A successful mobile or tablet app has to be "cool"; it can't just be great technology, Bob Bowman, president and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, said Wednesday on the fifth anniversary of Apple's App Store.
"People have to turn the phone around and say, 'Geez, have you seen this?' " he said during the Afternoon Mo Joe web-exclusive interview.
Baseball is a game suited for the technology age, he said, because 15 games are played each day. Baseball's digital business launched the app the same year Apple opened its App Store.
Consequently, MLB upgrades its "At Bat" app each season to include more features and music that corresponds to each player. It allows sports fans access to all MLB team statistics, games, and highlights, and aims to reach people who live out-of-town but remain loyal to their home teams. They can receive game reminders and batter-to-batter updates—alerts when Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hits a home run—on their phones or tablets.
"Technology is not going to be a device," Bowman said Wednesday on Morning Joe. "It's going to be our life—as much as it already is, it's going to be even more so."
MLB's official app allows fans to watch the free MLB.TV Game of the Day and to see pivotal moments from every game of the pro teams. It was sold half-priced at $5 on Wednesday to celebrate the App Store's birthday.
Ten million apps were downloaded from the store during the first weekend after Apple first released at least 500 apps on July 10, 2008. The company said 50 billion apps were downloaded by May 2013.
At Bat, the highest-grossing sports app, has been downloaded for a fee at least 21 million times since its launch. The company produces 20 videos of each game, which amounts to about 1,000 video clips and 7 million views each day, Bowman said. Almost 70% of MLB fans open the app each day.
"When you have a product that people use every day, that's a luxury, such as watching baseball--which we think is a great thing--you know you've connected with your fans," he said during the exclusive interview. "We try to give them the best technology we can."
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Watch Bowman's Morning Joe interview: