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Mobile applications and book publishing Photo Credit Ownipics (Flickr) Failure and success in the creative media  In a very short space of time mobile applications development has become fiercely competitive. The barriers to entry for app developers are very low and the stats prove it: for every...

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A Winter Fitness Program For Sailing Windsurfing and Kitesurfing

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in muscle building apps, safety at sea | Posted on 04-02-2013

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Winter fitness program for sailing windsurfing and kite surfing

Sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing all require strength, balance and agility

At iGlimpse we believe there is no substitute for sailing fitness, and that all sailors should maintain a high level of physical exercise year-round so they can enjoy the benefits of better health, performance and safety at sea.

Sailing demands physical fitness, balance and stability 

Hiking, trapezing, lugging sails, throwing and catching heavy mooring lines and operating manual winches are all demanding tasks requiring strength and endurance. These physical tasks are made more challenging by confined space where it’s difficult to achieve an optimal bio-mechanical body position.

Furthermore, sailors and surfers are operating on an unstable platform making holding a balanced and stable position difficult, especially on vessels where there are lots of obstacles to fall against in rough seas.

Sailing fitness programs that include muscle strengthening exercises like dumbbell lunges, bench step-ups and bar bell leg squats, including exercises like back extensions and abdominal crunches play a critical role in a competitive sailor’s year-round fitness regimen.

In an effort to help our growing Nav Lights and ColRegs users with their winter fitness program, we’ve dipped into our fitness apps and healthy back apps to put together a fitness program for sailing, wind and kite surfing to help you combat the winter blues and hit the ground (err…water) running!

Key Fitness Exercises to build strength in the arms, legs, back, core, abs and shoulders 

Winter fitness program for sailing windsurfing and kite surfing

Upper, core and lower body leg exercices for sailing and windsurfing

Try these exercises paying attention to correct technique:

  1. Flat Bench Hyperextensions. Target muscle group:  Lower back. Lie supine on a flat bench with sternum even with bench’s upper edge. Upper chest and head should hang off the top of the bench. Hook feet under bench, securing yourself in stable start position. Place hands at sides of head, fingertips touching ears. With arms bent and elbows out, raise upper body about 8 to 12 inches off the bench. Slowly lower body to the start position. Repeat. Our tip: Do not hold your breath during this exercise. Exhale as you raise your body, and inhale as you lower your body to starting position. Wear shoes that support a strong grip on the underside of the flat bench. This is a first rate back strengthening exercise that sailors need to do to maintain back stability and strength. The exercise can also be performed lying facing forward over a swiss ball.
  2. Rope Push Down. Greta for arms, shoulders and back muscles. Attach the rope to highest setting of cable machine. Stand with feet parallel and shoulder width, knees slightly bent, and pelvis tucked in slightly. Grasp rope with hands in hammer-grip position. Keep elbows tucked in toward sides of body, lower weight down toward thighs. Slowly raise cable weight back to start position. Our tips: For proper position, keep your neck back and your chin slightly up. Exhale as you lower the cable weight, and inhale as you bring it back to the starting position. Take a slight pause at the lowest point of the movement.
  3. Rotated Back Extension. Excellent strengthening exercise for back and oblique muscles. Lie prone on a Swiss ball, so that your navel is on the center of the ball. Extend your legs behind you, resting on your toes. Place your hands behind your head, with your elbows out. Extend your back, lifting your chest away from the ball, and rotate your torso to the right. Hold for five seconds, and then lower your chest and shoulders back to the starting position. Repeat, extending your back and rotating your torso to the left. Repeat entire sequence three times in both directions. OUr tips: Keep your toes firmly planted on the floor. Keep your arms out at a 90-degree angle to your body with your elbows bent. Widen your feet for increased stability. Avoid shifting your hips as you rotate—hold them square to the ball throughout the movement.
  4. Balance Ball Crunch. Target muscles: Upper abdominals. Lie on a balance ball with shoulders and head hanging off the ball, keeping knees and hips bent. Gently hyperextend  back to conform to the contour of the ball. Place hands on the sides of  head, with elbows bent. Flex waist to raise upper torso. Return to the starting position, and repeat. Our tips: Keep feet planted firmly on the floor. If you feel neck strain, take a small towel and place it behind the occipital bone of your head. Grip the ends with each hand, and keeping your elbows in, lift your chin toward the ceiling. A bosu ball works best, but if none are available, use a balance ball.
  5. Body Ball Extension. A top exercises to maintain core strength in back extensor muscles and abdominals. Lie supine over a Swiss ball, with your upper chest and head hanging off the edge of the ball. Firmly plant your feet to stabilize yourself over the ball, and place your hands on either side of your head. With arms bent and elbows out, raise your upper body about eight to twelve inches off the ball. Slowly and carefully lower your body to the starting position. Repeat ten times. OUr tips: Keep your glutes and thighs constantly engaged while you perform this exercise. Keep your lower body taut. Keep your head in neutral position.  Keep a wide base for extra balance. Avoid elevating your shoulders and lifting your hip bones off the ball.
Back exercises for sailing and windsurfing

