More and more applications are using our individual fingerprints as a security lock option to protect our property and family. Fingerprints are a great way to reduce access or control access to our computers,phones,homes,etc….so as the market demand continues to grow…we should see more use of fingerprint technology…
Pass it on,
There is no shortage of startups providing apps for children in 2011: Toca Boca, Mindshapes, Nosy Crow, Callaway Digital… and now Fingerprint Digital.
The San Francisco-based company has launched its first five iOS apps, and is counting on a feature called Mom-Comm to help it stand out from the herd. In short, it’s like a Game Center for kids and parents, providing rewards and app recommendations for the former, and an update on their progress for the latter.
Fingerprint was founded by Nancy MacIntyre, who previously worked at electronic learning company LeapFrog Enterprises as executive vice president of product innovation and marketing. Her new company raised $1.4m (£0.9m) in September 2011 to fuel her ambitions of finding an audience among 3-8 year-olds and their parents.
“There are tens of thousands of kids’ apps out there, and for parents just discovering what apps are good and knowing how to find them in the App Store is problematic,” she says.
“Once playing, they have no idea what their kids are doing with them. We set out to create a network of high-quality kids content where it’s easy for the parent to know what games are appropriate for their children, and get an insight into what the child is playing.”
This communication goes a bit further than just telling parents what their children have been doing. Parents can send voice or text messages of encouragement to their children within the apps, while the kids can send pre-scripted messages to their parents to tell them about achievements.
Fingerprint’s first batch of iOS titles includes three in its Big Kid Life franchise, focusing on firefighters, vets and fairy princesses, with a mixture of educational puzzles and more standard gameplay.
Fingerprint Play Maker is an avatar-based app designed to teach maths and spelling skills, while DoReMi 1-2-3 is a musical app introducing pitch and melody through the medium of cute animals. This last app is the work of an external developer, Creativity Mobile.
“Our apps were created to showcase how the platform works, and train people in how to use it and engage with it,” says MacIntyre. “We’ve created an SDK that third party developers can use to plug into our system, and we’ll have several more third-party apps coming out soon.”
Children will create their own character when they first use a Fingerprint game, and will then take that avatar from app to app, and device to device. They will also be able to collect and play with virtual pets, with one unlockable in every app – through play, it should be noted, not through an in-app purchase.
MacIntyre says that in Fingerprint’s tests, the messaging features have received the strongest response from parents and children. “We see it as transforming the solo app play of one child playing an app to making it a social experience between the child and their parent or caregiver,” she says.
“A child can send a message to mom, mom can send one back, and suddenly the parent is engaged in the learning. Kids have gotten really excited about that. We want to bring parents into the apps in a way that we think is interesting and clever.”
MacIntyre is under no illusions about the competitive nature of the kid-apps market, but she also warns that no developer in this space can afford to focus solely on their direct competition.
“Kids have so many choices,” she says. “The battle ground isn’t only about your apps versus Sesame Street. It’s about your apps versus Angry Birds. You need really compelling, fun content. We hope that our shared reward system gives children a reason to go from app to app, while bringing parents into the equation.”
The competitive kid-apps market could work in Fingerprint’s favour as it tries to get more third-party developers to use its SDK in their games and apps. MacIntyre says that the company’s pitch is its ability to deliver an audience for developers’ apps, while also providing them with analytics on how they’re being used.
“It gets them out of the mode of being one of tens of thousands of apps in the App Store, and into being one of a group of highly-curated very high-quality kids apps,” she says. “It’s not about being an app developer building one app at a time. It’s about the network.”
Fingerprint’s launch games are based on its own characters, but during the interview MacIntyre alludes to conversations she’s been having with children’s brands. Licensing looks set to play a part in the company’s future, although no deals have been announced yet.
“As a small company starting out, we need to attract as many customers as possible, and some anchor licensed brands is helpful in that regard,” she says. “However, the apps market has proven its ability to create new IP, and most of the biggest app brands are new IP. We’re really optimistic about Big Kid Life.”
Much of the competition for Fingerprint – but also many of its potential licensors – come from the toys industry that is very familiar to MacIntyre, given her background.
She thinks that most big toy companies still treat apps “as a marketing element” – something to bolster the brands of their physical toys, rather than a way to create new brands and become an important new revenue stream.
“I’m quite sure all of the major toy players are really thinking about the app business,” she says, though, expressing optimism about the idea of linking real-world toys with apps – something done already by Disney with its AppMates line.
What about companies like LeapFrog and Fisher Price making their own tablets for children, and so become a rival platform for kid-app developers to consider?
“Is it possible to have a good experience with a kid-oriented tablet? The answer is yes, but it’s still a toy,” says MacIntyre. “With the price of full tablets coming down, it will be very difficult for anybody to make a meaningful business out of making proprietary devices [for kids]. Every parent with an iPhone or iPad is actually a competitor for LeapFrog or Fisher Price.”
She cites a recent survey showing iOS devices at the top of children’s Christmas wishlists in the US as a sign that Apple’s devices in particular have “done an amazing job of becoming aspirational to children”.
Can Big Kid Life and Mom-Comm become similarly attractive to children, parents and other developers? 2012 should provide the answer.
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