A decade ago Wayne Irving was at the top of his game in the online and financial world. Irving was running his own 100 employee strong dotcom backed by powerhouse names like Goldman Sachs, Merill Lynch, and ING Barrings. Irving’s prosperous online entrepreneurial career has spanned from media, to security, to mobile apps, to family focused mobile apps and even the bathroom remodeling industry.
Over the past two years we’ve seen some great family and holiday centric apps coming out of Iconosys. Iconosys does more than just holiday and family apps. As we learn in the interview with Iconosys’ CEO Wayne Irving, holiday apps, family centric apps and games weren’t even Iconosys’ first plans. We’ve seen a handful of great apps released by Iconosys for Iconosys however they’ve developed over 900 apps to date for themselves and their partners.
Now though, with a sounding board around his dining room table, and feedback from hundreds of thousands of users, Iconosys is an app machine. They’ve got some very exciting things lined up for 2012 kicking off at CES next week.
Trick or Tracker, Latch Key Kid, My Max Speed, All I Want From Santa and many more of Iconosys’ apps address things that are relevant to the average Android and smartphone user.
While Iconosys pushes on with more and more great Android apps it wasn’t an easy road. Irving talks to us about their Drive Reply app and how what he thought they had a partnership with Sprint. Irving came to find that almost all of the features in Drive Reply were put into Sprints’ app with similar functionality. Read about that and more in our interview with Irving.
So lets get into the interview after the break
1. Wayne tell us a little bit about your background and about Iconosys and how it was started
Iconosys was started in November 2009, under the original plan to build music editing and compilation apps for iPhone. After the first developer I hired basically stole my first $10,000, quit on me, and gave me a batch of bunk code, I simultaneously started to pay attention to the mobile space in general and identified with some of of the news stories that were making headlines in early 2010. In particular, the issue of texting and talking on the phone while driving. This was a biggie for me. I had a 15 year old daughter that I was struggling with and felt like I should consider doing something along the lines of providing some innovative way to give parents a little peace of mind, knowing their text addict sons and daughters are newly behind the wheel. Hence DriveReply® was born. We worked from March thru September, day in and day out to build a solution that allows the phone to manage inbound calls and text messages, based on user preferences and incorporating a pleathera of features that were recently mimic’d in their entirety and launched by SPRINT at the Orlando CTIA earlier this year. Nearly all our features, right down to the name of the feature and the description.
If we had the financial resources, I would pursue Sprint, as we have several emails in Sept/Oct 2010 that indicate a significant interest in DriveReply, even coaxing me to give more intimate details about the way the app works, something that I would not tell the public. Then they went silent on us, after telling us we were going to be the feature app of October on all Sprint Zone phones. That never happened and our app was stripped, renamed, and borrowed without permission by Sprint.
2. We noticed that your apps are true family apps, is that the focus of Iconosys or do you have your hands in other segments as well. Do you have kids? What’s their impact on your apps?
I have 4 children, thanks for asking. My children are 17,12,11,8. They are a significant part of my study and focus group. My son Jack, 8 years old has been the inspiration behind some of the games we developed. In particular, Zombie Slasher and Quick Draw. My daughters are very active and always on the go. So my goal with trick or tracker, latch key kid, guards up, and my max speed. Were really just ways for me to further provide safety solutions.
3. (you’re not obligated to say Android) is there any one platform that you guys do better with or that you prefer to develop for?
Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Phone
4. Your hit halloween and kid finder app Trick or Tracker is now in it’s second year can you talk about year over year growth with that particular app. Are you finding people are downloading it for Halloween and continuing to use it all year long?
yes, people are downloading and using it regularly, it sees a sustained download volume of several thousand per month. Of course, the media fan fair helps with downloads during October. 🙂 This year we added Guards Up and Latchkey Kid inside the child installation of the app, hoping to give mom and dad a few more reasons to put and keep the app on their spouse, teen or child’s phone.
5. How long is your average development cycle from idea to uploading to app markets.
Depends really, fortunately we are nearing almost 1000 apps developed. Unofficially, we are at 912 apps built. Our method has been, for the most part to re-use many of the functions and modules that we have mastered and look for new ways to reuse them. Like our TetherTogether technology in Trick or Tracker, being re-tooled for Tell My Geo or Wordbully for example.
So our bigger apps, like Word Bully, or Trick or Tracker, or All I Want From Santa, typically take 3-5 weeks from drawing board to V1 release on the market. Paying attention to the fact that in all, the technology in each of these apps, should they have to be built from scratch would take some 90-120 days to complete.
6. The most recent ComScore report suggests that texting is still king of the roost on mobile phones while apps are starting to see a huge surge, where do you see the app space going in the next two years?
Well, for a while I thought apps were going to be short lived. I would have to say that with the success of the Nook and the Kindle Fire, those devices rely on apps nearly fully to get more of an experience from them. If those two devices continue to run as they do now, I think apps will be around for a while. Yeah, HTML5 is great, and a great ad-on to our abilities with these mobile devices, but I think the evolution of apps as a whole will likely encompass some web-stuff, some static-stuff(on device), and some new-stuff. As a matter of fact, our plan is to launch our own private labeled AppStore at CES this year, where anyone can own their own AppStore. Sure hope we are on target.
7. Have you had any real good stories come from users of either Drive Reply or Trick or Tracker?
Sure, the cross country tours that we do have brought people to us with the most amazing stories and warm receptions. But the bad news and the horrifying stories is something we have to bear too.
8. What good projects do you have in the pipeline that you can tell us about
As a matter of fact, our plan is to launch our own private labeled AppStore at CES this year, where anyone can own their own AppStore. Sure hope we are on target.
9. What phone is your daily driver
I am using the Droid Razr right now, miss the Droid X2. The 4G phones just do not stay charged long enough for me. I like the Razr, but the X2 just seemed to be Motorola’s best.
10. (the fun question) If technology had no bounds and you had no budgetary constraints what would you make a smartphone do that it doesnt do already.
1) add a programmable RF transmitter, like my directv remote control at home
2) wireless connection with your tv
2) put NFC on all phones mandatory, like GPS now
3) build a phone that has better speakers, as phones get smaller and lighter, why not use that space to put some better sound in them