FutureRuby & MobileOrchard

futureruby-small-202x300Pete Forde and the gang at Unspace are hosting another kick ass conference about Ruby. FutureRuby is the evolution of RubyFringe. (I’m not sure why the decision to use a Maoist propaganda theme for the art direction, but it looks great. Perhaps it’s a way to fight the Imperialist regimes of Java and .NET).

RubyFringe is an amalgamation of a series of events focused on Ruby and emerging platforms including the browser, the mobile phone and other devices. 

Dan Grigsby who runs MobileOrchard is hosting an "Beginning iPhone Development Workshop” as part of the FutureRuby activities. It is great to see developers like Dan understand the power of mobile devices, and the ability to use their repertoire of developer tools to build for an emerging important platform. Being able to build custom web applications for iPhone, native iPhone applications in Objective-C (haven’t written Objective-C since I worked on a NeXT box in 1994 at UWaterloo). Joey deVilla talks about why mobile is the platform for the next billion users and why netbooks are a red herring for computer manufacturers. Why I might consider the MobileOrchard workshop:

Walk in Thursday morning with no previous Objective-C, Cocoa, or iPhone development experience; walk out — and over to FAILcamp — having built apps that incorporate location, motion and email. On Friday you’ll build table/ navigation style apps (e.g., Apple’s Mail and Contacts app) with persistent data storage, hybrid web/native apps, apps that consume ActiveResource RESTful APIs, and more.

Pretty compelling 2 day class.  There are a lot of things I like about FutureRuby, FAILCamp and the MobileOrchard workshop.


What: Future Ruby Leaders of Tomorrow, Today!
Ticket Admission includes (but not limited to): – Admission to all daytime tracks and impromptu celebrations – Breakfasts and lunches brought to you by the award-winning chefs of the Metropolitan hotel – Free transportation provided by FutureRuby and the Toronto Transit Commission – Three nights of all-inclusive parties (live entertainment, drinks, food, DJ's, surprises, plus epic dinner July 11th) – Killer swag – Noise workshops! – Discount hotel rates at The Metropolitan Hotel – Please note: Tickets are non-refundable, but are transferrable.
When: Thursday, July 9, 2009 (all day)
Where: Metropolitan Hotel

108 Chestnut Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1R3   Canada
What: Mobile Orchard Workshops Present: Beginning iPhone Programming For Rubyists
Walk in Thursday morning with no previous Objective-C, Cocoa, or iPhone development experience; walk out that same day having built apps that incorporate location, motion and email. On Friday you’ll build navigation-style apps (e.g., Apple’s Mail and Contacts app) with persistent data storage, hybrid web/native apps, apps that use Ryan Daigle’s iPhone On Rails/ObjectiveResource to consume ActiveResource RESTful APIs, and more. The class mixes practical project examples with Objective-C and Cocoa-Touch fundamentals like memory management, protocols and delegates, properties and categories.
When: Thursday, July 9, 2009 (all day)
Where: Metropolitan Hotel

108 Chestnut Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1R3   Canada

socialDeck – Rockstar Engineer

Toronto, ON

Position: Rockstar Engineer opening at funded startup – socialDeck

Meet socialDeck

We’re building a platform for cross platform gaming — technology that enables games to be played between mobile and the web.  Think playing games from your iPhone to Facebook to BlackBerry to MySpace.  Our founders are ex-Amazon and ex-Microsoft rockstar developers and both are ex-Waterloo. Our first iPhone game, Shake and Spell is already live on Apple’s AppStore (it’s a top 100 application).  We are all about work and play hard and believe employees are our biggest asset.  We are funded by a tier 1 VC and located in a King West loft space with 22 ft ceilings and a badminton court inside.  Drinks every Friday.

Rockstar Engineer

Ready to kick some tail and have an amazing time doing it? How about working with the most cutting edge technologies, applying them to the next generation of gaming? We are looking for the brightest and most talented software engineer who will work with the platform team on building out our gaming platform in the cloud.  He/she will design and implement highly-scalable server systems to connect to the world’s most popular networks.  He/she will also be involved in building our client frameworks for iPhone, BlackBerry, Facebook, and Android.  Sound like fun?

