Why can’t we make apps as good as f’ing weekend hackers?

This guest blog post was written by Scott Annan and was published this morning on Startup Ottawa.

This past Friday I had the opportunity to see fifteen apps that were developed in 6 hours at HackOTT.

And they were almost all really good.

The rules were that the teams had to be 1-3 people.  They had to use local APIs (Shopify, Tineye, Freshbooks, YellowPages.ca, Pretzil, Zip.ca) to build their apps, and they had to be cool (not sure this is official, but sure seemed like it).

As best as I can tell, the event attracted awesome, talented programmers who wanted to spend their Saturday coding – which is what most of them do for a “day job” – to see what kind of cool things they could create.

And cool things were definitely created!

So what the hell?  How can programmers build such awesome iPhone and web apps in such a short time and yet companies take months and a lot of money (if they ever actually build something) to make mediocre apps?

Here are some examples (just for fun):

1. Reservely (Brad and Jevin):

An application that allows users to select a restaurant nearby and make a reservation.  The system calls the restaurants and lets them accept or decline with a push of a button, or connect with the requestor.  (won first prize)

reservely

2. MoodVee (SelectStart Studios):

An app that lets you select from the Zip.ca library based on your “mood” (select a color and they’ll pull back the most popular movies that have that color predominantly on their DVD cover)

3. DateShake (SelectStart Studios):

An app that randomly selects a friend (from twitter), a restaurant (from YellowPages.ca), and a movie (from Zip.ca) by shaking your phone.

If I had more screen shots I would post them here.  But the point is… how awesomely talented are these people and why can’t we use this model to make more awesome stuff?  I think we can.

Oh, and don’t go all “it takes a lot more than a good app to build a business” on me.  Come on.  6 hours and pure awesome.

Congrats to all who participated, and especially the sponsors and coordinators (special cred to yellowpages.ca who are late to the location-based business directory party but seem to be connecting with the community in an awesome way).