Three examples may not make a trend. But, I’m betting that we will see a lot more mobile apps that require that you have a physical product in order to either use part or all of a mobile app. Here are three that have caught my attention recently.
1. Red Bull Augmented Racing for the iPhone is the cleverest. I wrote about it in detail last month.
You need a Red Bull 12-pack to create a racing track. The Red Bull cans are used to create a track which is recorded by the app. This track can be shared on Red Bull’s Augmented Racing site (first link above). You can race along your own track or a shared track using the app. The Augmented Reality (AR) and social track sharing aspects of the app seem like good ways to drive literal foot traffic to grocery stores to buy a Red Bull 12-pack.
2. Disney Second Screen: Bambi Edition is essentially the usual DVD/Blu-ray extras pulled from the disc and placed on an iPad (the “Second Screen”). If you already have an iPad (as tens of millions of people do), the free app provides great background information and media for a classic movie. It is a good marketing tool to entice people who have already bought the VHS and DVD versions of the movie to buy it “one more time.” I wrote about this app back in February.
3. LEGO Ninjago Spinjitzu Scavanger Hunt is, in my opinion, the least successful of the three apps that require a physical product. This is especially disappointing to me as a lifelong LEGO fan. The tutorial and areas of the game that can be played without buying the physical LEGO Ninjago product is not very interesting. And, I don’t think parents will like the idea of having to buy a LEGO toy they did not plan to buy just to let their child play the rest of the game. The disconnect between the likely app user and the person who will pay for the physical product is as much as a problem as the uncompelling game play.
All three iOS apps are free. The Red Bull and LEGO apps run on both the iPhone and iPad while Disney’s Second Screen only runs on the iPad.