Somehow, Atmosphere reminds me of SerenceScreen’s Marine Aquarium: while it has no productivity value whatsoever, it is so plain cool, and its graphics so stunning, that you just got to have it on your Mac, and I’m sure that, if the finished product looks anywhere near as beautiful as the mock-ups, it will be a major success.
As for the contest itself, I wasn’t really sure what to think when it was launched. Bringing together talented programmers looking for The Next Cool Software Idea and people with great ideas, but without sufficient time and/or skills to actually implement the ideas, makes a lot of sense. In the form of a contest, however, it has that feel of a one-off event.
Maybe the fact that this is a one-off event enabled the organizers to garner support from Mac luminaries like David Pogue, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Wozniak, and others, who may not have the time or motivation to support an ongoing exchange of ideas and coding skill. Also, those stunning mock-ups that you can find at the site may only have been possible because there was a limited number of ideas to be “mocked up.”
Still, I would love to see this concept be taken one step further: once Cameron’s Atmosphere app has been implemented, why not maintain as an ongoing process what was now a one-off contest? It would be great to see the MyDreamApp folks morph their website into an online community hub where average Mac users could put their ideas out into the open, and talented graphics/UI designers and Cocoa developers could pick those ideas that — as Eric S. Raymond has put it — “scratch a personal itch,” and turn them into software.
Until that happens, though: congratulations to Cameron and all the other finalists. Can’t wait to create some great Atmosphere on my Mac’s desktop soon!