American Idol for apps launches


Bottom line: Phill Ryu’s MyDreamApp contest launches — could the open source community take some hints from this exciting contest?

I got a chance to hang with Phill Ryu and a few other Mac dev types during WWDC and he told me about his soon-to-be-revealed plan for an “American Idol of Software”. Well, he’s let it out of the bag and ideas (and lots of coverage) are already starting to roll in to the project called .

The rules are rather interesting, since they leave the creator only 15% of month-to-month sales, with the rest going to the contest’s organizers:

Payment. If Your Submission is Accepted, You will receive royalty payment via PayPal equal to fifteen (15) percent of the net income of the Apple Macintosh-compatible product developed by MDA based upon Your Submission. Payments to You will commence 30 days after the product makes its first sale and will continue at 30-day intervals provided that the product is profitable.

On top of that, the inventor retains zero ongoing interest in the application’s intellectual property:

Ownership of Submissions. (I) When You send MDA your submission, You are assigning MDA all rights and interests – including all intellectual property rights – in the Submission, and MDA shall be the absolute owner of all rights and interests therein;

For some, these issues aren’t a big deal and if your idea isn’t chosen, well, you keep the rights. Besides, this is pretty standard boilerplate legalese given most contest rules — and with some pretty decent prizes and an opportunity to show off your wares to folks like Kevin Rose, Guy Kawasaki, David Pogue, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, it’s worth given up the IP rights for a chance at stardom… right?

Well, in spite of the hype, on the one hand it is. It’s pretty satisfying to see a bunch of independents and friends pull something together like this (though I didn’t realize how male-centric the Macdev community was!). It takes a lot of work and dedication to make this kind of thing happen, and so in some senses that 85% that they retain is a bet that the best ideas that come in will actually be lucrative enough to offset their efforts in organizing the contest.

On the other hand, and this should come as no surprise, I’d like to see something where the results are open sourced at the end (or at least given the choice of being open licensed), opening up the opportunity for more folks to get involved in the building out of a basic premise (and no, I’m not suggesting another centralized Cambrian House). In fact, I’d love to see the folks pick this one up and, I’m sorry to say this, but rather just than talk about it, put on your own DreamApp contest for the open source community and see what happens — hell, you’ve got the money, mindshare and, really, could use some love as the release of Firefox 2 approaches.

What better way to celebrate the launch of Firefox 2 then to sponsor a web-wide contest that results in something of real consequence for the open source community?

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

One thought on “American Idol for apps launches”

  1. I think this is a great chance for everybody to create something great. I also consider the 15% quite generous. After all, all you bring to the table is an idea, and every entrepreneur knows that’s not the hardest part of the business.

    The interesting part is that you have to fight for your idea. So, if I may say this, let the best salesman win!

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