Under the Radar

234: Should You Do It?


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar, a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:04   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:05   And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:10   So I feel like having been in this industry for like 13 years, there's this natural sort

00:00:16   of cyclical process that happens where inevitably things will be made, people will create apps,

00:00:22   things will happen on the App Store, and there'll be a controversy and things will spring up

00:00:27   around those.

00:00:28   And I've been through enough of these to know that getting too bogged down into the specifics

00:00:33   of whatever the current one is, is not particularly helpful, especially when those specific situations

00:00:39   at a certain point end up just turning into personal attacks and yelling, and that's not

00:00:43   helpful for anybody.

00:00:44   But often there is something to be learned from them.

00:00:47   And so I'm making vague reference to the recent question about sort of Wordle apps in the

00:00:52   App Store.

00:00:53   So Wordle was a website that didn't have an app, and then some people decided they wanted

00:00:56   to make apps for it.

00:00:58   And I don't think, going to get into the specifics of that, but I think it really is a general

00:01:03   lesson that we can talk about and potentially learn from that I think is useful to jump

00:01:06   into.

00:01:07   And that is, it's like, when you have an idea to make an app, should you?

00:01:12   And so sometimes it's easy to focus on the could I, like, you know, it's the can I make

00:01:19   something, is it technically interesting, or is there an engineering opportunity or things?

00:01:23   And there's also the question, I think that equally, or probably in some ways more importantly,

00:01:28   is to understanding whether you should pursue an opportunity, whether that's something like

00:01:33   this, where there's something, you know, sort of hip in the culture that you can feel like

00:01:37   you can take advantage of.

00:01:38   There's a new iOS version that introduces a new framework or something or whatever idea

00:01:44   it is that you have.

00:01:45   You know, there's always this question of like, should you pursue it?

00:01:48   Because ultimately, you know, you have a limited amount of time to work.

00:01:52   And so pursuing things that are ultimately going to end in frustration or disappointment

00:01:58   or conflict are unlikely to be sort of wise choices for things to spend your time on.

00:02:03   You want to spend your time or at least this is based on my experience, spend your time

00:02:07   on things that are not going to lead you to those paths.

00:02:09   They're gonna lead you with things that are, you know, create opportunities, create, you

00:02:14   know, community or encouragement and are overall sort of like just end up with you in a happy

00:02:20   place.

00:02:21   And I'm sure there is some business models and developers who kind of are seeking out

00:02:26   intentionally complicated and tricky and risky apps.

00:02:30   And I'm sure there is some sort of money to be made there potentially, but it's such so

00:02:34   high risk, so problematic in so many ways, I wouldn't recommend it.

00:02:39   And so instead, it's like the thought that I came up with, like trying to learn from

00:02:43   this is I want to boil down my recommendations.

00:02:45   It's sort of like there's two questions, and I think we'll unpack what they both mean in

00:02:49   this episode.

00:02:50   The first question is like, is this idea actually available?

00:02:55   And is it actually worthwhile?

00:02:57   And if you have an idea that is both actually available and is actually worthwhile, it's

00:03:02   probably worth doing, it's probably worth pursuing, or at least it's worth sort of paying

00:03:06   you paying attention to.

00:03:07   But if it isn't either of those, if it isn't actually available to you, or if it isn't

00:03:11   actually worthwhile, probably don't probably be the downside is going to be far larger

00:03:17   than the upside.

00:03:18   And so best to sort of stay away.

00:03:20   But before we dive into those questions, I was curious, Mark, like, do you have sort

00:03:23   of general takes on the direction I'm going?

00:03:25   Yeah, I mean, in general, like, I mean, I've certainly been here a lot.

00:03:30   You know, I had the whole piece saga, I had the magazine.

00:03:34   In both cases, you know, I did something because I thought I could, and I was interested in

00:03:43   the technical side of it, but I didn't really think through or didn't know, like, hey,

00:03:49   how am I going to feel if this actually becomes a thing?

00:03:53   Like, in the case of the magazine, it's like, do I want to run a magazine forever that's

00:03:56   actually not doing that well?

00:03:57   And in the case of Pease, it's like, oh, crap, I am all of a sudden making a big splash

00:04:01   in the ad blocking business.

00:04:02   Do I really want to be making big splashes in the ad blocking business?

00:04:06   And there's, you know, in both cases, it didn't really go the way I wanted it to.

