It has been a long time since I posted to the Mind-Flip blog, the truth is I’ve been very busy. Over the last few months we’ve taken the Mind-Flip web site, and my mobile development and turned that into a fully fledged company. Having a limited company opens up the publishing options and allows me as a developer to write and publish applications to many different stores.
At the same time it also makes you take a different look at the world, and in turn means making some hard calls.
A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away….
Actually, June 11th, in Dublin (shh, the title of the paragraph sounds more exciting)…. This was the day I started work on the next Mind-Flip project. I was also the day when I had to stop development on my favourite project. Up until that day I had been working on TextQuick2, I had invested a lot of time into Venus - the graphics engine required to power the sliding transitions and conversation views that TextQuick now supported. Creating Venus had taken a long time, after all Mind-Flip is only one person (me). As I neared completion of TextQuick2 myself and Emma (my wife) started trailing through the formal legal paper work to create Mind-Flip Limited. Now we had a fully legal company!
Following this I started emailing old customers and beta testers asking for their assistance, asking if they would like to test out TextQuick2. I received some really positive responses, especially from those Beta testers with who I had become friends. But at the same time I also noticed that a lot of the people I emailed were no longer Symbian users, or had moved to the new touch only Nokia devices.
TextQuick2 had been designed primarily to be used with traditional Nokia handsets – you know, the “candy bars” with T9 / numeric keypads. It works with touch based devices, but wasn’t as useful as it could have been if it had been written from scratch for touch. At the same time I started reading the industry press and doing some research into the mobile app market. The information I found said one thing – people with touch devices buy mobile applications more often than people without. The way forward was clear, I needed a touch designed application. I realised that TextQuick2 as a touch application needed some additional work, as I thought about the situation I considered all my possibilities.
What is the difference between and idea and a thought?
I often get teased about this by my family, as I have my own individual definition for both words. To me an idea is that moment where you have an “Ah! ha!” – light bulb goes off! moment. It is the initial spark of realisation, or the moment a big idea hits you. It is good, but it doesn’t have all the “in-betweenie-bits”. in-betweenie-bits: The in-betweenie-bits are they extra steps everyone has when you think about an idea. Once I’ve really thought about an idea for a bit and have evaluated as best as I can, well then, at that moment I have a qualified idea, it is now a thought!
So my first idea was simply to invest in TextQuick2, to take it from a mainly key driven to a fully fledged touch enabled mobile application. That would give me something that most people could actually use, and one of the key advantages of it was the ability to show conversations. This was a key feature that really needed Venus to work. Then I received an email from one of the beta testers that really made my heart sink.
The email was from a long term TextQuick user, who provided me with lots of really great feedback, but it was the closing paragraphs which got to me. In it he said “you know, I hear that the next version of Nokia’s handsets are going to come complete with conversations views for messaging, and a fast way to find your friends”.
My heart sank. The two features TextQuick2 tries to deliver and they are coming as a standard part of the mobile phone. Why would anyone want to buy TextQuick2 now? All that hard work in Venus for nothing.
Thinking about it, I realised it made sense. These features were actually standard offerings on handsets competing with Nokia’s. So it was natural that these features were added as a standard part of their handsets. This was the in-betweenie-bit I needed. I now had taken my idea and applied some thinking to it. I looked back at my qualified idea and realised that TextQuick2 was going to really struggle. It was time to move on. But do what?
The Next Idea
I sat down and said, can I make a new application, one really pushes me as a developer, and delvers something exciting and interesting? Some thing which could make use of Venus, and something that would work on touch devices.