I built BikeFixTO - an iPhone app that shows your closest bike repair location. I’m pleased with how it turned out: The UI is nice and clean. The animated sorting of the nearest locations looks great, and I personally use the app all the time. So, on all these technical fronts, it was a hit.
Where I’ve been less successful is on the marketing side. I never expected to sell thousands, but I expected to sell hundreds. And I had vague plans of rolling it out to other bike friendly cities. But, like so many developers I underestimated how much work it was involved in the sales process. It’s hard work to get the word out. Developers often have this idea that sales should be perfectly rational where the best software wins. The pitch is: “My software solves a problem you have. Therefore you should buy it.” And if there is no immediate response, they give up since clearly the person didn’t have that problem. The whole idea of “touching” people multiple times, reminding people, tweaking the message, running contests and having sales feels spammy and inefficient.
And that is why developer’s need to consciously stop thinking like developers when it comes to marketing. And if that isn’t possible, they should partner with someone who can better wear the marketer’s hat.
I would like BikeFixTO to take on a new life. I would love it to spread to other cities where it can promote cycling, local bike shops and bicycle culture. Personally, I’m not the guy to do that, but maybe you are.
I’ve decided to make BikeFixTO free*, but am selling the source code. For $199 you get the full source to an iPhone application that you can build, tweak, customize and sell. There are no limitations with what you can do, except that I require that you don’t distribute the source code (which would prevent me from selling other copies).
The code is also an excellent code base for anyone wanting to build location-aware applications. Some of the details about what you’ll find in the source code:
*Update: I’ve changed the price back to 99¢, but if you’re interested in kicking the tires, I’m happy to send you a promo code.
*Update 2: I’ve updated the source to use MapKit.framework for fully dynamic map of all locations instead of a static map of a single location.
Update (Oct 2011) I’ve written a new location app from scratch. It has a web admin interface, automatically updates location changes and is searchable. For full details see the Locations App page.