Mike Swanson

After working at Microsoft for more than a decade, Mike Swanson left his job as an evangelist for the Redmond company in September to launch a startup … based on his successful iPhone and iPad apps.

This was not what originally set out to do.

For one thing, Swanson prefers Windows Phone’s development environment to the programming language for iPhone apps. But before Microsoft’s new mobile platform debuted, the iPhone was the logical path available to him in 2009 when he decided he wanted to get a taste of mobile software development.

In fact, as he explains in a blog post, he specifically tried to keep his apps out of the limelight, starting with one called 3D Camera for creating and sharing 3D images.

“I created a ‘novelty’ app primarily because I didn’t have time to maintain servers or other back-end infrastructure, and I wanted a fun app that nobody would depend on,” Swanson writes. “I also needed an app that the press wouldn’t find very interesting. After all, my day job was still as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, and nobody needed that article.”

Swanson didn’t put much thought into the name he picked for his project — Juicy Bits — not thinking it would become a company.

His apps took off nonetheless. His latest, Halftone, gives photos the style of old newspapers and comics (at right). It has attracted about 1 million users who have used it to create more than 5.5 million photos on iPhone, iPad and iPad touch since its February release.

Swanson writes, “So, in the summer of 2011, it hit me: I’m having so much fun writing mobile software for Juicy Bits, why don’t I make it my full time job? After discussing the idea with some trusted friends, I decided that I would leave my job at Microsoft after we completed our BUILD event in September, 2011. After 11½ wonderful years, September 30th, 2011 was my last day at Microsoft.”

It’s a great story, and you can read the whole post here.

Considering his background, I asked Swanson, why not Windows Phone apps?

“While I’d love to write Windows Phone apps (IMO, Visual Studio and C# are still a lot friendlier than Xcode and Objective-C), my experiments led me to iOS, and that’s where I’ve found some degree of success,” he said via email. “I’ve had requests for both Android and Windows Phone versions of my apps, and it’s absolutely something that I think about. As you can imagine, the decision to support two different platforms—given that I’m a one-man operation—is a significant one.”

Swanson’s company is Juicy Bits Software, and you can follow him on Twitter @juicybits.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Syber71

    Bring to WP7 please, sound like great apps.

  • Anonymous

    Even a former Microsoft Evangelist who states they would prefer to make apps for Windows Mobile is making their living on iOS. The writing is on the wall.

    • Yetter

      When he made the app in 2009 WP wasn’t available to consumers period.  You can’t blame the man for wanting to make an app that people actually had the ability to use

    • Anonymous

      Yes the writing says he started out on the platform that was available to him in 2009, he was one of the lucky one-man shops that got a decent selling app in the App store, and since he is a one-man shop the decision to support multiple platforms will take some serious consideration. What point were you trying to make, or was that your failed attempt at trolling?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=703848523 Harvey Lubin

      Re: Odog4ever & Yetter
      The point that dbabbage is making is quite clear.

      In 2009, iOS was NOT the only mobile OS he could have written apps for, and it was certainly not the most popular mobile OS.

      There was an existing base of Windows Mobile phones he could have written apps for. Also, at the time, Blackberry OS and Symbian were on many more mobile phones than there were iPhones.

      Also, Android OS and Palm OS/Web OS were available in 2009.

      The reason he obviously chose to develop for iOS was because it was the most lucrative for developers (and that monetary share is still growing).

      • Guest

        Actually his point isn’t clear at all and is really OT to the story. In 2009 iOS was the most popular smartphone OS and had the most momentum for apps and app development by far. A MS “evangelist” or anyone else looking to make money doing mobile development at that time was going to focus on iOS, not WM or BB.

        That’s already begun to change and he has being asked to look at other platforms, specifically Android (which has now overtaken iOS in share) and even WP. So what “writing is on the wall”? That iOS used to be the default place to go but after just three years no longer is?

  • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

    That’s the thing.  Customers are still on iPhone, but developers don’t like it.  The novelty has worn off, and Objc + Cocoa is a really primitive environment.  But, the web still runs on PHP, so maybe we’re stuck with the iPhone SDK for the forseeable future.

  • Dinky

    Might be friendlier to develop in windows, too bad that using in Mac OSX is worlds more preferable.

    Maybe the development will all change when the apps live in the cloud. No problem with seeing Apple stumble. They’re treating the pro multimedia people that saved their bacon like yesterday’s news anyway.

Job Listings on GeekWork