The Bombing Brain Blog

4 Days of Making New Friends in Lone Tree—360iDev 2012

We had two major goals in mind when we decided to attend 360iDev again this year. The first was to help contribute to the conversation surrounding app pricing. We’ve had a reasonable amount of success over the past four years selling apps to customers who are focused on quality, not price, and we felt it would be great to share that with others. The second was to make as many new contacts as possible—talk to people, spend some time getting to know more independent developers, contractors, anyone we could in the iOS development community. We’re notorious for being shy, so we thought it was vital that we take advantage of the conference’s incredibly friendly atmosphere, break out of our usual quiet selves, and try to make some new friends.

To achieve the first goal, I submitted a topic and put myself in the running to become a 360iDev speaker. I had no idea what my chances of being accepted were, but I was passionate about the app pricing stories that have been floating around the Internet for some time now, and I felt I could make a strong case for the counter-to-popular-opinion approach of selling apps for more than 99 cents. After all, Bombing Brain has been successfully growing our business of selling fair price apps, with a slow but steady annual increase in our app sales. While we have never had a big “hit” app, and we’ve never even been featured in any major way by Apple, we’ve managed to grow by focusing on keeping our small base of customers extremely happy. I thought that might be something the iOS indie dev community would like to hear.

And I was right. The feedback I got after the talk was extremely encouraging. I spoke with several people who felt that perhaps too many of us were chasing the top app charts, and that maybe it was at least time to consider shifting gears to a slow, iterative approach, with the goal of making good products that customers valued. And many also offered their own experiences and feedback, sometimes disagreeing, but always in the spirit of sharing knowledge. By the end of the conference I had a whole new confidence about where we wanted to take our business, and I could better appreciate the perspetives of those who have tried and succeeded at selling apps in all sorts of categories and at all sorts of price points.

That leads me to our second goal. Tim and I met scores of new people over the past four days, and so many of them had insights into the iOS development business. We shared food, bought each other beers, played a round of miniature golf, even. All the while talking and sharing ideas. This, I feel, is what it means to be part of a developer community. And 360iDev, moreso than many other conferences, fosters this sense of community in a way that makes it easy even for two shy guys like us to feel welcomed, supported, and appreciated.

We’re still bummed that Gene couldn’t make it out with us this year, but the two of us who were there sure had a blast and learned a lot. The conference sessions were even better than last year. The WiFi actually worked. (I managed to download the GM for iPad and iPhone over WiFi during Michael Simmons’s great talk on Wednesday afternoon. Wouldn’t have tried that last year.) And most importantly, the attendees and staff made us feel like we belonged. Top it off with a great mention by Mike Schramm on TUAW, a podcast session with Saul Mora of NSBrief (to be published soon), and you end up with a unique experience that paid for itself many times over.

I said it last year, and I’ll say it again; 360iDev is a no-brainer if you want to be in the business of making apps. John and Nicole run tight ship, and they do it out of love. The vibe that gets generated by their passion is infectious. If you’re looking to get more actively involved with the indie dev community (and you should be if you’re making apps) I continue to think this is the best conference going.

So we look forward to next year. Which of my new friends will be sharing their stories on stage? I know I’m already brewing a few new ideas for another talk myself. Don’t think you’ll get picked if you submit a topic? Neither did I. Think you’ll be really nervous? Yeah, you will be. But you’ll get over it. One of the things that makes this conference so great is that anyone with a good idea might be picked to deliver that idea to the rest of us.

To all our new friends on Twitter, Alpha, and Glassboard: Stay in touch. Tim and I look forward to seeing you all the next time our paths cross. If your path ever takes you to the San Francisco area, do look me up. I’d love to keep the conversation going. We have great food and beer here, too.

Last, but certainly not least, let me take a moment to thank our families, who took on a lot of extra duties for four days so that Tim and I could go to this conference and help promote our business. Without our loved ones making sacrifices for our benefit, we’d be nowhere.