Who's behind Apps By Ninja?
That'd be me...I'm Cole Jones. Apps By Ninja is the name I've chosen for my side project app development. I'm a full time software developer at Microsoft and work on my own apps, like ListenTo, on the side.
So it's just your own side business, no one else?
Just me, but I wouldn't exactly call it a side business. A business is something that makes (or at least tries to make) money. That's not really my goal. I get frustrated when there isn't an app that's a great experience for something I want to do, and I want to solve that problem. At the same time, it helps me build my own software portfolio and gives me something to keep programming for fun so that I'm not always just working on someone else's pet projects.
Does that mean your apps are all free and ad free?
Yes...mostly. I want everyone to have the opportunity to download and use my apps and get as much benefit out of them as possible. I prioritize that goal much higher than any goals of making money, so all planned development for my app will be released completely free and not include ads. I only added the mostly part because sometimes software has a cost to being distributed and used. For example, if there's a feature that requires me to have a server up and running around the clock, it may be difficult to offer that feature for free as servers or hosted services can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars a month. That said, I will handle these situations individually as they arise, and I will strive to keep any paid features to a minimum cost and to try to offer the best free experience possible for users who choose to not activate those features.
So you have no interest in making money off your apps?
That's not entirely true, but monetization of apps is a funny thing. There are currently three main ways of monetizing apps and I'm not a fan of any of them. Charging directly for the app alienates too many users. Advertisements significantly degrade the app's experience...plus you're constantly being bombarded with ads already. Freemium apps (apps that are free but charge for add ons or in app progression) are just downright terrible. They end up costing more than paid apps and are often built specifically to try and get you to spend as much as possible.
I'd still love to be able to make a living off of creating what I want to create. I think in my ideal world, people would pay what they can afford and what they feel like the app is worth to them. There aren't great tools for this, and more than that, there isn't a culture around it so it's difficult to get people to buy into. Somewhere down the line, I'll probably add a mechanism for people to donate if they want, but first I need to worry about creating a product that people love enough that they actually want to donate. I may also consider hooking my app up to various content stores that offer affiliate programs. I will do my best to ensure this doesn't feel like purchases being pushed on the user and is just a convenient feature for purchasing new content within the app for those that choose to do so.
Why the name Apps By Ninja?
When you look at a ninja (this is of course assuming he/she lets you), what you see may initially seem unassuming and simple. But when tested, the ninja will show just how powerful they really are. I hope that my apps will have the same quality of seeming simple and straight forward on their face but underneath have a wide array of functionality. At least that's what I'm saying in retrospect. The real reason is because I think ninjas are cool.
How can I keep up with what you're working on?
I'm so glad you asked! Check out my subreddit to interact with me and stay current on the status of new apps and features.