We started ThinkFlood back in September of 2007. At the time, we had a name, but not much else. We knew we wanted to do something that involved both software and hardware, with the goal of making some everyday tasks better and easier. We decided to start working on a device for managing, sharing, and displaying digital pictures, with special attention to interfaces and making digital photos more accessible and useful.
For the next few months we developed our ideas around digital photos. We began prototyping software and hardware for a device, and we shopped our ideas around to investors. As these ideas materialized, we asked consumers what they thought. The results of these surveys became a wake-up call to us: it was going to be really expensive to market this stand-alone product, and people were not willing to pay for some of the things that were key to our business model.
Around March of 2008, we decided to change our approach. Rather than create a standalone product that was expensive to market and to develop and had a dubious revenue stream, we were going to piggy-back on existing products. Just as we were trying to figure out which products to go with, Apple annouced the release of their official iPhone software development kit (SDK).
The iPhone seemed like a perfect platform for our ideas. In many ways, the phone resembled the handheld controller that we had designed for our photo product, and there was this great SDK that made it easy to create our application. Almost immediately we started working on an iPhone version of our software.
By April we realized that we had not solved our problems yet. The issue was that we really could not see how a native iPhone app could resolve the revenue issue. One thing we learned from our marketing research is that consumers just are not willing to pay much (if anything) for software anymore. Software on the Internet has become synonymous with free, and it did not seem like that would change on the iPhone. Okay, maybe we could charge $0.99 per download or try to drum up advertising support, but the numbers just did not work out for us — only a very few ideas can generate the kind of scale necessary to make this kind of business work. Besides, we aren’t keen on advertising in general.
And so one night in April we all sat down in a back room at the Gold Star India restaurant in Framingham to figure out what we should do. We decided that we really liked the idea of accessorizing the iPhone. Not only were we big fans, but it seemed that there was huge potential as a mobile computing platform, and its popularity should help us with our marketing efforts. We were also positive that our focus on usability and including hardware in that picture was the right choice.
We tried to distill these thoughts down to their very essence, and that’s when the eureka moment came. There is nothing more purely about interface than a remote control. What is more, with the proliferation of entertainment devices in our homes today, remote controls themselves have proliferated and become more complex and unwieldy. In the iPhone we saw the opportunity to change all that: we could turn the phone into a personal remote control — the only one you will ever need, one that you will carry with you wherever you go, customized for each activity. And since the iPhone is missing the ability to record and send infrared signals, there was our opportunity to complete the picture with hardware.
The result is the RedEye personal remote control system. We think it’s great — not just as an essential iPhone accessory, but also as the ultimate evolution of the remote control.