Warner’s iPhone App Push: Beginning Of The End For Small Developers?


imageHollywood studio Warner Brothers Digitial Entertainment is gearing up to become a major distributor of iPhone and iPod Touch apps, with plans to release another 25 apps by the end of the year, Variety reports. Warner Digital Distribution director of worldwide marketing Stephanie Bohn told the trade magazine, “We’ve established ourselves in the physical world; now we’re trying to do the same in the digital world.” So far, the studio has developed and released 15 apps this year, including one for its upcoming film



Yep. Using the analogy of Pocket Express again, the long-term winners tend to take stuff that was already successful elsewhere, add value to it, and distribute it through as many channels as possible. mobile app stores are just so many additional channels.


I like the movie studio analogy. I seek out the diamonds that play at art houses but tend to consume the mass-market fare. Big, well-funded entities are less nimble but better funded, and eventually make it to emerging markets. I think we are all agreeing that it will not kill the indie developer, but it will be harder to get special attention. Big companies like AP for example (through application Pocket Express) are steadily making inroads.


Ms. Morrison,

Yes, I read the article with full knowledge before I started reading that it was most likely a waste of time. I'm not hung up on Warner. Like most of the members of the media, they readily retread the same tired schlock and pretend it's new. It really doesn't matter whether they do or don't get involved in application development with the Apple App Store, Nokia's Ovi, etc. Schlock is schlock.

Sadly, while I'm sure you were trying to make some sort of point with your article I must respectfully disagree with your position. And with regard to the headline comment, yes, I read the article because I was hoping that mocoNews.net, which in the past has been a good source of information, wouldn't participate in tabloid journalistic practices. Having had that expectation level set now, I will unsubscribe and look for better sources.



Dianne See Morrison

Hi–the point is not to get to hung up on Warner specifically. The real question is whether we're moving into a second phase of the app store where big brands who have the marketing muscle and the resources to stand out will dominate, just as the major movie studios tend to dominate at the box office. Doesn't mean that that quirky or funny or particularly intelligent indie film won't bubble up every now and then, but it does mean they won't dominate. When the App Store first launched it was often seen as leveling the playing field for developers small and large alike. But was that really true, or was it because in the relative scheme of things apps were still limited in number, and most of the developers who first jumped on were smaller ones, with brands only coming aboard when they saw the success, hence from the first wave of apps, of course, we would see the one-man band success stories. Is the level playing field just a myth? BTW, CM, re: the headline, made you read the article tho didn't it? ;)

Phil McTimoney

Do you ever spend much time on the websites of major studio movies?

I don't.

The apps are likely to be the same. Throw-away promotional stuff that doesn't last longer than the movie is in theaters.

You *may* be right that the "big boys" will push amateurs out of the way. It happened with Podcasting to a large degree. However, I don't see the Terminator app as the beginning of the end.


While I realize the purpose of a headline is to get people to read the article, the title of this article is at best misleading. Warner Brothers certainly has a huge catalog of content and the financial backing to be successful in the App Store. However, Movie and TV based apps are only one segment and to proclaim that this will be the death of small developers is somewhat ludicrous. Not all consumers are going to buy everything published by the big content owners just like they aren't going to buy everything published by the smaller shops. I hesitated on responding to the article because I'm a bit tired of this sort of unreasonably speculative tabloid reporting. However, I'd be remiss in not calling out the absurdity of the speculations. I would suggest that the author attempt to be a bit less sensational and a bit more reasoned in the future.

Jason Terhorst

Smaller developers won't be going anywhere – at least, not the good ones. They can compete on price point, because of their lower costs, and more nimble business model. Companies like Warner are huge Titanic-like ships, which take a lot of time and money to shift direction. I, as a sole developer, can just start a new Xcode project and get to work – no pointless product planning meetings, etc to bog me down.


Why shouldn't people with great resources and content rights exploit them to their fullest? Killer apps are what make hardware valuable. The genius of the app store is how many killer apps there can be, and how simple the distribution channel is for developers.

Here's the bottom line: create value for customers, provide good service, market your product well, and you will have success.

It's a lot easier for companies with great resources, but small developers with niche products will succeed if they can find their audience. By definition niche products are of no interest to folks like Warner.


Interesting. I'd think this would be a win-win-win situation. Apple wins of course, large entities like Warner win, small developers win as more people visit the App store. It's sort of like having the latest blockbuster drawing people to a bookstore where they may find something else to read while there.

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