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Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Dana Morgan of The Melody Book

by Brad Spirrison

Dana Morgan is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Melody Book, a company that develops musical and educational applications, including A Jazzy Day and Jazzy ABC, for iOS. Their wonderful apps have been showcased in Apple’s “New and Noteworthy” section, plus they have received a Children’s Technology Review award and a Parents Choice award.

In this interview, Dana discusses what it takes to create a successful application that is embraced by educators and parents, developers that inspire her, innovation, and the current technical restraints for developing iOS apps.

Key Company Facts

Name and Title: Dana Morgan, CEO and Co-Founder

Company: The Melody Book

Location: New York

Primary Apps/Platforms: A Jazzy Day, Jazzy ABC, Jazzy 123 (iPhone/iPad)

APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?

Dana Morgan: My background is in software development and I've been programming web-based applications for the past 10 years. When iOS came out, I was excited to see all the possibilities that this platform presented. As the iTunes App Store continued to expand, I was drawn to the possibilities the app market had to offer.

APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?

DM: I've been developing apps for three years now. Back then, there weren’t many apps on the iTunes App Store and today, there’s a remarkable difference in the quantity and quality of the apps. I believe that there still remains much  potential to innovate and create great apps, even in a more crowded market.

Check out this video for A Jazzy Day:

APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?

DM: There are so many apps that are inspiring. Aside from inventive apps, such as Dropbox, Waze and Pulse, I really appreciate the apps that have a great user experience such as Paper by FiftyThree, Flipboard, StumbleUpon!, Hootsuite and Camera+. This is something that I pay attention to, and I really believe that a great user experience makes a good app a best seller.

APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?

DM: There is much innovation happening in education at the moment on the App Store. From educational apps that help special need students, to electronic books which have the potential to replace traditional school text books. Apple has really revolutionized the classroom by creating a new experience with the iPad. Now, it’s a proven and amazing educational tool for kids and is embraced by an increasing number of parents.

APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?

DM: We create music-related apps, and in the past year, we've been focusing on early childhood education. I can say that this field has really been booming and we've been seeing some innovative new apps. iPad and iPhones are amazing devices that keep kids engaged and force developers to focus on core functionality and keep things simple and concise. We are finally able to create products for kids that display hi-res animation, sound and interactivity that help their development from an early stage.

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

DM: The App Store has indeed become more crowded and we are always looking for new ways to increase sales and brand recognition. Apple has featured our apps “A Jazzy Day”, “Jazzy ABC” and “Jazzy 123” in “New and Noteworthy” and on “What’s Hot” and “Recommended apps for Parents” lists, which was helpful in gaining awareness. We’ve also won a Children’s Technology Review award and a Parents’ Choice award. I guess the best way to find out what works and what doesn't is to experiment with different marketing strategies and to keep refining your apps, based on consumer feedback.

APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?

DM: The biggest technical constraint would be the device constraint, such as memory allocation, Wi-Fi and 4G connection speed. In order to create more complex apps, we will need stronger and more capable devices that can perform multiple tasks seamlessly and keep up with the increasing demand for HD video and audio.

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

DM: We sell most of our apps for a fixed price per download, and our next release will include in-app purchases.

APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

DM: My advice would be to try and bring something fresh to App Store consumers. There are so many apps at this point that simply having a good app is not enough. Users have become very demanding and picky with purchases, so you should work on developing a good reputation for delivering great apps, which takes time and ingenuity.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

DM: Five years from now, technology advancements will bring a substantial increase in the complexity of apps. The majority of people will have smartphones. This means we’ll be seeing many more users, innovation and development. With this, we can expect a noticeable growth of competition on the market.

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