Interview with Vahan Harutyunyan, Creator of Armenian Keyboard for iPhone and iPad
iTechnology.am: First, thank you for spending the time and effort to develop such a needed solution for Armenians who need this to communicate effectively. Where did your idea come from? Did you feel strong need for it?
Vahan Harutyunyan: The idea came in a very casual way. I saw in my friend’s phone a similar app, which was not developed properly and was uncomfortable to use and to type in. It gave me the idea to create a more developed one. I thought, if I could do a better thing, I had to do it. My main goal was to create something maximally close to the standard Apple keyboard. My app has different looks for iPhone and iPad exactly like the standard Apple keyboard differs on iPhone and iPad.
So in a week I managed to finish up the first version. I worked on it during my free hours and my weekend. After getting the approval of my friends, I was sure it would become popular.
iTechnology.am: How does it work?
Vahan Harutyunyan: I tried to do my best and I did it from the point of view of the user. I myself use it now. When I notice a problem, or a shortcoming, I try to fix it, because the user notices everything. It is free and available in the Apple App Store. It has four different keyboard layouts: western, eastern, phonetic and typewriter. So it is a complete app. One should just choose among the keyboard layouts and start typing.
iTechnology.am: How much is it spread among people?
Vahan Harutyunyan: Before adding it to the App Store I had a goal to have 5000 downloads. Now it has more than 20,000 downloads, couple of times more than I expected. Each day it is downloaded about 150 times. Downloads from Armenia are in the first place, then US, Russia, etc.
iTechnology.am: Does it have any limitations for users?
Vahan Harutyunyan: No, it is free for everyone. It just has a donation part. I did it just for my personal interest. And so far people donated around $45 dollars. You know, it feels good that people liked it so much that even donated money.
iTechnology.am: Why did you decide to make it free? Didn’t you want make money?
Vahan Harutyunyan: I wanted it to be available to everyone and to be popular. I think one of the reasons it spread so much is because it is free. My goal was just make it popular.
iTechnology.am: Why did you do it for iOS? Just a personal preference?
Vahan Harutyunyan: Yes, it was just a personal preference, as I use Apple products. Besides I have experience in creating apps for iOS, so I didn’t choose anything else. And also Apple devices have standard Armenian Keyboard missing.
ITechnology.am: You are aware of both the petitions from the Minister of education and science of Armenia and our online one; do you want to suggest your app as a solution? What will happen to your app if Apple does add an Armenian keyboard?
Vahan Harutyunyan: I am sure one day Apple will add it. Why hasn’t Apple done it yet, maybe it is because of less popularity compared with other languages. Of course there is a great need for it. It will make communication more effective. Maybe it is not just the turn of the Armenian language for Apple yet.
Regarding my app., of course I have a fear that if Apple creates the standard one, people will not use mine. But I am not suffering, because at the beginning I knew that this was a temporary solution. And I’m also thinking of adding new features to the app so that it will not be useless even with the standard Armenian Keyboard for iOS.
iTechnology.am: Will you sign under a petition?
Vahan Harutyunyan: Sure, there is a need for it.
iTechnology.am: How are you building awareness or marketing your App?
Vahan Harutyunyan: When I introduced the app to my friends, they offered to advertise it by local media means. But I didn’t want that, I was sure people would find it in App Store and would suggest it to each other. I just created a Facebook page. During the first week it was top 1 free app in the Armenian App Store. So as people look through top apps, they find my app easily.
iTechnology.am: What do you think about app development in Armenia? Is this a promising profitable area?
Vahan Harutyunyan: The field is really growing. I know many people in Armenia who are full time app developers. There is a huge market, so professionals are interested. For example today almost all news sites have their mobile versions. It is both comfortable and effective. At the same time there are a lot of gaps in this area, which should be filled by our developers. I myself always think: what new can I bring to the market? What do we need? When one finds the answers to these questions, he/she is an innovator.
iTechnology.am: Are young professionals interested in IT and how should they start?
Vahan Harutyunyan: Money should not be the main goal for beginners. The professional will earn money eventually. The beginner should not be led by the strong desire for money. It is my opinion.
There is a market, there is a demand, so the developer will succeed if he/she does it with pleasure.
iTechnology.am: Thank You, Vahan, for the nice talk. iTechnolody.am wishes you more and more innovative ideas!