The testing in Vancouver is going well. Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on: We’re at the Olympics testing a package of components for mobile journalists. Using our own iPhone 3Gs, the package consists two apps: Showcase and VC Audio Pro; the Owle Bubo (a device that holds the iPhone and includes wide angle and macro lens and an external microphone) and a couple of back-end production applications, including a podcast producing software.
The students have completed about 50 audio slideshows (some of which were also transmitted as audio-only stories.)
Judging by the response and the number of spontaneous conversations the students have had, it appears that VeriCorder won’t have much trouble finding buyers. Interest in the product has been from amateurs on the street to top media companies around the world (I can’t mention the names.) But at $139, the Bubo device is a bit pricey for the amateur—many people walked away when they heard the price. The audio app, VC Audio Pro, is available from the App Store now for $5.99. This version allows you to email the files but you can’t send via FTP.
The perfect market for the product as it exists right now seems to be professional bloggers and alt media content providers. The Bubo is already a valuable accessory for the iPhone and the addition of the telephoto lens will really enhance the package. The audio component are working very well and the slideshow app has no major bugs.
For professional photojournalists and audiophiles (like our student Nick Wynja,) there are some qualities issues with using the iPhone as your main information-gathering device. The addition of a memory card reader that will ingest files from a DSLR is in the works. Nick has added a mini-to-XLR cable to his set-up, allowing for direct feed from a mult box. For these and other reasons, this system as is working well for content that will be published on the Internet. (One of VeriCorder’s main goals is immediacy, which usually means Web content.)
This isn’t going to replace the high-end tools, but VeriCorder’s desire is to supplement those tools, not replace. The vision from VeriCorder is for professionals to have this system with them as their immediacy tool, allowing them to get content back to their station or newspaper quickly. After posting an early story, then the journalist would go to work using their professional tools for the coverage in depth.
One line CEO Gary Symons has used that strikes a chord for me is that VeriCorder is going to “democratize journalism.” I can see that. I can see lots of citizen journalists arming themselves with this software and covering a rally, protest, city council or school board meeting.
A week into our testing period our general sense is that we’re in on the ground floor of a very exciting set of products. We feel VeriCorder is onto something and there is a niche for them. The price point may be too high right now for amateurs and the product not yet good enough for professional media organizations, but it’s coming. And from my perspective as a teacher, I really want to incorporate this technology into our classrooms, maybe even as the linchpin of a mobile journalism class.
Fanshawe journalists are Nick Wynja and Ashley Rowe:
Their Web site is http://www.ldn2bc.ca/
MU journalists are Erica Zucco and Brian Pellot:
and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/briandpellot
and on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ericazucco