The nitty gritty; we’re looking for people with:

  • iPhone: You’ve worked with Objective-C and understand the basics of the iPhone APIs
  • J2ME/BlackBerry/Android: You’ve worked with J2ME and understand the design and development constraints associated with building for a mobile platform
  • J2SE, Hibernate, Spring: You have worked with the Java/Hibernate/Spring stack and can get a simple web app up in no time
  • Linux, Tomcat: You’re comfortable working in UNIX and have experience working with and tuning Tomcat
  • MySQL: You know some basic SQL and understand how to analyze and optimize DBs for scalability and performance
  • Web services (REST): You understand web services (specifically REST), both architecturally and operationally
  • SOA: You understand why SOA (Service-Oriented-Architecture) makes sense and how to build a loosely coupled distributed system using those principals
  • C/C++: You’re not afraid of pointers
  • Facebook: Experience with the API is a plus

If you don’t have all of the above, no sweat.  Let’s talk.

What we offer

  • Salary, generous equity + beer
  • Comfy chairs
  • Big monitors
  • A chance to change the world of gaming forever
  • Apply


Rogers and the iPhone

davidcrow kissing his iPhone

Jay Goldman and I picked up iPhones while at Mix08 and SxSWi. I think we have different experiences with the phones, but generally both are very positive and the key differentiator between a great experience and a good experience appears to be your dependency on Exchange support. Basically Jay runs iCal, Mail.app to connect to IMAP accounts and Google Calenders. I work at Microsoft and I rely on Exchange Server 2007 on my PCs, my Macs with Office 2008 and Entourage and on my Palm 750 on Rogers.

The question continues to come up as to why we haven’t seen the iPhone picked up by one of the Canadian carriers. The conversation can focus on the third world have cheaper data than Canada. It can be about the pricing of contracts or devices in Canada. It comes down to some very simple business considerations:

  • Cell phone market penetration is high
  • High fees and high ARPU
    • Canadians cell bills are double that of Americans
    • ARPU = Average Revenue Per User
    • Canadian Wireless providers in 2007 had an ARPU of $56 which is high when compared to other countries
  • Apple’s outrageous (good on ‘em) ARPU share
    • The relationship between AT&T and Apple has been described as an ”$18/month ARPU share)
    • Canadian non-voice ARPU is currently less than 10% of existing ARPU meaning Canadian wireless providers see this as an opportunity to increase the ARPU
    • Canadian non-voice services at 10% of ARPU is lower than the US non-voice ARPU which has been reported in the low to mid teens
  • AT&T plans are lower than most Canadian plans
    • AT&T plans start at $59.99/month and work up to a true unlimited plan at $119.99/month
    • As an example, my current Windows Mobile plan on Rogers is $80 for 500Mb + $25 for 250 minutes + $8 Every Call Value Pack includes Voice Mail and Call Display + $6.95 systems access fee = $119.95/month + taxes. And this doesn’t cover long distance across Canada, and it certainly doesn’t cover roaming or roaming data when I’m in the US.
    • Given the Canadian dollar is at parity, I’m paying approximately double for less service than the $59.99/month AT&T plan

So the market is saturated, or at least very close to being saturated in urban centres. Let’s make some assumptions that all of the high value long time customers already have data plans and long-term contracts. These users switch phones on a regular basis because they derive status from the latest, greatest device. They probably don’t need or want to switch carriers. Coupled with the ARPU is the highest in North America. Data and non-voice services are currently less than 10% of the ARPU number and expected to grow. What advantage would Rogers have for negotiating a deal with Apple?

Unlike AT&T with aggressive rates to entice and retain existing customer, Rogers and other Canadian carriers are entrenched. Churn rates are around 2% and I wonder what churn looks like in higher value, higher spend customers. Canadian carriers have the highest ARPU around. Apple has been insistent on changing the wireless model by removing hardware subsidies and driving rates down on necessary data services. What part makes you think that Rogers, Telus or Bell is going to give up $10-18/month of ARPU and drive the overall service costs down?

Particularly when people like me and Jay Goldman are just buying iPhones in the US and running ZiPhone and upping our plans to handle more data. Well we might see an iPhone in Canada, but it won’t be for a while, after the carriers have milked additional ARPU out of the current set of non-voice services.

It makes me wonder where the CRTC is in all of this?