The success of the Smule sonic lighter: Are VCs/ mobile business models valid? Maybe we are looking at Mobility too seriously..

smule sonic.JPG

UK sales of games will outstrip music and video for the first time in 2008 – and yesterday evening I was having a discussion about mobile apps .. The usual questions – what will people pay for and why etc etc etc .. Discussions we have been having now for the last eight years or so ..

But the success of games in the UK reminded me of this techcrunch story .. What Is The Deal With This Stupid Lighter iPhone App?

Here’s why people are going crazy for Sonic Lighter, and are willing to pay $.99. Smule has built in social and viral features that are helping this spread like mad, and they also give this ridiculous but effective incentive to use the app all the time.

You can optionally share your location information with the application, and when you light it you show up on a virtual earth-like globe. France and Japan are going absolutely crazy with users,

Maybe we are taking the whole idea of mobility very seriously .. Maybe people will pay for a fun, engaging application. Contrast this with a real utility based application LBS for £1.79? Vicinity app on the iPhone. What does it say for the Context – location based services business/ revenue model?

If we contrast sonic with vicinity, then many of the business models and revenue projections are just plain wrong because – in my view – it is not possible to create a business model for a ‘game’ or a ‘viral application’ – recession not withstanding ..

Yet, VCs, investors etc want focus, predictability and a straight and narrow path.

If we come back to the spirit of entrepreneurship, then maybe the VCs are all wrong. In their desire for exit and predictability, they are missing something very fundamental .. that there can be no focus when you start a new venture. There will be a number of paths – and a compass .. the actual route may vary .. and maybe we will have a lot more fun along the way with the rise of Android and iPhone i.e. distribution models for mobile applications – and the only people who wont ‘get it’ will be the VCs!


Image source: techcrunch