When is an app more than an app? When it's a platform. And especially when it's a "dynamically brandable" platform.
Larry Leung is the CEO of AirKast, which has created a very popular mobile development app for radio stations. With more than 900 terrestrial stations on the platform and hundreds more in the pipeline, it’s called TuneKast and you can find TuneKast-branded applications in the App Store on iTunes today
Listen to my chat with Larry about AirKast's new Airbridge platform, Radio's first hosted digital media delivery platform used to build enterprise-class applications for mobile and connected devices.
Here is a highly abbreviated transcript of our conversation:
Larry, TuneKast allows stations to distribute content across a variety of channels via the new platform that AirKast has developed called AirBridge. Before we get into it, tell me why there was a need to develop such a platform in the first place and how this is not simply an app.
AirKast started well before the iPhone came out. We wanted to create mobile applications that weren’t hardcoded. At that time, most content was hardcoded in to an application and, for modifications, you had to update and release the entire application again.
So we took a step back and built a platform where the end client decides exactly how the application looks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as well as what branding and content types they want to highlight without needing to release an application update every time they made a change.
It took a little longer to bring to market, but I believe it was worth the effort.
The platform is called AirBridge and it literally plucks out any content from your content management system, whether it’s a picture, live audio screen, live video screen, or any video file format. AirBridge decides how to provision it based on the type of device that’s accessing the content.
What this means for radio is that once the content is within the AirBridge environment, stations can distribute that content to hundreds or millions of different devices.
So the biggest advantage for broadcasters is that you’ll create one iPhone app and listeners will never need to download an updated version of that app because it’s updated dynamically through the platform. Is that right?
Not quite, at certain times you will need to provide an update, such as if you wanted to add new features to it. But on a daily basis, content changes are made dynamically.
Let’s say that on Tuesday, you have a new sponsor for that day only. We make it very easy for you to bring in that sponsor information and connect it to the system. The next time a listener starts your application, the new sponsor message will be there.
Let’s concentrate on mobile apps. Tell me how AirBridge with TuneKast apps are different from other radio station mobile apps available today.
The difference is the ability to monitor and modify your application in real time.
Another AirBridge benefit is that it is connected to the biggest ad provisioning players in the radio industry. It is directly linked into Ando Media’s dashboard so stations can sit down on Monday with new sponsor information, input the information into the Ando Media dashboard, hit the button and say, “I want this information on mobile, that information on the web site and this content on the terrestrial feed.”
The station controls where the advertiser’s message is distributed. This ability isn’t limited to audio content; this includes visual advertising as well in terms of display ads, video ads or any type of pop-up sponsorships that you want shown on your application.
I saw a report today from Morgan Stanley that says they believe more users may connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PC’s within five years.
Wow. I can see it happening because it’s all about convenience. If I always have my mobile device, I want to access certain content when I want it rather than needing to open my laptop or boot up my PC.
One thing we tell our customers is that they are the masters of their content. They know their audience and branding, but the challenge is how to get that content to all of their mobile listeners now. Their audience is un-tethered from their desktop PCs, so how do you reach them?
Our goal is to take the technical challenges away from stations and let them focus on content, media and branding to reach as many distribution points as they want to.
From the broadcasters’ perspective, would you surmise that using AirBridge will, in the long run, be more profitable, less costly and more functional?
Yes. We are committed to keeping ahead of the technology. For radio stations, the last thing they need is an entire technology group advising them where to move their distribution points. With AirKast, once your content is in the AirBridge platform, we can push that content to any device.
If the next hot device is, say, a wireless refrigerator and there’s an opportunity to provision your content to it, the AirBridge platform will let us make sure your content gets to the user on that device.
As I said, we’ve tried to take all the technology worries away and let broadcasters focus on content. They know what their listeners want to listen to.
[Note: If you missed my walk-through of the AirKast platform, you can see it here]