How it began
I (Barry Egerter) am the author of the applications. In 2008 I started working 1 hour a night between midnight and 1am creating Live Cams as a fun project to keep my mind fresh. Within three months I completed the first release and submitted it to Apple for review. Two months (and 5 submissions later) they finally approved it for sale on iTunes. It was available in February of 2009 and sold 1 copy on the first day (at $0.99 US). By April I was selling about 5 copies per day, netting us a cool $3.50. At this rate it would take over two years to reach our goal of covering the cost of our iPhone and Macbook Pro laptop.
In May I made some changes to the app name, the logo, marketing and the user interface of the app. It supported pan-tilt-zoom controls for Axis and Canon devices and included hundreds of public cameras to view/control!
Within a few weeks of this update it reached the #6 top paid app spot in the US and was the #1 paid utility app. This forced me to decide if I wanted to pursue it full-time or keep my day job as a lead software engineer for Comcast. The idea of working from home was too tempting and I resigned in mid-June 2009.
Knowing that customers wanted new releases and features at a fast pace I immediately put another version in Apple’s hands by the end of June 2009. The thought of losing my full-time paycheck was terrifying and I knew that I had to keep pumping out enhancements to succeed. Sadly, Apple was going through growing pains as well and the update was repeatedly rejected by their review team for having “keywords in the app name”. The app was previously named “Live Cams (Pan Tilt Zoom)” but we had changed it to just “Live Cams” as part of the update. For some reason the app review team did not see this change and every two weeks after submitting the app they would reject it. We had no way of contacting a real person to discuss this and were forced to send emails (which were ignored). By early SEPTEMBER our app was still not approved even though there was nothing wrong with it. I was furious because our app reviews were becoming very negative due to lack of updates and we could not get Apple to do anything. I wrote an angry email to Steve Jobs (guessed his address and got lucky) and within 24 hours the issues at Apple were resolved! Their computers had a “cached” copy of the app name from May and as a result their app review team was looking at old data and rejecting the update!
iOS Changes – Breaking Everything!
During the months that the update was locked in “review hell” I also saw Apple release several new iOS updates. These updates were coming faster than I could keep up with the software requirements for device compatibility. As a result I found that the app was crashing for users with specific iOS versions that I could not test due to my single iPhone. I went shopping and bought a second iPhone and an iPod Touch in order to properly install and test various iOS combinations. This new business was becoming costly and challenging!
#1 in the US and Japan – OVERALL!
By December of 2009 I had put out several patches and updates to keep the software moving forward and something changed….. within a few days of my December update I saw the ranks rapidly climbing. As of December 17, 2009 it reached the #1 paid app spot in the entire app store (for the US, the biggest market). Incredible! Emails started pouring in and on Christmas day it was still ranked #1. It pulled in the biggest sales figures ever at over 40,000 copies sold in 1 day! The laptop and iPhones would finally be paid off.
Too much too fast
As 2009 tuned to 2010 I was working 18 hours per day trying to simply answer customer emails. My quality of service was drastically lowered as I could do nothing more than deflect the questions with reasonable answers. This was not how I like to do business, as I feel that a high-level of customer service is the best way to succeed long-term. My wife and I were exhausted by our schedule and we had a long discussion about how to proceed. We agreed that we did not want to be the #1 app any more and that it would be better if we could have a lower level of sales but at a steady pace. In January we raised our price and purposely changed our marketing so that the app sounded less appealing. This worked and within 24 hours we were no longer #1. In fact, we completely dropped out of the top 100 within a few days. It sounds silly but we were very happy that we might regain our lives and be able to offer our customers a better experience.
Japan takes over
Immediately after raising our price and dropping out of visibility in the US market we suddenly reached the #1 spot in Japan (another major market!). This was confusing to us but we concluded that the news had just reached them about our app. For a few weeks we stayed at the top of the charts overseas but eventually it also calmed down.
The iPad Cometh
On January 27, 2010 the iPad was announced. We downloaded the new SDK (software developer kit) and started to investigate what the app might look like on a larger screen. Sadly we could not purchase an actual iPad because we live in Canada and it was only available in the United States. We patiently waited and by May 28th they finally started taking orders. Live Cams HD was released in June after we finally received our device and resolved some issues with the software. It immediately became a top-seller for the iPad as well.
With all of the excitement generated by our software we decided to form an incorporated business under the name “Eggman Technologies Inc.”. This happened in August 2010 and we still operate under that name. My wife Lorrie has been working as first-line tech support (her existing profession) allowing me to focus on software and website design.
Competitors and copycats abound!
As with any success we have found that there are now dozens (if not hundreds) of similar applications trying to capitalize on our design and success. We’ve had people steal our data and release competing apps, copy our logo, app description and even app name! Looking on other mobile platforms you will find that there is a “Live Cams” for Blackberry, one for Android and several look-a-likes or sound-a-likes on other devices. These are not created by us but they have used our name to trick customers into buying the products. We will move into these markets in time but hope that the copycats don’t cause too much confusion with the product branding. This is simply a part of business and we accept it for what it is.
Stay tuned for part 2, Eggman Technologies – Where are we headed now?.