Monday, January 26, 2009

Behind Mojo: An Interview with Deutsy Design’s Luke Steffen

As a follow up to last week's post on the iTunes file sharing application, Mojo, Deutsy Designs developer and founder, Luke Steffen, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions via email.

Here's the interview with Luke:

Thanks for taking some time to give my readers some background on the development of this great application. How did the idea for Mojo come about? When did you start development and why?

The idea for Mojo came about because of discussions between my roommate Robbie and myself. We both were constantly telling each other about new music we liked, but never had an easy way to transfer the music to each other. Before Mojo, in order to transfer music to another person you had very limited options available:

  1. Use some kind of instant messaging file transfer. This usually worked, but required the person with the music to initiate the transfer.

  2. Set up local file sharing via Samba or some other file transfer protocol. Most people I know wouldn't know where to start when it comes to file sharing. Plus there are a lot of other drawbacks for this method.

  3. Put the music on a flash drive and physically give the other person the music. This generally was the method we would use, however it requires you both to be together to make it work

Eventually we decided there had to be a better way to transfer music back and forth over the local network. We began designing Mojo on a trip to visit my cousins in Iowa in late 2005 and haven't stopped since.

What's Mojo's current usage and how quickly is it spreading? What are your plans to bring the application to the greater masses of iTunes users?

Mojo's current usage is a little hard to pinpoint because a large number of people only use Mojo over the local network. The number of people using Mojo over the Internet is much easier to quantify. We have over 100,000 registered users on our Jabber server. Mojo has been growing slowly but steadily over the past couple years. All our current growth has been exclusively based on word of mouth, and we plan on continuing that way for now.

Do you currently partner with Apple? If not, is a potential partnership in the future for Mojo?

No, we do not currently partner with Apple. In fact, Apple will not even post Mojo on their downloads page. This is most likely due to the file sharing nature of Mojo. We are open to possibilities for partnerships in the future, it's just not likely with Apple.

I'm a little confused on how the licensing works. Are you generating revenue today?

There is a free version of Mojo and a Pro version of Mojo. We are generating revenue from the sale of licenses for the Pro version. The free version of Mojo has a few limitations that are removed when you buy a Pro license. The major selling point for Mojo Pro is users are limited to 3 Internet buddies in the free version.

Have you had push back from the IRAA? Led by complaints from Dr. Dre and Metallica, these guys pretty much trashed Napster in the late 90's. Do you see the potential for the same thing to happen with Mojo?

We have not heard anything from the IRAA. There is a big difference between how Mojo works and how other music sharing applications such as Napster, Kazaa and Lime Wire, work. All of those music sharing applications make user's libraries available to every single person on the network. Mojo is a much more private and personal way of sharing music. You only share music with the users you have specifically added to your roster. This creates a much more responsible environment for users to safely find new music through friends and family.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced to date in launching this app?

Our biggest challenge to date has been finding enough time to work on Mojo. Starting out, both Robbie and I were in college and did not have the time or financial resources to work heavily on the project. On the technical side, I would say overcoming NATs to create direct peer-to-peer connections was and still is our biggest challenge. We have made major strides in this area using some cutting edge technologies such as STUNT (a NAT traversal technique).


I'm grateful that Luke was willing to share some background on his creation!

Have you tried Mojo yet? If so, what do you think? If not, why not?

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure it matters if your sharing your files via a large network (Napster, Kazaa etc etc) or sharing them between friends and family.

    Its still illegally transmitting those files, and does in fact leave it open to legal troubles. Thinking other wise would be pretty ignorant excuse to say other wise.

    If I buy a CD, its mine, not my friends and families, so I doubt the argument will hold up.


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