00:04:12   And I stepped away from both of them in different ways, because at the end of the day, I had

00:04:17   done something without really thinking about, like, should I do this?

00:04:22   And/or the related question of, like, what if this takes off, or what if it doesn't

00:04:27   take off, but I have to kind of maintain it forever or indefinitely?

00:04:30   And those are all major questions to ask yourself, some of which we've covered before on the

00:04:34   show.

00:04:35   And I think it's worth considering, like, you know, our entire job as indie developers,

00:04:42   usually we are free to try a lot of experiments, because usually we have, you know, those of

00:04:48   us who are working at other jobs to pay the bills, or those of us who, you know, who have,

00:04:55   like, our own companies or our own projects that are already going, we're given a lot

00:04:58   of freedom in our side projects to kind of do whatever we want, build something however

00:05:03   we want, use a different language, use a different framework, code things a certain way, or try,

00:05:09   you know, try an experimental something or other, because there's usually less pressure

00:05:13   in those contexts.

00:05:14   You know, at your day job, or your main project, or whatever your main source of income is,

00:05:18   you're like, you're told what to do, or you're pressured to do things a certain

00:05:22   way just because that's where the money comes from.

00:05:24   But then a side project or an indie project, you're kind of free to go in all sorts of

00:05:29   different directions, and we often don't ask ourselves, should I be doing this?

00:05:35   You know, usually it's more like, hey, I want to try this new framework, I'm going

00:05:38   to make something right now using that new framework, or I'm going to gut this whole

00:05:41   section of the app and rewrite it in this new language because I want to, you know,

00:05:46   rather than thinking, like, is this something I should be doing, or, you know, what's

00:05:50   the next step?

00:05:51   If I do this and if I complete this, then what happens?

00:05:55   You know, or, you know, in the case of what happened with Wurtle and its clones over the

00:05:59   last couple of weeks, like, you know, is the thing I'm doing a good idea if all of a

00:06:05   sudden a lot of people see it?

00:06:07   Like, if a lot of eyeballs fall into this all of a sudden, is that going to be a good

00:06:11   thing, or could that have negative side effects?

00:06:15   You know, and that's the kind of stuff that we don't usually ask ourselves nearly

00:06:19   as often as we should.

00:06:20   And I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but it's definitely, you know, as I'm getting

00:06:25   older and hopefully a little bit wiser as I go, this is one of the kind of things where,

00:06:30   like, I'm asking myself this kind of thing more often, and usually to my benefit.

00:06:34   Yeah.

00:06:35   And I think it's just the benefit of having that reluctance in it, or skepticism, maybe,

00:06:41   and really interrogating what the end state you're hoping will happen is and what that

00:06:47   would look like and what the implications of that fully are.

00:06:50   It's rather than sort of the, like, if you just sort of hoping for the best.

00:06:55   There's a world where hoping for the best is good, but in general, hoping for the best

00:06:58   is setting yourself up for pain in the future, rather than success.

00:07:05   So I think the first thing to talk about is sort of the availability of an idea.

00:07:08   And I think this is something that is just a useful thing to sort of interrogate for,

00:07:14   you know, is what you're going to make available to make?

00:07:18   Like, is it something that you can reasonably and legally and ethically and morally and

00:07:23   all those things feel like you can take ownership of?

00:07:26   That you can make this thing and say that you own that thing and that you made that

00:07:30   thing?

00:07:31   It's like, I feel like there's that internet meme of like someone who makes something and

00:07:34   someone else takes it and then says, like, "It's mine now."

00:07:38   And they made the thing.

00:07:39   It's like, maybe not.

00:07:40   Like, that's not great.

00:07:41   And I feel like availability, there's a couple of different ways that you can think about

00:07:46   that.

00:07:47   Like, the first question absolutely to ask is like, does this overlap with other things

00:07:52   that already exist?

00:07:53   And this is, in some ways, you could call this just market research, is understanding

00:07:58   if you're trying to meet a need, does the need exist?

00:08:02   Do other things already serve this need or this industry or this niche or whatever it

00:08:07   is that you're going after?

00:08:08   Like, what is the existing landscape look like there?

00:08:12   And that's useful from a marketing perspective in terms of understanding what your competitors

00:08:16   are.

00:08:17   But also, it's useful, I think, to make sure you understand that is there something in

00:08:20   this space that you are going to be copying too much with your idea, your implementation,

00:08:26   your marketing, your branding, whatever it is, is there something else that exists that

00:08:31   is going to catch you up?

