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Industry Working Out Consumer Demand for Apps

1 Dec, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

LOS ANGELES — Before Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group acquired Flixster.com this past summer, the site was a purely ad-based, theatrical discovery site, with origins as a social community for film enthusiasts.

In the months since, Warner has leveraged it into the spearhead application for UltraViolet, the buy once, play anywhere digital copy service that the studio launched with Horrible Bosses Oct. 11.

There are now nearly a dozen versions of the Flixster application across numerous devices.

“We probably could have built 20 if we wanted to go after everything,” said Steve Polsky, SVP of Flixster, speaking Dec. 1 at the Entertainment Apps Conference. “Which platforms consumers are really going to use is hard to predict.”

He and other panelists shared their thoughts with application developers and content owners on what applications work and where, and how applications can be monetized.

“Judge these social and mobile apps across numerous viewpoints,” suggested Ed Lang, CEO of Panelfly, a cross-media content, portable tablet application company. “Are they solving a niche problem? … Or are they trying for a massive land-grab?”

The more encompassing the application, the more risk there is that consumers won’t latch on, panelists agreed. But if it’s too focused, it might not have long legs.

“You’ve got to understand their needs, and then respond to that,” said T.J. Marchetti, SVP of digital for Disney, speaking about consumers. “Essentially what we’re doing is we’re out there trying to experiment and see what’s next.”

Marchetti suggested that UltraViolet — and applications supporting it, specifically — would be on firmer ground in the next couple months.

“It’s a conversation we’re having,” he said. “By CES or after, we should [have] a lot more clarity of where this is going.”

Polsky added that for UltraViolet, “This is inning one of a very long game.”

Panelists agreed that whatever the application, advertising is almost always going to play a part.

Advertising should be “part of the mix,” Marchetti said, depending on the audience and “who you’re trying to reach.”

“We have to be cautious,” Lang said. “The more passive the advertising, the better.”

And, Lang added, the applications must be easy to use.

“We have to make sure my mother-in-law can use my application before we launch anything,” Lang joked.

About the Author: Chris Tribbey

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