Feb 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm #1255870
BPL will be releasing an iPhone app in the coming weeks, most likely in April.
We're interested in exploring new ways to distribute BPL content, including our normal content published on the website, and perhaps new forms of content customized for mobile platforms.
The app will be a fairly simple article reader that will give users access to the last 6 weeks or so of content published at BPL. It will also include tabs to access video content and the most popular items in the BPL store.
For people new to BPL it will also provide some basic info on BPL and BPL membership, along with the latest info on the Wilderness Trekking School.
We are keen to explore the mobile medium and expect to add capability to this app and possibly other apps as we get feedback from users. Your comments and feedback are welcome, as usual. Here's a sneak peek.Feb 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm #1579733
This is very cool! I'll download it as soon as it's available on the store! I hope you'll also include the forums, so we can argu…..er….discuss while on the go!Feb 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm #1579736
Good stuf – my iPhone arrives in 2 weeks….Feb 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm #1579737
Forum capability is definitely on the list of capabilities for the road ahead, though it will not be in Version 1.0.
DonFeb 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm #1579739
Sounds good Don, thanks for the reply! I can still access the forums through Safari on the iPhone, so will continue to do that.
Can I assume you're also building in iPad compatibility as well?
DougFeb 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm #1579743
We are planning to add iPad compatibility but again, not in V1.0. Our goal is to get something out there for people to use, then add capability based on feedback.
This has been in the works for some time and most of the work was done well before the iPad SDK was released. Now that we have access to the iPad SDK, our goal will be to release a "universal" app as soon as we can. With that capability, a single app will adjust itself to work on the iPhone or iPad platforms.
Of course, the iPhone version will run on the iPad – but won't be optimized to take full advantage of the larger display. We've run the current app on the iPad simulator and it runs just fine.Feb 28, 2010 at 1:19 pm #1579747
@jeff-kLocale: New York
Are there any plans to make a mobile friendly version of the website that would be accessible via Blackberry, iPhone, other smart phones?
As a Blackberry user as well as one that does occasional development for fun, it would be great to see this capability for other devices as well.Feb 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm #1579757
We have spent some time on a mobile version of the site, though it is not quite ready for release yet.
We recognize the trade-offs in focusing on the iPhone right now. A mobile site is more universal. But native apps are much more responsive and capable, and offer a better user experience in my opinion.
DonFeb 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm #1579761
@jeff-kLocale: New York
Thanks for the information.
I completely agree with you that a native app is much more responsible and capable and offers a better user experience.
I am just jealous of those that have the options of those native applications.
JeffFeb 28, 2010 at 2:42 pm #1579792
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Great news. It will be interesting, as a designer, to see the differences in the regular and iPhone websites.
We are planning to add iPad compatibility but again, not in V1.0. Our goal is to get something out there for people to use, then add capability based on feedback
I'm glad you are thinking about this, but may I caution you to think now about implementing the compatibility, rather than as an afterthought? Doing it now will mostly likely avoid any headaches that might come up later in the design and interface.
Also, I think that offering a version of the main website designed through CSS to be more usable on tiny screens is not that difficult to implement. The main problem is size and navigation, but the pages still follow the succession of webpage hierarchy. Wouldn't it be fairer to all members if they all had access to the main site via their mobile devices? I use the iPhone, but not everyone here does.Feb 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm #1579796
I'll give it a shot.Feb 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm #1579826
Re iPad compatibility.
I agree with Miguel that this needs to be carefully considered. The iPhone and iPad are quite different interfaces, even though they share many of the same characteristics. Anyone thinking of writing apps for the iPad still can't even use an iPad – only a simulator which runs on a desktop, and therefore has no true touch capabilities.
Good universal apps will share some aspects of a look and feel on both platforms, but will be much more than just "big" and "small" versions of the same app. So the BPL app has been designed to rapidly accommodate different screen sizes. But I want to get my hands on an iPad before we decide exactly how we'll adapt to its unique features.Feb 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm #1579832
Please don't rush with this just to get it out there. Remember this sites overhaul!? Will be cool though.Mar 1, 2010 at 6:39 am #1579989
@akajutLocale: Central Oklahoma
Any idea on the cost of the app?Mar 1, 2010 at 7:33 pm #1580315
The app will most likely be $2.99.
We may experiment with different prices – we'll see.Mar 2, 2010 at 9:49 am #1580545
Hmmmm. Will I be able to read the articles that usually require a subscription to BPL if I buy the app? If not, what added value, other than being able to use my iPhone, is the app offering? If yes, then why would I want to subscribe if I can get the same thing from a $2.99 app?