Build core strength in back extensor muscles and abdominals


Get fit for the Trapeze

Trapezing with your feet close together and handling a jib sheet when you’re lying flat out requires specific muscle group fitness. Here are a few suggestions

 

Strength training for sailing and windsurfing

Strengthen the deltoids, shoulders, calves and core for added stability

 

  1. Standing Bar Bell Row – The standing bar bell row works the muscles you’d use when handling a jib sheet flat out on trapeze. Grasp the barbell with hands, palms facing down in an overhead grip about shoulder width apart. Stand with feet parallel and shoulder width apart, parallel and shoulder width apart, and pelvis tucked in and knees slightly bent. To get into start position, rest the barbell against the top of your thighs. Arms should be against top of thighs. Arms should be extended with a slight bend in at elbows. Back should be straight. Focus on engaging side deltoids to lift barbell to chest height. Pause at the top of the movement, and return to top of the movement, and return to start position.
  2. Reverse Fly – Great exercise to strengthen and stabilise the shoulder and deltoid muscles. Hold dumbbell in each hand and straddle the inclined bench, facing forward. With hands in hammer-grip position, lower dumbbells off incline bench. Lower body to bench, simultaneously lowering dumbbells to start position. With palms facing toward each other, draw arms up to side and away from body. Lift until reaching shoulder height, then lower dumbbells back to start position. Repeat several times.
  3. Dumbbell Calf Raise – This is a good exercise for developing strong calves and endurance in the ankles to help you extend fully on the trapeze and sustain a stable footing. Stand with feet parallel and shoulder width apart, hold dumbbell in each hand in hammer-grip position, palms facing each other. Keep arms close to sides of body. Slowly raise onto balls of feet, concentrating on contracting calf muscles as you raise. Slowly lower back to start position, and repeat. Tips: exhale as you raise onto your toes, and inhale as you lower back to the starting position.
  4. The Plank: For core strength and stability. Every sailor needs a sturdy core of stomach and back muscles to help them balance and remain stable onboard a vessel in rough seas. Windsurfers and Kite surfers in particular  must keep their balance on top of an ever changing water surface while also controlling a sail being pushed by the forces of the wind. We recommend the forward facing and side-plank for stabilising the core and strengthening the abdominals. Lie supine on a mat, supporting your upper body on your forearms. Bend your legs, and rest your weight on your knees. Push through your forearms to bring your shoulders up toward the ceiling as you straighten your legs. With control, lower your shoulders until you feel them coming together in your back. Return to the starting position, and repeat several times.Tip: lengthen through your neck and avoid allowing your back to sag.

Lower body and leg strengthening 

Strength in the quads and gluteus will also help boarders with added balance and stability.

Best exercises for sailing and windsurfing

Practise exercises to improve balance on the water

Dumbbell Walking Lunge  – This exercise is hard work for both the quads and gluteus but also the lower legs and feet, forcing you to maintain balance. Stand with feet parallel and slightly narrower than shoulder width apart, hold dumbbell in each hand in hammer-grip position, palms facing each other. Keep arms close to sides of body. Step forward with left leg until left foot is approximately two feet from right foot, keeping torso upright as you lower upper body. Concentrate on using left heel, push up and forward, return to start stance position. Repeat steps 2 and 3 starting with right leg. Tips: Inhale as you step forward and exhale as you raise back to the starting position.

To improve your balance and stability on board moving vessels, you might also try a wobble board in a gym to practise balancing, or if you’re at home, one exercise you can do is to stand on one leg and, with the other leg raised , write in the air drawing numbers 1-10 with your raised foot.

