DIGITAL MEDIA
May 08, 2009
KISS VIRTUAL CONCERT LIGHTER

Spark of Blue Software to build licensed iPhone apps, starting with KISS concert lighter

Yes, you too can own your very own virtual KISS concert lighter on the iPhone.

Just in time for the upcoming rock band s world tour, a new company called Spark of Blue Software has released the app on the AppStore for a mere 99 cents. When you go to a concert, you can run the app on your iPhone display like a screen saver and wave the flame around without any worry of burning your hand.

This is just the first of a series of Virtual Concert Lighters coming from the Los Angeles startup for the iPhone and iPod Touch, based on licenses from famous bands in partnership with the live concert firm Live Nation, and artist representative firm Signatures Network.

The KISS app comes with a choice of 24 official lighter cases, 'concert mode' that emits a screaming rock guitar chord if you shake your hand, a user-programmable scrolling text marquee, and a realistic swaying flame. Concert lighters based on other bands are coming this summer.

Spark of Blue Software has four employees and is self-funded. It s the brainchild of Vincent Bitetti, a former video game executive and music label founder who has spent his whole career working with licensed products. In the early 1990s, Bitetti created a company called Sound Source Interactive, which made sound bytes, screen savers, and other fun stuff. It sub-licensed its business to Berkeley Systems, which made the famous Flying Toasters and Star Trek screen savers. Sound Source went on to create all sorts of desktop personalization software through the 1990s and it moved into children s video games. The firm went public in 1996.

In 2000, Japan s TDK bought Sound Source and made it into TDK Mediactive, which made video games based on the Shrek film license and Pirates of the Carribbean. In 2003, Take-Two Interactive bought TDK Mediactive. Bitetti moved on to run game developer Crave Entertainment as president. He left to start a record label, Shelter From the Storm Records, but sold his interest in that to his partner last year. In December, he started Spark of Blue Software with Bob Bryant, a seasoned game development executive.

Beyond the virtual concert lighters, the company also plans to build two other classes of iPhone apps: virtual worlds and games. The company works with Rhode Island s Koinkydink Software to build the apps. Spark of Blue Software will evaluate making its apps for other smart phones beyond the iPhone.

It will be interesting if the brands take off on the iPhone, where so far many home-grown apps have succeeded. Rivals include Zippo, which has a free lighter app, and Smule, which has its own virtual lighter. Bitetti thinks that the brands are going to gain traction as long as they re part of a quality product. That s the only way to stand out among 40,000 apps, Bitetti thinks.

I m sure there are more rivals, and there will be many more to pile into this market, since we all know that the number of iPhone app makers in a certain category is directly proportional to the lack of societal value of the app. Of course, if Bitetti comes out with a Bruce Springsteen concert lighter, I m all over it.