Physician developer’s experience with moving his popular iPhone and Android medical apps to Windows Phone 7

Recently, I was using a Windows Phone 7 device in order to see what types of medical apps were on the platform.  There wasn’t much — understandable since Windows Phone 7 is a relatively new mobile phone operating system. However, I did find a useful medical app.  To my surprise, Med Mnemonics, an application we’re fans of on iMedicalApps, had already been converted over for the Windows phone.

Evan Schoenberg MD,  is the creative mind behind Med Mnemonics and a host of other medical apps for iOS devices — notably, his iOS applications work not only for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but are also customized for the iPad as well. Schoenberg, a physician, has a remarkable background worth mentioning. He is the lead developer of Adium, an open source Mac chat client that I actually started using years ago. Within days of release, its recent version 1.4 was downloaded more than half a million times alone. On top of all this, after finishing med school at Emory School of Medicine, he is now doing his residency training at the Tulane University Department of Ophthalmology in New Orleans, LA.

The following is a question answer session we had with Schoenberg.  We asked him his thoughts on the transition to Windows Phone 7, how his apps have been received for iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and Android, and what the future might hold for Windows Phone 7.

Why choose to go to Windows Phone 7?

The future of mobile is definitely bigger than a single platform. There’s a lot of talk in the media about whether iOS, Android, or WP7 will win, but I think that’s short-sighted; the market is big enough, and people’s wants and needs varied enough, to support all three as viable app platforms.  We want to be part of that.

What are some of the advantages of the platform verse iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android.  What are some of the negatives?

My personal programming and design experience, prior to iOS, was with the Mac, and iOS was a very straightforward transition for me from Mac.  Similarly, Mark, my lead Windows Phone 7 developer, has a strong Windows application background, and he found theWP7 language and standards to be an easy transition for him.  The similarity to Windows development is a strength or a weakness depending on one’s own area of expertise, but it’s definitely a strength for the platform overall that there are a large number of programmers out there who can adapt to WP7 without too steep a learning curve.

As a platform experience, I think that it’s very different from iOS and Android; they’ve rethought some of the basic interactions, and the UI is a definite departure.  I like that sort of innovation.  Will users love it?  Time will tell.

The WP7 phones haven’t really penetrated into consumer space yet, and the market is not nearly as established as other platforms.  Windows Phone 7 is still young.

How has Med Mnemonics been selling for Windows Phone 7 in comparison to the iOS and Android operating systems?

Medical Mnemonics is available for iOS (universal for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad), Android, and WP7, with the same content – over 1600 mnemonics for healthcare trainees and professionals, organized by discipline and system and fully searchable.  Features, such as adding custom mnemonics and submitting them for inclusion in future versions, are available on each platform.  On all three, it is priced at $1.99.

In the 3 week period for which we have revenue data for WP7 so far, Medical Mnemonics on WP7 sold 2% as many copies as it did on iOS.  By comparison, the Android version sold 10% the number of its iOS sibling.

Perfect OB Wheel (iTunes) is available for iOS and WP7.   The relative sales between platforms are about the same as with Medical Mnemonics.

I’m very pleased with both apps’ receptions so far in a global sense. Sales on WP7 are lackluster, however, but – like Microsoft itself – we’re still waiting for WP7 phones to proliferate, and I’m sure that will improve the numbers.

How long did it take to port the medical apps over to Windows Phone 7?

A couple months total, including time to learn the pertinent architectural and development patterns.  If the platform takes off, the work so far will also make an excellent foundation for several other app ideas we have, which would include porting other successful apps from our iOS portfolio.

Do you have to worry about issues with fragmentation (versions of the app not working on particular phones), as is often the case for Android?

We haven’t had to worry about it so far, but there isn’t a lot of different hardware out there yet, either.  Microsoft is taking an Apple-like approach to controlling hardware standards, insisting that devices conform to certain criteria, and I think that will minimize or alleviate fragmentation moving forward.

Was it worth the effort?

As I mentioned before, this is part of a multi-platform strategy. It’s hard to know in advance how individual platform penetration may affect sales, and WP7 is very new to the playing field.

We want to make sure that anyone with a smartphone can access our apps and an excellent experience.  It’s exciting to be part of WP7 as it grows; I hope that if you ask me the same question again in 6 months or so, the answer will be a resounding yes.  Right now, it’s really too soon to say.

Links to WIndows Phone 7 apps by Evan Schoenberg:

Med Mnemonics

Perfect OB Wheel

You can find a complete profile of the iOS (iPhone & iPad) applications by Evan Schoenberg here: http://regularrateandrhythm.com/

Author:

Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of iMedicalApps.com. Emergency Medicine Faculty and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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2 Responses to Physician developer’s experience with moving his popular iPhone and Android medical apps to Windows Phone 7

  1. Marc-Emile January 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Thanks for sharing!

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