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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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March 10, 2009 12:00 AM

More startup reality: Zumobi's "official" American Idol app

Posted by Brier Dudley

Seattle mobile application developer Zumobi's jumping on the reality TV train today, releasing the "official" "American Idol" app for the iPhone.

Chief Executive Ken Willner said the $1.99 app is built around content, including exclusive material such as interviews and behind-the-scenes clips. It also has a "buzz" section with blogs, news feeds and other updates, plus a module devoted to show participants, with biographies and photos.

Willner has some history with "Idol": In his previous job as vice president of advertising and media at AT&T Wireless when it built a major campaign around the show, including public voting by text messages.

Those connections helped Zumobi pitch for the iPhone app contract but "it was a competitive process and we won based on the quality of the work we delivered and the team we have here,'' Willner said.

The app won't have interactivity live during the show, but it does have a bracket feature fans can use to rank their expected winners, and show their predictions to friends. (Maybe Zumobi should partner with BuddyTV's new reality fantasy league service.)

Revenues from the app -- and advertising that may eventually appear -- will be shared with "American Idol." Apple's also participating as a marketing supporter, Willner said.

Willner said the application will be exclusive to the iPhone during this season of the show.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.