Runner’s World’s iPhone Sprint

By Steve Smith
08/13/2009

Another day, another magazine-branded iPhone app. But this one, Runner’s World’s Shoe Shop application, actually has a sponsor. The app for iPhone and iPod Touch helps users find the right athletic shoe at local stores, and Nike is sponsoring the free downloadable.

RW is pouring some of its RWShoe Lab content into this catalog of shoes to give people advice on nearly 250 models for men and women. The collection is indexed according to activity types and each shoe has extensive pop-up reviewer takes on the model. Clicking through on the shoe lets you find the exact model and size at a store nearby or online. The Shoe Shop is based on the same engine from developer NearbyNow that powers Seventeen magazine’s Fashion Finder app, which launched yesterday. RW’s treatment is slightly different in that it includes five short videos from the magazine’s site on common terminology surrounding shoes and advice on finding the right one. Nike has two models it features in a separate “Advertisement” section of the app.

In one sense the RW iPhone package is more of an in-store tool than the Seventeen magazine implementation of the NearbyNow engine. The catalog is deep enough to encompass the many shoe types available across brands so that shoe shoppers can use the application as a reference in-store. The two executions reflect different takes on mobile utility. Seventeen adopts a more highly curated approach to mobile content by filtering the items as select “editors’ picks.” This approach presumes that users prefer short, drive-by tools that keep the content narrow. The Shoe Shop is more expansive, with a deeper catalog and more supporting content. Its mobile model presumes people want an on-the-go shopping tool that is deep and broad enough to use as a reference and companion to the shopping experience.

Neither Seventeen’s nor Runners World’s model is more or less mobile-appropriate than the other. Much depends on how the target audience will use their mobile platforms generally and how their target markets shop. Ultimately, mobile content design has to account for a number of variables: not only who the target audience is but also how and when and where they most need a magazine brand.

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