In this week's "Cybershake," we take a look at one company's attempts to make cell phones more fun and useful for harried women on the go. Plus, how cyber canines can share their masters' love of music.
Turning Cell Phones Into a Woman's Best Friend?
There are more than 90 million women in the United States who own cell phones, and they're using them for much more than just chatting with friends and family.
"Women play games just as frequently as men on their mobile phone," says Kristin McDonnell, chief executive officer of LimeLife Inc., in Menlo Park, Calif. "But they are only one-third of the [game] purchasing market right now, and we think that's because of what's out there."
And so far, the choices from cell phone service providers have been dismal in the eyes of McDonnell and other women.
"Right now, a lot of what's available on the mobile phones are action games, sports games," says McDonnell. "And we know from our experience – having been in the games industry for so long – that women like word games, puzzle games, card games."
But, while LimeLife is creating those girl-focused games – such as Word Heaven and Girls' Night Out Solitaire – for companies such as Verizon, it's also working on so-called "lifestyle applications."
"There are very specific categories of information that women want on the go: What am I cooking for dinner tonight… what's the latest fashion… what stores have it, which ones have it on sale," says McDonnell. "All those things we are focused on… basically creating the phone as a woman's central command where she has all that information and expertise in her phone everywhere she goes."
One application LimeLife is working on, for example, helps busy women plan out the family meal – a task with which McDonnell is all too familiar.
"Oftentimes I find myself in a grocery store, it's 5:45 at night, I don't know what I'm going to cook," she says. "So I can just very quickly go into my phone, pull a recipe, generate a shopping list, and I'm off."
McDonnell says LimeLife is working to line up more cellular service providers in the U.S. to carry its games and forthcoming mobile programs. Prices for the downloadable applications are expected to vary from a $3.99 flat fee to a $1.99 monthly subscription.
– Cheri Preston, ABC News
An Animated Companion for Apple's iPod
Once upon a time, toys were for kids and gadgets were for adults. Today, the lines are blurred. And iDog is among the brand-new examples.
"The iDog is a sweet and stylish palm-sized pooch who loves to listen to music and groove along with any song he hears," says Asia Gabriel of Tiger Electronics, a division of toy giant Hasbro. "As soon as he hears music his face lights up and his head and his ears will sway in sync with the music."
The $30 toy dog also has sensors in its head, nose and tail that cause it to react to a person's touch. But it becomes truly animated when it hears music from a stereo's loudspeakers or when plugged directly into an Apple iPod or other handheld digital music player.
Hasbro executive Duncan Billing says the digital dog is aimed at kids aged 8 to 12 years old. But, adults might find it appealing, too.
– Richard Davies, ABC News
Cybershake is produced for ABC News Radio by Andrea J. Smith.