Ordering a pizza in the box with the dots using an iPhone app might sound simple, but it required deep integration into Domino's e-store system, according to director of Speedwell eBusiness Solutions Brett Wiskar.
The Domino's Pizza iPhone application raked in $2 million in sales revenue in its first 12 weeks. (Pizza image by Sebastian Mary, CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Brisbane-based development company Speedwell had been working with Domino's since 2005 on the development of its web platforms, e-store and pricing engine, which were not simple tasks, Wiskar said.
"Part of the beauty of the Domino's system is making it look simple, but it is a ridiculously complicated offering in terms of the different pricing and the different geographies and vouchers," he said.
The Domino's iOS app, which has been downloaded over 775,000 times in Australia since its launch in November 2009 and over 35,000 times in New Zealand has been — in part — responsible for a 40 per cent rise in sales for the pizza company, according to the Domino's 2011 financial report. When iOS was first announced in 2008, Wiskar said that his team had developers who could code for iOS and it was Speedwell that approached Domino's with the idea to come up with an iPhone app.
"We were the people who understood their pricing and vouchers and logic and security and redundancies and how they communicate with their stores. It made sense that we would be the people that would build their mobile apps," he said.
"We spoke to them about it in 2008, but then having them understand it and have a desire to do it doesn't mean that the trigger could be pulled right away," he said.
Much of the development of the app had to be kept hush-hush, given the intense competition in the pizza industry, particularly against Pizza Hut. After the success of the launch, Pizza Hut quickly brought its own iPhone app to market, and Wiskar said this had an unintended benefit for Domino's.
"Domino's went back up to number two [in the App store]," he said. "[Pizza Hut] introduced their core market to ordering on a mobile device [and] Domino's saw a spike on the introduction of the Pizza Hut app."
In September, Domino's launched an Android version of the app, which Wiskar said brought across a whole new set of challenges.
"More often than not there are no rules. In the case of what we were doing for Domino's, Google was literally telling us no one had done this before," he said. How the app handles memory, how it did vouchering, and keeping an order when a user exited the app halfway through were all difficult issues to overcome.
"We were ringing up Google and saying 'hey, we want to do this this way' and they were saying 'we don't even know if the operating system will do that'," he said.
Testing the Android app was also much more complex, because it had to be tested on a number of different devices that ran Android.
"You can't launch an app like the Domino's app and then find out that it only works on 60 per cent of Android devices," Wiskar said.
Speedwell, traditionally a web development company, has increasingly been moving towards mobile development with apps like the Domino's app and the Queensland Government iPad document reader. Wiskar said that from 2009 to 2010, the percentage of revenue taken from mobile jumped from 7 per cent to 22 per cent. He said that it would likely be around 40 per cent this year, and could be up to 65 per cent in 2012.
Despite this growth, Wiskar said that he didn't think mobile would become the only aspect of the business.
"Mobile is going to be very serious for us, but I can't see it being the sole reason for our existence at any point in the future," he said.
The company employs 41 staff, including five iOS developers, four Android developers and three design staff. It was experiencing 40 per cent growth year-on-year, and Wiskar said that its development teams were doubling in order to cope with all the new operating systems and devices coming out, with Windows Phone 7 a new interest for the next 12 months.
Wiskar said the company is recruiting for all sorts of roles, but it was not an easy job finding appropriate applicants.
"We're actively pursuing every kind of mobile developer you can imagine. We're looking to some quality manager roles, some solution and enterprise architecture roles," he said.