Callaway Wants to Tap the Second Phase of the App Revolution

The key to a good iPad app, said Nicholas Callaway, is not treating it like an app at all, at least, not a current one.

The chairman and chief creative officer at Callaway Digital Arts said the best apps on the iPad need to incorporate a mash-up of multimedia content, creating new forms of media, not just ports of existing content. “So much of what has been done to date has been driven by transposing assets from one medium to a digital display,” Callaway said. “That’s not good enough.”

Callaway’s firm Callaway Digital Arts is trying to forge a new kind of app content, what Callaway calls “convergent media publishing.” That may take some getting used to, but it’s promising enough to nab a $6-million Series A investment from Kleiner Perkins’ iFund, with additional funding from Ram Shriram, founder of Sherpalo Ventures,  and Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga. The New York start-up was spun out earlier this year from multimedia publisher Callaway Arts & Entertainment in order to focus on iOS apps.

Callaway says the first phase of the iOS app revolution was marked by a flood of simple games, but that’s giving way to a second phase of apps that involve more immersive and long-lasting engagement: a banquet versus a snack, he says. By bringing top brands and content to life on tablets and smartphones, Callaway believes it can engage consumers in deeper ways that incorporate the best of audio, animation, video and design, and apps must include more community and sharing features, something Mathew recently noted is missing in many magazine apps. He said successful apps will need to place an even higher priority on design, which should be incorporated right from the start, rather than applied later in the process.

Callaway’s latest product is an interactive cooking app called Martha Stewart Makes Cookies (s mso) that was released Monday for the iPad. The app functions like a multimedia cookbook, with the text, instructional videos and cookies on display like runway models. Callaway also published the popular Miss Spider’s Tea Party for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch; Miss Spider’s Bedtime Story for the iPad; and has future plans for Thomas the Train and Sesame Street-branded titles. Callaway’s apps combine traditional books and interactive entertainment, incorporating games, animation, audio and video. Miss Spider’s Tea Party features a children’s story that includes voice over, video and also puzzles, games and a coloring book.

The company says it’s looking to publish 150 apps a year by the end of 2012. To that end, Callaway Digital Arts is opening an office in San Francisco and plans to almost double its headcount of 22 employees by the end of the year. Callaway said the company is looking for designers who are capable of uniting graphics, design, art direction, user interface and navigation, which he said are essential for this budding publishing platform.

Much of the potential we see in tablets so far has really been in their ability to display existing media in a more personal and convenient way. Books have thrived while magazines are still a work in progress. But if done well, Callaway said, the tablet has a lot more potential to create new publishing products we haven’t really seen before. Now with $6 million in funding, let’s see if Callaway can really help usher in this new phase of apps.

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