Why do apps fail? Mostly due to poor marketing. Here’s an absolutely fantastic app that I’m sure almost no-one has heard of. It’s also destined to be like a voice recorder or alarm clock – just part of the apps that come from the manufacturer with the handset.
iMoto is a bluetooth based intercom system that works between two iPhones. The name iMoto as it suggests targets bikers eg rider and passenger or two bikers that are riding together in reasonable proximity. If you and your passenger have an iPhone or your riding partner has one… this deal $1.99 currently reduced to $.99 cents is the bargain of motorcycling.
Check out this link if you want a longer flashier video – How much budget was that!
Just add iMoto to two iPhones. I tried it on both 3G and iPhone4. It worked just fine. Of course you have to remember to turn the bluetooth on. You have to set a shared passcode and then the program takes over and it will run in the background too.
In practice how does it work? Well that is dependent on the headset and the helmet. I used standard iPhone headsets with a passenger and we could still hear each other at 80mph. Although it is better at slower speeds.
So what are the issues and constraints.
- It’s a little hard to control the volume when the iPhone is in your pocket and you are riding. Start with the volume high and talk softly.
- I imagine those that already have their helmets wired may get a better experience. Finding the right place for the mic so wind gusts and stuff aren’t heard (create some crackle) is something I still have to experiment more with.
- I suspect it will have little impact on battery life. After all most phones will do 6 or 7 hours.
- Because it uses the audio channel you can’t listen to the iPod at the same time or talk over it.
- It’s limited to one to one rather than one to many.
- It automatically reconnects if for some reason the connection does happen to drop.
- There’s not many controls here so if you already have a sophisticated system on board your bike this isn’t going to help.
- How far away before the connection drops? Quite a way… I think it would be possible to use when riding with a partner.
So is the the perfect intercom. Nope. Yet those systems for bikes can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I’m going to have to try using a bluetooth headset at the same time with it. (presume I can). Issue is how that fits in my ear and in the helmet for comfort. Simply if you bike and have iPhones then I’d get one and try it out.
Are there other intercoms? There might be. I’ve searched before on the iTunes store. I found some they generally had lousy reviews or only worked on the 3GS etc. I never purchased them. This one had zero reviews and I thought I’d just try it out.
Now back to marketing. No stories in the iTunes store. It would seem no listings in the major biker forums. Yes there’s been the flashy videos, and it would seem the PR has sent it off to all the Review sites. Yet I can’t help thinking that this app has been poorly marketed. There’s plenty of bikers out there in the blogosphere and even more on forums. This type of thing gets lots of discussion there. I’m sure the dudes that created this (presume from Italy) have nice Ducatti’s parked somewhere. iMoto also limits other opportunities by naming it like it has. Or quickly do it under a few brands. Eg this would work for many sports… cycling, rock climbing, skiing, and more. For an instructor on a Ski slope it could be tremendously useful. For kids with a couple of iPod touches this is the always on walkie talkie. For parents traveling in airports this is a perfect way to keep in touch while shopping dutyfree etc.
They’ve done the actual engineering well and it is a simple app (relatively from a user POV). However they’ve missed their Target. Unless they are going to offer a Harley app, and a Triumph app and a BMW app etc. There’s many ways to take this to market, however their current price doesn’t make marketing it very attractive. This is worth every cent of all 99 or 1.99. Fact is 4.99 or even 9.99. If you know how much bikers spend on bike farkles then this is small cheese.
There’s no website for iMoto (founders site is seemingly under construction). Perhaps the “intercom” is really just something that Apple or Android should build into every handset. In fact this seems like a universal sort of new app, like a clock, or the voice recorder. Yep that’s it. No real market for this app. The Platform will just suck it up.