in Applications, Mobile Phones, Operators, Services, user-experience

Mobile 3TV – A Few Considerations

“Your application is Ready for Sale”

Mobile 3TV - App Store

Mobile 3TV - App Store

This was the subject of the message I received from Apple on Friday 4th. The Mobile 3TV was approved by Apple and was available for download from the Italian Apple Store.

This was great news for us. We had announced the future availability of this to our customer some time ago and everybody was waiting for this to be released.  Well, it was an instant success. In less than two days the Mobile 3TV application was in the first position in the Top 25 free application list on the Italian AppStore.

That sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, as you can imagine there were some issues.

I was pretty much sure that we would have had those volumes in downloads and since it is a tv streaming application we were expecting high load on our backend. That was true and the first three days we had issues in delivering the service to our customers.

There was no way to avoid this. Clearly you could have add capacity on the backend to cope with the incredibly high volume of streaming sessions but would that have made any sense? Frankly I do not think so. After a few days everything is running smoothly and everybody is happy with his Mobile 3TV application.

On the other side we received an average two stars review on AppStore because the application was not able to connect in the first few days. Users were frustrated and I was frustrated too.

As I said in the first sentence Apple just informs you that your application in on the AppStore. From your side, as a developer, you do not have any mean to limit the download of your application or just decide when it has to made available to your customers. Also Apple does not say anything about approval time… it just happens (or not). Even if you are an operator you are treated just like any other one man band developer (btw, I think this is correct). If I had to give a suggestion to Apple I would introduce an additional switch in iTunes connect in order to let the developer decide when the application has to be made available on the AppStore.

I can also add that the description of the application is absolutely critical. It is probably one of the most important part of the publishing process, apart from getting your application approved obviously.

Being an operator we were very lucky in getting visibility on the AppStore. All of our customers were waiting for this application to be released and so it instantly jumped on top of the charts. I understand this is not the case for most developers.

When we designed our application we tried to keep it as simple as possible. We have thought that people would just want to watch TV on their iPhone without any fancy UI stuff around the gorgeous iPhone screen. That was the main principle. Let the user go straight to the channel and watch TV.

On the other side we wanted to find an innovative way to let the user switch channel.

This is what we came out with:

Channel Switch

When you touch the screen that small circle fades in, it is centered on the point where you touched the screen and from there you can easily qui zap from channel to channel or read the Electronic Program Guide.

That’s all the interface we provided. Quick and simple.

I have to thank all of my team for this great implementation and also our great partner beeweeb that has done a great job in the design and implementation phase. Well, the shakezapping feature that allows you to change channel simply shaking your iPhone is their idea (kudos Filippo!).

I think we have learnt something from this application launch.

I have spent a few time reading reviews on iTunes store and actually if you are an Apple Developer you know very well that by no mean you can alter or drive reviews. They are just sitting there and you can just read them.

I always think that we cannot make everybody happy with our product and services but I was a little bit frustrated reading some reviews. Actually being called a thief in not how I would describe my work in here. I can accept any criticism, and those who know me know that this is definitely true, but there is always a proper way to do it.

At the end of the day I would say I am not 100% satisfied with what happened during the launch but I am quite happy with it.

Oh, and there may a surprise anytime soon… stay tuned.