FLEXIBILITY 

Stretches and exercises for sailing

A series of well targeted stretches will help improve flexibility and avoid injury

Being fit for sailing and boarding is not just about strength. Rigid or tight muscles can lead to injury during falls and wipeouts, making flexibility important. Collisions on a boat and wipeouts in the water can be violent with the body being twisted and thrown about. Tight muscles are more likely to sustain injuries than flexible muscles.

For the sake of flexibility we recommend you do warm up activities and stretches prior to your physical exercise routine, including Hamstring-Abductor stretches, simple toe-touch bends, groin stretches (photo), Seated or Supine Glute stretches ( photo), ankle flex and calf stretches (picture) and triceps stretches (photo).

Our Healthy Back apps and Strength Builing apps (from which this selection of exercises is taken) include a much wider variety of fully illustrated warm ups and stretches with anatomical cut-through diagrams.

The exercises we’ve suggested are strenuous and we recommend you allow 2 days between strength training sessions to rest and recover fully. Always seek the advice of a medical practitioner before undergoing a fitness program. Always warm-up before exercise.

To see a video demonstration of our apps click here 

Happy Sailing !

The best strength training and bodybuilding app for fitness buffs everywhere

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in Android, app development, educational apps, muscle building apps, new product development, user experience | Posted on 14-06-2012

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craig ramsay the best muscle building routine and bodybuilding exercise app

Super Pumped! Craig Ramsay's Muscle Building Apps Offer A Great User Experience

 

Fitness coaching on your smartphone

The benefits of exercise and healthy living are well known today. That’s why so many of us take out gym memberships and aspire to regularly workout in a gym. We also love our smartphones because they are so much more to us than just a communication device that allows us to make a call or listen to music.

An overwhelming choice of fitness apps 

When we were deciding what apps to publish next and we looked at the fitness sector we saw instantly how well served our fitness friends are, with apps in all shapes and sizes that help us perform better in the gym, select workouts, keep track of our weight, plan meals and schedule reps. The Apple App Store and Google Play are literally overrun with thousands of applications that focus on health, personal training, and specific sports. Choosing the right app can be an onerous task.

Deciding what muscle building apps to publish 

The thing that spurred us on to create apps in the fitness category was seeing the numbers of people who search Google and YouTube for strength and fitness ideas. We were instantly aware that fitness buffs want ideas, a structured program, support and motivation, more guidance in the gym and help with using complex gym equipment.

So when planning the apps we wanted to ensure we could provide this and we turned to an expert: Craig Ramsay, the world-renowned fitness trainer, and author of Anatomy of Muscle Building and Anatomy of Stretching. Why? Because people want expert guidance and Craig Ramsay knows his trainees and provides coaching to bodybuilders and fitness buffs everyday, as well as writing the tips and advice in his coaching manuals, books and DVDs. It seemed logical that if people want higher quality instruction they can trust, we needed to turn to an expert.

Less is more: apps that do one thing brilliantly 

That’s why rather than attempt to provide limitless functionality in a small app, we decided to keep it simple, pair the contents back, and make the apps so they perform one task brilliantly: help users select the best exercises possible for any given muscle they want to work on.

So, unlike an app such as FitnessBuilder our apps don’t include a workout builder, nor do they offer ways to track and log your progress or give you access to various calculators for BMI and target rates for your heart. These features are helpful, but for us it goes against our app publishing philosophy to cram mobile app with too much functionality. We prefer to keep the user experience simple.

We made a choice: keep the apps simple: you simply choose the app you want, open the app and select a muscle from the menu, and the app will list the exercises that target your chosen muscles. Exercises are presented in full-colour photography, with clear step-by-step instructions and annotated cutaways of the muscular system, all scientifically labeled with expert tips to guide and motivate the user. When you’re done doing one exercise you go back to the menu and choose another exercise for that muscle. We’ve made a demo video of each app you can view here.

Feedback: a positive user experience 

Early user reviews suggest fitness enthusiasts like having the anatomical illustrations and personal training tips at their finger tips, reporting that the muscle diagrams help them to visualise what their muscles are doing as they perform the exercises. Users also appreciate being able search by exercise or muscle group and having stretches included alongside the regular exercises.

