James Rosewell writes:
Tonight’s BBC Apprentice was about building a Mobile Application. Two teams of supposedly bright entrepreneurial talent were tasked with creating a Mobile App in 2 days. The App with the highest number of downloads 24 hours after being launched would win this stage of the competition. App stores didn’t include Apple, but did include Nokia, Android and Blackberry.
Time and technology limitations resulted in the teams sticking to basic graphics and sounds. Both teams opted for humour. The Girls opted for irritating noises packaged as “Ampi Apps”, and the Boys chose catchphrases under the title “Slangatang”. The Boys were better organised and their production values were a lot higher. However the Girls eventually went on to win with over 10k downloads. In contrast the Boys achieved just under 4k downloads.
So what made the difference? The teams were each given the opportunity to pitch to 3 major web sites for a single review. The Boys application was featured on TechCrunch and Pocket-lint. The Girls featured on Wired. The Wired endorsement, with the larger number of global followers, was the major factor in the success of the Girls application.
Would Wired, TechCrunch or Pocket-lint have reviewed these applications had they not been part of the BBC Apprentice programme? I don’t think so. There are tens of thousands of applications like these out there. We don’t know if the BBC paid them. However we now have some very public numbers on the influence of these three web sites.
In addition to the importance of influential endorsement, this episode of the Apprentice highlights the need for quality content or value adding services. Both applications had neither, and couldn't, given the limitations. There’s a market for mobile applications that re-purpose existing quality content or services to make them more accessible via the small form factor and portable mobile device. However there’s a limited market for the tens of thousands of wannabe applications that repackage the same old ideas. It's hard to be different and great.
We now know that influential endorsement can be acquired if you have the right status. This makes separating the wheat from the chaff even harder. I also wonder if the Apprentice, in the UK at least, will encourage individuals with half-baked ideas to have a go at producing mobile applications, further exaggerating the problem.
Incidentally, these applications were published on 1st October 2010, which gives Apprentice addicts some idea of how far in advance the show is recorded.