RTE keen to realise iPhone app ambitions
LESS than two months into its iPhone flirtation, RTE is already experiencing the slings and arrows of outrageous iTunes shoppers.
Last weekend, the national broadcaster was sitting on the top of the Irish iTunes charts with its newly launched 'News Now' notching up more than 23,500 downloads in its first fortnight.
A day later, 'News Now' was knocked off the top spot when the Irish public turned their favour to an app that shows kinetic balls knocking to and fro on a screen, complimented by rhythmic clanging sounds.
It is a bizarre marketplace, but RTE is committed to making its mark nonetheless, with publishing director Muirne Laffan ultimately hoping to have her apps on 50,000 Irish devices, or about one in every four iPhones.
The RTE iPhone itinerary includes the news app, plus apps for 2fm and Radio 1 which were launched in mid-December and had together notched up 30,000 downloads by the end of January. Ms Laffan sees potential to add more apps, "hopefully around the entertainment side, possibly the RTE Guide", and she says an RTE app that would allow people to watch their favourite shows is "on the road map".
The 2010 to-do list also includes making 'News Now' a 3G app, so viewers can watch news clips on their phone without being in a WiFi area and a proposal for that enhancement is already with the boys at Apple.
Ms Laffan is also determined to make sure the apps, which cost about €20,000 a pop to develop, are commercially viable since RTE "isn't in the business of R&D".
The news app is already funded by advertising revenue in Ireland and by a one-off fee in other markets, and plans to introduce a funding model to the radio apps are in the ether.
RTE's app ambition isn't confined to the iPhone either, and the national broadcaster is in the early stages of developing something for Google's Android system, which is expecting to make it on to mainstream phones over the coming months.
"The objective is to make content available to our audiences wherever they want it," says Ms Laffan. "It's a great opportunity for us to engage with our audiences and provide services."