WWE has always been hot and cold when it comes to trends in technology.
When the internet was first exploding in the 90s, WWE got on board right away with sites for various talents like the Undertaker and Bret Hart.
In the 80s, WWE embraced closed circuit television before being a pioneer in the pay-per-view industry with the introduction of WrestleMania.
However, they have been a bit behind the curve in recent years.
Their WWE Universe social network was shut down by the company in favor of utilizing the built-in user base on FaceBook.
Their embrace of Twitter came a bit late in relation to other companies, but their recent work with Tout has shown their commitment to exploring new technologies which will bring fans closer to the action.
WWE released and app on Friday for the iOS and Android platforms to finally give wrestling fans a true mobile experience.
In this slideshow I will review the app as it stands and explore features that the app needs to include to draw in fans as well as compete with other apps in the marketplace.
Before continuing, I would like to offer some background information. When I am not writing about sports, I am usually occupied with something involving mobile phones.
When I got started in the mobile phone industry more than 10 years ago, the idea of color screens on phones seemed far-fetched, let alone cameras and being able to watch television.
I have witnessed the insane growth of the industry from the inside, which might make me one of the most uniquely qualified B/R writers to address this topic.
I have used literally thousands of different apps in the course of my career, working with every major U.S. carrier at some point, and I have a solid understanding of what makes an app successful and what people want to use them for.
The app came on the market this morning, so I downloaded it and gave it a test run. It certainly has plenty of things to do, but it is lacking in places I feel it could do better.
The first thing I noticed is that there is a loud, annoying sound you hear as soon as the app starts that resembles a ring bell. If you are in a quiet area, this could draw unwanted attention.
The app's main page includes four easy to navigate portals. There are two portals for Raw and SmackDwon sections as well as one for breaking news and another called "My WWE Universe."
The My WWE Universe section is essentially just a way to converse with other WWE fans in your area through social networks. You select your city and see what people in your area are saying. Pretty cut and dry.
The portals will scroll various things across the screen to highlight big items in the app like exclusive videos.
The breaking news section only lists WWE approved news and no outside coverage of backstage happenings.
There is an arrow at the top that opens up a menu for more sections to the WWE shop and Superstar pages, which bring you to all the things related to that superstar, including a social media feed for them.
After being initially skeptical, I have to say that I am impressed. The App runs smoothly and features a lot of the features I would have wanted included had I designed it myself.
The only thing working against the app itself is that it will only ever contain content WWE puts out themselves and not backstage news reported elsewhere.
I would give the app a 4/5 rating, but the bell ring when you first open the app has to go. I had trouble fnding the app at first because typing in "WWE" apparently did not make Google put it at the top of the app list, so here is a link to the app in the Play Store if you are interested.
In the following slides I will explore some features WWE would be smart to add to the app in the coming months.
WWE has fully embraced social media in the last two years, even more so than some companies which pioneered the concept.
Their use of Twitter, Tout, FaceBook, YouTube, Shazaam and their own resources may annoy some of us, but there is no denying the possible positives it has added to the business.
The WWE App already includes many social media features, but they could be a bit more streamlined and more accessible.
The WWE app needs to incorporate all of these features in order to keep up with the direction of the company:
- Access to every wrestler's official Twitter feed from within the app instead of having to click on each individual superstars name to get to their info.
- Sections with access to every WWE-exclusive YouTube show like Backstage Fallout.
- Real-time updates from WWE superstars using Tout. This may be included, but I didn't see it.
These features would allow users to see more information from the confines of one app as opposed to three or four different apps, making the social media revolution within WWE even stronger.
WWE saw moderate success with the introduction of their games WWE Superstar Slingshot and WWE WrestleFest, which ran exclusively on the iOS platform.
Limiting these games to one platform was really their only mistake. If they had made them available for other platforms, they could have seen a much bigger number of downloads.
By offering new and exclusive games right from the app, WWE would allow people to use new and exciting products without having to download multiple apps, which can be a pain when you already have a ton on your device.
These would not even have to be complicated games. Look at a game like Fruit Ninja. Can it get more simple than that?
WWE already used the Angry Birds model for the Slingshot game, so it would not be out of the question for them to borrow and license other game concepts for the new app.
Now, if I could just convince everyone that Windows Phone is a worthy platform to make this stuff for, we would be all set.
People like being rewarded for their loyalty; it is pretty much an indisputable fact.
Users of the WWE should be offered exclusive deals that are not available to anyone else simply because that is how many apps gain the most exposure and get the most downloads.
Any app can detect your location if you let it, so imagine you log into the WWE app one day and you see a notice that says "Click here for a chance to win tickets to the next event in your area."
You click the ad and it simply says that you are entered. A week later you get an email telling you that you have won. How cool would that be?
Tickets are not even close to the only thing WWE could give away through the app. Merchandise like shirts, DVDs, posters and anything else WWE comes up with could all be handed out to loyal users who record the most activity on the app.
With the amount of merchandise WWE sells, this would be a drop in the bucket when considering how much more they get in return from loyal customers.
Having contests with select winners is all well and good, but everyone wants free stuff.
WWE could offer free ringtones, backgrounds and other cool phone/tablet-related items to anyone who downloads the app.
What is even better for business is this would give WWE a way to justify charging for the app instead of offering it for free, or better yet, have a free version without free stuff and a pay version which includes free stuff.
Many apps come in both pay and free formats, and that has allowed app developers to make money through more ways than including those annoying banner ads within the app itself.
Why download the app if you can just visit the website for the same thing?
This is a common statement from users who download an app only to see it is the exact same thing as the company's mobile website.
Making the app look different is just step one in differentiating it from the mobile site. Step two is exclusive content. They have a few things in the app that are exclusive, but not enough.
Other than the YouTube videos WWE already puts out, having exclusive videos included on the app which are not available anywhere else would give fans a big incentive to download and use it.
It does not have to be exclusive matches, but a few backstage exclusives or interview snippets would be useful in gaining a following right away.
A WWE app is a great step for the company to continue making fans feel like they are closer to the action than ever, but it has to keep evolving.
The death sentence of many mobile apps is a company being unwilling to make new additions to what they already feature.
I am excited to see what WWE has in store for this new venture, but I also dread how many times Michael Cole will be plugging it as soon as it is released.
What features would you like to see included on the new WWE app?