many a night collaborating on “documents” to shape our ideas, and compiling data on “spreadsheets” to help realize those ideas. It’s a wonderful tool, the real-time collaboration features are fantastic, and the in-document chat has been invaluable. Essentially we can both work on the same project, at the same time, share it with our developer, and talk about it all while watching 30 Rock from the comfort of our own homes. Pretty sweet. By comparison, Microsoft Office Small Business is about $450.

Business Software – $0.00

Frypan

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Social Media Push

Wikipedia defines the Niche Market as “the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing on.” Our utility iPhone App certainly will be a niche app (more on the app later,) focusing on a large subset of the Minneapolis Market. We’re certainly not creating hits like the dudes at TapTapTap. By the way, you should really buy their latest app Voices. It’s the most fun I’ve had for 99 cents in a long time.

Voices

According to Positive Space our app has to be one of two things; Scarce or Ubiquitous. “For scarcity to work, you need to be the only application that solves the problem of your users,” says Positive Space. While companies like Smule and TapTapTap excel at Ubiquity, Frypan must find a marriage between relevance and scarcity.

scarce

The importance of a keen marketing strategy for a niche product started to become more clear to me by the day. We’re not going to shoot to the top of the App Store by catching fire and going viral like Voices (though that’d be super sweet). There’s clearly an inherent risk is trying to produce something for a niche market, yet you can limit some of the downside with a sharp focus on the marketing.

Since I’m not actually developing the application, my time is better utilized exploring social media marketing. It’s time consuming, but it’s also free. And right now, we love free. Marketing Profs is an incredible resource for any developer, entrepreneur, or human. Their FREE Social Media Marketing Kit has been invaluable to me as I try to filter through all of the filth online regarding the topic. Since we have no advertising budget, I’ve decided to use four common Social Media outlets to market our app; Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIN.

According to Business Wired, measuring the ROI of Social Media is the “million dollar question.” I’ll do my best to follow our progress using these tools, and will welcome any and all feedback or thoughts about the Social Media outlets in question. If you came to this blog as a result of social media, then we’re off to a good start.

WordPress Blog: $0.00
Facebook: $0.00
Linkedin: $0.00
Twitter: $0.00

Total Marketing Cost: $0.00

Frypan

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