00:08:32   And if you don't take the time to look around and understand what already exists, you're

00:08:37   not going to be able to sort of answer the next kind of questions.

00:08:40   And I think the next one's become like, this sort of hierarchy of, is it legal to make

00:08:45   this thing that I want to make?

00:08:46   You know, is it actually available legally?

00:08:48   And this is usually getting into things like trademarks, copyrights, patents.

00:08:52   Are there legal protections that would prevent you from doing something?

00:08:55   And I think in general, it's like trademarks are probably the easiest place to start, that

00:08:59   it's like if you're trying to brand something with the same name as something else that

00:09:03   already has that name as its brand, you're starting off in a legally questionable place.

00:09:08   And so it's like starting off with the just like, am I going to be infringing on someone

00:09:11   else's trademarks, patents, copyright, if I go down this, and then sort of the next

00:09:16   level of legal, which is, I think, specific to in some ways, like working in the App Store,

00:09:21   is this going to pass App Review, which is a certain kind of legality.

00:09:25   It's not legality in the sense of, you know, a government of a sovereign nation.

00:09:29   It's legal in the sense of is Apple going to make a fuss about this?

00:09:33   Is this going to be compliant with the App Store guidelines?

00:09:36   And obviously, there's an intersection between real legal and App Store legal.

00:09:42   Apple is trying to, there's certain rules that overlap there that Apple is trying to

00:09:45   enforce the law of the countries in which they operate.

00:09:48   And then there's just things that Apple cares about or that they're focused on.

00:09:51   And then things that you have to do to be compliant there that are distinct from that.

00:09:55   A good place to start is to understand what the competitive landscape is, and then check

00:10:02   if it meets those things.

00:10:03   Like don't need, like anytime you're going to launch an app with it, before you like

00:10:07   go into App Store, connect and type in the name, go and do a trademark search in a bunch

00:10:12   of places and make sure that it doesn't exist or even Google search that name in as many

00:10:16   places, you know, in context as you can and make sure that there's not something that

00:10:21   you're not aware of, because it doesn't overlap with you.

00:10:23   But there's going to cause trouble down the road, because that's just the nature of naming

00:10:28   is that even if it isn't exactly in the same industry, you might sort of be able to get

00:10:32   away with trademark stuff potentially.

00:10:34   But it's like you're setting yourself up for a fight if you're naming yourself something

00:10:38   that it already exists somewhere else in the world.

00:10:42   There's not a lot of absolute showstoppers for a new idea or a new app for me.

00:10:47   But if there is some kind of clear trademark conflict or even likely partial trademark

00:10:54   conflict, I will not proceed until I get a name that is clear.

00:10:58   And trademark is easy, you know, trademark is trademarks cover names, they don't cover

00:11:01   ideas, they don't cover icons, they are sort of but they cover mostly names.

00:11:07   And so it's very, very easy to avoid a trademark problem.

00:11:11   Just find a name that doesn't conflict.

00:11:12   And as you said, the trademark search, they're easy, they're free USPTO.gov, and Google even

00:11:17   has a pretty good one.

00:11:18   Like there's Google the name, search for the trademark on USPTO, and just make sure there

00:11:23   are no direct or nearby trademark conflicts to what you're doing.

00:11:28   So that's easy, easy to avoid.

00:11:31   Even if you totally clone someone else's app, I'll get to that in a minute, but even if

00:11:34   you totally clone someone else's app, at least have the courtesy to not infringe upon their

00:11:38   trademark.

00:11:39   It's very, very easy not to.

00:11:41   And so, as for other IP searches, like copyright is pretty easy not to infringe upon.

00:11:48   Don't copy someone else's icon.

00:11:49   Like that's basically like your biggest risk as an app developer.

00:11:52   Like if you have an exact copy of their icon, that's illegal.

00:11:56   However, if you have a similar concept, that's generally okay.

00:12:02   Like a similar concept, but like you or someone you hired drew an original drawing of it that

00:12:08   is not exactly the same looking and doesn't look like an obvious derivative of the other

00:12:12   one, then you're generally okay with copyright.

00:12:15   Patents, I would suggest never look because the road software patents is so toxic and

00:12:20   dysfunctional and has a lot of risks and stuff that you don't even realize.

00:12:24   It is generally best, don't even bother looking if your app is infringed upon somebody's

00:12:29   patents because A, you probably won't find it because patents are written in such a way

00:12:35   to be intentionally obtuse and broad and vague to avoid people finding out whether they're

00:12:41   infringing so that way the trolls can come up later and attack you.