The decision to keep our apps simple means that we encourage users to use our apps in conjunction with other complimentary apps like Gym Buddy: a  versatile workout log. This app will allow you to edit your sets after you input them and to set countdown timers to monitor your rest periods. You might want to check out iWeight to help you track your weight. Lose It is an app that provides a way to track calories ingested in the form of food and expended in the form of exercise.

What are your favourite fitness apps? Please leave a comment and / or feedback 

 

Navigation safety: a quick-reference mobile app to learn the ColRegs NavLights and Shapes.

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, ColRegs, educational apps, learning tool, navigation safety, Navigational apps, safety at sea, Uncategorized | Posted on 03-02-2012

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Navigation safety Colregs NavLights Shapes

Costa Concordia Photo Credit: Europa Press on Flickr

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic this April, safety at sea remains a topical and important subject that will no doubt dominate the syllabuses of nautical qualifications like the RYA coastal skipper, day skipper and the fast track courses that exist for a growing number of professional skippers.

You know the fear

Those who have skippered at sea know the paralysing effects of an impending collision. Planes, trains and automobiles all crash and collide, yet sea collisions feel different. Somehow, they seem to happen in slow motion and that’s what makes them so tragic: a sense that they could be avoided.

The Costa Concordia this January is one such an example of an accident in which the fear that gripped the skipper was such that it stripped Captain Schettino of his ability to make informed, rational decisions. The man is well trained and experienced, yet the collision that unfolded before him and his crew paralysed him completely.

More operators, more skippers, more courses, more dangers; shorter, tougher exams 

The rapid expansion of commercial boating in the last decade coupled with the increasing demand for qualified skippers and crew has resulted in training centres running faster track courses and qualifications. On such courses, skippers are under immense time pressure (sometimes online 16 weeks) to get the knowledge. On these courses trainees struggle to learn the collision rules, forcing examiners to mark down heavily on poor knowledge or lack of application of the rules.

The need for more navigation safety 

The need for greater vigilance and regard for safety at sea is underlined in the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) Safety Digest 1/2011 where poor application and knowledge of the COLREGS  (cases 2 and 19) reinforces the need for greater knowledge and application of the rules.

ColRegs, navigation safety and why iGlimpse published the Colregs NavLights & Shapes mobile app

Navigation Safety is based almost completely on the International Maritime Organisation’s  (IMO) Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (Colregs).

Knowing that the ColRegs are difficult to learn and to put into practice we set about developing Colregs NavLights & Shapes, the first in a series of easy-to-use learning and reference tools to help skippers and crew develop a more instinctive knowledge of the rules.

For a video demonstration of the app click here.

What users say about the ColRegs NavLights & Shapes mobile app

We’re delighted with the rapid wide-spread adoptions and endorsements we’ve received from instructors and  skippers alike in what is now over 35 countries including the UK, Australia, the United States, China, Canada, Russia, Panama, New Zealand, Qatar, Turkey, Sweden the Falkland Islands.

The feedback we’ve received sums up the benefits of the app:

–  “Very easy to use, wish I’d had this when I was doing day skipper!”

–  “….excellent graphics, really first class clean design and accurate info…”

–  “Beautifully produced and very simple to use, a cool learning tool”

–  “Good app for anyone to use, especially when you are training for a Yachtmaster or Boatmaster etc.”

–  “Much easier than flip cards”

Mobile versus traditional print based resources 

As the world goes mobile, our vision is that iGlimpse Apps will sit comfortably alongside other formats and help skippers and their crew feel more confident on the sea but one advantage the mobile app has over conventional sources of information like almanacs, flip cards and books, is that it can be opened instantly, anytime, anywhere on a mobile device (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone) and without a mobile or internet connection.

Our next app in the series is due for publication shortly and is  Colregs Rules Of The Road

If you’d like to be notified of the release, please register for our newsletter.

To download the app for iPhone click here or to download the Android version click here. To see what the the app does in a video demo click here.

Further Reading

Wheelhouse Companion: a helpful print based resource for learning your collision regulations. It also makes a great reference book that is easy to use so you can keep it onboard.

Colregs Guide This is also a good guide, with full colour illustrations. It is useful for the novice seeking understanding and explanations, or for the professional just looking to brush up before an exam.

