Squibner LLC is an independent iOS and OS X development shop based in Hinsdale, Illinois. Squibner is run by John Voorhees and his son, Owen, who has been doing iOS development since the introduction of iPhone OS in 2008. Squibner, which was formed in 2014, has several actively-developed apps on the iOS App Store including Blink: Better Affiliate Links, which is described below, Associate, an Amazon affiliate link generation utility, LogMyRun, a log book for runners and Drive, a utility that lets student drivers track their time behind the wheel. Squibner's first app, designed by Owen at age 11 is a math flash card game for elementary school-aged children called MathTime, which is still available on the App Store today.
"Blink is my new favorite way to create iTunes affiliate links on iOS."
— Federico Viticci
With the iTunes affiliate program you can link to media on the iTunes Store, the iOS App Store, the Mac App Store and the iBook Store and earn commissions from purchases made via those links, but creating affiliate links can be time-consuming and fiddly. Every link needs an affiliate token and if you use campaign tokens, it is tedious to track the tokens you use. Blink eliminates the friction of creating affiliate links by saving your tokens and other preferences so they are always available.
Blink is for anyone who has ever linked to an app, book, TV show, music or movie:
• Maybe you send links to the next book your book club is going to read;
• Or you have a Tumblr where you link to your favorite music and movies;
• Or you want to share the latest app you discovered with your Facebook friends.
With Blink you can make a link to share with just one person or a thousand, it's just as easy either way.
Blink is flexible. Use Blink to search across multiple stores simultaneously or convert existing links into ones supported by the affiliate program.
Blink is everywhere you need it. Blink has a powerful extension that makes link conversion available from other apps, so you can create links without switching apps. Blink also has URL scheme support, so you can incorporate it into workflows with other apps that support URL schemes.
"...this little utility is well crafted and immensely useful for me."
— Graham Spencer, MacStories.net
"The real power of Blink comes from its extension for frictionless affiliate link generation... without interrupting the flow of your work."
— Christian Zibreg, iDownload Blog
Vlcnr is a sound effect companion app for fans of Myke Hurley and Matt Alexander's Bionic podcast on the 5by5 network. Fair warning: if you do not listen to Bionic, you may not "get" this app. Those of you who are listeners, however, can now incorporate the suspense and drama of Vlcnr, Myke and Matt's, volcanic island-based start-up, into your everyday life.
Vlcnr is available free from the iTunes App Store.
I began writing for MacStories in late 2015 with a comprehensive guide to the iTunes Affiliate Program.
Since then, I have become a regular contributor to MacStories writing reviews, long-form posts, news posts, and a column that is published in the Club MacStories weekly newsletter.
The articles I have written for MacStories.net are available here.
Inexpensive software tools, coupled with the App Store have made it easier than ever for developers to reach a large audience. Distribution has been reduced to an implementation detail.
Yet, with barriers to entry being lowered, this also means that it’s never been more difficult to draw attention to your app. Nowhere is this more clear than the App Store where an app has to compete for attention with over a million others and prices continue to race toward free.
So, what does it take to get noticed on the App Store today? Just building a great app isn't enough. In March 2015 I launched Blink, an iTunes affiliate linking app, that by December was named one of Federico Viticci's "must-have" iOS apps of 2015 on MacStories.net. Here are some of the things I learned that worked for me with Blink:
Find a Gap. There are still gaps in the App Store, but are hard to find. Become a student of the App Store.
Serve a Niche. Whose needs are not being served by the App Store? Figure out who your prospective customers are and seek them out. Get their input. Know where they go for app information. Understand the press and how to communicate with them.
Become an expert. Be the go-to person for the problem your app solves. The research you poured into figuring out what app to make has value outside your app too. Write, podcast, and speak at conferences. Don't be shy.
"If you build it, they will come" has never really been true. Through my experience with Blink and interactions with other developers as a contributor at MacStories, I think I have some valuable lessons to share with other developers.
In the Spring of 2015, just as I was preparing to launch Blink, Myke Hurley, co-founder of Relay FM, interviewed me for his special 11-episode mini-series on independent app developers and the iOS app ecosystem.
Brett Terpstra interviewed me for Episode 82 of Systematic. We talked about some of our favorite iOS games, parallels between law and programming, iOS development and a wide assortment of picks. I had a terrific time chatting with Brett. You can listen below or download the episode and check out links to everything we discussed here.