Even if you’re not one of the fifty million and more birdwatchers, you’ve got to admit that there is a certain delightfulness about birds. Well, unless you’re creeped out by them from Hitchcock movies. But for the rest of us there’s Mitch Waite, a software guy, author of computer manuals who also happens to be a birdwatcher. One day he looked at the iPhone and of course he thought – got an idea for an app for that. Or something along those lines.
His great idea is now iBird Explorer, essentially an app that is a field guide with photos, sounds and descriptions of birds. In many ways this platform and this app are ideally suited to each other. You can’t get the birdcalls from a regular field guide. And the size of the iPhone and iPod touch is ideal for slipping into one of those cargo pants pockets, so fashionable in birding circles.
In the world of apps, iBird Explorer is a reference app, as opposed to a game app, a business app or an educational app like Laundry Pro – which would be a good app if it actually did your laundry rather than educate you on stain removal. Unlike situations where rejected app developers turn to unauthorized app stores and jail-breaking, iBird is feeling the love from Apple in a big way.
A scary call from the company’s legal department turned out to be not at all scary. It was notification that Apple was featuring iBird in a television commercial. With somewhere in the vicinity of 35,000 apps in the store, it’s not easy being seen there. The feature spot propelled iBird to the top, and with two versions at $4.99 and $29.99, one can only imagine the profitable possibilities.
While there may be all sorts of app envy among those clamoring to get into the top 100 apps, Mitchell Waite’s app is one example of how a good app is one that also sells the phone. Apple imagines birders flocking to stores for hardware because everyone can’t wait to find out what a Red Faced Warbler sounds like. And yes, the iBird Twitters – that Twitter.