Meet the Makers: Q&A with CEO Daren Tsui of mSpot

Aug 20, 2010
Music

Company name: mSpot Notable apps: mSpot (cloud music service), mSpot Movies (free) Platforms (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.): mSpot Movies: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry (60+ handsets intotal), PC/Mac mSpot cloud music app: initially available on Android, PC/Mac Specialty genres: music, movies Company size (revenue and employees): $20M (2009); 65 employees How did you and your firm […]

Company name: mSpot

Notable apps: mSpot (cloud music service), mSpot Movies (free)

Platforms (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.):

mSpot Movies: iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry (60+ handsets intotal), PC/Mac

mSpot cloud music app: initially available on Android, PC/Mac

Specialty genres: music, movies

Company size (revenue and employees): $20M (2009); 65 employees

How did you and your firm get into the iPhone/mobile app development business?

mSpot has been creating mobile entertainment services since 2005 (pre dating smartphones.)  Our music and movie services are live across 10 carriers in North America with over 6 million users.  We’ve made a strategic transition from focusing on feature phones to smartphones (more specifically, Android and Apple devices.)

In your opinion, how has the iPhone and Apple’s iTunes App Store changed the media industry?

Apple pretty much dictates what happens in this industry.  Handset OEM’s are playing catch-up to Apple’s device innovation, while content owners, often desperate for distribution, are at Apple’s mercy.  That said, there’s no doubt the industry has Jobs to thank for creating and driving such strong consumer demand for digital media.  There’s a “rising tide” effect in play and as a result, this industry stands to grow by an order of magnitude.

Describe the differences between developing apps for the iPhone, iPad and other platforms.

From a business perspective, we like Apple because it’s got a significant addressable user base, all on a single platform, and presents only minor developmental variations across its devices (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.)  One major challenge within the mobile industry is, of course, that users are traditionally spread across a wide assortment of phones and platforms.  That variation makes it difficult to reach positive ROI on projects because your investment costs (such as porting to different handset models) can be high for such a limited, per handset upside.

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What factors go into how you ultimately price your apps?

It’s a combination of competitive pressure, margin, qualitative and quantitative studies and a Magic 8 Ball.

Describe what your dream app for the iPhone/iPad would look like.

I don’t have a dream app – I already get to do so many different things on my iPhone and iPad like watch movies, listen to music, get directions, etc.  I do, however, have a dream mobile infrastructure where: 1) devices have fast computation power, nice display with touch, decent local storage size and long battery life; and, 2) cellular networks have low latency, high speed connectivity that is ubiquitous and super high capacity.  I feel we’re close with devices – but still far with networks.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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