Apple Matters Interview: Phillip Ryu

by Hadley Stern Dec 27, 2006

Phillip Ryu is the man behind a few very successful Mac web projects recently. Including My Dream App and MacHeist. Both projects have energized the Apple shareware community both from a developer and consumer standpoint. MacHeist has irritated some, however, including Jon Gruber who attacked the project because it made too much money, and didn’t give enough to developers. We catch up with Phillip on MacHeist, and what is up his sleeve for his next project. Before I get any flack about this I wanted to note that MacHeist was an advertiser on Apple Matters and no, it has no bearing on the contents of this interview!

Hadley Stern: Last time I checked doing business was about making money, and the MacHeist project gave a lot of money (200,000) to charity, why do you think some people, including Jon Gruber are questioning the project?

Phillip Ryu: Well, where there’s money, there’s bound to be complaints, and this wasn’t an exception to the rule. These people in question seem to forget that MacHeist wasn’t a guaranteed success, and I guess after the fact, it’s easy to forget that.

But hey, to give them due credit, the controversy they created ended up contributing significantly to MacHeist’s success in sales and charity donations… so thanks for that. wink

Hadley Stern: Do you have any regrets about MacHeist?

Phillip Ryu: To be perfectly honest, no, not really. It has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and almost everyone involved has had a blast participating, so I’m really happy with how it went.

Hadley Stern: Apart from the charitable giving do you think MacHeist has been good or bad for the Apple community?

Phillip Ryu: Good, of course. We aimed to bring a lot of exposure to the excellent Mac shareware market, and I think we succeeded in that regard. You’ll find that if you ask a lot of your friends who are casual Mac users, they may have some freeware apps like Adium installed, but very few have probably purchased shareware, and I think a lot of that stems from the stigma associated with shareware in the Windows world, for a lot of switchers. And that’s something we wanted to disprove. So we tried to put together a really stellar “first taste” of Mac shareware for first time customers, and I think it worked.

Hadley Stern: Have you heard any complaints from the developers who participated?

Phillip Ryu: Well, I know that one of the developers had some issues with how it went, and we’ve been talking about it, but I won’t name him here, since he didn’t want to be identified in a recent article. But you’ve probably been reading some of the blog posts that have been written about MacHeist by many of the bundle developers, and if so, you’ll know that they are, in general, very happy about their participation.

I think it’s important to note that, for them, it doesn’t just stop with the developer fee and bonus we sent. Many have been experiencing short term and long term sales spikes of regular sales, even during the event, due to the exposure, and they’ll be collecting on upgrade fees in the future.

Hadley Stern: How did you come up with the idea of MacHeist?

Phillip Ryu: John Casasanta (my partner in this) came to me with the basic idea of doing an amazing bundle sale a few months ago, and we started brainstorming with the rest of the guys (Scott Meinzer, the web programmer, and Adam Betts, designer) about how to make it more than that. I mean, a software sale. Kind of boring right? So we spent a couple months figuring out how to make it fun, and I think that’s what gave MacHeist its unique hook.

Hadley Stern: What projects are next on the horizon?

Phillip Ryu: Well, I can’t really say. For now of course, we’re working on getting the My Dream App winners developed, and I’m working with Unsanity to revive the Mac customization site, which has a place in many Mac users’ hearts. As for the “next big thing”, well, we’re throwing around some ideas. Whatever it is, it’ll be fresh, and it’ll be fun. The one thing that we will most definitely not do is stagnate, so hopefully when it comes, it’ll be an unexpected surprise. smile


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