FW Editor: Balooba Software has an impressive portfolio. Can you tell us more about your most important applications?
Peter Berglund: Sure! Balooba makes apps both for the Mac and for iOS devices. On the Mac side, Safari Prairiefire is currently our largest product in terms of sales. If we go back 3+ years, this title went to BubbleGym which actually was the first tilt motion-controlled app for any computer! That is hard to believe these days with all motion controlled apps available for the iPhone. But when BubbleGym was made there wasn't even a Wii console yet so this was truly a novel concept for people, and it got a ton of attention. Another interesting product that got hundreds of thousands of downloads was the Mirror Widget. It was the first software mirror that used the iSight camera and this function was featured in the Devils wear Prada movie. On the iOS side, Skip Ahead is our best-seller. It is an app that allows people to operate the iPod player even though he/she is occupied with something else. It is therefore very popular among folks that listen, usually to podcasts, while driving a vehicle.
FW Editor: Beside software, you have also released a 'clothing line' which includes shirts, kids clothing, pets clothing and some funny stuffs. Can you tell us more about this concept? What's the connection between software and clothing?
Peter Berglund: Haha! I'm not sure if there is a logical connection at all. This idea really came from realizing how popular the cure Babylooba icon (beautifully drawn by Andreas Ekberg, www.byandreas.com) became when the app was first released. Parents and kids thought it was cute to have it on a mouse pad, mug or a baby toys or shirt for example :) It is obviously a tiny part of our business and generates to profit whatsoever for us, but we think it's fun and cool so we see no reason to take it away.
FW Editor: Babylooba is one of your most popular applications. Can you tell us a few things about it?
Peter Berglund: I decided to make it for a friend of mine when he got his daughter. We noticed that there were plenty of games made for kids at the age 2 years and above but almost nothing out there that was suitable for babies. And surprisingly this is still the case! Typically, these apps are supposed to be good for "learning" which means that the developer thinks the kids will enjoy having let's say a Monkey popping up when the kid hits the M key because the word 'Monkey' begins with the letter M. In general, the companies selling these apps hope that parents will buy advanced products hoping that their kids will become more advanced users. While these apps can be fun for toddlers, they are far too complicated and confusing for babies. A baby has never seen a monkey and has no reason to look at individual keys on the keyboard, these skills are developed many months later in life. A 4 month old will typically find that the most interesting piece of the new teddybear is the wash label! But still, the computer, iPhone or iPad can be made into an amazing toy for a baby with the right software. What makes Babylooba so fun for babies is that it so dramatically teaches the baby that there is a connection between an action (hammering the keyboard or iPhone display) and what happens on the screen. My 7 month old nephew will smile and hyper ventilate as soon as he sees my sister's iPad or iPhone. The game is a huge success on the Mac and in our beta testing it has been even more popular for the babies when run on an iOS device. The intimate connection between the hand and the touch display make it perfect for iOS. The key is the scaled-down interface and the entertaining sound effects. For these babies, less is clearly more in terms of UI. As a fun side note, the sounds were all created by my friend with the baby I created the game for (Branimir.net).
FW Editor: Safari Prairiefire allows you to manage a Safari Bookmark without going to Safari. How is that possible?
Peter Berglund: The bookmarks are all stored in a preferences file in the users Library folder. Normally this file isn't something a user will ever open but Safari Prairiefire parses, reads and writes directly to this file. This also has the advantage that it automatically can and will create a backup copy. Therefore, the original bookmarks are never lost even if the user decides to delete or modify some. Every bookmark site is actually loaded internally by Safari Prairiefire during the scan. This happens without actually rendering a page so it's blazing fast.
FW Editor: Based on which filters are identified and removed the 'dead links'?
Peter Berglund: The most commonly known error for a dead link is the "404 - Not found" error which most people have seen. But servers can respond with a large number of error codes depending on what went wrong or almost wrong. Safari Prairiefire displays these codes and explains them so the user can make an informed decision whether to keep, delete or modify the bookmark links. For example, it is common to bookmark a sites we visit without realizing that actually bookmarked a link to a specific news article, for example, when we actually intended to bookmark the link to the actual news site. The user might have though he/she bookmarked http://cnn.com but because of how Safari works, the bookmark was pointed to "http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/social.media/11/09/facebook.firing/index.html?hpt=T2", because that happened to be the precise page loaded when the site was bookmarked. These links are of course often removed from the servers and represents one of the most common reason to why we hae so many dead links that clutter our browsers. Safari Prairiefire will display the links and error causes clearly and the user can then manually choose to edit them if he or she wants.
FW Editor: Safari Prairiefire comes with a Demo version. Are there any major differences between Safari Prairiefire Demo and Safari Prairiefire Full (beside time limitation)?
Peter Berglund: There is actually no time limitation. People hate demo versions, especially when they make the user irritated by suddenly quitting for example. Safari Prairefire is distributed as a shareware but we decided to make the demo version as useful as possible and give a clear feel for what the full version will do. In the demo version, the user can scan a large portion of the bookmarks, but not the whole enchilada. Also, no permanent changes to the bookmarks are made in the demo version. But nothing will for example prevent a user from scanning his/hers bookmarks and then manually change them inside of Safari itself. That brings this part of the functionality for free and that is perfectly fine with us. We hope that some users will appreciate the convenience of being able to do everything in the same window and that they will want to pay for that. The full app is currently $6 so for most users this is considered affordable.
About this interview