Meet the Makers: Q&A with Keith Ahern, CEO of Mogeneration

Jul 2, 2010
Tech

Location: Sydney and Brisbane, Australia Notable apps: Carters Encyclopaedia of Health And Medicine for iPad ($9.99), Gourmet Traveller for iPad and other international apps. Platforms: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Specialty genres: Publishing Company size: 12 Short description of company: Mogeneration help publishers and media companies put their big ideas in small devices. As a […]

Location: Sydney and Brisbane, Australia

Notable apps: Carters Encyclopaedia of Health And Medicine for iPad ($9.99), Gourmet Traveller for iPad and other international apps.

Platforms: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Specialty genres: Publishing

Company size: 12

Short description of company: Mogeneration help publishers and media companies put their big ideas in small devices. As a leading iPhone, iPad development & consultancy compay mogeneration help local and international companies and government with research, product roadmaps, business models, design and development.  Our Oompf mobile publishing platform powers some of the most popular apps in the app store.

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

I used to work for News Corp and was unhappy with the quality of the mobile websites being produced by existing mobile vendors for the then new iPhone. I put together a great team and launched 3 great iphone websites. That team then left News Corp and became Mogeneration (no connection with News Corp), we started with web apps and quickly moved to native apps.  We stuck to our ideals of only creating high quality apps and staying out of the shovelware end of the market. Two years and over 30 apps later we have a track record of several #1 selling apps in the US, Australia Brazil and Japan and several our apps have been Apple staff picks and won awards.

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

I’m not sure what I can add to the millions of column inches that have been written about this but I think it really did two things: one, it truly made mobile a mass market channel for media – everything before that was really just rubbish and secondly it kickstarted the only real micropayment system we have besides coins.  I can’t think of a single bricks and mortar retailer who will let me put less than $10 on a credit card but the iTunes App Store happily lets me spend a dollar on engaging apps, including apps that user would never pay for online like news and weather.  Media will never be the same.  Just last night Australia had a change of prime minister, the TV channels struggled to keep up, the web was too slow, it was all over twitter with most posts from iPhones.  Simple, convenient and compelling, thats the iPhone and App Store.

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

We have created a few apps for Android and Nokia WRT.  The single biggest advantage of developing for iOS is the consistency and dependability of the APIs, they are not perfect but they are pretty damn good.  Many API designs that are as future proof as you ever hope an API will be. You can probably guess that I am not going to say that about the other platforms. Android 2.2 looks ok but the previous 4 versions of the OS have roughly equal market share so you have to code for the lowest, which is 1.5, and it’s a pig.  Occasionally we are asked to port apps and when we get down to it there is a lot of things missing or buggy in the other mobile OSes which makes developing for them a lot less pleasant. Developers like Android in theory but iOS in practice.

What factors go into how you ultimately price your apps?

We work with our clients on that and it really depends on a number of factors, one thing we have learned is that if your app uses constantly updated data from the internet e.g. a weather app, you should really consider subscriptions – If not, in a years time, after making some money from once off app sales. you might have angry customers who demand features and won’t pay for them.  We haven’t seen much revenue to date from mobile advertising but I think iAds will have a knock on effect for the industry and raise the spend on mobile ads.

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

That would be telling!  Right now we are really enjoying some of the UI designs apple has pioneered around the ‘disappearing UI’.  I think they first nailed it with iDVD on OSX.  The DVD authoring tool was unbelievably simple, like magic, the content was the interface.  We try and follow that with some of our apps e.g. our Oompf Magazine Reader app which powers Gourmet Traveller.  It’s great to just watch complete newbies just pick it up and fly through the pages and become complete converts to magazines on iPad.  You ask them later how they did things and that almost can’t describe it, “I just did it”.

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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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