Tag Archives: app

They call me Stephen. And five more reasons I love Uber.

uber

If you’ve ever been a Black man in New York, you know what I speak of.

But trying to catch a cab in the city can be a bitch!

If there aren’t long lines outside of the station, or club, then there’s some dude further up the block hailing them earlier.

Better yet, you think that you’ve spied an empty cab coming your way, only to see a slunked down passenger in the back as they pass you by.

Or you could be passed over all together by completely empty cabs just because you’re HWB.

Hailing while Black.

A minute ago, someone put me up on Uber.

You know, Uber, the whole ride sharing app.

I had been using other apps, like Curb (formerly Taxi Magic), with varying degrees of success and never really tried Uber out.

Until recently, that is.

Ya see a few weeks back, I found myself stuck in the city late night, trying to get back to Jersey.

I had just missed my train, and I was totally NOT trying to wait on NJ Transit for another hour for the next one.

As I stepped out of Penn Station to hail a cab, I was totally dismayed to see the long line of folks waiting for cabs.

Then it dawned on me – Uber!

A few minutes later, a shiny black SUV pulled up, with an “Uber” sign in the passenger window.

As I got in, the driver said, “Hello Stephen,” and I knew I had found my steady.

Thirty minutes later, I disembarked in front of my house, with a “Good night, Stephen.”

No scrambling to find cash or swiping my card, just a “good night” and off.

Lest you think this was a one-off, I’ve used Uber at least a half-dozen times since then.

And each trip was as pleasant as the first.

With the exception of the talkative “Marilyn” who got lost and arrived late, which in turn made me late to my appointment.

But speed bump aside, here are the top five reasons I love Uber (and why you should too).

1. They call you by your name.

The first time I got into an Uber car and the driver called me by my name, I felt like a bonafide celebrity. It’s not like I’ve never had a car service pick me up before. But it’s an entirely different thing to be greeted in such a friendly and familiar manner when you’re not rolling in duckets. I don’t know what Uber tells it’s drivers, but that calling me by my name thing works.

2. No fuss or fumbling with money or cards.

When you set up with Uber, you associate a billing method with your account, and your fare is automatically deducted when you arrive at your destination. There’s no haggling with the driver, pulling out cash, tapping or swiping required. Arrive. Disembark. Done.

3. You don’t have to fight with other commuters.

Unlike hailing a cab on the skreets or calling up a cab company to request a ride, with Uber, there’s no fighting with other commuters. Open up the app, see the available drivers around you, request a driver and voila! Now just sit back and wait.

4. WYSIWYG.

The acronym, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) is totally apropos for Uber. The Uber app is totally transparent. You can see where your driver is, how long it will take to get to you, and the fare you can expect to pay. Now sometimes, there’s a glitch in the matrix and you’ve got to refresh your connection to actually see where your driver is (and the app doesn’t do a great job of recalculating the estimated time to get to you), but with Uber, there are no surprises. And if you ever have an issue, you can instantly contact the driver (via text or call) or even cancel your ride altogether. No muss, no fuss.

5. Super easy to use.

There is nothing – NOTHING – I hate more than a complicated app. All I want to do is get a ride. I shouldn’t have to solve a Rubik’s Cube to do so. Uber makes it über-simple to do so with their app.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Set pickup location.
  3. Request uberX.
  4. Wait.

That’s it!

Now, there is one thing that you do need to know about Uber.

Surge pricing.

What’s “surge pricing” you ask?

It’s the price you pay trying to catch a ride with Uber during peak traffic.

It’s usually quoted as a multiplier of the regular rate, say 1.5 or 2.0 of the regular rate.

If you get a ride at that time, expect to pay more than you regularly would.

Now they’ll tell you when the surge pricing period is over and there’s usually a brief window within which it expires – but it’s the one thing about Uber that I don’t love.

Anyway, the next time you find yourself jockeying for position on the curb to get a cab, take a chill pill, whip out your phone and hit Uber up.

Have an Uber experience you’d like to share? Leave me a comment!

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Five tips to make your app idea a reality

apps-image

If you didn’t know, I’m the go-to guy when it comes to web, mobile web, social media and apps, in my network.

Cats who know me, know that I’m all tech’d out, so my advice is solicited fairly frequently.

Last night was no exception.

You see, I got a call from a friend who was interested in building an app.

They actually sent me a text and then followed it up with a call – as if the distinction makes a different.

