July 30, 2012

The Next Big Thing: A Mobile Trading App

I've been thinking about the baseball-card blogosphere and what the next big topic or trend will be. Custom cards have enjoyed a nice long run, as has live-blogging pack breaks. Video box breaks, humorous takes on individual cards, mustaches and glasses, silly names and superstar collectors have all had their time in the spotlight. Not to mention new-card worship. I feel like I just got into Heritage and already everybody's obsessed with Gypsy Queen. (Or are we on to Archives now?)

I lamented a while back that no one in the baseball-card blogosphere was doing anything really original anymore. That drew a lot of fire from others (rightfully so), but the question is still out there: What exactly are we blogging for? For just about all of us blogging is another way to enjoy our hobby, another way to connect with others and share our passion with the world. Should it be something more? Is it a means to an end, or an end unto itself? I'm not sure that I have the answer. 

But I have some ideas. Over the last six years, the baseball-card blogosphere has been a wonderful thing for a lot of people, including the manufacturers. As loud-mouthed collectors, we've done a lot of PR for them: trumpeting what we like and don't like about their new products, spreading ideas and opinions about their greatest hits and lousiest duds from their back catalogues. We've taught them a lot about the power of great search optimization, about the power of social media, and (probably over the next year or so) about the potential of apps and mobile media in general.

The Next Big Thing: A Mobile Trading App

As social-media and Web 2.0 ambassadors, bloggers recognize the massive audience the Internet represents. And as smartphones tighten their grip on the collective experience, when will manufacturers realize they should be putting real dollars against developing a mobile trading app?

If Topps came out with a mobile trading app, you'd download it, right? I've been thinking about this for a while now: I'd call it Topps Trader and have a Bump-like feature built in for easy trading. Topps has designed a functional, if a bit clunky, desktop Web browser experience in their Million Card Giveaway microsite. I see Topps Trader as an add-on and mobile gateway to this experience. Here's how I see it operating:

You download the app from the App Store for 99 cents. After entering in your My Topps account info, as well as your geographic location, you're welcomed to your "shoebox" or album of cards tethered to your account. As a special bonus, you get a welcome pack of five new "cards." These are cards that you can keep, trade for prizes (like in the desktop Web browser version), or trade with other users via Facebook, in your geographic area via the Bump-like feature, or in the online community (accessible via the mobile app). New cards are either purchased in packs of five for 99 cents or redeemed through codes found in actual packs of Topps cards. The cards within the app do not have monetary value, but the purpose is not really about monetary value; it's about trading and collecting. The bonus of creating this kind of app is that, for a company like Topps, they would have free reign over using their enormous back catalogue of classic cards.

I've been kicking the trader-app idea around for a few years now. When I came up with it, I thought it would be perfect for Facebook. And now that smartphones are ubiquitous, a mobile app with total Facebook integration is a no-brainer. I'd be shocked if this, or something eerily close to it, doesn't debut in the next year.

1 comment:

Josh D. said...

Zistle.com does have a mobile app, but I don't think that the critical mass of users is there to be a big player yet. Although I have used their regular website to put together several smaller trades already.