Saturday 20 April 2019

Shazam: From humble beginnings to one of the world's top apps

Sarah Stack

It’s hard to believe music recognition app Shazam ever had humble beginnings.

Now one of the world’s top apps, Shazam has been downloaded onto more than 527 million devices and has more than 100 million active users with four million new downloads a week.

“Shazam has a magical quality,” said Sam Woods, its commercial director for UK and Ireland.

“It’s kind of a genie in a bottle application. You press a button and we’ll tell you what you’re listening to everybody wonders how, now.”

Some 20 million ‘Shazams’ are created every day, but Mr Woods said it’s been a long 12 years getting there.

“We’re one of the older tech companies in London now,” he said at the IAB Ireland annual mobile conference in Dublin.

“We started from very humble beginnings as a text base service. You’d ring 2580 and we’d sent you a text message telling you what you’re listening to and rather quaintly we’d offer you the opportunity to download a ring tone.

“Fast forwarding eight years we launched the app and we were one of the first apps featured on the first ever iPhone... and in 2010 we became a free service.”

Shazam’s growth has been phenomenal in recent years and it currently drives $300m to the likes of iTunes and Google play every year, making it a linchpin in the music industry. It employs over 120 scientists and engineer who forecast trends, and the UK charts more than 40 days in advance.

More recently the company diversified in to a media engagement app and by ‘shamazing’ a piece of audio a user can be connected with a brand and just launched

It’s also just announced a new partnership with Mood Media and will be rolling out ‘second screen experiences’ in retail stores right across the world.

“I see Shazam for retail growing in a big way,” he added.

The insight behind the screen of the music app was among the highlights of IAB Ireland’s third annual mobile conference with the theme Ready, Steady, Mo!

Google glasses, fitness trackers, wellies that charge while you walk about, a baby grow that records an infant’s vital stats and a watch that records how far and fast a surfer travels on a wave were among the more unusual products touched on at the event.

Jide Sobo, head of mobile at media agency network MEC UK, highlighted some of the changes sparked by mobile devices, and the speed it’s happening.

 “What we see is that consumers are really adjusting to it, they’re really changing their behaviours, they’re taking up these type of new devices and buying them,” he said.

“But what we’re finding is that brands are really struggling to adjust to that change in consumer behaviour.”

More than 200 people working in branding, advertising, digital and publishing attended the event, which focused on the growth of the digital platform, in particular on mobile device.

“It’s about enabling them to grow their businesses using digital and to grow the return in investment using mobile,” said IAB Ireland chief executive Suzanna McElligott.

“Looking at how mobile advertising is effective.”

Research revealed at the conference show almost six out of ten of us can’t imagine life without our mobile phone, yet only half of Irish advertisers are mobile ready.

Meanwhile online advertising spend jumped 40pc to €130m in the first six months of the year as internet usage and access to mobile devices surged.

Fiona O’Carroll, managing director, Digital, Independent News and Media (INM), said the typical consumers of online content are now also the creators, with many having audiences of their own through social media or YouTube.

“The mass market online generation are consuming most of the content through mobile devices,” she said.

“We’re calling them Generation C – they’re connected, they’re curating, they want to be in a community and they’re all the time sharing, and engaging and interacting through content.

“So there’s a huge opportunity for us as we look at how we involve them in the conversation. They want to interact and they want to be involved.”

Fiona O’Carroll, managing director, Digital, Independent News and Media (INM) - the event's media partner - said the typical consumers of online content are now also the creators, with many having audiences of their own through social media or YouTube.

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