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Digital Products and Smartphones
Selling to people who don't have a computers

 11:54 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

We sell custom made audio products via our website. I've noticed a big increase this past 12 months in customers asking for advice on how to save the MP3 files onto their iPhone or other smartphone. We have easy-to-understand instructions for getting the MP3s onto an iPhone via iTunes. However, lately we've had a number of customers asking how to save the files onto their phone without needing a computer - because they don't have one. In a few cases we've had to refund the them.

I'm a bit shocked by this but I know this is only going to increase as more and more people rely soley on their phones for internet access. So, I've been thinking about how we can move with the times - but I'm not quite sure on the best strategy or what's even possible.

Does anyone have advice or know of any solutions?

I'm not familiar with the process of building apps, but I'm guessing this would be one route to go down. We have lots of products so I wouldn't want to make an app for each. Also, I believe Apple charge high fees for selling products via their store - and we don't need them in that respect, since we're happy selling via our store. But I was thinking maybe we could have a "master app" that would act as a sort of MP3 player and only play our products that the customer has put on their phone.

The problem remains as to how the customer saves the file onto their phone without needing a computer. Perhaps I'm missing the obvious and there's an easy solution. But I'm an iPhone user and I don't currently see how it's possible.

I'd welcome any thoughts on this matter. Thanks.



 12:36 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Would the answer be a site built for mobile phones? That seems the most efficient way for them to access your site contents and download the files.


 12:41 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

The site can currently be viewed on smartphones. They can access the content and their order confirmation page with no problems. The problem comes when they wish to save the files and don't have a computer to do it. This is a small % of customers at the moment, but it's only going to increase. So it is mobile ready, just I have no clue how a user is supposed to download a file and save it.

I've spent some time researching this and I'm at a loss.


 1:20 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

So maybe you need something like Sketchy MP3 Downloader but I thought it would be a native function on an iPhone.


 1:25 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Reading further - it looks like iTunes is built into the iPhone and difficult to get around. That being said. I saw some suggestions:

foobar2000 (with fuu_dop plugin)

Obviously, I've not tested these and am not sure they'll even work. YMMV


 1:30 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Crumbs - all of those require a PC. Hm.. I'm going to sit on my hands for a bit and see if anyone else comes up with something.


 1:39 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Become a phone service provider? I'm with lorax on this one, don't see an easy way to accomplish, PLUS, the amount of storage on a smart phone is "relatively" limited. (Relative in the terms that my first hard drive was a 5mb, replaced two years later with a 20mb when that "bottomless closet" got filled up). Have a feeling you'll need an "app for that".


 11:42 am on Feb 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the suggestions.

I'm surprised that there doesn't seem to be an obvious solution since this is something that will affect a lot of websites that sell digital products. It may seem odd to us webmasters that some people don't own a computer, but the request from customers to download directly to their phone will only increase.

Yes, Apple are very restrictive with their iPhone. I think it's also the case that you need a computer for the iPad. I don't own an iPad so I'm unsure. I don't know about other smartphones or tablets.

Of course we could develop an app and sell it via their store. But then they'd be taking a hefty commission. It's one thing to pay commission when you're getting new customers that might not have heard of our website, but that's not the case here.

I don't know if there's a workaround by having an app that's free, which acts as an audio player but will only play if the user has entered a serial number - which of course they'd purchase from us. Although I'm sure that'd be against the TOS of most app stores.

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