Rhythm NewMedia vice president of sales Michael Hirshoren and Pandora Media director of business development Ian Geller discussed the creation and composition of their mobile teams during a panel titled Building a Mobile App Team: Figuring Out Who You Need for Your App at mediabistro.com‘s Think Mobile conference at Comix in New York Thursday afternoon.
Geller also broke the news that Apple announced that multitasking support for the iPhone operating system will be coming out later this year, and Pandora founder and chief strategy officer Tim Westergren was actually on stage with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, demonstrating Pandora running in the background on an iPhone.
Hirshoren on Rhythm NewMedia’s mobile unit in general and its development team:
40 percent of our company’s energy is dedicated toward app development, and our specialty is large-scale media applications. We’re helping them take their products from TV and online. We’re a one-stop shop for them. 60 percent is if they have an existing app, we can just plug in our video technology and help monetize that, too.
We’re probably shifting more toward the 60 percent because other companies are out there doing great development. It’s becoming very competitive out there now that you can get apps developed for $20,000-$300,000. If there’s e-commerce, you’re going to start getting into the mid- or high-six-figures, maybe even higher.
Our teams are set up so that we have engineers and also, from the marketing side, everything we need to get these products out in the marketplace.
We have a very collaborative group. There’s no real hostility involved.
We have a head of products and engineering, Jim Morris, who actually helped launch Flash for Mobile. He came from Macromedia. We have someone else who manages the business-development side. I’m involved on the advertising side. We all decide the different work flow, what new products are going to be developed, and if we have a specific need for a specific kind of engineer.
And Geller on Pandora:
We do all of our development in-house. We have a very small team. We have one resource who works on our Apple development, another engineer who works on Android, and another engineer who works on BlackBerry, but they’re not dedicated specifically to mobile.
You can actually adapt existing models to fit mobile. You use a lot of the same tools. There is a way that you can sort of merge whatever you’re doing on the PC browser with what you’re doing on mobile.
Hirshoren on Rhythm NewMedia’s work process:
Our apps are very simple in the sense that they’re robust, powerful, and scalable, but they focus on someone who just wants to look at a video, look at a photo, or look at some text. We work directly with the product and marketing teams of companies like Comcast, Scripps, and Fox. What are the ad units going to be? We work with them if it’s ad-supported.
We create a template that everyone agrees upon. Until that template is agreed upon, we really don’t do any work.
Our technology allows people to update via RSS feeds. We’re educating clients to have 50 different videos or so every day or every week that they can update.
We’re really needed at this point in the stage where mobile is. These large media companies just don’t have the profits and losses yet and haven’t really developed set mobile groups. We educate their sales teams on how to sell mobile and co-sell with them.
There are a lot of people who can create a good app for you at a very reasonable cost.
I’m a believer that the app world is going to change and the mobile Web-browsing environment is going to become more powerful. Is this something you’re going to have in-house? There are a lot of other vendors that can help you with the process.