00:12:45   So it's really, it's a terrible world.

00:12:48   Just don't even worry, for God's sake don't file patents because you're either a jerk

00:12:53   or a fool if you file patents.

00:12:54   But yeah, just don't stay away from that world entirely and generally you'll be alright.

00:13:00   So other than that, then you get to things like, you mentioned the legality things.

00:13:07   Apple can pretty clearly enforce things like icon copyright and they can clearly enforce

00:13:11   trademark if you have a trademark filed as a trademark owner.

00:13:16   If you don't have a trademark filed, it's harder for apps, for the app store dispute

00:13:24   process to enforce things for you.

00:13:27   This is one of the reasons why I think if you have the means to file a trademark on

00:13:30   your app name, I strongly suggest you do so.

00:13:33   It's not that hard, it costs maybe between $1,000 and $2,000 for most of the time.

00:13:40   It depends on the lawyer you hire to do it.

00:13:41   But it is something that I strongly recommend, getting a trademark if you can.

00:13:45   That also protects you from other companies saying, "Hey, you might be infringing upon

00:13:49   our trademark because if you got USPTO to grant you one, that is a pretty good sign

00:13:54   that your use of it is considered valid."

00:13:57   So anyway, all that stuff aside, should you make your app?

00:14:02   And then I think let's talk about the moral and ethical part.

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00:14:58   Yeah, I feel like the moral and ethical aspect of this is obviously I think where you start

00:15:03   to get into things that become inherently more gray than the legal side of things.

00:15:09   That if someone has a trademark for something, you make something that has the same name,

00:15:13   that's illegal.

00:15:14   And that's pretty straightforward.

00:15:16   Moral and ethical is obviously going to be something that varies from person to person.

00:15:21   And I imagine you and I have, I think based on our experience, I think we have sort of

00:15:26   strongly overlapping views on something like this.

00:15:28   But even there, they're probably going to be somewhat different.

00:15:31   But the reality is, the first question is it's making sure that what you're doing is

00:15:35   consistent with your views on this, that you are interrogating those feelings and the realities

00:15:40   of this, and that you're doing something that you're going to ultimately feel good about

00:15:44   in the future, if you put this out into the world and it's successful and gets attention.

00:15:50   And is the attention it gets going to be something that you feel comfortable with, defending

00:15:54   and being a position that you are comfortable with?

00:15:58   And I feel like for me, in terms of is it available, is this overlapping other things

00:16:02   that people are doing?

00:16:03   A lot of it is from a moral and ethical reason for me is it's like, is what I'm doing trying

00:16:08   to take away from someone else?

00:16:11   Or is it sort of running parallel?

00:16:14   Or is it sort of subtractive to someone else?

00:16:18   And as soon as it becomes subtractive to someone else, that I'm trying to take something that

00:16:21   someone else has done, and sort of take it for my own, it starts to feel not so great.

00:16:28   It starts to feel like you're stealing.

00:16:30   And stealing is a complicated word for something like this.

00:16:33   It's intellectual property, it doesn't physically exist, but it's still gonna have financial

00:16:36   impacts.

00:16:37   But whatever you want, however you want to sort of phrase it with whatever words you

00:16:40   want to use, there's that sense of, is this additive to the world?

00:16:45   Or is this subtractive to someone else?

00:16:47   Am I just trying to clone and copy what someone else has done and confuse people into thinking

00:16:54   my thing is their thing or taking something away from someone?

00:16:58   Or is it, I have a remix on that, that I think is interesting and additive and meaningfully

00:17:05   different than the source material?

00:17:08   Because the reality is, is there's always going to be some amount of combination of

00:17:12   things that exist previously to whatever it is you're doing.

00:17:16   That is just the nature of creative work that you are building on past influences, and hopefully

00:17:22   building on them in a way that is constructive and additive and creating your own new thing

00:17:27   that someone else could be inspired by in the future.

00:17:30   And the more you're going down that way, the stronger ground you are on sort of morally

00:17:36   and ethically.

00:17:37   Like when you made Overcast, there existed dozens of other podcast players.

00:17:43   Within each of those, probably every feature and function in Overcast in some form to some

00:17:48   degree exists, and you are combining them and you're adding more to them and you're

00:17:52   implementing them in a way that is additive and creative.

