Moderati Becomes Skyrockit, Mobile Roadie Goes Android

zippo

Reflecting its shift over the last year from mobile content aggregator to mobile entertainment agency, Moderati has rebranded as skyrockit. Best known for creating Zippo's hugely popular Virtual Lighter app for the iPhone, skyrockit will offer a range of mobile services from strategy planning to creative to marketing and research.

"We see the worlds of media, technology, and brands morphing in very exciting ways in the coming years and we're positioned to help partners take advantage of those new opportunities," said skyrockit CEO Jon Vlassopulos. He explained that the company's new name derives partly from that of its parent, Japan-based Bellrock Media Company, and what it believes is the upward trajectory of mobile media and advertising.

The firm can only hope it isn't confused with similar high-tech company names including Icerocket, Rocket Fuel and app developer Bottle Rocket.

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Started in 2001 as a ringtone seller, skyrockit has gradually evolved into a mobile-focused agency, working brands to develop ad campaigns, branded apps and other mobile projects. The transition was accelerated with its release of the Zippo lighter app in 2008, which has since been installed 10 million times by iPhone users and earned various accolades including "Best Mobile Globally Display Campaign" in 2009 from the Mobile Marketing Association.

Among other high-profile projects, skyrockit also created a branded iPhone app on behalf of vitaminwater that allowed users to create their own versions of rapper 50 Cent's track "Baby By Me" using the company's own remix platform called Romplr. Other skyrockit clients include NBC, Virgin and A&E Television.

While skyrockit hasn't yet created any apps for the Android platform, Mobile Roadie Tuesday separately announced extending its do-it-yourself apps platform to the Google mobile operating system. The company is launching on Android with new apps for performers including Madonna, Dolly Parton and Ashton Kutcher.

Mobile Roadie promises that its software will allow anyone to create their own Android app in minutes without any programming knowledge and make updates via its content management system. "Offering support for both iPhone and Android means that brands no longer have to choose which popular platform to be on, their work in building and managing their app instantly applies to both platforms," said Mobile Roadie CEO Michael Schneider, in a statement.

The Los Angeles-based startup is one of several companies including AppMakr and Appcelerator that provide tools that let brands and others create their own apps quickly at much lower cost than the typical $20,000 to $300,000 in development costs. AppMakr, for instance, charges $199 and $499 for app templates and boasts publishing more than 3,000 iPhone apps since launching as a separate brand from technology consulting firm PointAbout in January.

How much of a threat these turnkey app-building services represent to the likes of agencies such as skyrockit remains to be seen. But it's likely that major brands will still turn to digital agencies and mobile experts to help develop sophisticated apps.

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