FlipBoard

Recently, I have found FlipBoard for the iPad. If you haven’t seen this product, where have you been. Seriously, they’re even in Newsweek and I just saw them in an iPad ad this evening.

Here’s a demo of the app:

Pretty freaking sweet isn’t it.

And its free! Yes, FREE!

I still don’t get this. Its getting such great buzz around the web, why not charge some money for the app. I get wanting to get a bunch of people using your app and generating growth. But relying on advertisement revenue isn’t always the best plan. Why not get some of that cash in the door now.

Here’s the one problem that I have with FlipBoard (from the newsweek article):

Flipboard hasn’t worked out a business model yet, but plans to put ads next to articles and then share some advertising revenue with publishers. McCue believes that Flipboard on the iPad can deliver better-quality ads than the cheapo ones you see on the Web. And there’s no big rush to make money: Flipboard has raised $10.5 million from venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and other investors. “The first thing you have to do is create an experience that people are excited about and using a lot,” McCue says. That part, it seems, Flipboard has already accomplished.

How in the fuck did these guys get funding? Seriously? Can someone tell me who would invest in a company that hasn’t figured out the business model of how they are going to make money?

This is why we had a dot-bomb back in the early part of the century folks.

I would argue that they do have the model figured out, they just haven’t figured out how to execute on it yet. The app is simply a method of getting ads in front of users and it is only a matter of time until the advertisers come a running. So my argument is, why not make a few bucks along the way selling the great looking by product of your ad platform…the app itself!

Introducing iApp100.com

Today, I’m finally able to let the cat out of the bag about a side project that I have been working on. My fellow brother in song, Brent Bierstedt and I have been working over the past several months on a better way of accessing, ranking and organizing iPhone apps. We love the iPhone and think that the store is pretty killer. But there are a few things lacking that with a little bit of technology, we can bring out the best of the store and make it easy to find, search, share and rank applications that you find. So today, we are officially launching iapp100.com

We have some pretty big plans for the site and this is only the beginning. Revision one of the site allows you access to a lot of information that we have been collecting over the past several months. You can create an account, create a wish list to purchase apps later and rank and leave comments on apps that you have given a test run. Because let’s face it, they’re not all winners.

There is much more that we’re going to do with the site so we hope that you use it, tell us what you think, and spread the word to others!

-Matt
http://iapp100.com
http://twitter.com/iapp100

Kindle for iPhone

Read any tech blog out there and you will surely find a story about the new Kindle App for the iPhone. I’ve been wanting a Kindle for a while now but the price is a bit steep for the amount of reading that I do. My wife on the other hand goes through books like no other so I’m thinking that eventually we’ll pick on up for her. But in the mean time, the app is free so let’s give it a whirl and see what it is like for a non-Kindle owner.

First Impressions:
If you are new to the e-book arena, the app is pretty sparse. Sure you can log in and you can get what is basically an empty repository of all of your books. I have to say, Amazon is dropping the ball big time here. I’m sure that the app is great for reading books. But how the heck do I buy one? There is no store front to the application. If you want to buy an app, you have to go to Safari. Maybe they didn’t get the memo, but the way that you make money on this FREE application is to SELL BOOKS!!! Sure, Safari is on the phone and I can surely buy through there. But there is even a “Get Books” button in the application that takes you to a page that tells you use safari. There is a link on that page that states use “Safari” that when clicked will take you to the Kindle Store. But man, why the extra step? Just take me over there if you can’t write a web service to help you search through books. Lame!

Stability: 5 Stars The application hasn’t bailed on me so far and I have been able to flip through some books with ease. The responsiveness and speed in which books are synced and downloaded from Amazon is impressive.

Stickiness: 3.5 stars I can’t say that I’m the biggest reader on the planet but when I have some free time to kill and I’m into a good book, its hard for me to put it down. On vacations, I’m a huge reader. In my everyday life, there aren’t too many times when there isn’t something else to do or a real book handy. So I just don’t see myself using this application multiple times a day . Sure, sitting in the doctors office waiting to go into an appointment or killing time while eating lunch I could see reading a bit. But the screen is rather small for reading a lot of text and I think that I would be flipping so much that it would become rather annoying after a while. But to kill 5-10 minutes now and then, yeah, I can see it.

Addictiveness: 3 Stars I think that if you like to read books, you’re not going to run out to install this app so you can read a ton of e-books on your iPhone. I think you either have the real book or you have a Kindle and you read books there. So I can easily see this app collecting dust after a few weeks. But if you happen to have some reference materials on your phone that you need at a moments notice, then you may use this application a lot more.

Support: 4.5 Stars Amazon appears to have gotten all of their ducks in a row as they have nice support site for the Kindle with a FAQ and User Guide in their help section I knocked them a half star as I didn’t see a place where I could get email or phone support for the Kindle app itself. I don’t think that this is a huge deal, but still worth a half star to me.

UI/Usability: 3 Stars Over all, the application is well layed out, easy to navigate, change fonts, and the syncing that it supposedly does between devices is brilliant from what I can tell. I had to ding the app major points on the lack of store. Come on Amazon, you’re really missing the boat on that one. There also seems to be some missing features on the iPhone version based on what people are saying. Newspapers, blogs, notes and annotations. I’m not sure how big the first two are with all the other applications for the iPhone that are out there. But being able to take notes and annotations while you’re reading would be nice to have depending on what you are reading.

Both of these are easily fixed with a software update. I just can’t believe that they didn’t have a store built into the app day one.

Value: 4 Stars If you have a Kindle, this may be a 5 star application. If you are like me and will only have reference books or maybe a short novel, I don’t think that this app will drastically change the way you read books. I just don’t think that you’ll pick up this application and read a 700 page novel on it. You’ll go a bit crazy with the small screen of the iPhone.

