July 13, 2011
“Smiley Faces Are So Last Year” – the motto of TextPics, a Creative ASCII Art app that enables iPhone to iPhone customizable SMS text art–and also our newest Featured Mobster! In case you are wondering, text art, or “textpics”, are images that appear hand-drawn and are made up of printable text characters, allowing them to be easily transmitted through text-based communication channels such as SMS. Textpics also provide the ability to customize your own text messages with funky text styles, whether it be celebratory designs, animals, even food! We had the opportunity to chat with Austin Butler, the founder of FTW Innovations, about developing TextPics and his experience with Mobclix.
Total Downloads: 1,500,000
1) What inspired you to build the app?
As an old-school web developer and guy who grew up with chat rooms and the like, I’ve always loved retro internet fads like 8bit graphics and ASCII Art. One day as I was randomly browsing ASCII Art archives, it hit me how awesome it would be to send some of the smaller pics (like our current icon!) as text messages. All at once, the idea for the app hit me, and it was just a matter of finding an Object-C programmer and whipping up a good design. Unfortunately, it took a lot more money than I expected, and 6 months just to get the prototype app built–but it was worth it!
2) Why does the ad revenue model make sense for you?
For a few weeks last year, TextPics made it to #3 on the US AppStore, and my numbers of downloads for the free app were staggering. I realized that people were very happy simply sticking with the free app, since it worked exactly the same, and actually came with a pretty good selection of free pics. I began experimenting with using ads as a revenue model without upsetting my user base. I struck a balance of ads and giving more free pics, which ended up being a good choice and has been bringing in solid earnings since.
3) Why did you choose Mobclix?
When I looked into placing ads in TextPics Free, I did a little research and it seemed that the mobile ad market was extremely fragmented, with different programming APIs all over. Mobclix brought this together into a single unified API with a simple setup process. This kept my development costs down, while giving me access to a huge number of ad providers.
4) What tips do you have for other developers?
The mobile market is the Wild West of the technology world. A single issue can cause your ranking to plummet, and a mention from the proper sources can reap you earnings like you would never believe. A good idea will be cloned within weeks. Charging more than pennies makes you greedy. The bottom line is that even though it feels like walking a minefield sometimes, there is still amazing possibility for rewards and creativity. Just be very careful to think through every change extremely thoroughly!