00:17:55   And I think Overcast did a great job of that, of not just being, you know, just like one

00:18:00   other podcast player.

00:18:02   But you could have gone down a road very much sort of different to that, where it became,

00:18:06   felt much more just straight derivative copy, taking someone else's work and passing it

00:18:11   off as your own.

00:18:12   And that's where for me it would start to feel like, hmm, this doesn't feel very moral

00:18:16   or ethical to do.

00:18:17   Yeah, I think the key differentiator for me, whether something is like, you know, a rip

00:18:22   off bad copy or whether something is like a good new concept and remix or whatever,

00:18:27   is how much are you drawing inspiration from just one other app?

00:18:33   Sure.

00:18:34   If your entire app is "inspired" only by one other app, that's going to be uncomfortable.

00:18:41   If it looks like your app is basically just that app or a copy of that app or something

00:18:47   that is trying to be a copy of that app, you're probably not in a good spot.

00:18:52   Whereas if you're taking diverse influences from lots of different places and combining

00:18:58   those in a new way that they have not been clearly combined in before, and hopefully

00:19:05   you're adding some of your own stuff to it as well, but if you have a diverse selection

00:19:10   of inspiration sources, if it's multiple things being combined or showing influence,

00:19:16   you're generally okay.

00:19:18   That's the big thing.

00:19:19   If it's all just like, so in the case of Wordle, if your app looks exactly like Wordle

00:19:24   and pretty much nothing else, then you're in a bad spot.

00:19:28   Whereas if you just make a word game that has a similar mechanic but maybe introduces

00:19:33   other things to it and isn't called Wordle, maybe it's called Wordsmith, who knows,

00:19:39   if you're making something that is in the ballpark but doesn't try to be Wordle and

00:19:47   isn't trying to trick people into thinking it is the official Wordle app, then you're

00:19:52   generally safe.

00:19:53   If you're drawing multiple inspiration sources and not trying to confuse people into thinking

00:19:58   it is that other app, that's a good place to be.

00:20:01   And that's totally fine.

00:20:02   And there's nothing wrong.

00:20:03   Occasionally, I steal features from people because they do them and they're really

00:20:07   good.

00:20:08   And it's like, okay, you know what?

00:20:09   I have to do that feature now.

00:20:10   My customers are now demanding that feature.

00:20:12   When I do that, I try to do it in a way that is respectful of whatever app invented at

00:20:15   first or whatever apps are out there that currently have it.

00:20:19   And I try to do it in my own way.

00:20:21   Like I go around, take screenshots of the other apps that have it, and I'm like, all

00:20:23   right, let me just make sure I'm doing it in a way that doesn't look like a direct

00:20:26   clone of somebody else or it doesn't take exactly their name or icon for this thing

00:20:32   if I don't need to.

00:20:33   Stuff like that, you know?

00:20:35   And it's important for me, like right before I launched Overcast, I changed the icon because

00:20:41   there was another podcast app at the time called Instacast that had recently changed

00:20:45   their icon into what I was about to launch as my icon.

00:20:49   And I'm like, well, even though we both came upon this independently, I can't do that.

00:20:55   I can't launch a podcast app that has a very, very similar icon to this other existing podcast

00:21:00   app.

00:21:01   So I changed the icon.

00:21:02   No big deal.

00:21:03   That's the kind of stuff you have to be aware of.

00:21:04   Like if it looks like a direct copy of something else, you're in trouble.

00:21:08   If you're bringing your own stuff to it from lots of different inspiration sources and

00:21:11   it doesn't look just exactly like something else, you're probably in the clear.

00:21:14   Yeah.

00:21:15   I think too, this is an area where I would say that because it is the squishiest and

00:21:19   the slightly like you'll know it when you see it kind of thing is it's a great place

00:21:22   to get is white of a diversity of opinions from people you trust and know.

00:21:28   If you're in any way unsure as to like, is this a good idea?

00:21:32   I think it might be a good idea.

00:21:33   I'm not sure.

00:21:34   Is it a good idea?

00:21:35   If you start asking yourself that question a lot, ask a bunch of people that you know

00:21:38   and trust and see if you get a consistent voice out of that or if you get like a variety

00:21:43   of opinions, if you get different perspectives, because I feel like it is so easy to sometimes

00:21:48   because you want something to be a certain way, you can start to rationalize it yourself.

