Posts tagged ‘smart phones’

February 6, 2020

#161) Apps I’ve paid for #3: Amazing Slow Downer

As a boomer stuck in a Generation X body, I’m not a huge fan of smart phone apps. Sure, some of them are useful, but many of them seem to exist solely to use data, gather information and slow down processor speed, all to line the pockets of the dev…

Ok, boomer, let’s get focused here.

With hundreds of thousands of free apps available, why would anyone pay for one? That’s the focus of this series, in which I spotlight apps I have paid for and the process that made me decide to pull the trigger. In previous editions of “Apps I’ve Paid For” I broke down my decisions to buy the Prince of Persia and Modern Hiker apps – both of which cost $2 in 2013 (shows you how often I pay for apps.)

Today, we will look at why I decided to buy the “Amazing Slow Downer” app for…dun dun DUN…TEN dollars!

Short story: it was a word of mouth recommendation.

Long story: the idea that word of mouth is the best possible marketing is not exactly an earth-shaking concept, but how do you GET it?

I learned about the Amazing Slow Downer from Maureen, a violinist in my community orchestra. She overheard me and the other bassist talking about how the music was kicking our ass and suggested the app to us. Being able to slow down recordings to practice along with them was helpful to her and more enjoyable than just playing with a metronome, or struggling to keep up with the music when it was played on CD or Youtube. Technology that slows down music without altering the pitch has been around for a while, but being able to conveniently do it on one’s phone was a selling point. Four days later (a nearly instantaneous response to a suggestion by my standards) I bought it.

In Malcolm Gladwell terms, Maureen would be an example of a “connector” – someone who has contact with many people and can spread the word quickly. As a member of an orchestra, she sees dozens of people each week at rehearsal and even if she’s not particularly close friends with all of them, they all have music in common and are all potential customers for a helpful music-related product.

Another thing Maureen is is a boomer, or at least close to it. Though I don’t know her well enough to ask her age or be able to derive it from casual conversation, I would guess that she is closer to Boomerdom than Generation X-ness (or certainly Millenniality). While Roni Music, creators of the Amazing Slow Downer, might not have consciously been marketing to boomers/Gen X., their product was intuitive enough for someone like Maureen who probably did not grow up with a home computer to figure out. Seeing someone who is (likely) older than me using scary new technology makes it…well, less scary, and suddenly the idea of joining the 21st century isn’t so intimidating.

In the past two editions of “Apps I’ve Paid For” I noted that neither of the two apps has a free counterpart. There are probably free apps that do basically the same thing as the Amazing Slow Downer, but based on Maureen’s recommendation, I decided it would be better to plunk down $10 and save myself the hassle of browsing Google Play (something that I find about as appealing as going to the DMV) and possibly wasting my time on a free but inferior app. Thus, $10 isn’t just an investment in the Amazing Slow Downer; it’s buying myself time.

So…yeah, word of mouth.


April 22, 2015

#91) A kiss before email

We’ve all heard it before, or at least some version of it: “Don’t check your email the first thing in the morning.” Logically, we know we shouldn’t; that it sets us up for a day of distractions, but like eating in front of the TV, texting while driving, joining parenting debates on Facebook and watching “The Voice” it’s something that we do anyways. I’ve found that forcing myself to stay away from my phone is a cure that can be often as bad as the disease; what’s the point in vowing not to look until a certain hour if you spend the last few minutes before that hour watching the clock? (My poison isn’t so much email as  blog readership stats and stock photo downloads but the principle is the same.) Thus, I’ve made a deal with myself. Before I do any of the above I kiss my wife. It’s my way of acknowledging that while resisting the allure of information may be futile, I also happen to be married to a human being, not to a collection of photos, blogs or Instagram followers. That is my contribution to the debate about how early one should look at their phone.

Not everyone reading this, I realize, has a wife, a husband or a significant other. If this is you, find some ritual for yourself that takes priority over your phone. Do a Tai Chi form. Knock out a kakuro (but do it with pencil and paper, don’t cheat by using an app). Get the neighbor kid to change your pass code by promising him to pay him to change it back. Get really drunk the night before, hide your phone somewhere and try to find it in the morning. One could argue that even self-love is no less productive than sifting through a night’s worth of spam (wait, a former Army contractor discovered an abandoned metal trunk box at LAX holding an undisclosed sum of money that was supposed to be delivered to me and now he needs my name, phone number, email and mailing address? This changes everything!)

December 3, 2013

#63) Apps I’ve paid for #2: Modern Hiker

Continuing the series of posts about applications I’ve purchased, I present the Modern Hiker smartphone app.  I bought this one both as a consumer and as a competitor; it’s been often suggested to me to look into creating an application for  I hoped that in addition to helping me more easily access the hikes displayed on the website, it would give me ideas for a possible NHLA mobile app.

Given that the app costs only $2, it would be hard to say that I didn’t get my money’s worth, but I would have liked to have seen more hikes listed on the app.  Modern Hiker has hundreds of hikes listed, but only the most popular are shown on the app – Solstice Canyon, Sturtevant Falls, Echo Mountain, the Bridge to Nowhere and Mt. Baldy to name a few.  There’s already so much information available about these hikes that the consumer would do just as well to look it up on a smartphone or print it out beforehand than to use the Modern Hiker app.  That said, I could see how the app would be useful to a novice hiker who isn’t familiar with Topanga State Park, the San Gabriel Mountains and the rest of L.A.’s outdoor areas.  It provides hike summaries, statistics and photos in a neat, fairly user-friendly package.

So far, the two apps I’ve paid for and then reviewed (this one and the Prince of Persia game, which I have still not won) have in common that no free counterpart exists.  Two dollars may be a lot for something that can just as easily be acquired for free, but when it’s the only choice, it doesn’t exactly break the bank.