NEW YORK R/GA is expanding its emerging media practice to focus on the creation of mobile applications that tap into social media.
The Interpublic Group shop is recasting the unit from the Mobile and Emerging Media/Applications unit to the Mobile and Emerging Platforms Group. It has brought in Ian Spalter as creative director of the group, which is led by Rich Ting, vp and ecd.
R/GA's Mobile and Emerging Platforms unit launched 18 months ago and now employs 14 staffers.
Spalter, 31, is returning to R/GA after serving as vp, product management and user experience design at Community Connect, a company that operates social networks BlackPlanet.com, AsianAve.com and MiGente.com. He worked at R/GA as an associate creative director from 2004-06. Radio One purchased Community Connect earlier this month for $38 million.
Mobile is a serious focus for R/GA, CEO Bob Greenberg said, since the launch of the iPhone points to the medium leaping ahead in terms of functionality. Eventually, it will be "bigger than the Web," he believes.
"You can do so many interesting things, not just with social networking but with GPS-enabled applications," Greenberg said.
R/GA's most noteworthy mobile work was the development of Nike Plus, the system that lets runners record their mileage for upload on a social networking site. Last year, it developed a mobile application for Nike Zoom, allowing athletes to take their Nike-designed training regimens with them.
"The above-the-line agencies missed the digital piece and got into it late," Greenberg said. "I believe the same is going to happen with mobile."
Spalter will concentrate on the social software development and digital product design.