Jimmy the Bartender has an iPhone app; where’s Dear Abby’s?

By Steve Outing

A while back I noted that a new iPhone app from Men’s Health magazine broke some new ground by selling add-on content within the app itself, beyond the initial price ($1.99). Now the magazine is trying again, this time by taking one of its regular features, the “Jimmy the Bartender” advice column, and turning it (him) into an iPhone app.

The Jimmy app costs $2.99, and this is what you get: “Jimmy the Bartender serves up his legendary no-nonsense answers to hundreds of life’s questions, a GPS-enabled guide to his favorite watering holes near you, can’t-lose tips for approaching any woman, cocktail recipes, Eat This: Not That! At the bar, and dozens of other features.”

Frankly, I don’t find Jimmy particularly appealing and wouldn’t pay for this app (disclosure: Men’s Health sent me a free download code so I could review it), but that’s because I don’t hang out in bars or try to approach eligible women. A younger man sans wife and kids might find the content more appealing.

So let’s assume that there is a market of iPhone-toting men who would find the Jimmy app worth 3 bucks for such features as the “Ultimate Wingman,” shown in the image at right. Dial in your social situation or dilemma and Jimmy dispenses some advice on how to approach the desired woman. It doesn’t do much for me, but with the promotional power of Men’s Health magazine’s printed edition, I bet some decent money will be made from guys buying the Jimmy the Bartender app.

If Men’s Health is ahead of the curve on this, it’s in taking a media personality and turning him into a phone app. It makes sense. If I’m a fan of Jimmy’s feature in the magazine, I might be inclined to pay a few bucks for his phone app; whereas, a Men’s Health iPhone app holds less appeal since I can just visit the magazine’s website on my phone’s browser for free.

Other media companies might want to consider creating their own personality mobile apps. For instance, why isn’t there a “Dear Abby” app? A regular newspaper reader whose favorite feature in the paper is Abby probably would buy a Dear Abby phone app, if it was well done and included features such as searching for Abby’s archived answers on a specified topic, and conveniently sending in questions to Abby via the phone. Hey, Abby’s syndicate: How about it?

I think it will take some star-power to sell personality phone apps, but certainly Abby, Dan Savage, Ask Amy, and other media personalities could spin some cash from personal iPhone apps.

I dare say the right individuals could do better in the mobile-apps sales game than the media brands they may write under.

The trend already has shown up with professional athletes. Cincinnati back-up quarterback Jordan Palmer even started an iPhone app development company to create apps for athletes to allow them to better connect with their fans. Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer has a SuperFan iphone app that costs 99 cents. Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong has a new Calorie Tracker iPhone app for $2.99.

OK, media companies, take the hint. Which stars are in your stable worthy of having their own paid mobile apps? And MSNBC, why is Rachel Maddow’s iPhone app free?

(Please include any media personality mobile apps I may have missed in the comments section below.)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!