The present and future of post production business and technology

There’s not an App for that… yet! [Updated]

Ever said to yourself “There should be an app for that?” Or you’ve had an idea for an app but have no idea of how to get it made?

Well, here’s your chance. My company, Intelligent Assistance, is running a competition from now into February, to find the top app that absolutely needs to be made.

First off we’re seeking ideas, hence the questions above. Between now and the end of January suggest an idea for an app. Then in round 2 during February we’ll be putting all the ideas (the ones we can make) up for voting. The winning app – the one most voted on – will be made and the person who suggested it will get it FREE.

Even better, those who vote for that app will also be eligible to buy the app at half price!

All the details are at

If you’ve got questions, ask them in the comments.

[Update] Because of the comments here and at Studio Daily we’ve modified the competition terms so that the winner will now be offered the choice of the app for free, or a 5% royalty on sales from the app.






7 responses to “There’s not an App for that… yet! [Updated]”

  1. Seriously tho Philip, wouldn’t it make better sense for folks to seek development partners for their original app ideas rather than just handing the ideas over to Intelligent Assistance for the kingly price of one free copy of the potentially developed app? No profit sharing?

  2. That’s a valid question Andy. The profit share for an idea is going to be close to the value of one copy because ideas are easy; execution is hard. You would have to find a development partner and convince them that your idea was worth their investing weeks of time into. You’d have to negotiate with them about the percentage and that’s going to be based on relative contribution, which is where “having the idea” comes up with relatively little value.

    What has value is the knowledge of how to read, write and manipulate FCP XML; write Cocoa interfaces in Xcode, writing and developing the algorithm that implements the idea; debugging; testing; develop icons, marketing materials, website copy and press/pr to get sales moving. For a relatively simple app, now that we have all the infrastructure of XML parsers written, and code in place for registration and updating that we move from one application to another, it takes a minimum of a week’s work to implement a simple utility.

    That’s a lot of work, and while the idea has some value, the most significant effort is in developing an “idea” into a real product and then marketing it.

    With the competition the person suggesting the idea that wins gets the workflow benefit right away, without waiting potentially for years to get the return from sales over the years. Getting a custom app made with no personal outlay is something most people would never get the opportunity to do in the normal course of events.

    The pure idea might be worth, say 1% profit share. In which case, a free copy is almost certainly a much better deal! This is why you cannot protect (copyright or patent) an idea: only the execution.

    BTW, if you’re looking for programmers to build a custom app for you, then Intelligent Assistance is one of the three or four choices you have worldwide. We’ve been doing quite a bit of custom workflow application programming this year.

    So, if it’s an idea like prEdit or First Cuts, then maybe you should consider seeking a development partner. If it’s a simple workflow utility as we imagine the contributions to this competition would be, then you’ll get much more value winning the competition than you would putting in the effort to find and negotiate with a developer (assuming you can find one).


  3. Thanks for answering Philip. I’m not sure good ideas are necessarily as easy nor of as little value as your post tends to suggest, I guess that comes down to ones definition of “good” 🙂 Regarding the Ease of idea vs Complexity of execution assertion that you make, again, not quite as black and white as you paint it, but certainly true more often than its not, and a very fair point.

    That said, I would still caution folks to think carefully … if an idea is a “good” but simple one (and the best ideas usually are), if its something you think the average FCP user might genuinely benefit from, one that maybe 10% of registered FCP users would pay 99 cents for (or much more), then that idea may be worth developing (or finding a programming partner to help you develop) and distributing as a commercial proposition by yourself.

    If you (or your partner) are at all capable of programming then you’ll find Xcode and Interface Builder are relatively easy, as is XML data manipulation, plus of course Apple have an enormous amount of example code to get you going and their FCP XML schema is very well documented. And the forthcoming Mac App Store( ) should make distribution somewhat simpler too.

    If you are not programmatically inclined then you can probably find developers aplenty through services like AppTank or similar … although as Philip very rightly notes, those devs may not likely come to the table with much (or any) understanding of the world in which the fruits of their labour would be intended to function. Depending on the complexity of the app, this may or may not be relevant.

    And as a final note before I go and hang my head in shame for having questioned Philip here (because the man is bona fide FCP and new media hero in my book) … if you can’t find a developer for your app idea then its entirely possible your idea may not actually be one of those aforementioned “good” ones.

    Now, despite all my protestations to the contrary, I’m off to rack my brain and see if I can come up with an idea to enter in Philip’s competition.


    1. !0% of FCP users paying 99c. You cannot afford to sell or maintain an application at 99c and the chances of getting 1% of people buying it are zero, nil, none. We can’t afford to support an application (and develop it) for less than $30 (and developer Brad Wright concurs). A 99c sale is only 60c after credit card fees or less. It’d be 65c if you go through the future Mac App Store (but apps that require an installer can’t be included, or apps that give a demo can’t be included).

      Real sales numbers are more like .00000001% of the 1.3 million user base. 🙂 Making a living from FCP add-on workflow apps is something very few people do – there are three to my knowledge. There are others who do it as a side business. I think you’ll also find these days that if a developer is competent with Cocoa they’ll be developing in the highly lucrative iPhone application area, where there are not enough developers and devs are getting really, really good money.

      It’s not just Xcode, you also have to create a registration and security that is not intrusive, and yet reasonably secure. You have to handle the ecommerce and automatically generating serial numbers whenever a sale happens. I note that you chose to tackle none of those issues by giving your plug-ins away.

      And while you write about coding as if it’s simple, I think you’ll find that only about 50 of the 1.3 million FCP users would be comfortable doing it. And beware of using Apples sample code for XML – you won’t program successful apps using their documentation alone (it’s highly incomplete and there are many gotcha’s in the XML). Plus you not only have to know Cocoa, FCP XML you have to find a developer who is 100% video savvy as well or the video side will be screwed up.

      Thanks for the robust discussion Andy, and thanks for contributing your filters etc to the community. We have something free coming too. 🙂


  4. Thank you for your comments Philip, much appreciated. If only we were sat over a few beers I’d love to bat this one around a little longer …. another time.

    Very best regards

  5. I think this is a great idea.

    And speaking of great ideas, I’ll be contacting you with a few that you might find useful :0)

    Read with interest the back and forth with Andy and if I can put my 2c in it would be to tell you to “have at it!” I have no desire to learn code and the utmost of respect for those who do it for a living.

    You could probably tell in a moment from my new attempt at a blog ( that I certainly can’t build a web site, even with something as “simple” as word press.

    However, I can get someone who doesn’t share easily, like Whoopi Goldberg, Ang Lee, John Singleton or Danny Glover to reveal their inner selves during a one-hour interview.

    And I can direct a film or a reality series without thinking twice about it.

    And I can shoot melting ice (or drying paint) and make it look beautiful.

    Ask me to code, however, and my brain burns the toast. No thank you!

    You are welcome to take my ideas and if they seem to appeal to a broader audience, I’m happy to share.

    As a creative person, I’m interested in the functionality of an app and whether or not it can enhance my artistic vision without distracting me from the energy required to do what I do best – create.

    For coding, I turn to Intelligent Assistance.


  6. Ok, we’re modifying the winner’s prize. While I think the winner would be better off taking a free copy of their application, they will now have the choice of either the free copy of the application OR 5% royalty for the life of the product they suggested (after credit card processing charges).
    I also had a little rant on the value of an idea in the next post here.