One would think that in order to be successful, you’d have to be original and innovative. While in most cases this is true, and real innovators have a chance to grab a bigger part of the cake, others will use their skills and imagination to make a product which will reach the same success, if not even greater, than those that came before it.
There are several dozens of smartphone apps for remote control of your PC, if not even hundreds. Yet RemoterApp managed to get over 1.2 million downloads on the Nokia Store in a year and now it’s heading for other mobile platforms, starting with an iOS edition. This is a story of two teaching assistants from the Faculty of Organization and Informatics in Varaždin, Croatia and how their remote control application became globally recognized. This is the story of RemoterApp.
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Remoter started as an application which turns your Symbian/Symbian Anna/Maemo device into a remote controller for your PC. To start using it, you’ll need to install the server application on your PC (Windows only) and use your home Wi-Fi network to connect your phone to the computer. Now you can easily move your cursor and type messages from your bed using this free, simple application. What started as a simple project became one of the most popular Symbian apps, disregarding the fact that Symbian is supposedly dead.
It all started with a challenge Nokia had organized in collaboration with Vipnet, one of Croatia’s mobile providers. Boris Tomaš and Zlatko Stapić, colleagues working at FOI Varaždin (Faculty of Organization and Informatics) applied for the Vip Nokia Symbian Challenge. However, Remoter wasn’t victorious. Still, they released it to the (then called) Ovi Store.
They didn’t expect much of it at first, Zlatko Stapić says, however, they knew that Remoter had a broad spectrum of potential users. This proved to be true – after 20 days of being online, the Remoter got more than 75,000 downloads. Four months later, Remoter had 621,000 downloads, then one million, and now heading to get to 1,3 million downloads.
It may seem worthless, but keep in mind that Remoter wasn’t the first remote control app ever, it was an app with zero marketing budget. Yet it became so popular that people started posting videos of it on YouTube. Thanks to Remoter, FOI got listed as a notable developer for Nokia, becoming the only faculty in the world which holds that status.
Seeing that there was a huge interest in Remoter, the team decided to expand and create client applications for other mobile platforms. The first published was the iPhone client, which you can download from the AppStore free. The development however, Tomaš said, was outsourced to Planet 1107, an iOS development studio in Bjelovar, Croatia.
The iPhone app enables you to control your mouse pointer together with left, right and middle buttons. If you have to type something and you don’t feel like getting up, you can get the keyboard plugin via in-app purchase for $0.99 and get a complete virtual keyboard with all the arrows, special and function keys.
“The Remoter for Nokia phones does have an enormous download count, my hopes are that iOS app will reach the same result as well, especially once we create the Mac OS server component of the RemoterApp.”
Tomaš explained what’s next on the RemoterApp roadmap:
“The Windows Phone client should be released very soon, it took us a long time to prepare everything because the Marketplace wasn’t available here in Croatia. The Android client is also in development as should be released in a couple of months.
“After getting the RemoterApp to most mobile platforms, we’ll start working on server components for Mac OS and Linux systems along with an SDK (Software Development Kit) so that developers around the world can develop extra features for themselves and other RemoterApp users.”
Next time you want to watch a movie from the comfort of your bed, instead of having that massive keyboard on your belly and a mouse nearby, pick up your iPhone and get the RemoterApp. Even if you don’t need it, you should respect these small-sized projects that not only went global, but brought some fame to their local community as well. Go Remoter, go FOI.