Leading internet-based business radio and social media service BizRadio has launched a new, free mobile app that gives iOS and Android users one-click access to live streams and archived podcasts from their device of choice.

Developed by local software solutions house and BizRadio sponsor DVT, the app extends BizRadio’s reach from its popular web portal (www.bizradio.co.za) to any iOS or Android device, giving BizRadio listeners and users the opportunity to consume content on the go, and providing BizRadio with a different platform through which to extend its brand and create new revenue streams.

BizRadio co-founder and director Grant Jansen says the appeal of mobile applications to online media services like BizRadio is in the immediacy of access to content.

“South Africans are great consumers of mobile content, and smartphone usage particularly in the enterprise market is becoming more prevalent, so a mobile application made sense as part of our broader business strategy,” says Jansen.

“We’ve seen brilliant examples, mainly from larger global media services, of how applications have become an extension of their service, not only providing the traditional audio stream, but supplementing it with value-added content, text information, videos and social media links, not to mention advertising space for generating additional revenue.

“In South Africa there’s an on-going debate on how ‘traditional’ media can win back audience numbers and continue to generate the necessary revenue to stay in business, and mobile apps to us represent an excellent opportunity to do both by delivering the quality content our target audience is looking for. We use the word ‘radio’ loosely because it’s familiar but it’s really all about providing content, with the streaming daily show just another – albeit effective and familiar – delivery channel.”

DVT Chief Technology Officer Craig Neill, a regular contributor to BizRadio, says mobility and mobile applications are changing the way people are using and accessing news, information and technology. “Most of us don’t think twice about switching on the car radio and tuning into our favourite stations, and for many of us this is also the only time we get to consume the content we want to listen to,” says Neill.

“Media services like BizRadio don’t have the same reach, so they need to find different ways to give their audience what they need, when they need it. At the same time, consumers are becoming more selective about what they listen to, and more time poor, and want to control when and where they get their content. Smartphones and other mobile devices have given users this control, and so the media has to adapt and evolve to the changing landscape. It’s no secret that we’re passionate about this emerging trend, and our longstanding partnership with BizRadio is evidence of that.”

Johan Pieters, Manager: Enterprise Mobile Solutions, DVT, says there’s a misconception by many companies that mobile apps are unaffordable and take too long to develop.

“You can either develop native apps for each platform – iOS, Android, BlackBerry and so on – which indeed can become very expensive and time consuming, or you can make use of cross-platform development frameworks that are both freely available and often license-free,” says Pieters,

“For the BizRadio app we used Adobe’s free open-source framework PhoneGap, which combined with our own in-house frameworks and skills allowed us to go from concept to working prototype really quickly. PhoneGap and frameworks like Sencha Touch make it easier for us to create cross-platform apps by using industry-standard Web code like HTML 5 and CSS, and then package them for their native platforms.

“In South Africa there are other (licensed) cross platform options available for developing applications that include non-smartphone – or feature phone – platforms, still very prevalent in the South African community. It makes sense to use these when the broader feature phone community is being targeted.”

The first version of the app, which will soon be available for download from the iOS and Android stores, features a single-click link to the BizRadio daily show stream, links to BizRadio’s social media portals such as Facebook and Twitter, built-in RSS feeds and access to archived (streaming) podcasts.

Jansen says future development could see the introduction of more features, such as offline content, contextual information, and live social media links, allowing slicker content delivery, so users don’t miss a beat. “We’ve been amazed by how quickly DVT was able to turn this project around for us, it’s left us speechless – if you’ll excuse the pun,” he says.

“I hope that through our own experience we can encourage like-minded South African businesses to embrace the potential of customised mobile apps, and realise the value of working with people that know what they’re doing and deliver on their promises.”