While Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer makes a living connecting with Chad Ocho Cinco on the football field, it is his younger brother and backup Jordan who is helping the outlandish wide receiver dial into new business opportunities on the iPhone.
Jordan Palmer is a founding partner of Rock Software, which developed last year's breakthrough iPhone app the Chad Ocho Cinco Experience. In addition to a new update for Ocho Cinco's app, which will coincide with his run on Dancing with the Stars, Rock Software will soon introduce iPhone apps for Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard and Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Jared Allen. Like the colorful personalities they showcase, no two Rock Software iPhone apps are alike.
"Just like you can go to 150 different websites to find out who got traded," explains Palmer, "eventually there will be a million iPhone apps. You need to make the most creative ones to get noticed."
Far from cookie-cutter, the upcoming Dwight Howard app is expected to feature the center's gut-busting impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Murphy's Prince Hakeem character from the film Coming to America (time will only tell if Howard can imitate Hakeem Olajuwon's championship triumphs on the basketball court).
"The app looks so amazing that I think it is going to hurt my relationship with Ocho Cinco," jokes CEO John Shahidi.
Expanding its roster
In fact, the hunger for quality iPhone apps among star athletes is already in midseason form. Only days after Chad Ocho Cinco Experience was released last September did Shahidi get a call from Terrell Owens looking for his own iPhone app. While one is in the works, its release is currently in limbo as the mercurial Owens awaits to sign with a new team.
Of the 22 apps Rock Software has on the market or in development, 12 are modeled after NFL players. For a less flamboyant player like Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, the company is developing a fitness app based around the wide receiver's training regiment.
Beyond the gridiron, outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet pioneer Mark Cuban commissioned the company to develop a Puzzle Palace app. With the upcoming release of Apple's iPad tablet computer, Rock Software is also working on an update that will incorporate Cuban's popular and prolific blog posts. Other high profile apps in the works include titles based around emerging NBA superstar Kevin Durant, as well as the bands Rancid and the Rascal Flatts.
Signing bonus not required
Recognizing that the iPhone app development market is still early in the first quarter, Palmer andShahidi are opportunistically courting athletes and other celebrities with flexible pricing arrangements.
"We will custom build (apps) with any feature they want," Shahidi said, adding that prospective clients should not expect to pay in order of $50,000, which is currently the market rate among higher-end titles. Additional features being contemplated for the Ocho Cinco app are a dart board game (that has a rotating background based on whichever cornerback is covering Ocho Cinco), in-app book purchases, and live broadcasting tools that would enable the player to produce his own sideline interviews after games.
"This is a whole new delivery system that allows the athlete to tell the story," Palmer said.