As the JAMM Developer Interview Series rolls on, we found ourselves visiting with Marc Tassin of Ilium Software this week. Marc and the team at Ilium are the masterminds behind programs like eWallet, a highly flexible personal information manager. Marc has shared some great behind-the-scenes information about Ilium Software, the programs they offer and his thoughts on the future of mobile computing. Check out the full interview below, and as you read, please note that JAMM’s questions are in bold face and Marc’s answers are indented.
Can you tell the readers at JAMM a little bit about the history of Ilium Software, and the mobile solutions it offers?
Ilium Software has a number of great products, and our most popular is eWallet, a secure information manager and password keeper application. eWallet is great because it not only keeps all your information safe using exceptionally strong encryption, but we do it in a way that is extremely natural and easy-to-use. That ease-of-use is vital since a solution only works if using it is easy – our simple, card-style interface really goes a long way toward that goal and it’s all supported by the best customer support in the industry.
How did you get into mobile developing?
The idea for Ilium Software was born with the Newton, although we started the company in 1997, developing apps for what was then the first version of Windows CE. We released a few games and entertainment apps, but have always concentrated on information management.
What makes your programs unique?
We build applications that really fit our customers’ needs and feel natural on the devices they are designed for. It takes experience to reach this point. Designing software for mobile devices isn’t like designing for any other platform – there is a lot that you can only learn by getting in there and doing it – and we’ve done it! Also, when you buy our products, you get better support than from any other company out there – I’m pretty sure we’re the only mobile developer with a toll free support line answered by people right here in our office.
How did you choose to develop the programs you currently offer?
Over the past decade we’ve seen an exponential growth in the amount of information that we, as consumers, are asked to keep track of. Back in ’97 we saw this coming and knew that it would only get worse. Software seemed like a great way to solve this problem – and when the Newton, Windows HPC, Palm Pilot, and similar handheld devices hit the market we said, “That’s it! That’s how you’ll keep track of this stuff!” We knew what we needed to do.
What mobile operating systems do you provide support for? Are you considering supporting any other platforms in the future?
We currently support iPhone and iPod touch, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Windows PC. We also still offer some of our products for Palm OS, and we have a preview version out of eWallet for Macintosh.
Can you tell our readers anything about upcoming projects you are working on?
We have quite a bit going on right now. Windows Mobile 7 looks very exciting and we’re working on eWallet for that platform. Naturally the iPad is a big deal, and we’re currently developing a version of eWallet optimized for that device. There is eWallet for Macintosh (we hope to release an update to the Preview version of it sometime in the next month). We also have ListPro for iPhone under development. And then we have a couple of top secret projects underway – some of those we’ll talk about quite soon – others you’ll have to wait on. Wish I could say more – it’s pretty exciting stuff. All in all we’re very busy people over here!
With all of the interesting twists in the mobile operating system arena, what predictions do you have regarding the future of mobile computing?
Technology has finally caught up with our dreams. As long as I’ve been in this business, the goal for consumers has been a robust, mobile, always-connected personal computing experience. We finally have that and, perhaps more importantly, we have it at a price the mass market can afford. On top of that, I believe that we as a society have finally hammered out just what we want our computers to do. Knowing that, manufacturers can deliver devices geared specifically toward that experience. Apple has proven themselves masters at understanding this. All in all, I think we’re going to see a major shift in how the mass market uses computers, a shift that moves most people away from PC’s and laptops, and onto slate computers and smartphones. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in relation to how big the mobile computing industry will be and it’s thrilling to be right in the middle of it.
Is there anything else that you would like readers to know about Ilium Software, your software or yourself?
We love to hear from our customers. It’s how we’ve made our products some of the best in the industry. We encourage people to try out our applications and let us know what they think! We learned a long time ago that we don’t have all the answers, but if we listen to our customers we’re sure to find them!
JAMM would like to once again extend our thanks for Marc for taking time to answer our questions.