The ThinkMusic App…Can it happen?

I’m watching the ThinkMusic Kickstarter promotion with great interest.  I’ve stated how much I like the idea of the app, as well as how I think the app has a legitimate chance to actually be functional, based on their partnership with Vision Objects.  I have played the video for my classes, as well as for two other iPad presentations I’ve given.  I think the app–potentially–makes a great way to enter music on the iPad’s interface.  It may not be the fastest way, but it is a great concept.  And I think the technology might lead to better scanning of music.

At the same time, I’m concerned about the overall goal of raising $170,000–as well as having 534 backers and $16,000 raised in six days…when, by my estimates, they’ll need around 7500 backers.  At the current pace, they will get 25oo backers and $75,000  I’m also concerned that none of the Apple or Tech Blogs are writing stories about this app (I know they’ve contacted them), meaning that it isn’t getting exposure outside of the Twitter/Facebook music education technology crowd that have already blogged about it.  Logically, long-term Finale and Sibelius users (in general) aren’t discussing the app, either.

I’m also a little concerned about the pricing the of the app itself, and about some of the reward levels.  The app will apparently be priced at $30.  That’s REALLY expensive in the app world, particularly when Vision Object’s own app–MyScript Calculator–is free.  There are some expensive music apps, but most apps are in the $10 or less category.  Some of my more complex apps have been more than $10, such as Notion, which sold for $16.99 (at the moment, it is $9.99.  You can buy additional sounds for and additional $30).    Although I don’t own them, the new Orchestra app is $13.99 (I’m waiting for a sale).   Auria, a digital audio mixing station, costs $49.99 (an LE version is now available for $24.99).  The Korg iMS 20 app is $29.99.

So, a $30 iPad music app is really in rarified air.  My guess is that a few users–like myself–wonder about the feasibility of a $30 app for music notation (and a $15 app in bulk for education).  Would you pay more for a music notation app than you would for Keynote?  Pages?  And–without a doubt–a $30 app HAS to be ready to go and flawless from day one.  You can’t pay $30 for an app that will evolve key functionality over time.

The other thing that makes me chuckle is the Kickstarter level where you can become a beta tester for $300.  True, this would allow you to play with the app before it was on the market–but beta testers usually become beta testers for free, as they provide key feedback to developers about their app.  So this is a unique situation where you can pay to provide feedback to a developer.

Finally, I am not sure how they will give promo codes to the app away to backers.  Apple allows 50 promo codes per version.  Therefore, you could create version 1.00, 1.01, 1.02, but each would have to go live on the app store before the promo code was revealed.  It would take 11 update cycles (each update requires Apple’s approval and wait time) before each of the current 534 backers received their app code.  Imagine the wait with 7500 backers!

Adonit found this out the hard way, and although they were going to originally give their app to backers, they had to simply make it free for a period of time so that backers could download the app.  I imagine a number of other users jumped in during that time and downloaded the app.  Later, they were unhappy with the app, and pulled it from the app store.  I wouldn’t worry about Jot’s negative app experience in the app store, however–as I imagine ThinkMusic’s “app” partner is Vision Objects–Adonit is providing stylus support (perhaps with the Adonit Jot Touch, their Bluetooth stylus).

I once had an idea for an app, and looked into development costs.  Depending on the developer, the project, and other various factors, app development can cost between $6,000 to $100,000–without any additional licenses or trademark/patent matters.  I don’t think their goal of $170,000 is off the mark…but it will be hard to get there.

At any rate, those are my reactions at this point of the Kickstarter campaign.  At the current time, I haven’t become a backer, but if it looks like the app will approach the $170,000, I might jump in.  I’m probably more likely to wait until after the app is released (if it is released) and until I see how the app really functions.  I hope the developers have a go ahead plan if the Kickstarter campaign fails (many do), as there is a market for this app…but perhaps at a different base price.

I wish them the best on their campaign, and if you’re intrigued by their project, consider becoming a backer!


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