Need a kvetch from bubbe Theres an app for that

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Brad Kleinman has such a good time at his weekly deli dinners with his 84-year-old bubbe that he wanted to figure out a way to have her with him all the time.

That drive led the Ohio resident to develop iGavolt, an application for Apple’s iPhone that launched on iTunes.

Annette Kleinman Markell — aka Grandma Netty — has something to say about everything, Kleinman says, and he wanted people with iPhones or iTouches to be able to get a dose of her kvetching and well, her nudging. So he recorded her.

Users download the file from iTunes to their device for a one-time fee of 99 cents, then select any of 15 audio clips to play.

“You look too skinny … eat some farfel,” urges Netty in one of the clips.

“Are you going to get married before I die? I only have a few years left, you know.”

“Why don’t you call me any more?”

The one-time fee includes free monthly upgrades and also features a “gramma rap” option that has Grandma Netty rapping to different beats.

Apple’s platform makes it incredibly easy for developers to distribute the app to their international audience, says Kleinman, 28. He is excited that Jewish kids — and their parents — all over the world will be able to enjoy Grandma Netty.

“Eventually we would like to have other Jewish grandmothers send in their own pictures and audio clips that can be incorporated into future updates,” says Kleinman, noting that he has already received requests for the grandpa version of iGavolt, plus requests for Italian and Russian grandmas.

To get his application approved, Kleinman became a licensed Apple developer. “The one-time fee allows us to develop as many iPhone apps that we want in a year time frame,” Kleinman explains. If you’re not a developer or an experienced programmer, he adds, developing an iPhone application can get expensive — anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 in development fees.

Kleinman runs an e-marketing company in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, and his iPhone app is a joing effort with a Chicago-based iPhone application development company, Vokal Interactive. Apple receives 30 percent of all sales, which leaves about 70 cents per download for the two companies to split evenly.

“We’re also donating 10 percent of the proceeds to the Jewish Com-munity Federation of Cleveland,” Kleinman says.

As for the name of the app, Kleinman says, “The grandmas and grandpas I know have developed a cool vernacular that mixes Yiddish with everyday speech — hence the title iGavolt, a play on the words of Oy Gevalt.”

And what does Markell think of her grandson’s latest venture? Well, computers are a pain the neck, she says. So it’s probably safe to say she won’t be downloading herself kvetching on an iPod anytime soon.


Brooke Engel
wrote this piece for the Cleveland Jewish News.