Meet the Makers: Q&A with Alan Oppenheimer of Open Door Networks

Jun 11, 2010
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Location: Ashland, Oregon Notable apps: Art Authority (for iPad, iPhone and Mac). 100+ “Envi” Web-image browsing apps for the iPhone. Platforms: iPad, iPhone, Mac Specialty genres: Art, cars, motorcycles, space Company size: about 5 Short description of company: Open Door Networks has been developing software for Apple platforms for 15 years now. Almost all of it […]

Location: Ashland, Oregon

Notable apps: Art Authority (for iPad, iPhone and Mac). 100+ “Envi” Web-image browsing apps for the iPhone.

Platforms: iPad, iPhone, Mac

Specialty genres: Art, cars, motorcycles, space

Company size: about 5

Short description of company: Open Door Networks has been developing software for Apple platforms for 15 years now. Almost all of it having something to do with the Internet, based on my roots of having helped create AppleTalk and Macintosh networking in general. From Web server software, to AppleTalk-to-IP migration, to Internet security, and now focusing on iPhone/iPad image browsing (as part of we-envision.com).

How did you and your firm get into the iPhone/mobile app development business?

It was pretty much unavoidable 🙂 When Apple announced the iPhone SDK and App Store, we had too much experience with Macintosh networking to pass up such an incredibly fun, cool, and potentially profitable opportunity. It was just a question of what to do first. Once we settled on an iPhone version of our Macintosh Envision Web-image browser, most everything else evolved naturally. Especially when it became clear that the images people really wanted to view on their iPhone (and even more so on their iPad) were classic works of art.

In your opinion, how has the iPhone and Apple’s iTunes App Store changed the media industry?

As usual, Apple figured out what people wanted, gave it to them in an innovative, polished way, and created a whole new industry. We’re not talking about “just” a stunning touch-screen phone with great built-in software and networking, but a whole new model of software development and distribution with the App Store. Once again everyone is copying Apple, and the whole world is better for it.

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Describe the differences between developing apps for the iPhone, iPad, and other platforms.

Surprisingly little, at least between iPhone, iPad and Mac. We wouldn’t have touched Windows with a 10-foot pole, so I can’t really comment on that. As far as Android, well that’s something for the future. Maybe.

What factors go into how you ultimately price your apps?

Many. One of the advantages of having 100+ apps, is that you learn an awful lot, and you can also do experiments and see what works and what doesn’t. I think the phrase “fail early and often” really applies here.

Describe what your dream app for the iPhone/iPad would look like.

It’s an advanced version of Art Authority for iPad. Seriously. I “waste” more time with the current version than you can imagine, just getting lost in artists and art work and styles and history. But there’s so much more that can be added. Some stuff is obvious, like the ability to search by title as well as artist. Some stuff, however, is so non-obvious and so cool that I definitely can’t talk about it here! We’ll all just have to wait a bit.

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Josh Fliegel

Josh is a student at the University of Southern California, lives in Chicago, and has made Chuck Norris cry.

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