At the recent PRPD Conference (where I participated by webcam), one of the speakers was from INTEL. And this speaker focused on the key drivers for mobile applications in the years to come.
Based on my notes, the key elements of mobile apps are and will be these:
– More personal (meaning you'll be able to customize them according to your own tastes and needs)
– More social (meaning you'll be able to share whatever you want with your friends – and get what they're sharing)
– Richer (meaning that there will be more stuff to do in the app and reasons to use it)
– Smarter (meaning it will be able to do more things more elegantly)
– Location or contextually dynamic (meaning that where you are physically or what you want to do right now will make a difference to the device and the app)
The irony, I think, is that almost no app for radio accomplishes most of these features.
It's still early in the game, of course. Just recently the new CNN iPhone app was released which, I might add, is all of these things and then some.
But as you ponder what you should do in the mobile space, I implore you not to aim too low.
I was asked what might fit some of these categories for a public radio station.
I noted that, compared to many other radio formats, public radio fans are their own psychographic, their own "tribe" if you will. All those license plate frames and tote bags illustrate membership in an exclusive club, and if there's one thing about folks in a club that we can count on it's that they trust each other's opinions.
So where is the public radio app that tells me what local cultural events other public radio listeners recommend? Where is the public radio app that tells me what Italian restaurant is best for my "club"? Where's the public radio app that allows me to comment on issues of local importance?
Where's the public radio app that aspires to go beyond repurposing a station or a show and aspires instead to create value worth supporting on its own merit?
Our purpose should not simply be to give people more reasons to listen to our station, it should also be to create more value worth supporting whether it's on our air or not.
If you have a dynamite morning show, doesn't it deserve its own mobile experience?
Is your mobile app mostly about playing and replaying your station or about doing what your station cannot?
This process is evolving, of course. And with this evolution will come a higher aim.