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MacRumors
Jan 15, 2013, 12:13 PM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/01/15/new-york-times-columnist-goes-undercover-secretly-creates-best-selling-app/)


The New York Post reports on Bob Tedeschi (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/feather_in_his_app_journo_creates_DLphihZj94J4AvPHIwXu8H), a former columnist for the New York Times' Gadgetwise blog who was sent undercover in 2010 to develop an app. The story was eventually spiked, but Tedeschi kept the project going.

The app he created, Bobo Explores Light, received an Apple Design Award and a number of other accolades and praise. Tedeschi used a pseudonym to avoid any favorable treatment by Apple or anyone else because of his job at the Times, and after the app proved so successful, he was moved from Gadgetwise to a gardening column (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/bob_tedeschi/index.html).

http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/01/bobolight.jpg"I was floored by how well it did," Tedeschi told The Post. He said his contact at Apple was "speechless" when he broke the news he was behind "Bobo," which copped a slew of Apple awards.

"Bobo," created with two executives at Game Collage, has hit No. 1 in 12 countries in both the education and book categories.

Costing $4.99, "Bobo," which launched Sept. 15, 2011, is currently the No. 72 top-grossing iPad app, according to AppData, and is the first children's educational app to make the App Hall of Fame.Bobo Explores Light for iPad is available for $4.99 (http://appshopper.com/education/bobo-explores-light) on the App Store. [Direct Link (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id463809859?mt=8)]

Article Link: New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/01/15/new-york-times-columnist-goes-undercover-secretly-creates-best-selling-app/)



lucasfer899
Jan 15, 2013, 12:18 PM
Simply brilliant >.< :)

KirkTheJerk
Jan 15, 2013, 12:29 PM
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?

Mr.damien
Jan 15, 2013, 12:32 PM
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?

Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.

wordmunger
Jan 15, 2013, 12:34 PM
Either you're right and it's completely uninteresting that a reporter went undercover to prove how hard it is to make a successful app, then made a wildly successful app.

Or *you* don't think it's interesting, but others do. I think it's interesting, but maybe I'm the only one.

orangebluedevil
Jan 15, 2013, 12:35 PM
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.

mcfrazieriv
Jan 15, 2013, 12:35 PM
lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column :confused:

Pakaku
Jan 15, 2013, 12:38 PM
lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column :confused:

But now it's the geekiest gardening column ever.

KirkTheJerk
Jan 15, 2013, 12:38 PM
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.

Yea that is what I was getting at. I'm not saying that making a great app is easy, I was just asking what the point of this story is. A reporter changes his name and makes a good app. That is all of the information that this story provided.

Sayer
Jan 15, 2013, 12:40 PM
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?

People who realize the world is not all about them, they might care to learn this information. It may even inspire someone to try and achieve something new/different in this crazy world.

Or just keep their day job as a "gardening columnist."

Or just try to bring everyone else down so they are as miserable as they are.

Who knows.

tobefirst
Jan 15, 2013, 12:45 PM
The story that the journalist was writing was spiked, meaning it was rejected by the editor. If you want to know what the story was, then your beef lies with the New York Post. I think it makes the whole situation even more ironic.

Diode
Jan 15, 2013, 12:57 PM
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?

Agree - unless he was using some sort of insider tricks to prove how easy it is to make a great selling / award winning app - what's the point?

needfx
Jan 15, 2013, 01:03 PM
only to be followed by more big hits of the philosophically challenging, baby brain development series Bobo

Bobo becomes Space & Time itself
Bobo bent in a black-hole
Bobo sucked through a Wormhole
Bobo and the Multiverse of Quasar Clusters

More titles to come

MaxDrago
Jan 15, 2013, 01:39 PM
lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column :confused:

I assume it was considered a conflict of interest for the writer to have a best selling app somewhere and still be writing about others...

zim2411
Jan 15, 2013, 01:57 PM
I assume it was considered a conflict of interest for the writer to have a best selling app somewhere and still be writing about others...

