Sporting goods retailer REI is hoping to appeal to ski enthusiasts this winter with a new smartphone app that displays conditions at mountain resorts in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The app, dubbed the REI Snow Report, was created in conjunction with developer Zumobi.
The REI Snow Report, which is available free of charge to consumers, tells how much snow has fallen at a specific mountain in the past 24, 48 and 72 hours, whether the resort is open, how much snow is at the base and top of the mountain, how many lifts are open and what the current conditions are. The app can even connect to Webcam feeds for resorts that have them, and contains one-touch contact information for all participating resorts.
The app is available for users of iPhones, Blackberries and Windows Mobile.
REI, which is based in Kent, Washington, released the app last week in an attempt to stay top of mind with consumers as the skiing season kicks off. REI branding is prominently displayed at the top of the app screen, and in the background are photos taken and submitted by REI customers.
Although there are other smartphone apps that provide information on ski conditions, most are ad-supported or come at a small cost to the user. John SanGiovanni Zumobi, co-founder and VP of product design at Zumobi, said REI is just one of many companies of late to offer their own free version of ad-supported apps in order to gain favor with consumers.
"We see this as a significant trend in mobile apps," SanGiovanni said. "This would typically cost a few bucks in an app store, but because this is branded by REI, it gives [users] the alternative to have a bran experience around the content and to have it for free."
Zumobi is also the creator of Ziibii, a smartphone app that allows users to see updates from multiple social networks on a single interface.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014