10 Burning Questions with Mike Fayer, creator of Kleio Flashcards

One of the best studying tools for students is flashcards. If you’ve got a Windows Phone and you’re a student you should check out Kleio Flashcards. Kleio is a very polished and clean studying tool that recieved honorable mention in the Best Free Apps of 2012 by WP7Applist. Mike Fayer is the developer, and he had some great things to say about Windows Phone.

1. How did you get started with Windows Phone?

I started building the app that I’m currently working on with a desktop version, because I knew that the desktop<->mobile sync would be the major feature. I started with Windows since that’s the biggest desktop platform. When I was getting close to release of the Windows version I had intended to pivot to Android, but that was around when WP7 first appeared on the scene. I had a buddy at MS who could provide me with a development device, plus the allure of a quick port from Windows->WP7 (C# and XAML on both), plus the idea of completely fresh territory won me over.

In the end it was the right decision because by the time I started on the Android version, Mono for Android was alive and kicking, so I avoided having to rewrite my entire app in Java.

2. What phone do you personally use?

Since I’m a multiplatform developer, I switch up my personal phone every once in a while so I can really get a good feel for each platform. Also, (as much as I’d love to) I don’t believe in using the newest and shiniest devices. If I develop on slower hardware, its a good way to make sure my code stays lean and efficient and snappy on the devices that most users have, not just the geeks and early adopters. So, I’m currently switching between a HTC Nexus One and a Samsung Omnia 7. No quad-core beast for me, unfortunately.

3. What was your biggest challenge in developing Kleio Flashcards?

With mono, I am currently getting about 70% code reuse on WP7, Windows, and Android. iOS and Win8 are in the works. Crafting an architecture that is amenable to all these platforms and their various execution paradigms has not been simple, but the effort has paid off. Also, in addition to being a developer I’m learning to be a promoter, a businessman, a community manager, and so on. I don’t have a lot of free time these days!

4. What gave you the idea to make a flashcard app?

I’m from the US, I live in Berlin, and I need to know German. Long before the idea of Kleio occurred to me, I scoured the internet for a perfect flashcard app/source of flashcards. Some flashcard apps and communities had already been created, but they were chaotic, lacking in moderation and/or organization, snarled with incompatibilities, missing the crucial ingredient of sync, and pre-mobile. When it came time for me to write an app of my own, I was doing something between chasing my own vision, and fixing all the problems I saw in other apps.

5. Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)

Compared to the time I’ve invested in Kleio, I haven’t made any meaningful money. But that’s ok, and not a surprise. Considering the amount of money that ads bring in (not much), and the fact that you can’t really price an app above 3 USD, a single app needs to bring in tens of thousands of paying users yearly, or you need to have multiple apps in the marketplace keeping many users glued to your apps/ads. And the many-apps/many-ads approach is not for me.

So, the numbers today are simply such that a single WP7 app cannot make meaningful money. Hopefully that will change some day soon, but it isn’t today. As Android and iOS come online, I hope to make money with a combination of freemium and (a tasteful, restrained) bit of advertising on both mobile and web. And of course I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, as all indie devs must.

6. What do you want to see in Windows Phone 8?

I know this is controversial – but true background execution. Its certainly a double edged sword that bad developers can abuse and wreak great havoc, but without it there are many useful apps that are simply impossible.

Also, a more powerful push notification system which can actually execute code. An improved WebBrowser control. A system-wide messaging scheme like Android’s Intents or Windows 8’s contracts. Framework/language parity between WP8 and Win8 to make as much code portable between the two platforms as possible is really important.

Finally, and most importantly, the Win8 and WP8 marketplaces should not be separated, it should be one market with one infrastructure. Hell hath no fury like a user forced to buy the same app twice.

7. Do you develop for other platforms and how does Windows Phone compare to those platforms?

I do Android, desktop, web, and soon iOS. I’m going to go with the consensus on this one: I think WP7’s development experience is superior to the other big two (iOS and Android), the language is the best of the bunch, and the UI is truly innovative. Honestly, I think its a breath of fresh air after the room had gotten a bit musty from just iOS and Android hanging around. But, the platform is small, the marketplace itself has a lot of room for improvement, and there are many things lacking in the API. I have great hopes for WP8.

 8. If you could give one tip to fellow Windows Phone Developers, what would it be?

Learn the hell out of the Page lifecycle – burn it into your soul. Architect your app from the very beginning for “jump-in jump-out” kind of use, make sure it can start and shut down on a dime, and enter from any page. Persist state constantly. This is probably valid advice for all mobile development.

9. Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

I enjoy long walks on… just kidding.

I love coding and developing new products. But in about 5-6 years, I’m going to get tired of it and I’m going to run away to be a dancer. And by dancer, I mean science writer.

10. Who wins: Iron Man or Batman?

<nerding>Tony Stark is arrogant and impulsive and would be over-confident knowing that his adversary was comparatively weak. Bruce Wayne is, among other things, a detective who knows how to bide his time. Realizing how badly outgunned he is, high-tech toys or not, he’d never face Iron Man in open battle. Instead, he’d probably get Tony Stark in his sleep.</nerding>

Thanks Mike! Kleio Flashcards has received a price drop in honor of Dev Appreciation Month to $.99. There is also a free version for trying out. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeFayer.

Are you interested in taking part in Developer Appreciation Month? Let us know by contacting us with the subject “Developer Appreciation Month”. We’d love to feature your app.

  • Wooo, another point for Batman.

  • Wooo, another point for Batman.

  • Nice interview, thank you for that! Just a tiny note: The Twitter link at the bottom has a typo. While it shows the correct name, the link itself has an additional ‘r’ in the name.

  • Steve Ballmer wins everytime, all the time