Yeah, the Post's article mentions that:

Tedeschi said the Times’ ethics cops suggested he switch off the Gadgetwise beat because of his financial interest in the app.

Rocketman
Jan 15, 2013, 02:20 PM
Aside from the unintentional financial success, reporters are supposed to report the news not be the news. So there were actually two conflicts of interest. But it is cool!

Wouldn't it really F things up all around if the paper claimed ownership of the revenues?

Rocketman

Squilly
Jan 15, 2013, 02:23 PM
Good for him. Making money undercover and giving inspiration to others, including the young ones.

TouchMint.com
Jan 15, 2013, 02:42 PM
Yes very cool stuff!

tevion5
Jan 15, 2013, 03:04 PM
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.

Because they need more people eating they're potential profit ;)

Makosuke
Jan 15, 2013, 04:23 PM
I think half the story here isn't that the guy wrote a successful app undercover--although that's pretty funny. It's that they spiked what would have been a heck of a story when he did.

One gets the feeling that they specifically wanted him to write a story about how hard it is to write a successful app, or how everybody who tries, fails... except he didn't. And instead of rolling with it, they got cheesed off, killed the story, and put him on a gardening column.

Maybe the gardening column was because of potential conflicts of interest (although LOTS of tech writers have their own projects on the side), but killing the story is hard to interpret as anything but spite when it didn't end up being the headline they wanted.

larrybeo
Jan 15, 2013, 04:24 PM
This is Gonzo journalism at it's finest! I bet he's a big Hunter S. Thompson fan.

Rajani Isa
Jan 15, 2013, 04:26 PM
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.

In this case, he mainly went undercover to make sure WHO he was didn't make people judge what he did differently - either as a plus or minus.

ctdonath
Jan 15, 2013, 04:37 PM
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?

The big deal is

Ironically, Tedeschi’s app creation was first discussed with a Times editor as a possible story that would address how hard it was to make a living developing apps.

The Times was out to bash an industry (app writing). The initial bias was "can't make a living writing apps". He went undercover to, as others touched on above, to be the news, to create something to report on. For some unclear reason the story was spiked, but he was intrigued and kept at it. If he had, in fact, finished the app and achieved poor results for his efforts ... how many here don't think the assignment would have been resumed and the resulting story published? (Hey, he did the work anyway, basically a free "capitalism is unfair" story.) Notice that the original assignment wasn't "can someone make a living writing apps?", it was "a few lucky well-connected people aside, nobody can make a living writing apps" - biased from the beginning, imbued with someone's pride in making an unfair point instead of just reporting facts surrounding an interesting question.

Fortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was formally dropped.

Unfortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was carried thru anyway, and proved the opposite of what was intended - much to the embarrassment of the editor.

The big deal is that a reporter was assigned to invent news to make a biased point for someone, and had the assignment not been dropped and the expected result occurred he would have been congratulated on a successful story and kept his position ... but, in true classic tenacious reporter style, he followed the assignment thru to the end, and when the result wasn't what was originally sought he was (get this!) demoted to a gardening column!!! WTH?

Methinks it's a big deal in revealing institutional bias at the NY Times. Sent to invent "news" of a particular outcome, the opposite happens ... and the reporter is all but fired for it.

----------

Good for him. Making money undercover and giving inspiration to others, including the young ones.

And getting punished for doing so.

Anyone think any other NYT reporters are going to go "above and beyond" to get a story when and outcome other than what was intended will get punished with a stereotypical demotion just shy of outright termination?

If the NYT had run the resulting story straight - "Reporter Sets Out Undercover and Wins a Losing Proposition thru Sheer Tenacity" - it would have been a great article, much discussed and lauded. Instead of giving inspiration to others, including the young ones, the message is "the nail which stands out gets hammered down".

Dagless
Jan 15, 2013, 04:53 PM
Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.

