There are a lot of applications available for the iPhone — over 15,000 in fact. Some are good, some are great, a lot are junk, and increasingly, a lot are being made by big brands to promote themselves. Two of the latest to fall into this category are the premium cable movie channel HBO and the world’s largest retailer, Walmart.
HBO’s application, called “HBO Snowman” is little more than a cute way to play clips from popular HBO shows. The app, which tries to be a bit like a snow globe, asks you to shake it to randomly bring up a clip on a snowman built from television screens. Clicking on the clip will load a Quicktime video which will play fullscreen on your iPhone. Included are clips from shows like “Big Love,” “Flight Of The Conchords,” and “Entourage.”
While the clips play, they make sure to remind you that the DVDs for the shows are now available for purchase through Amazon. And once they are done playing, you have to option to click a button to “Buy on Amazon.com,” which loads up the store in your iPhone’s web browser.
Walmart’s app is at least a little more interesting. Called “Walmart – BlowAKiss,” the app is targeted towards Valentine’s Day shoppers. While naturally you can browse and buy Valentine’s Day presents (or, as some might call it, junk), the app also allows you to send that special someone a specially decorated email — or as Walmart calls it, “blow them a kiss.”
The somewhat cute thing about it is that to send the message from your iPhone you actually blow into the device’s microphone. So technically, you are actually blowing them the kiss.
As I said, both apps are little more than thinly disguised tools to sell you stuff. At least Walmart’s is targeting the right season — HBO’s seems a bit late, since Christmas (and the thought of snowmen) is over. The App Store’s popularity is breeding a lot of these promotional apps, but it’d be nice if they actually did more to make them actually worth downloading (which neither of these are). But hey, at least they’re both free.