Innovation Showcase – A Tale of Three Apps

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2011 7:25pm

Jayne Kirkham blogs….

How do mobile apps innovate and still appeal to their target audience?

Charles Kriel, Producer/Strategist, Bite Studio
Marc Williamson, Production Manager, Tag Games
Kate Wilson, MD, Nosy Crow Publishing
Produced by:
Julie Adair, Director, Content Creation and Production , Disney Online, EMEA



I love sessions like this one – listening to other people’s success stories is inspiring, especially when they’re small companies doing new stuff.  Never quite overnight successes – you make your own luck and it can take years to make it.  So stories such as the making of A Bear ate My Brussel Sprouts, Three Little Pigs and Dr Who and the Maze of Time are inspiring and encouraging.  Just what you need at the end of a long, very long day in Sheffield.

 Charles Kriel had the idea for A Bear Ate My Brussel Sprouts after reading some research into the foods that kids hate.  He was able to give the idea time to germinate and as other people came on board, able to give them breathing space and the freedom to be themselves:

 “Let Harry be Harry, don’t make him Bob.” And if you do that, you’ll get a good job. I’m thinking of writing an app for a blob.”

 Told you it was inspiring…   But I know you’re tired and want to go to the hubs party.  The thing is you’ll save money if you spend it in solid development rather than lose it in the production of the underdeveloped.

This was borne out by Kate Wilson’s adventures at Nosey Crow developing The Three Little Pigs app.  Despite her extensive experience in children’s publishing, Apps and e-books are not simply books squashed onto a phone or tablet.   But some things remain the same – a good story, a good understanding of children, the room to allow everyone to experiment, and a refusal to compromise.  How lovely to work like that!

Mark Williamson’s experience sounded a little more challenging but nevertheless rewarding.  He was honest about the steep learning curve he had to climb developing the Dr Who and the Maze of Time app for BBC Worldwide. It was a great privilege to work for such a large company and on such a well-loved brand but trying to squeeze EVERYTHING into the app, having to deal with a plethora of licensees and IP owners (everyone has their own monster) sounded nightmarish.  The trick was to stay flexible and stay in constant dialogue with the Powers That Be.   Learning to adapt quickly paid off for the app has done well and the relatively small company is now in a good position for the future. 

So what did I learn?

Stay flexible, listen to mums, never enter the Matt Smith/David Tennant debate, apps hoover up text like a Dyson, give time and space for the happy accident and of course “Let Harry be Harry, and don’t make him Bob.”