In all this time of talking about apps and app companies, I have up until now refrained from revealing any of my app ideas, due mainly to worrying about my ideas being stolen. Perhaps that worry comes from my experience in biotech where you attempt to patent every idea that can be nailed down. Intellectual property in biotech is a big deal, since it is so hard-won through years of research and a lot of money. A patentable idea can be worth a lot. Since secrecy can be important in validating a patent, companies that worry about patents tend to be fairly tight-lipped.
However, I am finding that in the app business, ideas are a dime a dozen – it’s the execution that counts. Everybody and his brother-in-law has an app idea, but most of the time they don’t act on it. There are plenty of good ideas around, but it takes a serious investment of time and energy to get any single idea off the ground. Therefore, the money in the app business is all in the execution.
To that end, you have to get out of the building and talk to potential customers, as I have alluded to in past blog posts. Recently, however, I’ve been feeling more and more hampered by the secrecy on this blog. It makes no sense. Secrecy is necessary for patents, but there is little to patent in software. I need openness, since I need to recruit everybody I can get to help in my venture. My idea may and may not be any good to begin with, and the only way to find out is to tell everybody I know and see what they say. I’ve been talking to potential customers about my idea, so why, if I am talking to them, am I not opening up my idea on this blog?
Well, no more.
So, in a word, what I want to do is:
That’s right, the hobby of putting your photos onto paper and embellishing the images with decorative elements. You are possibly already familiar with paper scrapbooking since it’s quite popular and you may well know people, mostly women, who do it. What I am proposing to do is digital scrapbooking. Instead of cutting up paper or ribbons to decorate your photo pages, you do it on your computer or tablet device using digital photos on virtual paper.
Why do digital scrapbooking? It began with my interest in the iPhone and the possibilities for the iPhone camera. When I first I started down this road, the camera clearly had potential, but what to do with the photos once you had them? One answer to that question was to allow users to create retro-looking images, like Hipstamatic and other apps. Another was social networking and sharing of images with other people, like with Instagram. The application I thought of was digital scrapbooking. Initially scrapbooking was non-existent on the iPhone, though a few reasonable apps were eventually developed, such as Coolibah and Tap’N’Scrap. Even so, there was room for improvement.
Then came the iPad and I realized that my idea had been all wrong; or rather, I was interested in creating for the wrong device. The iPhone is a little small for serious scrapbooking, but the iPad is a terrific device. Light-weight enough to be carried around, but a large enough screen to be satisfying when manipulating images. I would develop for the iPad!
So there you are. My thinking on this project has changed focus somewhat as I have included Android tablets and desktop computers as part of my plan (outlined in this blog in the past), but I remain committed to bringing an improved digital scrapbooking experience to mobile devices. Whether I can produce an app that people will pay for is an open question, but what is certain is that scrapbooking is a multi-billion dollar industry and that the digital portion of it is growing. I intend to be part of it.