My legs are sore from standing for a couple days at one of the weirdest conferences I’ve ever worked. Over the past two days I represented the company I work for at Appnation. It was at Moscone Center and was a convention for mobile app developers to learn ways to make money as app developers. They say it’s a mash-up of developers, venture capitalists and people who do stuff that could benefit developers [more on that later].
This was a show that compared to MacWorld was an oversized garage type of event. There were maybe about 100 people hawking their wares and the people that would come by the booth I was working were a mix of end users, VC people, but mostly people who were too cheap to purchase a booth and were coming by to try and sell their product to me to include in my app even if it had nothing to do with or was of no use to my app. In other words, in my opinion the show was a bust for the company I work for.
There was lots of talk about how to get venture capital funding for your app, but in reality most of these hip app writers live out of virtual spaces that don’t have anything a real office has. Imagine working for a company that is based in a eggshell of an industrial workspace. They have no landline phone, no printers, cheap Office Depot tables and chairs, no form of interior design what so ever, mail never gets delivered because, well snail mail is so 10 minutes ago and after all, in a month or two we’ll be moving to an even better eggshell to work out of!
Eggshelled companies are not what a Venture Capital firm has much interest in because once they give you the money they want to be able to keep track of you by something other than email and a cell phone call, neither of which they can find a real person to shake down to get the money back.
I was able to meet some interesting people there though. Steve and Reed from appMobi were right across from me and put on a good show. Steve incidentally speaks 8 languages and was happy to demonstrate that fact even though it had nothing to do with his product. AppMobi is a web-based product that lets you write mobile apps using web design skills not programming languages and then deploy your product not just to one platform, but to several. This sounded pretty cool and they’re demo showed how cool it was. Then there was Chris and Cherie from Technomadia. These were a couple of Burning Man people who actually live out of a trailer and because of that wrote an app called State Lines. This is a fun app for travelers that tells you the speed limits, smoking rules, alcohol laws in every state. Very useful if you’re a frequent traveler and only $2.99. I asked them if the app paid them well and they told me that, “It keeps them in lunch and sometimes dinner.” OK, while I can’t exactly say I’d be able to live off that, at least I know I’d be getting a couple a meals a day from it.
Probably the best thing I learned from the show was that geek girls with iPads can be hot. These girls weren’t icing on the cake like you have at car shows, but they were spouting off about objective-C, equity investors, marketing throughput, etc and their eyes weren’t all glossed over like they were just repeating what they were told to say. I’d also have to say that most of the people there were talking more about the free after parties than the products people were trying to sell, so that should tell you something about the overall effectiveness of the show.