From football to fish to hospitals, there are plenty of Florida-specific iPhone applications. Should your company consider making one?
Pope says if a business has an obvious app but doesn’t create it, someone else will soon jump on it. Pope’s first app kept track of ride wait times at Disney. He’s had to remove it from the App Store, not because of Disney, but another large corporation, Weight Watchers, which is suing over his app’s name: Wait Watchers.
At Florida State University, business professor David Paradice says companies “need to start imagining the possibilities” of mobile marketing. Sometimes, he says, the possibilities are not what you first imagine. Last year, Paradice began working with student programmers to develop an iPhone app for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort. They envisioned guests carrying live hotel information in their pockets and purses: On the way to Orlando, they could check out their room, download directions or make a dinner reservation at one of the resort’s restaurants.
All that’s happening, but the unexpected benefit was in-house: It’s been a boon to the resort’s sales and marketing staff, which can play videos of amenities during even the briefest business meetings. “It’s very powerful for them to open their iPhone or iTouch and show the videos of the facilities on the spot,” says Paradice.
Still, Paradice acknowledges that developing an app is easier said than done in this economy. At FSU, every one of the students in his technical Management and Information Sciences track last year landed good jobs despite the economic downturn — largely as a result of their hands-on development experience.
This year, FSU has axed the program due to budget cuts.
Hercules Networks, a Miami company, has developed an Automated Charging Machine, or ACM, that allows mobile device users to charge their cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras or mp3 players in 10 minutes or less.
The machines play a 10-minute video loop of CBS programming — five minutes of entertainment news and five minutes of advertising. Advertisers include GM, AT&T, Cadillac, Bank of America and Papa John’s pizza.
ACMs are located at Florida Atlantic University and Nova University, and the company is working with the Seminole Hard Rock and Miccosukee casinos to set up machines at casino locations. Paul King, the company’s 25-year-old CEO, says ACM raised a second round of capital last fall and expects to be profitable by midyear.
ACM charges users $2 at its university machines and plans to charge $5 at the casino sites. “Consumers,” he says “need to be mobilely empowered.”
— Stacie Kress Booker