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Making Products For The iPad,iPhone Or iPod
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

In my recent article series on product creation/development, I've given few specific examples of products you can make if you are a solo entrepreneur or have a micro business. While I really want to write more on the thinking behind quality product development, I think it's probably time to get a bit more detailed about possibilities for those who want to enter popular markets.

In an earlier article, I mentioned that you can take advantage of popular technology developments even if you are not a programmer or engineer. And I gave the iPad/iPhone/iPod technologies as an example. Here's an expansion on that for ideas you can develop and produce fairly quickly and easily if you have or acquire the related skills:

1. If you have graphic/illustration/artistic skills, you can make covers, shells, skins, carry bags, etc. for iPhones and iPads. (I've even seen evening bags!) You can make them from scratch as an artisan and sell them online through services like

You can even more easily upload your designs to services or, both of which have blank printable cases for iPads and iPhones and will sell them, print them, collect the $ for them and deliver them to your customers and send you royalties. They even give you templates for their products, so you mostly cut and paste your images to fit.

Here's an example of an ipad case I designed this morning for the Zazzle version. It took about 15 minutes. (I already had the main image, it was just a matter of downloading the template and adjusting the image.)

But wait! You may not be particularly talented in the arts. So what. You can get plenty of free images in the public domain and alter them in Adobe Photoshop. Can't afford Photoshop? Get the GIMP. It's pretty much the same as Photoshop, but it's free, open source software. Don't know how to use either of them? Plenty of free tutorials online. Just "google" "Photoshop tutorials" or "GIMP tutorials" or pay a small monthly fee to learn at

Here's another example of a Zazzle iPad case designed using a public domain painting. It took about 10 minutes to fit and adjust in Photoshop.

2. Ebooks and Media. Why work hard to learn to make apps? Most of the stuff people want for their iPads/iPhones/iPods is in the area of information, education and entertainment.

The only difference between making ebooks, videos, music, etc. for the "i" technologies rather than for usual web distribution is that you might do better with your product if you scale and format it for the target product. Think about it. The gadgets can present movies and graphics, but won't they look better if they are designed specifically to be seen on a very small screen? Yes, you can simply take your media and make sure it's in an acceptable format (e.g. m4v movies, epub books in order to get into "ibooks" store, mp3 music and audio, etc.), but you'll be more popular if you've redesigned your videos so they zoom in on people's faces close enough to catch expressions. Get the picture? Unlike, you don't have to create apps to show your media. They are either built in or your customer will undoubtably have downloaded a relevant app to get your content. You just need to spiff up that content to properly display on the gadget of choice. There are even free templates you can find online to help you get the sizing right.

Also, I noticed when I designed an animated e-card on Valentine's Day for my sweetheart's iPad that there aren't a lot of e-cards available for free or commercial download that are specifically make for iPads. Maybe some enterprising reader of this article could get right on that.

3. Value Added iPods. One of the exciting trends I've seen is the resale of iPods (actually, iPod Nanos in particular) that have been pre-loaded with the seller's content.

I thought that was a very clever idea. If you are selling content -- ebooks, graphics, courses, music videos, whatever -- what a confidence building approach this could be. The buyer knows the value of the iPod itself and figures that if you are going to give them and iPod with your content already loaded, it must be high quality content. It's a kind of coattails approach. You get the "glow" of the iPod's value to surround your product.

Just add the price of your content to the price you pay for the iPod -- which, of course, you don't buy and load until after you get the money from your customer, and you're good to go. Sweet.

Of course, you have to be willing to do all the financial, packaging, shipping, returns, and so on yourself. But that's true of most sales involving physical products that you produce yourself.

4. Apps. Okay, I know, you still want to make apps for the iPad/iPhone. They're so hot and you just want in on that action. You don't care that there is extraordinary competition. You just want to try. But you're not a programmer. And you don't want to spend a long time learning programming.

There are two easier ways to get started in apps.

The easiest way is to take your great idea and simply hire someone to program it for you. You can check out freelancers at places like and It's a way to get started immediately, giving you a chance to work to develop your own skills and go independent later.

If you want to learn quickly to do it all yourself, the easiest road to developing web and mobile apps is to learn html5, css and javascript. If you can hand code your own web pages, you can create web and mobile apps. For iPhone/iPad, you'll also do best with the Xcode templates provided in that lovely little rapid development utility, NimbleKit. Also, to develop for the iPhone and iPad you'll also have to pay to become an Apple Developer and use their iOS sdk's. It isn't very expensive. And to be able to distribute your apps through Apple's App Store, you'll have to meet all their criteria.

You can get tutorials free online for learning html5, css and javascript. You can also use And there are some good books available that are specifically about applying html5, css and javascript to iPhone/iPad app development. One helpful book is "The Web Designer's Guide to iOS Apps: Create iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad apps with Web Standards (HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript) (Voices That Matter) " by Kristofer Layon.



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