Lessons from Broadway

Quotebook isn’t our first app. In fact, it isn’t even the first app we released.

Some Backstory

Rewind two years. In the summer of 2009, we started working on an app idea that had never been done before. Our first app, Broadway, would be a show times application for theatergoers who wanted to quickly find theatre and ticket information about current and upcoming shows from their iPhone or iPod Touch as well as purchase tickets on the go. It would be the Fandango of the New York theatre scene. The only problem? We had no idea where to get that information.

After weeks of searching for any public database or API to access Broadway show time information, we finally stumbled upon a publicly accessible, albeit hidden, RSS feed from Thanks to Evan Doll and Stanford’s freely available CS193P class, we learned Apple’s tools and built our first iOS app, before it was even called iOS.

Little Kids, Big City

Then came the fun part. After we finished developing Broadway, an app that we were using and loving for weeks, we knew we desperately needed to find a partner for our content. After submitting what we had to Apple in order to secure the name “Broadway” in the App Store, we knew it was time to contact some Broadway companies. Of course, TheaterMania was at the top of our list. Our app was already engineered entirely with their data in mind, so it would be a painless process to work with them. Or so we thought.

Soon after, we saddled up and contacted a host of different Broadway companies. Soon, the meeting requests started pouring in, as every company seemed to want an iPhone app. A trip to New York City and a bunch of meetings later, we were feeling pretty confident about an acquisition.

The discussions with TheaterMania were especially exciting. They took a lot more notes and asked a lot more questions than we expected. Fresh out of our senior year of high school, we were inexperienced and unwittingly indulged their probing curiosity. After demoing the app in depth, they told us to see what other offers we could drum up. They explained that they were a small, privately held company, and that a web app was probably all they needed, but that as soon as they needed an iPhone app they’d give us a call.

Lesson 1: Compliments Aren’t Contracts

That call never came. After the initial flurry of interest, all the other companies slowly backed out one-by-one. For, it was their proprietary ticketing system. For Playbill, it was their dead tree business model. For Telecharge, it was their new website (with 3D modeling), which still hasn’t launched. For TheaterMania, it was the cost. After Darren Sussman and Gretchen Shugart spent hours telling us how impressed they were with our work, they disappeared. We thought our luck had run out, so we simply put the project on hold.

When TheaterMania released their app on the App Store, we were blindsided. We had no idea that they had changed their minds. We downloaded the app and to our dismay, had strong case of déjà vu. They had copied interface elements and ideas wholesale from the document and demos we provided them. But, we were the ones without a contract, without a clue, without any legal recourse whatsoever. Even though we shared no source code with TheaterMania (although they did ask), they had managed to [badly] emulate our ideas.

External image

With our app idea “borrowed”, no content partner, and little hope, we walked away from iPhone development.

Lesson 2: Constant Vigilance

Like all college freshman, we got busy. Not like that. Well, not as much as we would have liked. We didn’t forget about Broadway, but we did forget about its App Store approval. Having initially set the app to be released in the distant future, we failed to notice that the future had actually arrived…Oh shit. Unfortunately, TheaterMania had noticed.

The feed that TheaterMania’s CMS automatically generated with all of the Broadway show information, was suddenly, curiously gone and so too was all of the usefulness of Broadway. After thousands of downloads and some nasty reviews, we finally realized our mistake. Needless to say, Broadway is no longer available on the App Store.

Lesson 3: Keep Moving Forward

We learned a hell of a lot making Broadway, and when we stumbled across the idea for Quotebook, we knew we could do it again. It might seem trite, but there is something to that famous quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” (That’s going in my Quotebook). Quotebook’s success and all of your kind emails, tweets, and reviews have reminded us to keep moving forward. We can’t wait to show you what we’re working on next.

We’d love to resurrect Broadway, but the data still isn’t public. If you have the contacts or resources to help us make Broadway a reality, say

Here’s an old video if you’re interested:

We’re super excited to announce our newest app, Pinpoint, is available now for free on the App Store!

Get it while it’s hot.

You take screenshots. But sometimes you need to mark them up a bit before sharing them with your friends (or enemies). You know: point stuff out, blur out your business, jot down thoughts. Pinpoint’s got you covered.

With Pinpoint you can:

• See all the screenshots you’ve ever taken
• Draw arrows and boxes to pinpoint the important parts or the stuff that’s weird
• Write text to explain what you’re thinking
• Blur out your sensitive info to keep it from prying eyes
• Share your finished screenshot masterpiece with literally anyone
• Ditch the original screenshot so it’s not clogging up your photo library
• Get new colors so that you’re cooler than your friends

That’s it. It’s super simple by design. One thing: mark up your screenshots.

