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Thoughts on an idea for a web/smartphone app


chibineku
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I have an idea for an iphone app that I will need significant help with, both from an implementation point of view and from businesses / organisations like the FSC. So I want to put my idea to the organizations first before starting a long road to implementation. I know there are cheap and easy ways to copyright ideas - write a detailed description of it, along with sketches, and mail them recorded delivery to yourself, for example. But is it worth posting my idea here, where a remote server not accessible by me will timestamp my post? Or is that not something that will hold up? I'd like to post it here to get feedback on how workable the idea is, as well as whether you guys like it. But I don't want some visiting vulture to nick my idea and develop it faster.

Edited by chibineku
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Anything you write is copyright, I believe, even if it is just scribbled on a piece of paper and shoved in a drawer. However, as for asserting that copyright... maybe you should talk to your solicitor?

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Yup - first I need to get a solicitor. I've never had occasion to have one.

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Okay, so I have done the cheap copyright of detailing my app idea and sending it recorded signed for delivery, so now I can canvas for opinions on it.The idea is simple and comes in two flavours.

  1. iRainforest - you buy the app for say £5 and when you open it you are presented with a google map of the Amazon rainforest. Areas with existing forest are in green and areas which have been deforested are red. You have one tree which you can drop anywhere you like in the red area and the coordinates are stored on your phone and the remote server.Within a fortnight, someone will plant your tree and you can track it on Google Earth. This tree will be part of a protected conservation project and will remain there for as long as the project can sustain.
  2. My Tree - this time, instead of the Amazon rainforest, your tree is planted in an FSC managed sustainable forest and, when your tree comes to term (15-25 years) you will get a share of the profits. This app will cost slightly more.

Both ideas sound a bit out there, but there are companies I feel sure I could get on board. For a start there is a company in London that sells shares in the Amazon rainforest to make it a more profitable business keeping it alive than cutting it down - no mean feat, given that a virgin tree can fetch up to £40,000. With more and more people concerned about the environment and keeping it habitable for humans and species found only in the rainforest, I think the apps would get a good reception, especially because they give you something real for your contribution. Often when you give to a charity, you feel that your small donation will have no impact. Now it will, and you can track and view your tree - even visit it, should you want to.Thoughts?

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i imagine you could do the same thing a website, not just necessarily an phone app, right? Not to knock the concept, but the medium can be flexible, correct?I guess being able to invest in a tree is nice, but would it only be to get money out of it when it gets cut down, as opposed to the straight nobility of helping?

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It could very well be a web based thing as well, but I want to use the show-off chic of smartphones, as well as piggy back the painless one-click-payment that iTunes (in particular) already has in place. I want those inclined to discuss any new apps they've DLed to show their friends and their friends to go 'oh, cool, I'm going to DL that!'. It's recommended that all iphone apps have a website with information on how to use it, how to contact the developer, etc., so I could easily build a web based version and host it there.The noble conservation app is the rainforest version which offers no return, but I figure that FSC approved sustainable forests are run as businesses, so why not help them while also offering an investment to customers? Perhaps people will buy one of each and two trees will get planted.

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I getcha. I'm not much of a phone "app" person myself, but I like the concept, so doing it from the web is definitely a good backup. I like the idea of joining in to buy forests for reinvestment purposes, but it would be nice to know that that money is also going back into reinvestment purposes as well, some percentage any. In a self-fulfilling sort of way, so that way old trees pay for new trees, and investors get a bit of the cut.also, for those interested (since I didn't know either),FSC - Forest Stewardship Council (fsc.org)edit:I suppose I could answer my own questions by viewing the above page and doing some research on their business model myself, :)

Edited by thescientist
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I e-mailed the company in London, called canopycapital, and the director got back to me within a few hours saying that he thought it was an interesting idea for an app, and wanted to know if I had a prototype he could see. I don't, unfortunately. I have been having health problems for a couple of years and they've rather come to a head in the last few weeks, and it's unlikely that I'll be able to see the project through. If anyone wants the idea, they can have it.

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No one is ever going to pay £5 for such an app. Make that £0.99 and you might get to some kind of success. The ideas are nice, but they require a lot of legal procedures. And before you go on with anything legal, you'll have to prove you can build the app, which means getting a programmer (which also involves a deal of money) or building it yourself, which involves learning the Cocoa Touch framework (which includes Objective-C -- a very weird language -- as well as getting a Mac if you haven't already got one) and some APIs.Again, the ideas are very good, but it would be a lot easier to just sell it to some bigger player, who can take care of all the technical, legal and financial sides.Regarding making that a web app... yes, especially if you make good use of different frameworks which try to mimic a native application's look and feel.On a funnier note, make that "Within a fortnight, someone will plant your bomb and you can track it on Google Earth." and I'm in. :)

Edited by 23.12.2012
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And before you go on with anything legal, you'll have to prove you can build the app
Building the software is nothing. The difficult part is finding the legal authority and local logistics to go out and plant a tree wherever someone decided to "drop" it. Hopefully they don't land on a village or farm. Most of the deforested land has been cleared for either crops or cattle, I'm not sure if the people running those would appreciate it much if someone showed up to plant a tree because someone on the internet decided it should go there.
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In fact, building the software is quite easy - there is a technique for turning HTML, CSS + JavaScript into native Cocoa apps using XCode on the mac. So learning a variant of C is entirely optional - the hardware is made available through JavaScript.Thanks, thescientist. It's, um, rather serious, and recovery is unlikely, but I appreciate the thought.

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