Personally, I'd see the app as a way to expand, for lack of a better term, BPL market penetration. You're unlikely to do that if you charge for it, as BPL isn't some 'name' that people think they just have to have. The app is a gateway to more subscribers, that kind of thing. Charging for it limits that potential. IMHO.
EDIT: Just re-read your initial post. I get the last six weeks of articles if I buy the app. Still don't see enough of an added value to actually pay for it, and still think that charging for it limits its appeal to expanding the BPL universe.Mar 2, 2010 at 10:15 am #1580566
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
I get on BPL all the time on my phone. I don't even have an iPhone.
Is there something different on an App?
EDIT: I post from my phone a lot. Am I missing something about apps?Mar 2, 2010 at 11:00 am #1580591
An app would have the content formatted for the device, instead of formatted for a normal computer screen. I'm on BPL on my phone, and post, as well, but there's much more scrolling in doing so that should be greatly reduced with an app.Mar 2, 2010 at 11:08 am #1580596
@woodenwizardLocale: Greater Mt Tabor
The scrolling… Argh! That IS the bain of the site on my phone. You think that they'd have a way to hold something and scroll. Probably do, but not on mine:(Mar 2, 2010 at 11:29 am #1580607
I have to agree with Doug. We want to bring in new people… potential future customers. A free app might be enough to draw them in. The only people who I see actually buying your app are those who are already members. What's better? A few $2.99 customers, or a few $24.99 customers?
I would pay the $2.99, since I'm already a member. I doubt I would have without previous knowledge of the sites existence.Mar 4, 2010 at 5:53 am #1581560
We've had a lot of internal discussion regarding app cost.
It is true that a significant part of our goal is to expose BPL to new people. But it is also true that we want to provide a better online experience for anyone, including current members. We have considered giving the app away for free, and we may try it. However, if you look at what has worked for other iPhone apps, the free app model has mixed results. Sure, many more people will download the app if it is free. But that does not necessarily translate into more people who are really interested in the content, or more long term growth. It's a delicate balance, and one we will likely experiment with. Of course, as a small company, we also have to consider short term costs too – we are not the NY Times.
We have also considered giving app buyers a coupon that could be used to recover the app cost at the BPL store. That way current members could recover their $3, and new members would get $3 off a full membership. We'd be interested to hear your comments on that approach.Mar 4, 2010 at 5:59 am #1581561
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Just do two apps, one limited features BPL App Lite for free, and one full-featured paid app. That's what a lot of app developers do to promote their paid apps. The free app will have the added benefit of allowing potential buyers to try out the app first to see if they want to spend the money on a paid app. One of the problems with iPhone apps is that you don't know what you're getting until you pay for it, and very often the app does not live up to its hype. This will also push you to develop an app that is worthwhile.
I'd also encourage you to contact the developers of relevant apps (like GPS apps, map apps, compass apps, Star Walk and Starmap Pro, iBird, Knot Huide, etc)., and try to find a way to coordinate all of them so that all of you promote one another, such as to have links to each of the participating apps with each app. Another BIG problem with the App Store is that there are so many apps that most of them get buried under the sheer numbers and are obscured by the popular apps. So even if a fantastic app is waiting somewhere people may never find it. The App Store's navigation setup is awful. If you could find a way to get a group that would help one another promote each other you'd be noticed and people would buy your app.Mar 4, 2010 at 6:05 am #1581565
We have also considered giving app buyers a coupon that could be used to recover the app cost at the BPL store. That way current members could recover their $3, and new members would get $3 off a full membership. We'd be interested to hear your comments on that approach.
I like this idea. For me at least. The only drawback is that for people who are new to the scene might not want to invest the $2.99 just to see if it's interesting to them or not.
Perhaps a BPL Lite and BPL Pro version should be released. The Lite would have limited access to gear reviews and such. The Pro version would have full forum access and cost $2.99.
EDIT – I just read the above post. Seems we are on the same page. Great minds think alike. ;)Mar 4, 2010 at 6:08 am #1581566
I would prefer the app lite and pro app preference. For those members overseas $3 in the store means >$30 in postage.Mar 4, 2010 at 9:31 am #1581633
So a $3 one time fee to get access to everything as its published and a $25 annual fee to get access to the archives?
I don't believe this is a viable sales model. I could just save an archive of the site, drop my membership, and use the iphone app. And it would be much cheaper. So now the value of a long term membership is basically nil.
The iphone is just another access method, and one that has become significantly popular that content providers can't ignore it. But the value is in the content which members have already payed for. Charging independently for each access method is a sales model that has not worked.
P.S. The coupon thing doesn't change the fundamental problem with this approach.
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