A Seaman’s Guide to Rule of the Road This is more of a quick reference book, and is well suited to experienced mariners looking to brush up on their knowledge.

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, design, marketing, new product development, user experience, user testing | Posted on 15-12-2011

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The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

 

A reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way

We’ve finished user-testing and we’re about to launch our first app: a learning and reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way by avoiding potential collisions on the sea. It helps people learn and understand the International Maritime Organisation’s navigation lights and shapes and the collision regulations (ColRegs)

It’s better than flash cards, less weighty than a book and the simple in-app navigation means that users can pinpoint the shape, light and rule quickly by referring to the menus and graphics. Users that tested the app have been very positive about their experience using it and have pointed out some improvements that we’ve acted on.

 

You don’t need an app for that

A colleague of mine, a journalist working in publishing, always says, when the subject is apps: “you don’t need an app for that.” “You need a mobile something but not an app – perhaps an m-site, because it’s more dynamic”. But in our case users will not be opening emails and reading sites on their mobile phones at sea.

Who is your target audience?

Another colleague in media production that I’ve always admired always asks “who is your target audience and what are their mobility characteristics and needs?”

At iGlimpse we’ve spoken to our target groups, analysed their lives, reading activity, their use of technology and we’ve developed mobile apps that embrace the concept of “dead time”.

We’ve developed our first few apps to allow our users to dip in and out of the subject matter at will, on a need-to-know basis.

Talking To App Users

Talking to our app users we discovered that they do not know that they need something until they need it and, therefore, their search for information most often happens on the spur of the moment. That made us realise that our apps needed to be part of their daily lives, in their pockets, ready to fire up anytime, any place.

ColRegs NavLights is simple and it can be dipped into and is ideal for “reading-on-the-go“.

What if we had not spoken to our users?

If we’d not researched our users’ needs carefully at the outset, attended shows, met with users, talked to trainers and tested the apps online via beta and with survey monkey, I think we’d have defaulted and done something similar to what we had previously done for 20 years: shoved in as much as possible between the back and front cover of a book to give it the pagination and thickness needed to justify the £25 price point.

Being able to see how mobile devices serve a very different purpose to other media has meant that we’ve avoided many mistakes we might have made if we’d followed our instincts.

What about app pricing? 

As far as pricing is concerned, we had to price competitively and in accordance with our audience. It’s a fact that people will spend hours evaluating a £1.99 app then go and spend £2.50 on a very mediocre cup of coffee. So we spent time positioning ourselves in the competitive landscape, looking at generic media and direct competition on the app store. We hope we’ve got the price right but only a solid number of adoptions and some positive recommendations will prove whether or not that is the case.
If you’d like more information on our apps, please contact us here and we’ll send you a notifications.

How to improve mobile app discoverability and increase mobile app downloads

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, content management, cross platform, design, educational apps, Navigational apps, new product development, user experience | Posted on 11-11-2011

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How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps
How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps. Photo Credit: gadget_media Flickr

As we prepare to launch a new series of branded mobile educational applications for ocean goers, we want to put everything we can on our side to ensure our mobile application does not get lost in all the noise and our discoverability is optimised.

To help ensure greater discoverability we’ve had to have a focused approach to product marketing throughout our creative process.

From kick-off: marketing and the process of creative app development 

Before we gather around the drawing board at iGlimpse, we like to start with the analytical stuff (just as we we did when considering a new books and their viability); first we look into what kind of app types and user experiences are currently being positively reviewed. We study rankings, user reviews both in the app store and across the web and we download and play with mobile applications. This enables us to better map the functionality, building blocks, coding and plan the critical stages of development and production.

Only once we’re happy a product matches the needs of a target audience and that there is a commercial gap do we begin storyboarding and wire-framing the application screens. Only when we’re sure we’ve scoped our project fully, do we get stuck into production, applying frequent alignment meetings throughout to ensure we stay track, to make corrections and improvements, spot bugs early and stay on course to hit the milestones in our critical path plan. With testing and bugs, rewriting code is no fun at all, so we aim to get everything right from the start.

What’s our mobile application?  

Our mobile application is an educational tool that helps sailors identify the types of vessel and the activities they are engaged in at sea, as specified by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Col Regs).

The app provides “iGlimpse” access to schemas, graphics and descriptions of the lights and shapes in the Col Regs and the rules that apply to them as well as featuring a “Test Yourself” section.

