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Drawing Your Proverbial Lightsaber

blackwell-parks
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I'm an Apple junkie. I'm the rogue employee who refuses to convert to a PC machine at the office. I've got the iPhone that requires the IT staff to figure out an entire new set of rules to match the Exchange settings, despite Apple's insistence that the iPhone seamlessly works with Exchange.

To prove my point further, I've got an iPod, Apple TV, Airport Extreme, and the list goes on. Of all my Apple gadgets, the iPhone is by far my favorite. It has so much entertainment in one little package I can hardly stand it.

Don't get me wrong – my wish list for the iPhone is long, but aside from the battery life, none of my "wants" are a huge deal. I'm always humbled by the fact that my iPhone knows where I am even when I don't.

The various applications continue to amaze me, even the ones that seem fairly pointless. Zippo lighter? Sure. iSteam app? Let's do it! The iGun? Go!

The interesting thing to me is that despite the seemingly "uselessness" of these applications, they continue to be downloaded and blogged about like gangbusters.

And there is the redeeming quality for advertisers with useless applications.

Buzz.

As I was browsing about the World Wide Web today, mostly looking for cool things released at SXSW, I came across some news surrounding a new app release. There's buzz that THQ Wireless is set to release a Bluetooth-enabled Lightsaber Duel app for the iPhone.

I'm going to let that sink in for a moment.

Got it? A Bluetooth Lightsaber fighting game. Holy useless applications Batman, I can't think of a better time waster! Now I can swing my iPhone at you and actually make contact! We can fight! To the death!

The more I think about it, most of the applications I have are completely useless from a consumer perspective. And yet, I couldn't imagine my life without them.

Did I really need Skee-Ball? Probably not, but it's been the most rewarding $0.99 I've spent in a long time. Beer-Pong leaves a bit to be desired. My CNN App is well designed and easy to navigate; geoDefense is more than entertainment, it's flat out addicting. The Pizza Hut app is there just in case I want to toss my own chicken wings, a whiteboard for communicating messages silently to the person next to me in meetings, and yes even the Zippo application. You just never know when you might need a light.

At times, I think we make mobile "applications" way too difficult. Trying to come up with something groundbreaking for your brand might be a stretch – especially if your brand is boring. No offense, some brands just don't lend themselves to a cool application.

So you want one anyway? Fine, just set your expectations properly. A countdown timer application to your next promotion might not be a big hit for new customer acquisition, but it might be huge for your current market. Understanding what you want out of an application campaign is the best place to start.

If your CEO wants a lightsaber, well, tell him he's too late to be groundbreaking. But, remember that apps can be fun and time wasters – not always legitimate necessities to your brand. When you're able to digest this theory, you might just come across the best useless idea ever!

If your brand has the budget, draw your sword, fight to the death, build an app, and see what happens. What's the worst that could come from it? Someone will blog about it? Oh...no.

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