00:21:53   But when you have to explain it to someone else or someone else has to see it and look

00:21:57   at what you're saying, it puts it in a very different light that can be very helpful and

00:22:01   constructive in making sure that you're not missing something or overly just justifying

00:22:06   something that you want to believe but isn't actually how you really believe.

00:22:09   That if someone else says the same words back to you from an outside perspective, something

00:22:13   sometimes it can sound very different.

00:22:15   You're like, "Oh, no.

00:22:16   Yeah, you're right.

00:22:17   I shouldn't do this.

00:22:18   This is a bad idea."

00:22:19   I think the world thing is also, it brings an interesting little area of questionable

00:22:22   behavior because world doesn't have an app.

00:22:26   It's just a web page and there is no app in the App Store and lots of people search for

00:22:30   it in the App Store, which is why all those clone apps were able to get so many downloads

00:22:33   and stuff.

00:22:34   You could argue like, well, they're just addressing the demand that the creator doesn't address.

00:22:39   But in that case, that seems like a justification but in reality, that's the creator's prerogative

00:22:47   to take that with their name and their design and their app, they can choose where to do

00:22:52   it.

00:22:53   Just like no one else is free to make an Overcast clone called Overcast on Android just because

00:22:58   I refuse to address that market.

00:23:00   That doesn't make it okay for someone else to do that.

00:23:03   Same thing with this kind of context.

00:23:05   Just because if you are taking someone's videos that aren't on YouTube and putting them on

00:23:09   YouTube on your own channel because they didn't address the YouTube demand, that's still a

00:23:14   violation.

00:23:16   Do your own thing even if the creators of the thing that you're trying to copy are not

00:23:20   taking an opportunity.

00:23:21   Yeah.

00:23:22   I think that's just that sense of that's just not available for you.

00:23:26   It may be an unmet need but it's not available for someone else to capitalize on.

00:23:31   Just because it exists doesn't mean that it's available.

00:23:33   Right.

00:23:34   The lesson they're learning is if I won't bring a good podcast app to Android, maybe

00:23:39   there's a market for other good podcast apps on Android.

00:23:42   Create a good podcast app.

00:23:43   Don't create Overcast.

00:23:45   If this word game is exploding as just a web page and there's all this unaddressed demand

00:23:49   on the App Store, you know what?

00:23:50   Make a good word game on the App Store and you have a good chance of success.

00:23:54   That's what this shows you.

00:23:55   Not copy this game with this name.

00:23:58   That's a very different thing.

00:23:59   I think a good place to close too is understanding even if you get through that sense of this

00:24:03   is an available idea, it's something that's worth doing, it's ethical, it's moral, it's

00:24:06   moral, it's legal, it's all those things, should you actually do it?

00:24:10   I think the questions that I started asking myself about this is the sense of it's like,

00:24:15   do I have a unique opportunity or take on this idea?

00:24:19   And the key thing there is unique.

00:24:21   Am I actually adding something that is truly unique into this area?

00:24:26   If I do, then that's awesome.

00:24:27   If I don't, then maybe it's not actually worthwhile me doing.

00:24:31   Is this going to be long-term sustainable?

00:24:34   And in that sense, what I mean is I've spent a little bit of time in my career, whatever,

00:24:38   60 apps I've launched, where sometimes I've been chasing after very narrow opportunities

00:24:43   where things were like adding an emoji keyboard when keyboards were a thing.

00:24:49   That app existed and had its very brief moment in the sun and then immediately was like Sherlock

00:24:54   by Apple and fell apart.

00:24:56   And it's like, that did not have a long-term sustainable model.

00:24:59   And maybe you could make money in the short term with that, but I would say in general,

00:25:02   if it's not long-term sustainable, it's probably not worth it.

00:25:05   Next question is like, is it actually interesting to you?

00:25:07   Is this an app that you would enjoy making?

00:25:09   Are you making something purely because you think someone else will like it or there's

00:25:15   this market opportunity?

00:25:17   If you're not actually excited about it, if you're not actually interested in it, it's

00:25:20   going to be really hard to be excited about and working on it on version 1.1 and version

00:25:24   2.

00:25:25   You're setting yourself up for a future of annoyance and frustration, I think.

00:25:30   And then lastly is understanding, it's like, if this succeeds, if this is popular, am I

00:25:35   setting myself up and creating sort of liabilities for myself?

00:25:38   And the things that come to mind for me with this is always, does this involve user-generated

00:25:42   content?