Using a single code base and a bridging mobile framework that supports 7 mobile platforms, our app will be platform-agnostic and ready for distribution in multiple stores simultaneously.

But, like new books, new music releases or new film releases, the app needs to be discoverable through search, promoted and priced correctly to ensure its sale.

Our application is launching into a crowded marketplace in which Col Regs are available in many formats including books, flashcards, videos, DVDs and apps. To stand out from the crowd our USPs are: iGlimpse access, ease of use, convenience. These elements coupled with our designer graphics will ensure people enthuse and review the app positively. Word of Mouth is probably the most important single piece of marketing we’ll achieve.

Who are our users, where do they hang out and what sails their boat? 

As well as the many existing sailors of small and larger vessels, our users include trainees on the RYA Day Skipper Courses and their trainers. There are about 155 000 new recruits annually. Our users are of mixed age / gender; they could be Apple, Android or RIM enthusiasts, they are online savvy, they like gadgets, they have disposable income and they actively seek content that helps them improve and grow in their preferred pursuits. We prefer to apply psychometric tagging rather then demographic tagging so are more interested in their likes and pain points than their income bracket or age. Outside the pressure of the Day Skipper Course and the exam, trainees read specialist sailing / motor boat magazines, they are on Twitter and Facebook, they like brands, they search on Google, YouTube, DailyMotion and VideoJug and they are hungry for material that will inspire, inform and entertain them. They also support the RNLI and attend events like the London and Southampton boat shows. London 2012 will be a big focus point for our community. Boating enthusiasts are fascinated and fearful of collisions at sea!! The metrics we’ve studied confirm all the above. Our customer persona is the best guide we have for our marketing decisions.

Routes to market

The app market is a tough and unforgiving place. The app store models are fundamentally optimized to drive pricing down and this is a hard model to build anything other than a hobby business around until you reach notoriety and critical mass.

Discoverability is a big challenge and we’re fully aware that the shelf life of an application, from a revenue earning perspective, is lower than it is for books and music. So the big question for us is: How do we get our application discovered?

We know we’ve got to enable discovery and trial so we can do three things:

  1. produce a demo video to host on YouTube and embed in social media (blogs, FB, Twitter etc) that replicates the user experience
  2. segment our product into a full ‘paid’ version and a lite ‘free’ version, so we maximise downloads and can focus on conversion to paid.
  3. we can also create a storefront around our application, where the user downloads a base application that is free, and, via an in-app purchase, we can augment that users application by adding new content or new functions.

Promotion and PR 

With so much available content we’re conscious we need to support and manage our community of enthusiasts. We’ve already found the concentrations of users which means we can target the channels they hang out in online and offline.

We know who the opinion leaders are, who the influential bloggers and press reviewers are and we’ve got the marketing content assets ready to supply when they request them. This is where the video showcasing our application and our promotion codes will seamlessly integrate with our communications.

Mistakes and assumptions we must not make: 

We must not ignore paid-for-marketing and make the mistake of thinking word of mouth on its own will drive sales – it won’t

We must not assume that sufficient enthusiasts searching searching with keywords will discover our app – they won’t

We must not forget that there are several app stores we need to be visible in

We must not leave the marketing till launch or post launch – priming our market for readiness is key

Conclusion 

The app stores can be a casino for developers but we believe our decision to publish fora clearly defined community of users means that we’re better equipped to anticipate our product marketing. We come from media backgrounds and know the value of great content. Because we are starting our marketing early, we stand a better chance (but not guarantee) of getting our app and supporting marketing materials into the hands of the opinion leaders before we launch. And we will continuously nourish, moderate, manage and maintain buzz in our verticals.

What advice do you have for ensuring better discoverability of mobile apps?

Mobile applications and book publishing

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, design, new product development | Posted on 09-11-2011

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Mobile applications and book publishing
Mobile applications and book publishing Photo Credit Ownipics (Flickr)

Failure and success in the creative media 

In a very short space of time mobile applications development has become fiercely competitive. The barriers to entry for app developers are very low and the stats prove it: for every “appilionnaire” there are thousands of developers whose game plans have been pixelated into nothing.