I've won awards, but I don't know what to say. Congrats to the journalist maybe? It's rather easy really - just have a good idea (journalists get presented with so many ideas. I imagine they'd develop a good intuition of what makes something good), be humble with your own ideas, bam.

But it is difficult to make a living from it. Winning awards, being critically acclaimed... it all means nothing unless you get exposure (neither those 2 things guarantee that). A lot of it is dedication and pushing yourself as far as you can go. Again, I reckon that's a feature most journalists have.

I know many excellent developers. Most of which have second jobs (consulting, teaching, creating assets) because living off app development is quite difficult. Way more so than console development.

MrDc2
Jan 15, 2013, 07:06 PM
Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.

He doesn't need to win an award to have an opinion.

DisMyMac
Jan 15, 2013, 07:25 PM
Yea that is what I was getting at. I'm not saying that making a great app is easy, I was just asking what the point of this story is. A reporter changes his name and makes a good app. That is all of the information that this story provided.
The story that the journalist was writing was spiked, meaning it was rejected by the editor. If you want to know what the story was, then your beef lies with the New York Post. I think it makes the whole situation even more ironic.

I don't know if the Post/Times ever has real news, but I know they love making up stories about power and ethics. Complete fiction meant to teach people a lesson. Sure the story got spiked, but that became a story in itself, so now this silly app is getting free advertizing...

Is that the "lesson"? Or are we supposed to believe that a crapplication called "Bobo" was actually worth writing about?

malexandria
Jan 15, 2013, 07:38 PM
One of the stupidest things I've read in awhile. Go "undercover" to create an app? Really?

mrkramer
Jan 15, 2013, 07:44 PM
One of the stupidest things I've read in awhile. Go "undercover" to create an app? Really?

Yet you still took the time to post. Sure it may not be the most exciting news, but it's still interesting. And the reason he did it "undercover" was to avoid getting preferential treatment since he was a reporter.

pcmxa
Jan 15, 2013, 07:56 PM
Also, there is this:

"Bobo," created with two executives at Game Collage, has hit No. 1 in 12 countries in both the education and book categories.

I mean, good job (co?)writing an app, and it does look to be a good one, but I imagine it helps to have a couple of executives at a gaming company helping out.

I've won awards, but I don't know what to say. Congrats to the journalist maybe? It's rather easy really - just have a good idea (journalists get presented with so many ideas. I imagine they'd develop a good intuition of what makes something good), be humble with your own ideas, bam.

But it is difficult to make a living from it. Winning awards, being critically acclaimed... it all means nothing unless you get exposure (neither those 2 things guarantee that). A lot of it is dedication and pushing yourself as far as you can go. Again, I reckon that's a feature most journalists have.

I know many excellent developers. Most of which have second jobs (consulting, teaching, creating assets) because living off app development is quite difficult. Way more so than console development.

damir00
Jan 15, 2013, 11:06 PM
What's interesting to me is that he makes a huge hit of an app, and at the end of it, is still left making a living writing a gardening column.

"There's gold in them thar hills..."

Mr.damien
Jan 16, 2013, 01:17 AM
He doesn't need to win an award to have an opinion.

Yeah, it's the most common fact nowadays to do nothing in life but criticize other success. No big news ...

Truffy
Jan 16, 2013, 03:23 AM
The story that the journalist was writing was spiked, meaning it was rejected by the editor. If you want to know what the story was, then your beef lies with the New York Post. I think it makes the whole situation even more ironic.
Nonetheless, that doesn't make the MR story any more enlightening.

----------

after the app proved so successful, he was moved from Gadgetwise to a gardening column (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/bob_tedeschi/index.html).
According to that link:
Mr. Tedeschi now writes the weekly App Smart column for the Personal Technology pages, and the Pragmatist column for the Home section.
:confused:

trunten
Jan 16, 2013, 06:58 AM
Because they need more people eating they're potential profit ;)

Hi tevion5,

Please don't take offence, I offer this as friendly advice (honestly!). In the context, the word you should be using is their. They're is a contraction of they are and does not make sense in this sentence.

