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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:13 PM   #1
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New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App




The New York Post reports on Bob Tedeschi, 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.

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"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 on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Article Link: New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:18 PM   #2
lucasfer899
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Simply brilliant >.<
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:29 PM   #3
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Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:32 PM   #4
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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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:35 PM   #5
orangebluedevil
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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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:35 PM   #6
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:38 PM   #7
Pakaku
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
But now it's the geekiest gardening column ever.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:39 PM   #8
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
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...
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by orangebluedevil View Post
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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:04 PM   #10
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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
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 04:23 PM   #11
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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.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 06:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by tevion5 View Post
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?
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 04:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mr.damien View Post
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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:56 PM   #14
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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.

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Originally Posted by Dagless View Post
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.
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 09:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dagless View Post
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.)

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Originally Posted by japanime View Post
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.)
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 12:22 PM   #16
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I'm looking forward to this guy accidentally solving world hunger while researching a story for his gardening column.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:06 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Mr.damien View Post
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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 11:06 PM   #18
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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..."
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 01:17 AM   #19
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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 ...
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 03:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mr.damien View Post
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
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:34 PM   #21
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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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:40 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by KirkTheJerk View Post
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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 12:45 PM   #23
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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.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 07:25 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by KirkTheJerk View Post
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.
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Originally Posted by tobefirst View Post
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?
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Old Jan 16, 2013, 03:23 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by tobefirst View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
after the app proved so successful, he was moved from Gadgetwise to a gardening column.
According to that link:
Quote:
Mr. Tedeschi now writes the weekly App Smart column for the Personal Technology pages, and the Pragmatist column for the Home section.
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