Book publishing on the hand is mature, some would say outmoded. There is no other business that works similarly on sale or return. It’s a lottery. The calibration of print runs and sales forecasts is chaotic. It’s a world in which 80/20 rules and where the top fifth of books contribute four-fifths of revenues and one title in four is a flop. The failure rate of aspiring novelists who never see their name in print is colossal. The failure rate of books that do make it to the printers but which are subsequently pulped is catastrophic.

Polar extremes: niche and blockbuster 

In truth profit in any traditional mainstream media tends to come from a tiny volume of super-successful titles. That’s because popular culture idolises the “hit” and media chases tribes that want to share the same culture. This is why media companies devote their resources to creating bestsellers, because they understand and can predict the psychology of tribes and followers. This “blockbuster” model has been the backbone of media commerce for a very long time. Yet the endless shelf space of stores like the app store and amazon means that the niche, the obscure and the specialist now have an equal chance of amassing fans. In this new media world, niche audiences can locate and cluster around esoterica and mass audiences can consolidate as they always have around blockbusters. It’s the middle ground that is losing out: the land of mediocrity that sprawls between blockbusters and niche.

Creativity: the big divide between geeks and publishers 

That’s why all creative enterprises need to function with robust marketing disciplines and none more so than mobile app developers who face a multitude of different platforms, discerning shoppers and complex business models.

In the last five years book publishers have been under pressure from basement and garage geeks. But unlike the untethered and nimble dudes in dressing gowns and pyjamas, publishers are strapped by legacy and liability, which means the hobbyists have been growing market share at the expense of the traditionalists, taking the risks and following their passion rather than being guided by what has become the dominant institutional decision making tool: the infamous title profit and loss (TP&L).

In this new media ecosystem successes like Tiny Birds, created by one-man-band Andreas Illiger, push billions of micro-payments from app stores in 80 different countries into the bank accounts of one man operations. Mobile users spend an estimated $250 million on apps every month and 10 billion apps have been sold through the app stores to date. In that same period it’s estimated that 80,000 developers have signed up to the iOS operating system.

In an ecosystem that incubates +500 app submissions a day it’s not difficult to see why the app failures are as apocalyptic as the successes are great. For every success in the app stores, there are several thousand failed app developers. Not unlike book publishing and its millions of failed and pulped titles, so much of the app development process is uncertain and risky.

The euphoria of media success is the same, the drive and culture are different 

The excitement of creating a success on the app store is no different from the excitement of breaking new ground and establishing a new brand or bestselling title in the book trade. The difference is purely that publishing was once gentlemanly, traditional and reserved, whilst app development is a moneyed business, cut throat and desperate. The barriers to entry on the app store are zero and the store is a magnet to brands with money to spend on getting their gadgets built. But, whichever way you look at it, there is pleasure to be had from both processes and that satisfaction in both cases comes from the simple act of creating a product that finds an audience.

As with book publishing there is risk in costing and building an app and the potential for making money. But savvy developers can mitigate against this risk and build apps for niches they can get to know the behaviour of. Publishers of bestselling fiction have always followed the mainstream blockbuster model that relies on advertising and promotion. Non-fiction publishers, on the other hand, have a very different approach to publishing: they cost and sell their titles based on lower volumes. In app development it is the same: the culture of game developers, who rely on brief and transient chart popularity for success, will always be very different from the culture of specialist niche developers who set out to create apps that are costed and designed for audiences they know and that will sustain sales over a longer term.

iGlimpse: eight reasons to love iPhone and iPad

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, IOS, new product development, user experience | Posted on 27-03-2011

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At iGlimpse our clients and partners frequently ask us why we’re so keen on Apple.

This is largely because our focus on IOS helps us hone the categories we publish into as well as select the brand partners we work with.

But there are also 8 other good reasons for loving Apple IOS:

1. Kids love ‘em

Kids love Apple
Kids love Apple – credit Paul Mayne Flickr

Kids worship Macs, iPods, iPhones and the iPad. We’re witnessing a generation shift to Macs.

Not just kids; all age groups including silver surfers are switching to the sleek silver aluminium cased objects at school and at home and as they discover the wonderfully intuitive software that lives on them and allows them to be digital wizards.

The hardware and applications are the drivers of such rapid growth in Mac users. The last quarter saw Apple set a new record of 3.47 million macs sold in the quarter with a growth rate of 33% over the prior year’s quarter.