What do you care?

Just recount the story already fool!

Anywho, my friend is a member of the PTA where our kids attend school, and had (what she thought) was a great idea for an app that could be used as a fundraiser.

I listened patiently, as she rattled off her pie-in-the-sky idea.

I say ‘pie-in-the-sky’ because most ideas are just that: ideas.

Very few folks take the necessary steps to turn an idea into reality.

And since I didn’t want my friend wasting her time (and mine) pursuing a pipe dream, I got to the nitties.

Do you have your idea written down?

What are the basic features and functions of your app?

Will it be a native app, pull in mobile web pages or is it a hybrid?

Do you have a mock-up, wireframes or drawing which models your app?

How is the data being managed?

What’s your back end?

iOS, Android or both?

Is this something you’re planning on putting into the App Store, or will it be distributed privately?

Is it going to be a free or premium app?

What’s your timeline?

And the coup de grace…

Do you have a budget?

Now a lesser man (or woman) would have been flummoxed by my barrage of questions.

But old girl hung in like a trooper.

Although she didn’t have a written plan, wireframes or a mock (it came to her as she was driving through Colonial Williamsburg with her kids) she did have many of the answers I needed to vet her idea.

And as I walked her through the various things she need to do to get her app off the ground, it dawned on me that most people don’t know what it really takes to create an app.

So rather than allow you folks to live in ignorance, I’ve decided to outline the top five things you need to do to build an app.

1. Write your idea down.

I don’t know why people think that writing their ideas down isn’t important.

There’s nothing worse than listening to someone blabber about their unformed idea for an app. If you’re serious about building an app, and you want serious advice about it’s feasibility, then take the time to outline exactly what it is you want to build.

While it’s good to be able to articulate your idea orally, this isn’t Shark Tank. Folks are going to want to be able to work from a document and not from your oral pitch.

More importantly, by writing it down, you can see whether you’ve covered all your bases. By listing out what the app does, how it works, etc., you can determine whether your idea is fully formed (or not) and what you’ve still got to work on to make it complete.

2. Sketch it out.

I can’t stress the importance of visualization when it comes to building your app. Sure, you’re no Picasso. But you’re also not going to be showing your sketches at the MOMA, so get over yourself.

Sketching out our app is a simple way for you to render your app in a way that lets you map out landing pages, button placement, navigation elements, even ad space.

When you sketch out your idea, you form an appreciation for the spacial considerations you’ve got to take into account when you’re developing anything for mobile. It will help you focus on the absolutely essential elements of your app, which need the real estate, versus the wants, which will invariably  make your app look messy or cluttered.

3. Understand your data.

When you’re developing an app, you’ve got to figure out what information you need from your users or what information you’re planning on sharing with your users.

Where is it going to be stored? How is it going to be accessed? Do I need an API? What about web services? What information exists natively (versus information sitting on the web)?

Regardless of the answer to these question, having a complete (or at least well-formed) understanding of what’s happening with your data is crucial to getting it built.

4. Define the user experience.

What your app is going to do, how it’s going to function and the set of features available, are all parts of defining the user experience.

Focusing on features, flow and function, will help you understand your app and move it from concept to reality.

5. Set a budget.

Regardless of how outlandish or reasonable your app idea is, it’s going to require some moolah to get it developed. If you’re a developer and know how to code for iOS and Android devices – well bully for you. Everyone else, you’re going to have to pay someone to develop your app for you. And it’s going to cost you something.

Now you can go the offshore route and build your app on the cheap. This invariably translates into many sleepless nights working with your foreign (=basic mastery of the English language) development team, potential delays and cost overruns. But when you’re paying in rubles or rupees can you really complain? No.

Or you can go the domestic route and pay market rates. This means lighter pockets, but the ability to work directly with your development team and give/get feedback in real time.  Whichever way you go, you’ve got to plan on setting money aside (or raising money) to get your app built. Starting the process off with money in the bank or a clear idea of what you’re prepared to spend, helps move things from idea to reality.

So the next time you think you’ve got an idea for the next killer app, don’t just talk about it, be about it!

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NJ Transit’s MyTix app saved my ass (and some bread)!

mytix

Has this ever happened to you?

You just make the train by the skin of your teeth, and as the train pulls away from the station, you realize that you forgot to buy a ticket.

Or you’re sitting on the train and the conductor asks you for your ticket. As you rifle through your pockets, you realize that you forgot your wallet.

