I’ve been following a few mobile app developers that allow indie artists, athletes, public figures, and small businesses to use software and web based platforms to launch their own apps and place them in the major mobile app stores. No longer does the cost of a custom iPhone app match the sticker price of a brand new car. These developers have made tools available to upload your own photos, music videos, connect social networks blogs and other feeds – into slick apps that won’t cost you a fortune.
You don’t have to own an iPhone to understand the value that apps present. iPhone app development has been a booming business despite the current state of the economy. Apps are cheap entertainment users can take anywhere. Those who sell their apps for less than a large coffee see huge revenues from thousands of downloads. Free apps see even more downloads and give companies a new venue to reach consumers. The music industry has witnessed the iPhone app become not only a tool to promote artists, but also interactive albums with exclusive content that have brought in millions of dollars in sales. But what about those cool apps you see from famous rock stars? Can I get one of those? The answer is: heck yes you can.
Mobile Roadie is the most promising solution for those on a budget. While its offerings are fewer than Kyte, a platform commonly used by major labels and corporations, Mobile Roadie has a lot of functionality for the price. Although both platforms are ideally suited for music industry related clients, they can easily be modified to fit the needs of any public figure or company.
MR features include a wall with commenting, tour dates, music player that stays put while you browse the content, album info and iTunes links, videos, integration of facebook, flickr, and other media sharing and social networks, and even imports your RSS feeds from Twitter, blogs, calendars, etc.
From what I’ve seen on the MR site, there is a mere $499 fee for setup. MR then charges $30 per month for the first year or until your app is downloaded 1000 times. After that you pay $0.01 per download, per month. Sounds confusing right? Well MR allows you to forgo the one cent fees by hosting your own content. So as far as I can tell, if you don’t hit the 1000 download mark in the first year you pay a total of $760 for your very own app from Mobile Roadie.
Kyte offers a professional custom app solution as well as free consumer level podcast creation tools. The Kyte iPhone app platform is a powerful high end service for those who want a custom app placed in the app store as well as video distribution across the expanses of the world wide web.
The Kyte framework has many of the Mobile Roadie features but Kyte is more about video and chat than being an audio player. The consumer that downloads your Kyte powered app will have the ability to watch videos and live shows while chatting with other fans who are using the app. Your branded app powered by Kyte can be monetized to generate revenue from advertising. In addition to mobile sites and apps, Kyte distributes your content around the regular old internet too.
Kyte has a desktop production tool that allows users to produce a Kyte podcasts that are then syndicated through your iPhone app and your Kyte channel. 50 Cent, G-Unit and the entire Thisis50.com team reached over 50 million views on their branded Kyte channel. Your Kyte channel, much like a Youtube channel, can be embedded as a widget on Facebook, MySpace, and just about anywhere. The content is spread throughout the web, not just to iPhones.
Another bonus that Kyte has over Mobile Roadie is that Blackberry users can also download the Kyte apps. Pricing for Kyte Premium, their basic offering, ranges between $150 and $500 per month.
Kyte has a free scaled down consumer level offering for fans and video bloggers to make “shows” containing audio and video of their favorite artists. This service does not provide a custom mobile app. Not to be confused with the professional custom Kyte powered apps, another app is available for iPhone and Nokia smart phones called “Kyte Mobile Producer” which is a mobile version of the free producer service. This app turns your compatiable phone into a mobile podcast studio. Additionally, you can browse Kyte channels from any web enabled phone at m.kyte.tv.
Another possible “turn key” app creation tool I found is App Wizard. App wizard is supposedly a desktop software that converts your existing website into an iPhone app. There is hardly any information about the software and there are no demos or screen shots on their website. The site has only two pages, a home page with a brief description and a page to buy the software for $190. I’m skeptical that this software exists or does what it is supposed to. If such a thing did exist, it would be the easiest and most affordable road to the App Store. I’ve requested more information but have not heard back from them and will update all you curious interwebbers when I learn more.