In May, four friends from Grand Falls-Windsor got an idea for a cellphone application — one that, just a few months later, has been downloaded thousands of times over, at 99 cents a pop, from the Apple App Store.
What Justin Gray, Andrew Mouland, Corey Quilliam and Jonathan Simon Justin Gray came up with was the Whaddaya App — a program that translates some of Newfoundland’s more colourful phrases.
The app consists of a simple picture of an ashtray and a bottlecap. Touch the bottlecap, and you’ll hear someone (the voice is provided by Mouland) speaking a Newfoundland expression, such as, “Buddy, you’re some ticket.” On the screen will be the translation: “You are causing problems.” Touch the bottlecap again and get another random chestnut: “The arse fell right out of ‘er, b’y,” translated to “Everything went so very wrong.” Touching the ashtray doesn’t do anything.
“We were talking around some different ideas for apps. Two of the guys are computer — we’ll call them computer geeks, as they love to be referred to — and this was an idea that came up,” said Simon.
“We said, ‘Yeah, why not? Let’s try it, see where it goes.’ It was mainly intended for our own friends and our own network at first, and then it sort of spread like wildfire and took off. We had very low expectations at first, and now here we go, we’ve sold quite a few.”
Simon doesn’t give an exact number, but says it’s thousands — enough to put Whaddaya App in the top spot in the App Store’s entertainment category for several days now. They’re unable to determine through Apple’s App Store where the purchases are coming from, but sales for the Android are tracked via postal code.
“Some have come in from Canada of course, but also U.S., Australia, U.K., all over the world, basically,” said Simon.
He’s not surprised people are enjoying the app.
“People have made fun of Newfoundlanders for decades,” he said. “I’m sure you’ve heard the term over the years, the ‘stupid Newfie.’
“Here’s something is translated into ‘proper’ English, we’ll say, that’s kind of a flick back at the mainlanders, to say, ‘You really think we’re stupid Newfies?’ I say that in total jest. I love it, and I love what it does. It tells people that we have our own dialogue. We’re intelligent people.”
He said he’s not worried that the app will have the opposite effect and help fuel stereotypes.
“I don’t think so. We’re making of ourselves yet again,” he said. “I know that there was a big (one) that was published years ago, the Newfie Dictionary. When we hit on the idea, it was sort of putting ourselves in — I won’t say the same ballpark, but a similar ballpark to say, ‘Yeah, we’re intelligent enough people, and we can make something like this to make fun of ourselves yet again,’ and tell people we don’t all talk like this. But the people who do, here’s what they’re saying.”
Simon said there may be a couple of updates to the application, based on feedback from buyers. Meanwhile, he and his friends are already kicking around ideas for their next project — even with selling thousands, the app is only 99 cents.
That minus expenses to produce the app, minus the percentage taken by Apple and Android, divided by four — Simon and his friends aren’t retiring any time soon.
“We all have full-time jobs,” he said, laughing.