Or you make the last train out of the city. Didn’t have time to buy it from the machine, but you’re prepared to pay the on-board surcharge. You reach into your wallet and you have no cash.

Or each month you purchase a monthly pass, but as you pull out your pass, you realize that its for last month and you’ve forgotten to re-up.

Don’t you hate that?

I’ve had each of these ridiculous scenarios happen to me (and some more than once).

And each time I cursed myself, lamenting the fact that there wasn’t an app which would have allowed me to remedy the situation right from my phone.

Instead of having to shell out an extra $5 (the penalty they impose for purchasing a ticket on the train).

Or experience the shame of being reprimanded by the conductor for either (a) not having a ticket; (b) not having a wallet; or (c) not having cash (or enough cash).

Why wasn’t there an app which would let me buy my tickets on-the-fly (and avoid these shameful encounters)?

Alas, my oft-repeated curses were not for naught!

Because NJ Transit now has an app that lets you buy etickets!

That’s right.

The app is called MyTix and it provides customers a secure and convenient way to buy rail tickets and passes from a mobile device.

I overheard two commuters talking about it a few weeks ago and promptly downloaded it from the App Store.

And it’s everything I’d hoped it would be.

No more running for the train like an idiot.

Or panicking as the train pulls into the station while you’re still in queue to by your ticket.

Or nervously fumbling through your wallet or purse to find your ticket or cash as an impatient conductor breathes down your neck.

Panic no more fellow commuter, your savior is here.

Using MyTix is as simple as creating an account and inputting a few data fields.

Last week, I found myself without my monthly pass, so I opened the app on my way to the train.

A few clicks later and I had purchased my ticket.

No fuss no muss.

MyTix ticket to Montcleezy

One way MyTix ticket to Montclair. Note the “expires” countdown clock.

Now there are a few wrinkles with the app.

You’ve got to activate your pass before your board the train.

If you don’t you may not be able to access your ticket on the train (if no signal is present).

And once you do, you’ve got 2 hours and 45 minutes to use it.

So don’t activate your ticket if you don’t plan on getting on a train immediately or you’ll be ass out.

And the app is just for buying tickets.

You can’t get schedule information or anything else, so don’t get gassed thinking it’s the be-all-end-all for your commute.

It’s not.

Currently the app supports purchasing senior, adult or child one-way or round trip tickets, as well as weekly and monthly passes.

MyTix is only available on select lines, for now, but NJ Transit plans on expanding the utility throughout their service areas.

Now if you’re not in Jersey, don’t take NJ Transit or are not on one of the supported lines, you can ignore this post entirely.

But if you are, this app is a life money saver!

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Jay Z and Samsung go digital. Apple, you’ve best bested (again).

Samsung has once again upped the ante in the war of cool against Apple.

This time, they've enlisted the aid of hip hop heavyweight, and all-around media mogul, Jay Z.

If you've been paying attention to the interwebs, you might have caught wind of the latest partnership between this mainstream music icon and the tech company actively trying to dethrone Apple.

The pairing, in and of itself, isn't particularly novel.

Not even for Samsung, who previously enlisted King James at the start of the season last year with the Galaxy Note II.

But what is exceptional, is the fact that Samsung is giving away Jay Z's next album.

You heard me.

Everyone who owns or cops a Samsung Galaxy device, will also get Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail album a full week few days before its released in stores.

Now I don't know how many people are actually going to buy a new phone or trade up, just to get an album they can purchase for 10 bucks.

But Samsung definitely gets dumb cool points for inking a deal with Hov for the right to distribute advance copies of his album with their phones.

I mean really, how cool is that?

Jigga Jay Z?!

Apple may have made digital music cool with the iPod, but Samsung just made digital music way cooler with this coup.

Jay Z is veritably hip hop royalty, so this deal is a pretty big….deal.

The bigger issue, as I see it, are the possibilities for media and technology companies to do these types of collabos in the future.

I've always been a proponent of utilizing technology as a means through which to build audience.

With the plethora of artists and devices out there, nowadays you need a hook if you really want folks to pay attention.

Something to differentiate your offering from the masses and reel your audience in.

And recently, I've seen evidence of the more savvy brands implementing the strategies I talk about ad nauseum.

Check the FunkFlex App, and you'll see what I mean.

FunkMaster Flex is one of the few artists that I've seen, who thoroughly gets it when it comes to merging celebrity with technology.