Back on topic. It appears that all this journalist did was pay other talented people to write a very good app for him. Or am I mistaken?

ArtOfWarfare
Jan 16, 2013, 07:59 AM
Who's to say this guy didn't use influence within the NYT to fetch his app the attention it needed to flourish?

Managing to get in the news is EVERYTHING for app developers. If you're in the news, you will get in the charts. If you're not... Well, good luck.

japanime
Jan 16, 2013, 08:02 AM
Methinks it's a big deal in revealing institutional bias at the NY Times. Sent to invent "news" of a particular outcome, the opposite happens ... and the reporter is all but fired for it.

You make several outstanding points. However ...

I've worked for several newspapers, and I know many journalists who would love to be assigned to a garden column. Seriously.

ctdonath
Jan 16, 2013, 09:03 AM
living off app development is quite difficult. Way more so than console development.

I expect that's correlated to the "entry fee".
Anyone can write & sell iOS apps with just a Mac and $99 developer's "membership". Since anyone can jump in, the market is saturated by products divvying up a limited audience for thin typical profits.
AFAIK, developing Playstation & Xbox & Wii apps for profit is at least a five-digit pricetag* for tools & licensing. With few developers, but a big audience, it's easier to get a bigger piece of the pie.

(* - A local university featuring a game development degree looked into getting a PlayStation license & development kit. At a quarter-million dollars base price, they decided not to.)

----------

I know many journalists who would love to be assigned to a garden column.

I didn't mean to bash being a gardening columnist.
How this journalist ended up there, and why such a re-assignment is a stereotypical bad sign, was the point.

(I would, in fact, like the gig too! Example article here (http://uncrate.com/stuff/survival-seed-vault/).)

mrxak
Jan 16, 2013, 12:22 PM
I'm looking forward to this guy accidentally solving world hunger while researching a story for his gardening column.

Fresh Pie
Jan 16, 2013, 01:16 PM
only to be followed by more big hits of the philosophically challenging, baby brain development series Bobo

Bobo becomes Space & Time itself
Bobo bent in a black-hole
Bobo sucked through a Wormhole
Bobo and the Multiverse of Quasar Clusters

More titles to come

I'd just like to say that that is my favorite comment ever. Anyway, carry on.

tevion5
Jan 16, 2013, 01:53 PM
Hi tevion5,

Please don't take offence, I offer this as friendly advice (honestly!). In the context, the word you should be using is their. They're is a contraction of they are and does not make sense in this sentence.

Back on topic. It appears that all this journalist did was pay other talented people to write a very good app for him. Or am I mistaken?

Einschuldingung meine trunten, I was indeed grammatically incorrect.

Perhaps he did, just saying successful people generally don't want others knowing all the secrets.

needfx
Jan 16, 2013, 02:31 PM
I'd just like to say that that is my favorite comment ever. Anyway, carry on.

that means a lot coming from you! :rolleyes:
there's hardly a post of yours that hasn't made me laugh.

BigPrince
Jan 16, 2013, 02:57 PM
Why?

MrDc2
Jan 16, 2013, 03:22 PM
Yeah, it's the most common fact nowadays to do nothing in life but criticize other success. No big news ...

"..it's the most common pastime..."

I see what you're trying to get at, his post can be looked at as pessimistic and critical. The article didn't really divulge too much information.

