Mobile apps isn’t the only game in town. Developers need think big-picture and focus efforts on multi-platform apps capable of connecting our devices and our experiences. This is the trend to watch for 2012 and why Mike Johns, CEO of Digital Mind State, and his views on the vast opportunities at the intersection of apps, TV and social media are more pertinent than ever.
We catch up with Mike to talk about his success brokering profitable business relationships between brands and urban/hip hop artists to deliver a 360 degree entertainment experience combining social media interaction and TV (Social TV) and mobile apps.
We also get an unexpected scoop about Urban World TV, a new mobile TV channel Mike is launching in December to bring us “Pop Culture Redefined.” Look for the youth-focused channel to hit AT&T U-verse, Apple TV and Yahoo Connect TV. The channel purposely allows fans worldwide to connect, rate and rank what they see and share. As Mike puts it: Urban World TV is a “consolidation of cool content, from martial arts films from Hong Kong, to the Brazilian Carnival, to reggae in Germany.” The youth of the world appreciate urban/hip hop music and culture —and Mike’s venture will surely be a trailblazer.
Mike recently spoke at Apps World New York, where he joined in a discussion of how developers can/should build an app business. In his view, app developers have to keep the main thing precisely that: the main thing. This means focusing on the people first and using a deep understanding of the app audience to guide development —and nothing else. Once you know who the audience is (the main thing), then you can put together the marketing (and social) strategy that will grab mindshare and market share.
Listen to artists
Developers and brands would also do well to listen to (translated: let themselves be inspired) by the urban/hip hop artists, not just make entertainment apps. Mike shares the example of Ice Cube, who also branded and promoted a healthcare/fitness app. Games may be number one, but developers shouldn’t ignore the opportunity offered by health and finance apps, apps that are life-simplifying and will predictably command a great deal of our daily attention. There is a great fit between urban artists and fans’ daily routine. Make the effort to find it.
As Mike sees it. “In terms of how artists are using apps, it’s pretty much the wild, wild West.” There is also new territory to navigate such as the way artists can (and should) best connect with their fans and super-fans. Plug location into the equation and there are lots of ways artists can use apps and location to get more mileage out of their tours. “We can re-visit that in 2012 to see what we’ve done,” Mike says. “It’s brand new territory and there’s so much out there, and also so much more to be discovered.”
Advertise, advertise, advertise
How do developers rise above the noise and beat the discovery dilemma? “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise— that’s what it has to be in the app world.” It may sound basic, but Mike believes attention to business basics is what will separate the winners from the also-rans. “It’s now a competitive space, [making and selling apps] is a very serious business.”
Coupled with that, Mike says, developers and artists have to outreach using social media. Social media and mobile —it’s table stakes.
Urban World TV
Mike filled us in on his new venture: a new first-ever “urban, multi-cultural, tech-savvy channel” going live in December. Urban World TV will feature VOD (video-on-demand), streaming and allow people watching to recommend and rate the shows. As Mike explains: “Our slogan is: ‘Pop culture redefined – we connect the streets.’ There was a need for a channel that covered not just U.S. entertainment content, but the world.”
Mike also tells us about his experience speaking and connecting at Apps World, an event he strongly recommends to brands, artists and developers trying to navigate this tough territory. In his view the event was professional as well as personal. “For me, I would say that one of the things that I did like about the event was that it was intimate.” What’s more, attendees were approachable and open to exchanging business cards and ideas. “People were very open; it was very laid back and that was a good thing.”
My personal thanks to Kate Williams and the great folks at Six Degrees, the company that organized the Apps World event, for introducing me to Mike. If you missed Apps World in New York, then you can catch the show in London on November 29th and 30th. Six Degrees tells me that the event — which uniquely looks at multi platform apps and the ecosystem emerging to take advantage of the significant business opportunity — counts well over 3,000 registrations (!), so click below to register today!
Mike is a wealth of practical knowledge and know-how, based on his long track record in the industry. Before he started Digital Mind State (whose clients include Flowd, the music lover’s social network) Mike was the driving force behind the brand UrbanWorld Wireless, where he was responsible for planning, business developing, marketing and brokering profitable business relationships with some of the biggest company names in the mobile industry including T-Mobile, Zed, Jamba, Fox Mobile, NBC, Fun Mobility, Nokia, and Microsoft.
But it’s not just his impressive bio that gets high marks. It’s his passion for what he does, and his razor sharp ability to cut through the technology and get to what matters: the experience. He also correctly sees the need of global youth (united by an interest in urban and hip hop that transcends any physical barriers) for a global youth channel. It’s a brilliant move (and hard work!) to create a place where cool content combines with social media to deliver an entirely new kind of interaction. I look forward to connecting with Mike and watching this develop.
Another development to watch: the advance of multiplatform experiences (and the apps to help enhance and deliver them). 2012 is bound to be the year of connected experiences (such as connected TV) and a turning point for developers who are equipped to ride the wave. As my esteemed colleague Chetan Sharma pointed out in his milestone app report (back in March 2010). “Connectivity breeds apps.” Expect a significant uptick in apps for and avalanche of devices that entertain us, connect is and lay the groundwork for new experiences.
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH MIKE JOHNS HERE. [18:05]