In the interest of full disclosure, I received a promo code for the iPhone App, A Surfers Paradise, with the expectation that I comment on it.
A Surfers Paradise ($1.99) is the brain child of Matt Gye and Simon ‘Shagga’ Saffigna. Together, they have won several International Surf film awards. Their vision is to produce a groundbreaking international surfing documentary, delivered in 13, 30 minute installments. The hope is, to excite the imagination of 20 million regular participants through a solid media convergence framework that will ultimately find a home in prime time television world wide. The iPhone app is all part of the media convergence, though honestly, its nothing more than a 2 dollar promotional tool.
The app comes preloaded with 6 native 2-4 minute videos of upcoming shows of the best international surfers.
Upon selecting a video, you are taken to an intro screen. Here, you can read a quick intro to the video you are about watch. You can also leave a comment, rate the video and read comments left by other users.
Each of these videos, according to the producers, are introduced by the ‘best host’. The host serves no purpose other than eye candy and frankly, she is not needed. My suggestion would be to remove either the intro screen or the ‘host’, but having both makes me feel as if the producers are just falling prey to cheap gimmicks to get me to watch the surf video.
The video quality of the embedded video clips is very good. They show a few seconds of interviews with those in the industry (such as Mike Fanning and Joel Parkinson) discussing various topics of various shows, followed by the standard surf session montage set to music.
Sometimes the music works very well with that particular montage, other times it doesn’t; I don’t particularly care for screamo music and definitely not with my surfing. Other songs I found particularly enjoyable and wished the music was credited so that I could have purchased it.
In addition to the embedded 6 videos, you now have access to 15 or so newly released content that can be streamed via Edge, 3G or WiFi. As time goes on the producers promise to deliver more content that you can sync from the website to the App. Video quality on 3G is marginal at best, admittedly, any video that is streamed is only as good as the network in which it is being streamed. In other words, your results will vary, so streaming via WiFi is clearly the way to go. On WiFi, the video is clear and crisp, though not HD, but if your WiFi is good, it is very good.
As the user is basically paying for a promotional tool to launch a fanbase for the not yet finalized show, I would have liked the app to be a bit more innovative. For example, as I mention earlier, credit the music of the artist in the montage and when the user touched the credit on the screen, it took them to the iTunes Store where you could purchase the track. Or credit the surfer they are profiling in that particular montage and again by touching the credit, it takes the user to a page within the app where they can read about that surfer, see the accolades they have accumulated. Develop a psuedo relationship between the user and the surfer so that the user to begins to care about the surfer and in turn looks forward to when the program will air.
Utlimately though you are paying two dollars for a promotional vehicle to what the producers of this content hopes to be parlayed into a primetime TV show, they never state when or where the show will be released. If they ultimately include the finished product in the app, the two dollars you spent on this app will be well justified. Until then, I would pass.