And he's freaking it, at that.

The FunkFlex app comes preloaded with goobledy gobs of content.

He dropped his entire mixtape via his app and it features a who's who of hip hop and R&B.

FOR FREE!

To this day, if you cop the app, you'll still be able to get loads of exclusive free content.

As a result, his digital footprint is large, and growing daily.

Movie studios are also starting to realize the inherent value of producing apps to accompany the lead up to the release of a new movie.

Virtually every movie I've seen in the recent past has had an app.

Some good.

Some not-so-good.

But all players with skin in the game.

Which underscores my point.

Every new artist should have a app.

Old ones too.

It shouldn't be an afterthought.

It should be the way you introduce your artist to the masses.

That app should be preloaded with a bunch of songs, videos and pictures, and every single social media profile that artist uses to interact with their fans.

Music should stream, in full, and the app should be enabled with push notifications, featuring calls-to-action, inviting users to rate the app, purchase tickets and use the embed social share features to broadcast their affiliation with the artist to their larger network.

And giving them the ability to buy tracks wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Don't trip.

Having an app is not an inexpensive endeavor.

Samsung dropped serious coin for the right to distribute Jay Z's album.

To the tune of $5 million.

And we all know that every artist can't afford to do Samsung/Jay Z type deals to attract new users.

But I'm sure Samsung thinks they got a bargain, so it's all relative.

The truth is, deals like this don't have to be so one-sided.

New artists should seek out brands like Metro PCS, Boost and Virgin Mobile, who all want to enhance their phone offerings to compete with the big boys.

While contract free phones are all the rage, having a phone pre-loaded with free music from underground or up-and-coming acts is definitely a strategy we're going to see more of.

Magna Carta is just the beginning.

 

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Filed under apps, branding, digital advocacy, mobile, technology

Live Long and Prosper. Or not. But go see Star Trek.

star_trek_into_darkness-HD

In case you weren’t aware, I’m a trekkie.

Don’t get it twisted.

I’m not a trekkie trekkie.

I don’t don pointy ears and get all Comic-Conned out or anything like that.

My greetings do not involve splitting my middle and ring fingers in a Vulcan salute.

You'll never see me doing this.

You’ll never see me doing this.

Aside from Captain Kirk and Dr. Spock, I couldn’t tell you the real names of any of the actors from the original series.

But I get my Star Trek on.

And I’m a purist.

Any of the various Star Trek spin-offs can sick a duck for all I care.

But I will curl up with a hot cup of cocoa and a snuggly blanket for a Star Trek marathon.

And watch any rerun of an original Star Trek episode as if it were the first time.

So it was with unbridled excitement that I took in the latest installment and went where no man has gone before

Except the folks who caught it before me on Wednesday or Thursday.

Or all the media folks who got the advanced screening.

But I digress.

Friday, I saw Start Trek Into Darkness and it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

In fact, it was a little more.

I hadn’t expected to laugh as much as I did.

Into Darkness was peppered with genuinely humorous moments that had me literally laughing aloud.

I was going to say laughing out loud, but than I would have been soooo predictable, and I hate that.

I also copped the Star Trek Into Darkness app.

startrekapp

Because they had one, that’s why.

No, seriously, it’s a cool app that appeals to the trekkie trapped inside all of us.

When you get the app, you start as a non-commissioned officer.

Complete a few missions, and watch your rank rise to Cadet, then Crewman and on.

Missions include ‘listening’ to portions of episodes on Hulu, visiting URLs and answering trivia.

I was ashamed about how little I initially knew about my beloved Start Trek, but my perseverance was quickly rewarded.

And now I’m a Petty Officer, so take that!

But back to the movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed all 2 hours and 20 minutes of it.

It was fraught with incredibly exciting and suspenseful moments.

Lucky for you though, I’m not one of those dickhead spoilers who spill the beans and give the entire movie away.

You can read Rotten Tomatoes for that.

But I’ll say this much: Ricardo Montalbán is probably pissed.

I brought the original pain! You better recognize!

I brought the original pain! You better recognize!

Now because I know many of you aren’t up on Star Trek, like I am, I will leave you with this bit of advice – go see the movie.

But in case my persuasive writing isn’t enough, peep the trailer below.

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UPDATE: Funk Flex is so digital. And so mobile too.

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FunkMaster Flex is one of the most widely recognized DJs in the world.

