Justin from itzybit.com gave us an exclusive interview on his interesting service, which provides billing-models for developers like us.
1. Hello Justin, how did the idea for ItzyBit come about?
[align=justify]I was working on one of my own entries for the Android Developer Challenge, and started thinking about long-term prospects for the software whether or not it won a Google prize. I thought that it would be great if a user could pay ten cents every time he used a particular feature, not unlike paying for directory assistance on a phone today. And thus ItzyBit was born.[/align]
2. What kind of developers are you planning to offer your service to? Is it for companies, or the one-man garage developer?
[align=justify]ItzyBit will be open to all developers, however the services are designed with the independent developer in mind. When we say "independent developer", we're referring to a anyone from the part-time hobbyist to a small operation of a few full-time developers. We're creating a system where the part-time developer working alone can still market, publish, distribute, and support his games or applications. Typically, these services require the backing of a large company or signing-over your intellectual property to a publisher. ItzyBit allows you to retain full control of your software product, provides the services that independent developers need, and does so at a very reasonable cost.[/align]
3. What kind of Billing Models to you provide
[align=justify]We believe that people expect don't expect to purchase software for their phone the old-fashioned way. Instead of paying $50 for a box and an manual, phone users are used to paying small fees for services and products they use. ItzyBit embraces this, and offers multiple payment models. Applications can be subscribed to for a period of time, or they can be purchased for a fixed number of uses. The user can even be charged a small amount every time a software feature is used. ItzyBit also handles free software (requiring registration), as well as free trials for paid software. All billing features are configurable at the feature level, allowing a developer to combine subscription and per-use billing models within a single application, if desired.[/align]
4. Why can you manage to take only 10% off, where other services take like 30-50% ?
[align=justify]ItzyBit is set up to be highly automated, where the developer can use our web-based tools to set up billing, manage the software product, communicate with users, and create a catalog entry. We have a human in the loop for approving catalog entries, application profiles, and binary downloads, but even this process is streamlined on our end. Ultimately, we also hope to supplement our income with advertising and premium services for developers.[/align]
5. What steps do you make to prevent security mechanism to be hacked?
[align=justify]We understand that there is no such thing as uncrackable software. Java tends to be particularly easy to hack because of the same features that make it portable and modular. However, we have already taken steps make cracking ItzyBit-based software much more difficult. Without giving away any proprietary secrets, I can tell you that all of our network traffic is encrypted, using either SSL or other industry-standard encryption techniques. All applications, features, and the ItzyBit credit itself are cryptographically signed. This means that for each credit that is purchased, we can trace it through to the specific application and feature it is spent on. Both the ItzyBit Service and all ItzyBit Client Applications call home a lot, which provides us with auditing and blacklisting apability. A mixture of proprietary and commercially-available obfuscation techniques have been used on all of the ItzyBit code to further raise the bar against hacking. We are also actively working on some more robust antipiracy measures. I can't give details right now, but it will offer unsurpassed protection against unauthorized use. The other thing to keep in mind is that we're not talking about $1000 PC applications, but instead many applications will probably cost $10 or less. It is our feeling that we have made it sufficiently difficult to hack that it will simply not be worth it for the vast majority of users.[/align]
6. Is your service limited to Android-Applications only?
[align=justify]Currently, we are targeting Android exclusively, because of the number of independent developers working on it who will require a system like ours to make the most of their applications. We are open to expanding in the future, however right now we would rather focus on making a killer system for Android rather than spreading our resources too thin across multiple platforms. [/align]
7. Regarding the Micropayments: How does the end user pay? Online on a webpage or live from within the application?
[align=justify]We are leveraging the fact that all Android devices will have advanced web capabilities, and using web-based services for credit card processing, catalog browsing, and account information. We provide links in the software which calls up the ItzyBit website in the browser. Although it has not gone live yet, we have acquired www.itzybit.mobi, which will be fully optimized for mobile browsing.[/align]
8. What payment methods are offered to the end user?
[align=justify]Initially, we plan to process payments using Google Checkout. This provides the lowest processing costs, and is part of what helps us achieve our 90% payout rate. Depending on demand, we may add direct credit card processing, PayPal, and gift cards to the payment methods.[/align]
9. How does ItzyBit compare to Apple's recently-announced AppStore for iPhone?
[align=justify]Well, there are some strong similarities. In my opinion, apple clearly "gets it", in that they are embracing the independent developer, giving anyone the tools they need to develop and profit off mobile development. I think that we offer some features which make us even more attractive for the new paradigm of software distribution. For example, the AppStore treats purchasing software the same way as purchasing music. It's a one-time fee to test and use the software indefinitely. To us, that's limiting. We want to see subscription and per-use models based on micropayments. To us, this provides the most cost-effective model for both the user and the developer. Of course, Apple has also announced that they are taking a 30% cut. This is actually the best rate in the industry (except for ItzyBit). They have a huge infrastructure to support, however, so it is not surprising that they cannot get the costs lower.[/align]
10. Why would a developer want to integrate ItzyBit now, when we are months away from having real Android devices?
[align=justify]Well, we believe we have several attractive features for early-adopters. First off, the features allow you to track use of even unregistered users. This means that you can know exactly when your application is being used (for example, by an ADC judge). Second, it has been stated that Google is looking for polished production-ready entries for the ADC. To us, having a feasible long-term business model goes a long way toward making an app feel real versus just a demo. Finally, developers get to be part of the shaping of ItzyBit. We will incorporate your suggestions to make the production release of ItzyBit as useful and profitable as possible for the developer's specific needs.[/align]
11. How does a developer learn more?
[align=justify]Go to itzybit.com, and register as a developer. There is no cost or commitment to registering, and it will provide you with access to our SDK download, all our documentation, and our developer forums. If developers have any questions or concerns, they should feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .[/align]
Thanks for the Interview, Justin
/plusminus for anddev.org