iPhone Apps: Cottage Industry

Motivation breeds success. Four of the five presenters in the iPhone App panel embarked on their quest for personal reasons. The panel, at Princeton University’s Friend Center on Thursday, November 12, was entitled “iPhone Apps – the New High Tech Gold Rush?”and moderated by Ed Zschau.

Princeton junior Matt Connor showed an I-phone app, Islet, for family members with Type 1 diabetes.

A graduate student, Harry Schmidt, has figured out how to put the Latin and Greek dictionaries on the I-Phone.

Then comes serial entrepreneur Ken Kay, whom I’ve been covering for U.S. 1 for 15 years. Kay tapped the expertise of his college student son to program an app that would help his friend, connected with a Philadelphia arts organization, icihere.

A 2003 alumnus, David Lieb (shown on Skype, middle), has attracted $3 million to develop “Bump,” an app that uses algorhithms in the sky to transfer info from one “bumped” phone to another. His fellow MBA students were using pencil and paper to exchange information.

And then in the crowd was a schoolboy, intent on his I-phone game and likely a future game developer. That was the territory of Sharon Fordham (shown on Skype, left). The board chairman of Skyworks and a Douglass graduate (let’s hear it for women’s colleges), she has been remarkably successful marketing Skyworks, which has 15 of the top 100 games. Unlike the other four presenters, she did not do the programming herself; her company translated existing properties to the iPhone platform.

The take-away for this session might be that iPhone programming skill is a terrific resume item and not all that hard to learn. When Kay couldn’t find a good programmer, he turned to his son for help. Schmidt is not a programmer by trade. Buy the $99 kit and you’re set to go. It’s such a hot area that Princeton University is sponsoring a contest for the best i-Phone app, and the Wall Street Journal has declared it a hot new cottage industry. Developers get 70 percent of the profit from downloads.

The schoolboy? His dad happens to be Gordon Bloom, the visiting professor from Harvard who teaches social entrepreneurship. Bloom will be on deck next week. He hosts “Social Entrepreneurship: A Rising Generation Changing the World” on Thursday, November 19, at 4:30 p.m. at the Carl Fields Center, the new building just down the street from the Friend Center

The student i-Phone app contest winners will be announced on Friday, December 18, 3 to 6 p.m. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with.

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