He’s an on-air personality and radio icon whose name is synonymous with New York.

He has broken a slew of records and established innumerable artists.

His ‘bomb drops’ are the virtual equivalent of a platinum plaque.

If Flex drops a bomb on your record, you’ve made it.

Flex is not just a master of the airwaves.

He’s also recognized as a serious car enthusiast.

Flex is a staple at car shows.

His passion for cars rivals that of Jay Leno.

But what I find intriguing about him, is his digital game.

When it comes to online and social media, Flex is not to be trifled with.

In fact, he frequently states “I’m so digital NY,” on his daily slot on Hot 97 FM.

With over 687,000 Twitter followers, almost 67,000 likes on Facebook, and over 166,000 followers on Instagram, his digital footprint is impressive.

And now, it appears that he’s crossed yet another threshold.

Mobile.

On Wednesday, Funk Flex dropped the FunkMaster Flex iPhone app.

Having previously announced the release of DJ Rich Medina’s app a few months ago, I was curious to see what Flex was coming with.

So I went to the App Store and downloaded it.

At first blush, it seems like a fairly simple app.

The home screen alternates between images of Flex, black t-shirt clad, hat to back, pointing menacingly at the camera.

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Atop his image sits his familiar red FMF logo.

At the very bottom of the screen is a music player, featuring a play/pause and fast forward buttons, and short description/title of what’s playing.

Between the image of Flex and the music player, sits a clever little carousel.

With icons that allow you to navigate to the various other features of the app.

There are sixteen such little icons.

Which makes this simple seeming app, not so simple after all.

Indeed, the app is, as Flex likes to say, “a beast.”

First of all, it’s chock full of music.

In addition to the music player on the home page, tapping the Music icon takes you to even more pages of music.

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Flex gives you instrumentals, remixes, mix tapes and songs for days.

And it’s not just Flex’s stuff either.

Cats like Swizz Beats, Timbaland, the Neptunes, Just Blaze, Pete Rock and others have blessed Flex’s app with some well known (and obscure) instrumentals.

Selecting the grid in the top left corner navigates you back to the home page.

From there, features like Pictures or Videos, transport you deeper into Flex’s world.

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There’s also a Store feature, which is kinda wack because its the full HTML site on the phone.

But aside from that, there are other fan specific features that make it a cool app.

Now, you must know, I’m no fan of Flex.

If you peep his show, he’s a bully.

He regularly clowns other DJs and basically talks smack.

Considering how long he’s been in the game, you’d imagine he would have matured and achieved a more elevated mindset.

Not so much.

Ego is a bitch.

The day I downloaded the app, I was incredulous.

FunkMaster Flex has an app?

I couldn’t accept it.

So I did a lil’ digging and the app is really just a template.

Almost indistinguishable from at least twelve other apps developed by Salcedo Mobile.

Salcedo has created DJ apps for a host of lesser-known Spanish (or is the correct term Hispanic?) DJs.

They took the meat of the app – all those wonderful features – and reskinned it for Flex.

So while the app is still quite dope, it’s not original.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Says Stephen sarcastically.

I’ve got to give Flex credit though, because the app is dope.

And selecting Salcedo Mobile as his developer sets the bar high for other DJs interested in getting into the app game.

Props aside, one thing noticeably absent from the release of Flex’s app: promo.

Outside of hearing the announcement, there’s no mention of the app anywhere.

If you Google it, nada.

Check InFlexWeTrust.com, nada.

Even if you visit the developer’s site, it’s not listed among their portfolio of apps.

But I’m sure that Flex’s loyal fans will get the word out, so that may be all the promotion it needs.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, April 17, exactly one week after the release of the DJ Funk Flex app, the app is number 11 (free iPhone music apps) in the App Store.

Funk Flex has some loyal fans.

Funk Flex has some loyal fans.

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Blogging by iPhone (on the commode). Wordpress is the truth!

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I’ve been blogging (on and off) for about five or six years now.

Sometimes more than others.

But now, I think I’ve hit my stride.

And it’s all because of WordPress.

I know this sounds über dramatic, but hear me out.

When I was first bitten by the blogging bug, I tried out Blogger, the blogging platform from Google.

Since I was already using Gmail, it was nothing but a chicken wing to start using Blogger.

But I found the interface flat and there were too few template options available for me to personalize my blog.

Even though it was customizable, I wasn’t terribly technical and coding HTML or CSS simply wasn’t in the cards.

