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DailyTidings.com
  • Making iPad apps a risky business

    Art app a hit, teddy bear app flops
  • Ashland high-tech gurus Alan Oppenheimer and Jim Teece have had blockbuster hits with iPhone and iPad apps, but they also have had dismal failures — and once narrowly avoided making an app that could have crushed them financially.
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  • Ashland high-tech gurus Alan Oppenheimer and Jim Teece have had blockbuster hits with iPhone and iPad apps, but they also have had dismal failures — and once narrowly avoided making an app that could have crushed them financially.
    Their Art Authority app, developed by the two with a team of local high-tech wizards, has been a top seller. It garnered rave reviews from the New York Times and Apple itself, the pioneering company that unveiled the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.
    "It's great when the mother ship likes your app," Oppenheimer said.
    Art Authority features thousands of images of art from Western culture, elegantly displayed in museum-type settings on-screen. Viewers can also look at individual works of art and learn about artists and art history.
    Apps that featured images of cars, motorcycles, space and haircuts did well, but app image collections of national parks, sunsets and teddy bears flopped, Oppenheimer said.
    "Just because I think it's going to be a great app doesn't mean people will buy it. I'm wrong about half the time," he said.
    He noted he didn't think the teddy bear image collection app, which was a pet project of an employee, would do that well, but he remains mystified over why the national parks app — which included photos, maps and information — wasn't a hit.
    One app idea could have led to financial ruin for Oppenheimer and Teece. The two were pioneers in setting up the first wireless Internet hot spot in a public location in Ashland. Naturally they thought an app that would turn a cellphone into a wireless hot spot — allowing a computer to connect to the Internet via a cellphone network — would be a blockbuster.
    But they abandoned the idea after predicting that Apple would block the app because of a tangle of issues with cellphone companies. Another man spent months developing the app, only to have Apple reject it, Oppenheimer said.
    Cellphone companies are now selling the service commercially, he said.
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