#AppsWorld - In tough times, media turns to mobile R&D
It’s been a tough time for the Tribune Co, fighting to make headway in a highly competitive market, its four year journey back from Chapter 11 has been no cake walk. We caught up with Steve Weiss, the group’s senior Android mobile developer, ahead of his appearance at Apps World next month in San Francisco.
Working for such a huge, historic company, especially given its current situation, makes for an interesting professional life. The son of Motorola’s first ever patent of the year winner and the inventor of the voice amplifier for the original police radios, Steven Weiss grew up with mobile in his blood.
With the company just emerged from the protection of the courts, Weiss has been working on a number of R&D projects that haven’t gone live yet, and that he’s unable to discuss. However, it’s safe to say that the Group is formulating its response to the pressures of mobile on the media word.
“It’s very important in this day and age,” says Weiss. “There’s been a lot of articles about Facebook’s mobile strategy contributing to their price drop, so Tribune Co, like any other major multimedia company, is looking into these same issues.
“We’re trying to figure out what the best thing to do is and how to make people happy,” he adds.
His team’s efforts have been recognised right at the top of the company, with the CEO choosing to deliver his thanks in person.
“We’ve gone to every end of the extreme,” says Weiss. “We’ve tried very native stuff, we’ve tried very hybrid stuff and the process is to get a feel and be able to show the business what’s available, and then try and hone in on what’s optimal.”
Despite the vast size of his organisation, Weiss’ approach to the developmental process necessitates a free approach to creativity. “As far as a process goes, I think it’s an oxymoron to have a creative process,” he says. “The creativity doesn’t necessarily come about via a process, you have to just try things.
“As far as trying to prove something... trying to prove outlandish ideas, something new or a new concept, you’ve just got to try it,” he adds. “Sometimes the best thing to do is just to hack it up. But hacking it up doesn’t necessarily work within enterprise level process because they want to see everything tested.
So what nuggets of wisdom is he planning to impart to the developer audience at Apps World?
“I’m certainly not the smartest programmer out there, and I’m certainly not the richest, but I’ve known a few people and I’ve been around the business,” he says, before recounting the story of a friend of his.
This guy, who’s now a very wealthy developer having hit the top 20 in certain categories within the app store from day one, once cited a quote from a dot com billionaire, which went like this –
“It’s not necessarily about being the best, or the most advanced or knowing the most. It’s about how you relate the technology to the average person.”
“That always stuck with me, and the guy who told me that before he launched his app,” says Weiss. “And now his sales reports are what everybody dreams about in this business.”
On the flip side, you have people who quit their jobs, sell their house and end up sitting there with no technical experience, trying to make apps and become millionaires. “We do want to encourage people like that to get into the business,” says Weiss. “But maybe just start doing it at nights and weekends first.”
Steve Weiss is appearing at Apps World at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, along with over 200 industry experts across the world of multiplatform apps. For information on how to attend, visit: http://www.apps-world.net/northamerica
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