Saturday, October 22, 2011

25 Tablet Demos in One Day

On Friday, I left the comforts of San Diego to attend Jason Calacanis' Launch 'Pad conference in the Silicon Valley.

The format of the event made for fast-paced learning -- and was a ton of fun: 25 companies gave 5 minute demos of their latest tablet apps (mostly iPad). The demos were in groups of 5 with Q&A between groups. Jason served as host, and kept things moving along nicely. Throw in a free breakfast, lunch, cocktails and an overload of networking and you have a great event.

The other thing that made the event neat: It was full of creative people -- not all suits and pointy-haired folks. Almost everyone was either a founder, a software developer, or a product designer. Not the usual "VC & Headhunter" crowd, as Jason put it. And it wasn't too big (less than 500 people).

My Favorite Demos
  • Kiran Bellubbi, (955 Dreams) (Band of the Day, History of Jazz) - Kirin was entertaining and opinionated -- the true designer at the conference. This company has created a process for shipping hit applications repeatedly. Quote (paraphrase): "MVP doesn't mean you can ship crap".
  • Peter Ciccotto & Dan Holly Wells (Condé Nast). Idea Flight app - Very cool app allows you to show a presentation on multiple iPads. The flight metaphor is fantastic (pilot, passenger, seatbelts, boarding passes). I even managed to download the app and connect to their presentation "live" during the demo.
  • Osman Rashid (Kno) Kno - Textbooks on the iPad. Very nicely done, and already a top app. These guys are going to make a ton money.
  • Trey Ratcliff, Stuck in Customs, Stuck on Earth app. Look for this one when it comes out. Fantastic photos.
  • James Currier, DrChrono. Best B2B app. Great market/great product for helping doctors keep track of patients. How they get this complex of an app thru the AppleStore review process beats me... but more power to them.

I also enjoyed playing with the "haptic" android pad that was demoed. The iPad really needs that "vibration" feature...

There were a lot of great apps (the Golf training app, blue-ray movies synchronized with "extra" content on another iPad, and more) -- actually every single demo was very good.

Best in Show
The audience voted for best in show, and Condition One won...
  • Danfung Dennis (Condition One), ConditionOne. The demo was Hollywood tight, and the product is going to be an amazing hit. Their first app is a virtual reality view into real combat video from Libya. 
My personal "Best in Show" vote went to 955 Dreams -- As a software developer I loved hearing the story about doing 46 prototypes before shipping the 47th. What a dream job :) Plus Kiran made for the most entertaining Q&A session!

My Takeaways

  • On the iPad, incredible design wins. iPad owners won't buy junk that you throw into the store.
  • MVP doesn't mean you can ship crap.
  • The app store is still very tough for B2B, but take advantage of that as a barrier-to-entry for your competitors.

Special Thanks
Jason: Thanks for the free ticket. Funny you mentioned that developers never get to go anywhere because their boss is always too cheap -- it's so true in this case (I'm the boss of me ).

What a great learning experience!

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