I posted a few times and that was it.

Not long after, someone told me about Tumblr.

They were new to blogging, like me, and had a similar experience with Blogger (being flat and boring).

So (on their recommendation) I tried it out.

Tumblr was much easier to use, had several interesting templates, and before long, I had set up and posted my first blog.

I noticed, almost immediately, though, that my blog posts weren’t showing up in search engines in Tumblr as rapidly as they had with Blogger.

What Tumblr made up in overall ease of use and simplicity, it lost from an overall SEO perspective.

I was creating far more, but seeing far less traffic.

If a blog gets posted in cyberspace and no bots crawl to it, does it make a sound?

Demoralized, I abandoned Tumblr for another free blog platform contender, WordPress.

Cue the angelic music and blinding white light.

WordPress combined the SEO dominance of Blogger, with the ease of use, simplicity and design sensibility of Tumblr, and a few other smoking features to boot.

And with a clean UI and dashboard, WordPress soon became my go-to platform.

But what MADE WordPress for me, were the apps!

Ever since I got the WordPress iPhone and iPad apps, I’ve become a prolific blogger.

Prolific is a tad extreme, but I have authored over 250 post on WordPress, and at least half of them were on my iPhone or iPad.

Whenever an idea for a blog comes to mind, I simply whip out my iPhone, dial up the WordPress app and start typing.

Once I save it, it’s automatically uploaded to my WordPress account and synched whenever I pull up WordPress again from any of my devices.

So if I start it on my iPad, I can pick it up later from my desktop or iPhone.

I can tag, add pictures or video, select categories (or create new ones) all from within the app.

My girl Aliya King issued a 30 day blogging challenge to her blogging peeps, and the WordPress app has kept me on task for the past two weeks.

I’ve been able to post from virtually anywhere: trains, the office, the toilet (yes, I blog on the toilet), from the convenience of my iPhone.

I’ve been so impressed with WordPress that I’ve turned a butt load of my clients, friends and associates on to the platform.

At the end of the day, I’m really enamored with WordPress because it’s enabled me to find my voice AND get it out hassle-free.

So if you’re thinking about starting a blog (I’m an inexhaustible source of inspiration – I know), give WordPress a try!

And ‘no’ I am not a paid spokesperson for WordPress.

But if anyone over at WordPress wants to cut a bro a check….

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Filed under apps, iPad, iPhone, mobile, opinion

Made In America (the movie). How agencies, brands and hip hop are a formula for success

Photo Credit: RocNation.com

I just read an article  in AdAge, about Budweiser, Translation and Jay Z partnering up to produce a movie.

My first reaction was “that shit is sick!” (sick=great for my linguistically slang challenged readers).

What’s so sick about it, for one, are the straight macks behind it: Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Steve Stout, Jay Z – all titans of their respective fields.

But what’s even sicker is that Budweiser (aka deeeeep pockets) is the driving force behind it.

Who would have thought that combining a beverage brand, an advertising and a hip hop mogul would have made such perfect sense?

Me.  Been trying to do it for years.

But I digress.

Mind you, this is not the first time this combination has come together.

Master of the Mix, the reality show on Centric, was a combined effort of Smirnoff/Diageo (brand), GTM (an Atlanta-based PR/creative agency), Just Blaze and Kid Capri (hip hop).

Smirnoff/Diageo bankrolled the production of the series, which successfully married liquor, celebrity and hip hop in what has become a flagship show for the network.

But there’s a marked difference between a television show on a minor network (don’t be mad Centric, but you’re not BET, which isn’t Viacom) and a feature length film with national/international distribution.

And while Kid Capri, Just Blaze, Biz Markie, and the host of DJs that were contestants on the show, made it one of the most highly rated shows in Centric/BET’s history, it really pales in comparison to Budweiser’s planned effort with Jay Z.

The movie will focus on two days of the Budweiser Made In America concert festival, in mid-September, when Jay Z and 25 hip hop and electronic music artists hit the stage.

In addition to Jay Z, the line-up includes Drake, Rick Ross, Wale, Janelle Monae, and Jill Scott.

You’ve probably already seen the ads featuring Jay Z, promoting the event.

And with the sheer star power of the backers and participants, it’s sure to be a blockbuster.

But it’s also probably going to be a serious piece or art, as well.

There’s talk about submitting the film to festivals, and Ron Howard ain’t no slouch, so I’m very interested to see what the narrative of the movie will ultimately be.

