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Archive for November 2011

Bottle Rocket's Commitment to Constant Improvement

One of our values at Bottle Rocket, is "be restless". To us this means never settling and always actively improving ourselves and our work. This includes the tools we use to run our business. One of the big initiatives we took in 2011 was implementing a new project management system so that we could get a better handle on how our resources were being allocated. In this past year, we have learned many things about the evolving project/process management of a rapidly growing company operating at the leading edge of design and technology.

Outdated Information Leads to Incorrect Results

Using a project management system is a great way to log tasks, have conversations, share files and collaborate. But, if you aren't keeping the system up-to-date constantly, no one will trust the data and use of the system will decline over time. If your Project Managers are not updating tasks as parts of the project change, then people are relying on bad data. You may be asking a team member to work late on something that isn't important or might not be utilizing an available resource during a window of opportunity. As a Project Manager, it's your responsibility to communicate to the appropriate internal team members and failure to do so leads to mistrust. Eventually entire teams will stop using the system and the process will fail. But when data is kept fresh, the system becomes the trusted source for accurate information and use skyrockets.

Timing is Everything

Before we got our new project management system, we were able to estimate the amount of time a project would take, but it was always a rough estimate. We now are recording time so that we can monitor employee's workloads and make sure our estimates are accurate. It was a strong conviction of the management team to make sure people understood why we were logging time - not to be the timesheet police, but to help maintain a work/life balance for our team members. Time tracking helps us determine when new resources are needed, forecast potential resource gaps and optimize our use of time.

You Won't Get It Right on the First Try

No matter how much set up time or training you have, the system will never be perfect when you begin. The important thing to remember is that implementing a new project management system can be a full-time job, especially in the first few months before and after the implementation. It's important to get people's approval on the system and get constant feedback and consensus from all disciplines in your business. If people see value in the system, they will use it. If not, your efforts will be wasted. Put yourself in the shoes of each person in your organization and ask yourself "how will this make me more efficient so that I can focus on what I really love to do."

Being a part of a company that has grown four times its size in the past year has been an amazing challenge. But with an unwavering focus on constant improvement and "being restless", it is a challenge that we have met successfully.

What challenges have you experienced as your company grows? We would love to get some insight or provide you some encouragement.


WIRED Magazine and Gizmodo Recognize Four of Bottle Rocket's Apps

WIRED, with partner Gizmodo, tested and rated more than 400 apps for the first-ever WIRED App Guide. The special issue, on newsstands October 4, rates apps on the 10-point WIRED performance scale, noting ‘WIRED’ and ‘TIRED’ features, price and on which platforms each app is available. Later this month, the WIRED App Guide will also be available as an app for iOS and Android smartphones. The app version of the guide will feature regular updates plus reviews of new and noteworthy apps from the editors of WIRED.

Both WIRED and Gizmodo recognize four of Bottle Rocket’s apps as essential apps in the 2011 WIRED App Guide of 400 Essential Apps.

The lucky winners include:

  • NPR News (editor's pick for News)
  • NPR Music
  • SPIN Play
  • Civil War Today

SPIN Play and NPR for iPad Recognized with 2011 Media Vanguard Awards

Bottle Rocket is proud to announce that SPIN Play for iPad and NPR's suite of apps including NPR for iPad, NPR News for iPhone/iPod Touch and NPR Music for iPhone/iPod Touch--all developed by Bottle Rocket Apps--have received the prestigious 2011 AdAge Media Vanguard Awards for Best Music Integration in a Tablet Edition in the Print-To-Digital category  and Best Radio App Suite in the Broadcast-To-Digital category, respectively.

SPIN Play wins 2011 Media Vanguard Award

Now in their second year, the Media Vanguard Awards honor next-gen media and draw hundreds of submissions in a wide variety of fields.  This year the MVAs have honored publishers and broadcasters like, HBO and other highly respected brands.  SPIN Media, NPR and other MVA winners were honored at the Media Vanguard Awards, which is part of the ME: Media Evolved conference, on November 15th in Manhattan.

SPIN Play for iPad and NPR's suite of apps have been featured on the iTunes App Store countless times, are included in Apple's iTunes App Store iPad Hall of Fame and have received extensive critical acclaim.  SPIN and NPR have shown that print and other traditional media outlets can have a nice home on mobile devices, if they embrace the platform.