Lickability Launches Pinpoint

by Zack Zarrillo

My friend Brian Capps went indie from The Times a few months ago to focus on his development company, Lickability. I was very excited when Brian told me that the company had inherited Bugshot from Marco Arment and I’ve been looking forward to the app’s launch. It’s here. With Pinpoint you can:

  • See all the screenshots you’ve ever taken
  • Draw arrows and boxes to pinpoint the important parts or the stuff that’s weird
  • Write text to explain what you’re thinking
  • Blur out your sensitive info to keep it from prying eyes
  • Share your finished screenshot masterpiece with literally anyone
  • Ditch the original screenshot so it’s not clogging up your photo library
  • Get new colors so that you’re cooler than your friends

I recommend you download Pinpoint here.

It’s finally here.

After months of hard work redesigning and rewriting every screen in the app, we’re excited to share Quotebook 3 with you.

This update lets you add images and descriptions to your authors and sources, import quotes from your Facebook profile and Tumblr blog, and share your quotes to even more places. But more than that, it’s been carefully designed and engineered for readability and reliability.

Quotebook 3 is a free update for existing customers and it’s available today on the App Store in 4 new languages.

If you need any help, we’re here for you. Email us at or tweet at @quotebookapp.

Sponsor: Pinpoint

Pinpoint is a simple, fun way to mark up screenshots and send them to anyone. It’s a free app for iPhone and iPad that shows all the screenshots on a device and gives you the tools (arrows, boxes, text, and blur) to mark them up quickly and easily.

I’ve been using Pinpoint for weeks, and the folks at Lickability knocked the app out of the park. I highly recommend the app to any and all of our readers. In the past week, I’ve used Pinpoint to help my family navigate to the building I was graduating in and also to mark up some artwork corrections for an upcoming label project.

Sponsored via Syndicate

Quotebook 3: The Reviews Are In

Earlier this week, we released the third major version of Quotebook. Here’s what the press had to say:


We all have our favorite quotes, and the newly overhauled Quotebook app aims to help us store and organize them all. The app, with the kind of clean design we expect from Lickability, makes it easy to keep all of your favorite quotes in one place, with ratings, sources, tagging, and more.


Quotebook, developed by the folks at Lickability, has long been my favorite app to save and archive quotes and passages on the iPhone and iPad. 

Minimal Mac

Hopefully, this will help you see why I love the app so much and it has been on my home screen since the day it was released. The new version is certainly worth your time checking out.

Beautiful Pixels

I can’t believe the update is free because of how much has been added, let alone the brand new interface and the fact that it is universal. Quotebook is available on the App Store for $4.99 and is a free update for existing owners.

Tools and Toys

With today’s update, this universal app is better than ever. You can now add images and descriptions to your authors and sources, import quotes from Tumblr and Facebook, and share your quotes to apps like Tweetbot and Day One. 

512 Pixels

Quotebook 3 by the handsome young men at Likability is not messy or boring. Some of the best apps on iOS are ones that do very specific things. Quotebook is in that class.

Pete Denison

Developers say many things in press releases, however on this point from Lickability I most certainly concur:

Lickability has been and will always be concerned with all the small details that make apps great.


Quotebook is simply a delightful app that I have used for years to collect bits of wisdom from notable people, friends, and even my son. It’s not only perfect for quickly recording a great quote, but it makes returning to those quotes and reflecting on them frictionless.

'Going Indie'

by Zack Zarrillo

My friend Brian Capps was the Lead iOS Engineer for The New York Times up until last month when he put in his two weeks to go full time with Lickability, his app company. I’m proud of and excited for Brian, who’s leaving a pretty impressive and solid gig for one with broader, yet scarier, horizons. The quote below from Brian stuck out to me:

Six months. That’s how long we’ve given ourselves to make this work. Like with any business, it’s important to determine how to become profitable over a period of time. So, paying me a full-time salary, we’re going to be profitable in six months or I’m going to start looking for a new gig. As much as we’re idealists who would love to toil away on perfecting products, we understand the realities of starting a small business in a volatile industry. I’m confident that we’re going to meet and exceed our goal, but it’s necessary to have a realistic and well-defined metric for success, and profitability within six months is ours.

While PropertyOfZack’s business model is much different than Brian and Lickability’s needs, I relate. I’m excited to see where this goes.


Velocity 1.1 Released

We’re thrilled to announce the release of Velocity 1.1. This is our first feature release since Velocity 1.0 a few months ago, and it includes our most requested feature: Readability. You can now speed read your Readability reading list right from Velocity.

But we didn’t stop there. Since adding another source started to lengthen the list, we’ve also given you the ability to reorder and hide sources just like you can hide Mailboxes in Mail. Just tap the “Edit” button on the Sources screen and hide the Sources that you don’t need and reorder them however you want.

Download Velocity 1.1 on the App Store, or wait for your device to automatically update.