In our November issue, which should be in readers hands soon, TransWorld Business takes a look at a handful of iPhone applications from the action-sports industry. With millions of iPhone users globally, and projections that millions more will be purchased in the coming year, the iPhone app platform appears to be the next big way to reach consumers. We caught up with Skullcandy Executive VP of Creative Dan Levine to get a more in-depth look at what the company has planned for its recently released iPhone app now and in the future.
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Tell us a little more about Skullcandy’s new iPhone app and its features.
The Skullcandy iPhone App started out as a one-stop resource for the boardsports community and then we broadened its reach by adding a streaming music player plus video content unique to Skullcandy. Our app is designed to enhance your decision-making when it's time to pick a mountain to ride, a spot to surf, or find a local skate park. You could use it choose whether to stay at Big Bear for another day of riding or rally back to the coast for some surf. It is a global snow report, surf report and skate park finder plus a streaming music player and streaming video player powered by Skullcandy TV.
What are your goals for this?
Our intent was to create something you would not want to be without. We also wanted the Skullcandy App to be free. Our vision extends beyond this first release. Expect more features to continue to roll out. We will be adding more utility to the skate park finder, adding some additional search tools for other sports, and enabling user generated content.
Is it mainly a marketing thing or will it drive revenue, as well?
Our app goes beyond just marketing. It is meant to be a fully functioning tool – a virtual Leatherman for boardsports. With respect to driving revenue, our fans can use the app to search for their nearest Skullcandy dealer or check out the entire Skullcandy product line. Most of the functionality is tied to a "map it" button so that you can hustle to your local dealer.
You guys have had a ton of new initiatives recently. Describe the creative environment at Skullcandy.
The Skullcandy culture is pretty amazing. Our crew is passionate about our brand and bringing new products to market. There are a lot of initiatives under development from new headphones to new category extensions. Our team has been working heavy hours to commercialize our ideas for 2010.
Rick has created an entrepreneurial environment that encourages all members of our team to take risks, think differently, and build product that we are passionate about. The Skullcandy brand is guided by the philosophy that "no good idea is created from behind a desk.” These tenets have been the foundation for Skullcandy.
How does a product typically go from idea to store shelf?
It's a pretty ruthless process of looking at what our consumer needs and where the market is going. Our design room is our war room. Product ideas are subjected to some heavy rounds of edits and only a select few make it to a prototype and then we continue refining as we head down the path to launching a new season.
What other emergent technologies do you see coming out like this app that will be game changers for the industry?
I expect Apple to continue to be a catalyst for emergent technology. We keep kicking the tires on Bluetooth working on some developments to make it work with respect to form and function. Right now it seems like our consumers are still more analog oriented; they want to be hard wired to their music device or phone. The pleated-pant-Dockers crew has adopted Bluetooth headsets as their badge of honor but that doesn't mean we cant' figure out a Bluetooth solution for our industry. One other game changing initiative is our pursuit to create wearable electronics that are reliable, affordable, and fully functional. We need to bring a better solution to integrating electronics into outerwear, headwear, and bags. We have recently made some strategic new additions to our team to help grow these opportunities.
You've been there for about a year now. What have been your biggest accomplishments during that time?
It's been over a year, which is hard to believe. Launching the Skullcandy dB Collection, a sub brand that focuses on our independent specialty accounts, continues to be our most important initiative. Our commitment to this new collection runs deep across product, marketing, and retail merchandising support. There are also significant product releases that are scheduled for early 2010 – our entire team is proud of the industrial design & technical innovation tied to these new styles. Along with those new products, Skullcandy will also be launching into some new categories that make sense for our brand. Lastly, hiring and growing our team in this economy has been a bright spot.