SPIN Play for iPad is free to download from the AppStore and includes a daily feed of news and reviews from  SPIN Play also offers users access to premium issues which feature SPIN's industry leading editorial content, as well as 60+ steaming songs and 30+ streaming videos each month.  Each issue allows users to connect with their favorite artist in a way never before possible on any medium.

NPR's suite of apps include NPR for iPad, NPR News for iPhone/iPod Touch and Android and NPR Music for iPhone/iPod Touch and all are free to download.  NPR's apps offer a deep variety of content in News, Music, Arts and Lifestyle.  The apps also provide access to NPR's award winning content via podcasts, programs and thousands of streaming radio stations.  This is the second year in a row that NPR's apps have won the MVA in their category.

SPIN Play can be downloaded free at  An annual subscription is available for $7.99 via In-App purchase and single issues can be purchased for $1.99 each.  All NPR apps can be found in the mobile section of

Congratulations to Bottle Rocket's partners at NPR and SPIN Magazine for this tremendous honor!


Bottle Rocket Apps co-hosts Hackathon in Dallas with AT&T at the AT&T Foundry

Coding. Mobile.  Cloud.  APIs.  Good food.  Awesome prizes.

This past Saturday, the AT&T Hackathon introduced the the latest cutting edge tools to deploy your own app with a website backend, fully hosted in the cloud.  Alternatively, you can come pitch your idea and scout for developer talent, who can help you build your app!

Mobile App Hackathon, an event produced by the AT&T Developer Program, and Apigee was designed for attendees (technical & non-technical) to learn about new technologies, build apps/mobile apps, get fed, compete for prizes across different categories and most importantly: meet new people and scout for teammates to work on new or current projects.

This year Bottle Rocket helped AT&T host the event including providing an inspirational keynote and developer support throughout the day.

Dallas gave a tremendous showing with 111+ attendees and pumped out 17 apps. It was an especially exciting event because John Donovan and Jon Summers also stopped by the event incognito and chatted up the devs.

The winners are as follows:

  • 1st Place - Pastie Cam
  • 2nd Place - Meteor Mission
  • 3rd Place - myCost
  • SierraWireless 1st Place - Pastie Cam
  • Sierra Wireless Honorable Mention - Representus
  • Sencha Winner - CoachPlan

$50 Youngest Hacker Award - This prize went to the two youngest winners that participated in the hackathon. One young hacker had an especially great idea for a "magic watch", and received an iPod Nano watch as a special prize. Winners - Catch 22 for presenting a half way finished app! Apigee will be buying these guys an online class from so that they can deliver a full app the next time.


Calvin Carter's Talk at Open Mobile Summit, November 2-4

From killer app to killer business...

From November 2 through 4 in San Francisco, attendees at Open Mobile Summit & Appcelerate met the leaders of the mobile app economy and CEOs of the hottest app businesses on the planet shared the secrets to their success and their thoughts on the evolving landscape.  Our own Founder & President, Calvin Carter, was there speaking as an "App Idol."

Attendees talked to the developers and execs behind today's most successful apps, and they learned how to build and monetize killer apps – and securing long-term future in the open mobile economy.

Key issues discussed were:

  • The changing landscape for app development: Navigate the latest trends in platforms and app monetization, and understand key developments that will influence markets for apps in the next 12 months
  • The secrets to a successful mobile publishing business: Strategies to help you build, and maintain, a profitable business
  • Platform wars: Who's winning, which new platforms should you keep an eye on, and what's the latest in html 5, java and flash
  • Development techniques: How to accelerate your development time and reduce costs, plus practical tools to deal with fragmentatrion today
  • App monetization: The latest revenue strategies such as in-app monetization, microtransactions, freemium, subscriptions, advertising, lead-gen, and virtual goods
  • Adoption and Stickiness: How to generate rapid adoption, and keep people coming back for more!
  • Distribution: Navigate the very latest distribution models such as CPI, incentivized installs, and cross-promotions.
  • The Mobile UI: What you need to know about the role of design in attracting users
  • Analytics: Which app analytics you need to pay close attention to, and which can be sand traps
  • New market opportunities: From enterprise apps through to developing for tablets and devices "beyond the phone"




Recent News

One of Bottle Rocket Apps' latest applications has given a fast-food bird some new wings.

Chick-fil-A's latest version of its mobile app, released last week for iOS, allows customers to order and pay via their smartphone. The app allows customers to use the new features at more than 130 locations, with more expected to roll out in 2015.

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