Basically: " NY Times reporter who was doing an investigative piece made an app that earned an award. " - It would have been nice to read about his findings about the creation, development and actual sales numbers he achieved. I personally don't mind that he was successful. But the fact that he was successful doesn't help me, you or anyone else. What would help us is learning just HOW he did that. I personally would like to about the process he used to develop the app. After all, he is an NY Times reporter and he would be able to write a great informative piece on how to develop our own apps. It kind of seems like he was successful, but didn't want to share how he became successful. I have to say though, I have not done any research online to see if he actually published any articles on the steps that he took to achieve his success. ( Will do now though )

Edit: Oops... it states in the article here on MacRumors, " The story was eventually spiked, but Tedeschi kept the project going. " - Blonde moment for me. :P

bilboa
Jan 16, 2013, 04:13 PM
The big deal is



The Times was out to bash an industry (app writing). The initial bias was "can't make a living writing apps". He went undercover to, as others touched on above, to be the news, to create something to report on. For some unclear reason the story was spiked, but he was intrigued and kept at it. If he had, in fact, finished the app and achieved poor results for his efforts ... how many here don't think the assignment would have been resumed and the resulting story published? (Hey, he did the work anyway, basically a free "capitalism is unfair" story.) Notice that the original assignment wasn't "can someone make a living writing apps?", it was "a few lucky well-connected people aside, nobody can make a living writing apps" - biased from the beginning, imbued with someone's pride in making an unfair point instead of just reporting facts surrounding an interesting question.

Fortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was formally dropped.

Unfortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was carried thru anyway, and proved the opposite of what was intended - much to the embarrassment of the editor.


I think you're reading what you want into this story. While I can see the humor in the way things turned out, the fact is that a single person creating an app, successful or not, doesn't prove anything about how likely it is for app writers in general to be successful. For that you would need to gather statistics about what percentage of apps actually end up being financially successful. An anecdotal story like this could still be informative and interesting though, as long as they didn't try to draw unwarrantedly broad conclusions from it.

DaveN
Jan 16, 2013, 09:35 PM
Wouldn't it really F things up all around if the paper claimed ownership of the revenues?

Rocketman

I would think the paper should claim ownership.. at least part ownership. If the guy got the seed money from the paper and was on the paper's payroll at least during part of the development, it seems that the paper should have a claim on the product.

rauko
Jan 17, 2013, 04:04 AM
Bobo means dumb in Spanish. Its not even a regional thing, Bobo means dumb in every single Spanish speaking country in the world.
You might think that an app made by a journalist working for a prestigious newspaper in modern America would be a little more careful.....just saying

ctdonath
Jan 17, 2013, 08:52 AM
a single person creating an app, successful or not, doesn't prove anything about how likely it is for app writers in general to be successful.

The original assignment was exactly that: demonstrate how likely it is for app writers to succeed. It was intended as a single example offered as proof of generality. Thing was, the original motive was to prove failure ... but instead was a success, and the "gonzo journalism" reporter was duly punished.

Hopefully that's why the story was spiked near the start: it was misguided.

Admission: I'm irritated by the news media's propensity to attack success and applaud failure, hence my verbosity on this particular incident.

theBB
Jan 17, 2013, 01:12 PM
The original assignment was exactly that: demonstrate how likely it is for app writers to succeed. It was intended as a single example offered as proof of generality. Thing was, the original motive was to prove failure ... but instead was a success, and the "gonzo journalism" reporter was duly punished.

Hopefully that's why the story was spiked near the start: it was misguided.

Admission: I'm irritated by the news media's propensity to attack success and applaud failure, hence my verbosity on this particular incident.
You are assuming that assignment to gardening column is punishment, yet he is back to writing about technology. Maybe, it was really about conflicts of interest. One can argue that your "spin" on the events is quite biased by assuming that NYT is biased enough to kill a story, punish the journalist and lie about it. Starting by that assumption, you can use pages of ink regarding anything and anybody ranting about how evil they are.

orangebluedevil
Jan 17, 2013, 02:39 PM
In this case, he mainly went undercover to make sure WHO he was didn't make people judge what he did differently - either as a plus or minus.

Wait, so you're saying people go undercover to conceal who they really are? Tell me more. :cool:

He went undercover to get the inside story...and he came out with nothing, obviously because it was successful, but that is my point. He told us nothing.