Susan Broadbent: There’s an app for that.

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It’s one of those things you’ve always needed but just never knew it. A tiny gadget that will speak in a man’s voice or bark like a dog to scare away strangers. Just press a button and bam! A man will leave your voice-mail message for you, prod you to get the door or shout from across the room so you can end a phone conversation. There are plenty of extras, including options to call 911 in an emergency or to just summons your manly voice to convince friends you’re getting some action. Action from a stud of your choosing.

“Each man has his own distinctive personality and voice, from the smooth-talking Charles, the British chap Niles, cute boy-next-door Ryan, Carlos with his romantic Latin lover accent and the handsome, hunky blonde, Erik.”

It’s just one of five applications that comes from the mind of Susan Broadbent, a painter, graphics designer and now creator of gizmos like “I Got a Man,” described above. She also blogs and maintains a couple Web sites. She’s a busy lady, but we pinned her down long enough to pick her brains.

So, you design apps. Just what is an app?

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App is short for application. An iPhone app is a software program that can be downloaded to an iPhone or iPod Touch. (Or, a gizmo for a hand-held computer with a little picture to identify it, and when you tap it, it does stuff like opens a dictionary or lets you play a game.)

When you were a little girl playing in fields of flowers, did you think to yourself: someday, I hope someone invents smart phones so I can design applications for them? How did you get into this?

When I was a little girl I wasn’t playing in fields of flowers, I was painting them. But I was interested in computers from a young age when my family decided to give my father, a mathematician, a calculator for his birthday, which was the first hand-held computer. Now you can get calculators in cereal boxes. So, while I didn’t exactly predict the invention of smart phones, I was definitely intrigued when they came along.

What have you designed so far?

I have five apps: La La Land, Gay Quotes, Whatever!, All @ Once and I Got A Man. You can find out about them at www.susanbroadbentapps.com.

Who would win in a cage match, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?

Me.

When iPhone apps came to be all the rage, a lot of independent designers were cashing in. Now it appears they are being squeezed out. What’s happening there?

This is a much-discussed subject in the developer forums. From my perspective it has to do with the increase in apps and the changes that the iTunes store has experienced. When I began about a year ago, there were roughly 10,000 apps. Today there are about 160,000 active apps. Until recently, each new app and new update would have a day of appearing on the first page of new releases. This provided enough exposure to kick off sales and get reviews. For every app, there can be countless updates, which can mean fixing a bug, improving the app, or adding more content. Now, it’s only the new apps, not the updates, that appear on the first page of releases. Advertising can be very costly. Also, more than ever, large corporations are making apps and have the big budgets to advertise.

What else have you got going on?

I’ve been a freelance graphic designer since I graduated from Syracuse University many years ago, but my first love is painting, so now I’m devoting all my time to that. You can see some of my work at www.susanbroadbent.com.

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