00:25:43   And it's like, if it does, am I willing to take on the responsibility of moderating,

00:25:48   managing, dealing with all of what that means?

00:25:51   Run away.

00:25:52   And in general, it's probably not worthwhile.

00:25:56   There's a popular app right now called Lockit, which is a widget app, so I was very aware

00:26:01   of it.

00:26:02   And what it does is it lets you have a widget that you and someone else share.

00:26:07   You have a widget where someone else can put a photo into your widget and someone else

00:26:13   can put a photo into yours.

00:26:14   And it's kind of a way that if you would imagine a couple to be able to send these little pictures

00:26:20   of each other throughout the day, I see that and I'm like, "That is a cool idea.

00:26:25   I can understand why it's popular."

00:26:27   I don't want to go anywhere near that because I'm transferring photos, essentially personal

00:26:33   photos between two people and then having to navigate and manage the responsibility

00:26:38   for that to some degree.

00:26:39   And even if I do this in a way that I don't have that data at all, there's a certain responsibility

00:26:43   I'm taking on for myself.

00:26:44   And so it's creating a liability that's like, "I just don't want to go near that."

00:26:48   So these are the questions you need to ask because you need to imagine not sort of the

00:26:54   – like will you be comfortable doing this at scale if it is successful, if it does take

00:27:00   off?

00:27:01   What are the implications of that and would it still be worthwhile to do in that case?

00:27:05   Again, this is like what happens if this succeeds?

00:27:09   What happens if this takes off or even not only is it just like what happens if this

00:27:14   explodes and gets number one in the App Store, but just like what happens if this just has

00:27:18   moderate success and I have to maintain it over time to serve the customers?

00:27:21   Like there are so many loads that that can create on somebody and obligations like, "Hey,

00:27:27   maybe publishing a magazine every two weeks forever is not a thing I'm going to enjoy

00:27:31   doing."

00:27:32   And as you mentioned, is this even a business I want to be in if I succeed?

00:27:37   I can't tell you how many ideas I've had for other content blocking methods and ways

00:27:42   to make the web more tolerable, but you know what?

00:27:45   I hate the modern web.

00:27:48   If I made an app that was like make the web more tolerable, it would feel like janitorial

00:27:53   work to me.

00:27:54   It's like, "You know what?

00:27:55   Now every day I have a new pile of crap that the web has given me that I have to figure

00:27:57   out how to deal with."

00:27:58   And that's just like a negative life for me.

00:28:01   I don't want that.

00:28:04   And there are so many things like podcast hosting ideas or podcast tooling ideas that

00:28:09   I've had where it'd be like, "Well then my customers would be like people's fine

00:28:15   workflow details or getting in the way of them and their money."

00:28:19   Things that like, "I don't want to be in that position."

00:28:22   So yeah, this is an area where it's hard to think this way when you have this great

00:28:28   idea you want to do in your mind and that's really pushing you, but it really does benefit

00:28:32   a lot to be able to step back before you plow forward with an idea to be like, "Okay,

00:28:37   should I do this?

00:28:39   What will happen if this works?

00:28:41   What position will I then be in?

00:28:42   And am I going to want to deal with a certain type of thing forever?"

00:28:48   And not forever, but indefinitely into the future.

00:28:50   "Am I going to want to have to do X, Y, Z every day or every week or every two weeks?

00:28:55   Am I going to want to deal with the emails or legal problems this might bring on me?"

00:29:00   Et cetera.

00:29:01   And I think hopefully you can find opportunities that meet both of these things that are available

00:29:06   and you feel good about doing.

00:29:08   They're worthwhile.

00:29:09   Those are going to create a long-term sustainable thing that you're going to enjoy and be

00:29:12   interested in without a lot of negativity and bad downside to it.

00:29:18   And if you can, awesome.

00:29:19   Run with that.

00:29:20   Be excited about it and pursue it.

00:29:21   And that's where I feel like you're going to be able to have the most satisfying work,

00:29:26   opportunity, and stay away from these barbed wire fences on either side that sometimes

00:29:32   can look nice, that there are opportunities there.

00:29:35   But going down there is inevitably just going to lead to a lot of conflict and difficulty

00:29:38   and setting yourself up for hardship in the future.

00:29:41   Yeah, just make a nice word game.

00:29:43   People love them.

00:29:44   Thanks for listening, everybody.

00:29:45   We'll talk to you in two weeks.

00:29:47   Bye.

00:29:47   [BLANK_AUDIO]