The next-generation of Mac buyers are also iPhone and iPad users because everything that is Mac is researched and integrates so intuitively.

2. The App Store

Apple has the largest direct-to-consumer customer base in the world. And although the payment processing channels are still controlled by the credit cards and PayPal, changes are afoot with the arrival of Near Field Communication (NFC) which will allow Apple to build yet closer relations with its customers. We like businesses that build proximity with their customers and Apple has proven their attention to customer service throughout time.

3. The iPad

The photo below was taken in Exeter Shopping Centre, a sleepy town in South Devon, UK, on Friday 25 March 2011 which wad iPad 2 global launch day. When I Tweeted the photo, a local businessman responded by saying half his workforce was in the queue!

People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011
People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011

The desire and kudos of iPads is already famed, both on a personal and institutional level.  Last Spring the market predicted Apple would sell 1 to 4 million iPads in 2010.  Actual sales registered 15 million iPads making it the fastest growing consumer product of all time!

iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches
iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches

This year, the market expects Apple to sell 30 million iPad 2s rising to 60 million in 2014.

Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years
Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years

All this is good news for iGlimpse because people are spending money on iPhone and iPad Apps. In fact,  the average top-25 iPad app ($5.03) costs 3X more than an iPhone app ($1.55) and there are 65,000 iPad apps on the App Store.

Now consider this: there are over 100 million books referenced on Amazon. So you can see the growth potential.

4. Soon everyone who wants an iPhone will own one

Apple has just launched a series of TV ads in the US that are aimed at people who’ve never owned an iPhone. The ads explain how users can use their iPod on their phone. They are selling the $49 version of the iPhone 3GS at AT&T (T).

Apple’s future pricing strategy can only go one way and this will be a major threat to Android because unlike Apple, Android users have little brand loyalty and will quickly upgrade to an iPhone when they can afford one. Watch this space as the Apple competitive pricing battle gets underway.

5. More Apple mobile devices means more Apple iPhone / iPad Apps

In January 2010 Apple announced that 3 billion apps had been downloaded in the 18 months following the launch of the AppStore. ABI Research predicts growth in App downloads is set to continue over the next 4-5 years:

IOS Downloads will grow
IOS Downloads will grow

6. Each IOS mobile device has an average 60 Apps on it

In January Asymco.com calculated that 60 apps have been downloaded for every iOS device. This means that IOS Apps reached 10 billion downloads in less than half the time it took songs to reach the same number on iTunes (31 vs 67 months.)

Perhaps more amazing still is the same study shows apps to be running at above 30 million downloads per day with downloads increasing in line with the growth in the installed base of devices which is increasing at the same rate.

7. iPhone and iPad users love Sport and The Great Outdoors

Sport is a healthy category as this app category graph from Nielsen shows.

Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users
Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users

The data justifies our decision to start developing apps for the leisure marine sector where we found few good apps being offered and where we now have 3 water sport apps in development and ready for sponsorship ahead of the UK Olympic Games in 2012.

8. Chinese consumers love Apple

At iGlimpse, we’re also focused on geographic territories, something our international sales and marketing experience taught us whilst working at Dorling Kindersley.

China has huge potential for IOS apps in the categories we’re developing such as Golf.

We’re confident Chinese people will adopt iPhones and iPads because Apple’s four Chinese stores have the highest traffic and highest revenue of any stores across the entire company including New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. The future for Apple, IOS, iGlimpse and its brand partners looks bright.

We’re interested in hearing from brands with a stake in the outdoor leisure sector seeking ways to enhance their customer experience and capitalise on mobile app marketing.

Welcome to iGlimpse…

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-02-2011

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We’re glad you found us!

iGlimpse focuses on the needs of outdoor enthusiasts to produce compelling mobile apps which are designed to make the enjoyment of hobbies and leisure pursuits even greater.

We offer app marketing expertise, design and delivery to help our business partners reach enthusiasts in the outdoor pursuits sector via mobile apps that engage users time and again.

We work with seasoned specialists, whose proven knowledge of Apple’s operating system ensures a consistently faultless and gratifying user experience.

The iGlimpse Mission expressed in words and pictures

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, design, educational apps, engagement, new product development, news, user experience | Posted on 12-02-2011

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iGlimpse from Simon Jollands on Vimeo.