A Cape Town media company has pipped Apple’s iRadio to the post with the launch of a multimedia app for its 2oceansvibe news and 2oceansvibe radio services. The app features multimedia news and video alongside live-presented streaming radio.
2Oceansvibe boss Seth Rotherham says iTunes has planned the same features roll out via iTunes Radio in the upcoming update to Apple’s iOS (iOS7). All of which means 2oceansvibe has not only pre-empted Apple’s own development by three months, but has ensured South Africans will have access to the technology, which they wouldn’t ordinarily have had as the new version of iTunes Radio will not be available outside the United States.
“It took about three months of careful planning, development and testing,” says Rotherham. “Our developers, Thought Faqtory, are easily the number one app makers in South Africa and we were in daily contact throughout the process. If a new build was ready to test I would stop everything and work through it and send back the results for further tweaking. It was more fun than actual work!” Rotherham praised Thought Faqtory’s Simon Barber and his team, saying they had “nailed it”.
The app allows users to create their own playlists and buy whatever song is playing – directly from the app (via iTunes). This saves them a step, rather than using apps like Shazzam to identify the song playing for later purchase. From a news perspective, users can scroll and touch to read articles published on 2oceansvibe.com. They can add and read comments, view thumbnail galleries, zoom in on pictures, play full screen videos, filter by category and search, and share stories via email, text, Twitter and Facebook. The radio play button on the top right hand corner of the news menu allows users to stream 2oceansvibe Radio in the back ground while browsing stories.
Such advances cost in terms but investment, but Rotherham says, “We had to build this app to stay ahead in this news/media/radio game and that was that”.
The reason, he says, is that the 2Oceansvibe listener – or a large portion of 2oceansvibe’s 260 000 unique readers a month – were looking for a mobile option. “We noticed from our analytics that over a third of our users were accessing 2oceansvibe through their browsers on their phones., and 20% of our entire readership was through iPhone. Something had to be done. These people want to access our news stream and they want to tune in to 2ov Radio on the go. Another aspect are company firewalls restricting users from web content. Our audience are high-LSM professional opinion leaders,” he says.
“The guys at Thought Faqtory seem to have a very deep understanding of what can and can’t be done, and the time that will take. So you don’t have to worry about a certain function pricing the app out of the game, they will help you keep to a budget. In terms of recouping that investment, it’s not even a sum I want to sit down and work out.”
Rotherham says they had “about 500 downloads in the first week so we’re pretty stoked about that. Because of the premium functionality of the app, news feed and radio stream, we’re confident that this level of downloads will be maintained. We also a finalist in the MTN App Of The Year Awards, which we’re very excited about”.
2OV’s new stream, he says, busts through the clutter with a combination of original stories as well as aggregated content. “We’ll give you news that people actually talk about – sifting through the the rubbish that’s out there – local and international. Our main themes are business, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle,” Rotherham says.
The app is available on iOS and the android version is in development but bad news for BlackBerry 10 users – it won’t be available for you. “Sorry ;-)” says Rotherham.
In terms of costs, Rotherham says as the South African consumer continues to mature and as cellphone call plan sizes decrease “data bundles are on the rise. In general we’re beginning to understand that 20mb of data for an hour of streaming radio is actually incredibly light. Look at the size of your average email attachment these days – a single 7 to 10mb email is not uncommon. If they’re tuned in via 3G instead of wi-fi it will hardly even dent their data bundles.”
With such a groundbreaking app now out there, what’s next for the innovative media company?
“Haha – we’ll see! The exciting part of this space you never know what will happen next, as something could arrive out of nowhere which will spark off your next direction! I’m working on another project on the side – which you will see in action in the ‘Music Guide’ section of the app’s radio menu. It’s called hedsapp and allows live gig venues to tweet their gigs and date of the gigs – which then locks that tweet into a mobile calendar. So date specific announcements never get lost. Info at www.hedsapp.com and you can see the live gigs list in the Music Guide section of the 2oceansvibe app,” says Rotherham.
He was one of the speakers at the Radio Days conference in Johannesburg last week, telling delegates about internet radio and audience measurement in the sector. “Our methods were very well received. We’re getting around 15 000 qualified sessions a month. “
Search for 2oceansvibe in the iTunes app store.