Total score: 23 of 30 Stars If you’re a Kindle owner, you’ll love this application for filling in those 5-10 minute gaps when you want to read a few pages of your latest book or have a reference manual at your fingertips. If you’re not a Kindle owner, I think that you’ll download a book or two on this…they’ll probably be the free books that I downloaded for the screen shots, but I highly doubt you’ll pound through a major novel on the iPhone.

Other Links:
CNet News First Look

Screen Shots:

Outpost

I’m an avid follower of the 37signals blogs and they happened to be giving out some promo codes for a new iPhone app called Outpost. All I had to do was send a tweet to the develoers and I just happened to be one of the lucky ones to secure one of these promo codes. w00t!

I must say, as someone that is planning on releasing some software for the iPhone here in the near future, I’m pretty impressed with the promo codes. I think it is a great way to get people excited about your application and get it into the hands of the reviewers.

Back to Outpost

This is a slick application. I have a very small Basecamp site with a buddy for some side projects that we are working on. We use Basecamp as our main way of keeping track of where each other is at since we work for two different companies. Its a pretty valuable tool for us. Having access to updates, being able to comment on what has been posted and checking off todo items from my phone has been a great extension of the basecamp site. A lot of what I do on my iPhone is check in on email, news, facebook, twitter and now basecamp. I feel like I’m able to contribute more by doing a quick check in, leave a comment and move on. This way my buddy isn’t waiting several hours before I check email again or log into the site.

I’ve decided to get a bit more formal with my reviews so here is a break down of the big items that relate to any application that I am review going forward. All categories are ranked on a scale of 5 stars.

Stability: 5 stars – So far I haven’t had a single crash of the application. Its been rock solid and very responsive whenever I have been messing with it.

Stickiness: 4.5 stars – I like this app, I really do. I think that if you are going to shell out $12.99 bucks for an application, you’re going to have a really hard time removing it from your iPhone/iTouch. Now, I’m not sure if this app was say $2.99 that you would feel the same way. I think that if you found another application that happened to do all of the same features and maybe had an interface that you preferred, you might jump ship.

Addictiveness: 4.5 stars – I’m not the biggest Basecamp user that there is out there. We’ve got a really small project that we are working on. But the fact that it works just fine with the “free” package that we’re on is awesome. The real difference for me is that it has changed how I use Basecamp. I’m more responsive and I find myself checking in more than I had before. I’m not quite convinced that I would kill my battery using this application yet. So I only gave it a 4.5 out of 5. But its really close.

Support: N/A – I can’t really judge this one. I haven’t had an issue. Based on the speed that I got a response on my initial twitter message, I have a feeling that they would be pretty responsive to whatever issue you might run into. But so far, no issues (Nice job Morfunk!!!)

UI/Usability: 5 stars – This app feels like a natural extension of the Basecamp web site. I was able to get up and running in no time and browsing through the project messages, to-dos, milestones was a very natural experience.

Value: 3 stars – This was a tough one. I got lucky and got a promo code so this was a freebie (thanks again morfunk!!!). But to come up with a value for this I asked myself 2 questions. Would I pay for this app? And how much? This is an application that I would pay for, but I’m not sure that I would shell out $12.99 for it. Maybe I’m just not that big of a Basecamp user yet. If I had one of the larger accounts where I was paying $24 or $49 bucks a month, then $12.99 really isn’t that much. But I’m just not there yet. I think that the more appropriate range for this application is a bit lower. I think that there are a lot of projects that fall into my range (free) that see that $12.99 as a big price to swallow and just resort back to the web where it is free. I think that if you want to get to this group, which I would imagine is a larger group than the paying Basecamp customers, I think that you need to be somewhere in the $5-$10 range. I think a price of $7.99 is a pretty fair price. At that price, I’m not going to jump ship anytime soon and it allows you to drop your shorts when you need to. At $12.99, someone else will come up with a knock off that can undercut your price and attract a big audience pretty quickly and possibly push Outpost to the fringe.

One could argue that a ‘lite’ version could be made available, but I think that you would greatly hurt the application by removing features and functionality. Basecamp is popular because of its simplicity and Outpost continues that tradition. The only items that are missing from Outpost are the user level settings of updating billing, preferences, etc that don’t really belong in this application. The only missing feature that I haven’t found is a way to create other users. But really, how often do you add users to your project? I think that this is a feature that is fine to leave out of the application so it isn’t a knock against it in my mind.

Total score: 22 out of 25 stars

My overall recommendation is that if you are an avid Basecamp user, this application is worth picking up. If you are worried about the price, you might want to wait and see if it goes on sale somewhere down the line.

Outpost

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Frenzic

If you are looking for a highly addictive fun game, I suggest you check out Frenzic. Frenzic is brought to you by The Iconfactory and ARTIS Software. You may recognize The Iconfactory as they are well known for bringing the iPhone world Twitterrific. And once again they have delivered a kick ass application!

This game is fast paced, frantic and I can’t stop playing it. Its pretty simple to play. Think of it as Tetris played with the games pieces from Trivial Pursuit. You get a pie piece of a certain color and must put it in one of the 6 open circles. If you match all the colors in the circle, you score higher points.

Here are a couple of screen shots that I took of the start of the game and then during the game play.

On the Frenzic website you can find a nice demo of the mobile app.

The game has all the makings of being a great game. Its easy to pick up and play and after playing it you soon realize that it will be difficult to truly master. So far in my 15 minutes of messing around with it, I can already tell it will help me waste many hours and a lot of my battery life. And for $1.99, it is well worth the price.

So give yourself a little gift before Christmas and download this great game.