The U2 Mobile Album for RIM
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An interactive, visual media-sharing application for BlackBerry
For the past 30 years, U2 has served as an innovator in everything from rock music to human-rights activism — and has built a large, devoted fan base in the process. The band recently partnered with RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry smart phone, to develop a way for listeners to truly immerse themselves in its music. IDEO collaborated with RIM and U2 to turn No Line on the Horizon into a “mobile album,” a media-sharing application that would allow fans worldwide to engage in the band’s latest release and concert tour. RIM is sponsoring U2’s global 360º tour, which started in Europe in 2009 and continues into 2011.
The design challenge was to develop a lively, interactive, and highly visual application that fits with the BlackBerry user experience and showcases and extends the hand-held device’s capabilities. In particular, the band wanted to bring back the immersive visual experience of an album that had been the norm for CD or vinyl releases — bringing the listener closer, giving a fuller picture of the artist’s world. In the digital age, these elements have eroded to a pick list selection and a keyhole snapshot of visual content.
The custom-built software, available free to RIM customers at its app store, enables U2 fans to preview and buy No Line on the Horizon, access tour information, and receive band-related news feeds. They can also experience a new visual accompaniment to the songs, in which a series of images chosen by the band unfold across the screen. Fans can post images they’d like to see associated with their favorite song at U2.com. As these images get pushed back out to users of the U2 Mobile Album, it becomes a shared collage of visual interpretations of the album’s songs.
“As music fans, the band has always enjoyed all the detail of an album gatefold or CD booklet. They want to make visual material available with their albums and this app is the ideal way to do it,” says U2 manager Paul McGuinness.
Watch a demo of the application here.
Project date: 2009