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|Articles - March 2010|
|Thursday, February 25, 2010|
Follow-up: August 2009 feature, "Kickin' apps"
Remember reading about the casual coder who wrote an app for the iPhone in his spare time and ended up making a killing? Well, the early days of the App Store gold rush are over, according to Raven Zachary, founder of Portland-based iPhone development shop Small Society. “The idealism of quitting your day job and making a million dollars, that was not grounded in reality,” he says.
Except that’s basically what happened to him. Out of love for the iPhone, Zachary quit his job as a tech analyst to consult on app development. But after collaborating on the highly visible Obama campaign app, he found himself with more work than he could handle. He realized that the money was not in writing your own killer app and reaping profits from the App Store, but in building apps for other people who want to get in on the action.
So far Small Society, born just over one year ago, has built apps for Starbucks, Zipcar, Whole Foods Market and other big- name companies. Small Society has had two apps featured on stage at official Apple events and three apps featured in Apple commercials. Zachary says Small Society was the first iPhone development company in Oregon to hit a million dollars in revenue. All Zachary’s clients approach him first; Small Society gets enough referrals that they have to turn many down.
Zachary attributes Small Society’s success to its early advantage and commitment to quality work. But now the “absurdly hot iPhone dev shop,” as it was dubbed by the leading tech blog ReadWriteWeb, is faced with the challenge of controlling its own growth. The dangers of being absurdly hot are one, you could cool down; and two, you could explode. Small Society has done neither, opting for “slow growth” — which in the rapidly moving mobile industry means it has doubled its size in a year to eight employees and is hiring for two more positions.
“There are two long-term models. Stay small, be high-profile with a waiting list, take clients at the rate we want to take things, and be the masters of balancing our work and our personal lives. That’s the Portland model of doing things,” Zachary says. “Or, you sprint like mad and build an empire.”
Small Society seems on track to stay small, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sprinting like mad. With the unveiling of Apple’s new tablet computer, the iPad, Small Society’s momentum seems unlikely to slow. The iPad opens up the opportunity to tweak iPhone apps for past clients for the new device, as well as develop for new clients who have iPad-specific ideas. “We’re a little bit hitched to Apple’s innovation wagon, which is a beautifully fun place to be,” says James Keller, one of Small Society’s founding members.
This is an office of Mac and iPhone geeks, which means there are no plans to start developing for non-Apple mobile devices. Once the iPad clamor dies down, the next wave of demand will come from companies that want to redesign apps they did cheaply and quickly when iPhone apps first got trendy, just as website redesigns were popular in the ’90s. Zachary hopes to continue working with clients to update their apps as Apple comes out with new upgrades, such as the new iPhone that’s coming this summer.
But eventually, the Small Society crew hopes to start building their own ideas for killer apps.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY OB STAFF
Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
BY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE
Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.
Monday, November 10, 2014
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.
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