Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Lori Roth, Director of Mobile Products at WhitePages

Aug 29, 2012
Tech

Current Caller ID, we incorporate location by surfacing the city and state where the caller is located and display news and weather to help users be “in the know” on topics relevant to the person they are communicating with. Going forward, we know there will be many other ways to evolve the use of location data within the app!

APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.

LR: We take a very integrated approach to marketing our apps. This includes public relations, social media, mobile advertising, PPC and app store SEO. We are fortunate we can also leverage our top 40 website WhitePages.com and our various mobile properties to promote our new apps and drive downloads.

APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?

LR: The two most predominant constraints that we run into are the closed functionality of iOS which limits the services we can offer on that platform and Android’s fragmentation which makes it difficult to offer a consistent experience for our user base across devices. As an example, while we would like to provide Current Caller ID for iPhone users, we are unable to because Apple does not allow developer access to the calls and texts of phones, which prevents us from identifying calls as they come in.

APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?

LR: WhitePages has a great track record of making money with our free apps by offering optional premium features and through advertising. With Current Caller ID, we are hyper focused on user adoption and so are offering it for free. However, there are a variety of premium features that we can offer in the future to generate revenue once we grow the base of users.

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APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?

LR: Three thoughts: (1) Think broad: In order to give yourself the biggest opportunity for distribution you have to think beyond a single app on a single platform. Start with the consumer need, and how you are going to meet that across multiple platforms including devices, sms, social networks, and mobile or desktop web. (2) Think distribution: Create your app with app store SEO in mind and incorporate ways for users to socially share or interact with each other using your app. These two things are the cornerstones of your distribution especially if you have zero or little marketing dollars. (3) Think money: Plan up front your monetization strategy even if you are launching a free app to gain distribution.

APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?

LR: In thinking back on how the app sector has changed since 2007 with the introduction of the iPhone, I would just say hang on for the wild ride ahead. Given the pace of evolving technologies including such things as tablet penetration, machine learning, cloud based storage, location, social, voice recognition, photo technology, and more, there is a wealth of opportunity out there. We at WhitePages are excited about taking full advantage of these technology innovations to help people find, be found and connect with one another!

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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