Berlin Events: Appcircus – App Pitch Competition

To give The Factory’s community efforts a chance (or because I did not have anything better to do), I checked out Appcircus in Berlin last Tuesday evening. After some introductory talk on what Appcircus is about and how it is related to Mobile World Congress and a talk about the Google Cloud (which in large parts I already heard before elsewhere, at Mobile Monday some months ago), it was right to the pitches. Six pitches, actually, instead of ten, as previously announced (which was fine though), were evaluated by a panel of judges.

Here they are, in order of appearance, with a short description and my thoughts about them:

1) Spreaker Studio: Spreaker is a platform for live broadcasting and recorded podcasts. Since I already got to know them when they hosted an edition of Friday at Six, I was a bit surprised to see them here. I thought they were beyond the stage were such a competition makes sense, given that the startup moved with an entire team to Berlin etc.. They bring in some social elements, to connect podcasters and listeneres, but otherwise I’m still not sure how much they differentiate or how good they are, compared to competiting broadcasting/podcasting platforms.

Google Play (Broadcasting) – Google Play (Listening) – iTunes (Listening)

2) Die Berliner Mauer HD: An app to learn about the history of the Berlin Wall and the biographies of different people affected by it. You get to look at pieces of information, placed in the context of specific locations, on a map of Berlin. Was good to see that this event is also open to non-commercial apps like this one, which is “backed” by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. Given the location of the The Factory next to Bernauer Straße, it also had a special relevance in this context.

iTunes (iPad) – Google Play

3) Unlimited German: An app that makes use of Wikipedia articles (= virtually unlimited content), to teach some of the more difficult parts of German grammar to people that already have somewhat advanced (B2) level. The solo-developer and presenter of the app seemed to be quite far in learning German himself and he also said that he was “Catalan”, when asked by the jury what his nationality was, which definitely made him simpàtic to meThe UI of the app did not look very flashy, but I think it’s probably a useful to it’s target group.

Google Play

4) Timetraveler Berlin Wall: An augmented reality app, another one about the Berlin Wall and another non-commercial one. The only paid app presented. Seemed quite interesting and more fancy, as far as the tech, than all the others. The app provides somewhat immersive AR experience, to relive some historical events (see the video). So far, the app seems to have a bit of a “distribution problem” though – not uncommon for paid apps, to have some difficulties in finding their audience.

Google Play – iTunes

5) Meetr: Meetr is a social app to meet people for activities while traveling. And by activities, the developer insists, he does not (exclusively) mean sexual activites or dating. The jury told him that this probably will get difficult, given that others have failed attempting the same, and I would agree. As the app is pre-launch, it’s too early to tell if it might have something special that will make it work better than previous attempts by others.

6) allryder: An app to find local transport connections, across multiple modes of transport, also including carsharing options etc.. Besides Spreaker, the only one among the six of these which I had heard about before. Interestingly, they want to focus on emerging markets, such as Istanbul, where data sources are harder to come by and there is more exclusivity. Smart idea. Probably the one app that is most likely to get a bunch of downloads…

 iTunes – Google Play

The Winner

… and so it is maybe not a surprise that allryder was announced as the winner in the end. (I did not stick around till the announcement, had to get somewhere else. Just read about it on Twitter.) Maybe it would have been “nicely contrarian” if the jury had choosen one of the others, but allryder seems like a good choice for an app that could have a big impact.

General Impression

Quite good! Appcircus as the organizer picked a nice, varied sets of participants. I have seen worse (or less interesting) selections of apps before. The location was also fine.