I can already see the film taking on a Decoded type of feel, with Jay Z narrating the lead-up to the event, and the cameras following him, and the various players as they make their way to and from the stage.

I wonder if they’re going to produce an app for it like they did for Decoded.

Steve Stout, get at me! I’m your guy if you want to talk integrated mobile strategy.

I’m definitely keeping an eye out for this, and will update you with anything I learn about it as it comes together.

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Dub Siren DX. Reeeewwwwiiiinnnnnddddd!

I spent the weekend playing around with this novel music app call Dub Siren DX.

This app gives you the ability to listen to music and add overdubs and sound effects, as if you were listening to a Jamaican sound system.

If you’re not familiar with sound systems, think the Jamaican scene in Belly or The Harder They Come or Rockers.

If that doesn’t help, think about the last time you were at a reggae party and heard a siren, truck horn, gunshot or the sound of a rifle being cocked.

DubSiren DX has virtually every sound effect a real dancehall roots aficionado has heard of…and some they have not.

The iTunes description lists Dub Siren DX as the “ultimate DJ mixer synth with reggae and dubstep radio,” and that description isn’t off the mark.

Dub Siren is stocked with nuff’ sounds, includes sample packs, as well as the ability to purchase additional sounds through an in-app purchase.

Gunshot means forward. Liquid means rewind.

Dub Siren also includes the ability to stream radio stations through the app, and apply effects to the stream.

I was literally lost for hours when I first downloaded it in the App store, exploring the myriad of options.

If you’re a fan of reggae, as I am, the universe could not have divined a better app.

I could go on an on about Dub Siren DX, but I won’t.

Suffice to say, this app is a keeper.

But don’t take my word for it.

Check it out for yourself.

The app costs $3.99, but it’s well worth it!

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There’s (Already) An App For That. Just Make Your’s Better!

I think I've got an idea...maybe not.

So the other day, I thought I had a killer idea for an app.

It was a variation of the peek-a-boo pens from back in the day.

You know, the ones where you flip the pen and the girl’s clothes disappear revealing her undergarments.

I shared the idea with a few people, who were also of the impression that I had a killer app idea on my hands.

I was brainstorming for a client that caters to ‘adult’ themed entertainment – not personal, mind you.

The idea was so good that I raced home to sketch a few ideas out on OmniGraffle.

But then it hit me…

This idea was too good.

Not that I’m a dunce or anything, but I couldn’t imagine that an idea this good hadn’t been done already.

So I Googled it.

And wouldn’t you know, my app idea had been done – by no less than four different developers.

They were all variations on a theme, and each executed with varying degrees of aplomb.

Mind you, I come up with apps all the times.

Clients are constantly asking me what they should do, and I’m a wellspring for app ideas.

The one thing that I tell all my clients, is to find an app out there, that they like and think works well, and improve upon it.

With over half a million apps in the iTunes App Store alone, it’s very likely that any idea you’e got (as I found out) has already been done.

And that’s not to say that original apps aren’t still being created.

It’s just that it’s unlikely that most of us will come up with something that is truly original.

And that’s okay.

The reality of it, is that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be the first app to do one thing or another.

Unless you knock it out of the park on your first try, you’re probably going to have an app that’s buggy, and delivers an ‘ok’ user experience at best.

Believe me.

I’ve created a number of novel web and mobile applications that, despite how hyped and excited as we were about it, our initial market trials were…not good.

But what we did learn from those experiences, was that being second (or even third) to market was useful, because it gave you invaluable insight into what your competitors were doing.

It also helped you figure out what the market would bear (i.e. should your app be premium or free).

The most important thing you can get from building an app based on a pre-existing app, is that there is room for more than one.

Photo sharing app.

Think Instagram and Path (and now Wyst).

Music identification apps.

Or Shazam and SoundHound.

Checkin apps - there sure are a bunch of 'em!

And how about Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, SCVNGR, and now Yelp for Mobile.

You get the picture.

This underscores my point that even if your app idea has already been done, you can still make a mark or carve out a niche by doing something – even just one thing – better than the rest.

So don’t be discouraged if you find that you idea for the next killer app has been co-opted by someone else.

Check them out. Bide your time. And once the feedback starts coming in about what they did wrong, drop yours!

What’s your killer app idea? Wait…don’t tell me…it’s been done already. Right?

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Filed under apps, branding, digital advocacy, mobile