Star FM recently released a mobile application to give access to the station’s broadcast. The application itself is available on Google Playstore as well as the Appstore. In my view this was a great move; mobile penetration is reported at above 100%(though I’m not sure how much of that is smartphones) and data appreciation is becoming a big thing in Zimbabwe; so much so that MNOs and ISPs are competing on data prices now. A quick review of the app:
What Does It Have?
The Star FM Zimbabwe app lets you live stream broadcasts from the station wherever you are on your phone as long as you have a data connection, no need for earphones like your normal radio app. The sound quality is very good and it streams very smoothly with very little buffering so no disturbances once you start listening.
What Is It Missing?
Yes it’s nice that you are the first Zimbabwean radio station with a mobile app, but in terms of functionality are you giving people what they need. Here are some features that would make it make sense for the average Zimbabwean:
- Download Shifts as Mp3. It would be really handy if the app let uses download shifts they missed, sort of in the same way podcasting apps work. Sometimes we get busy and by the time you get to sit down you have missed your favourite show. How about solving that?
*admittedly there are high chances that such files would be well over 50mb each given that 45minute podcasts are usually that size. The good bit is after using 50mb I can re-listen to the shift.
- Poll Votes. Very often radio shows have polls they want people to vote on for interaction’s sake. Polls like “is the new Justin Beiber song good or bad?” are examples of what could be in the app. The benefit of having it on a mobile app is it would take away the manual tallying that they probably have to do from Whatsapp messages where they have to sift through shout outs and ridiculous shorthand. This would make it so easy to vote on polls held live on air.
- Star Fm Newsfeeds. It would be quite the prize if Star FM listeners could follow the multiple newsfeeds (FB, Twitter or Instagram) without having to leave the app. That would allow them to keep up with the topics as well and add input without having to constantly navigate through their phone.
The app doesn’t work for me. In my view as the app is right now, it is a waste of data to download it if you are in Zimbabwe. You’re better off buying $1 dollar earphones on the street and using normal radio applications than getting this app. Data is still a bit on the pricey side for most Zimbabweans and that could be taken into account.
There is a place and a market for the app though. They potentially have a really big audience. This audience is the Zimbabweans all over the world who all too often get nostalgic and want to know what song are hot back home. This is a perfect way for them to stay in sync with us (I mean, how many have had a relative overseas message you all excited about a song that has been faded for months?). This app will surely mean more listeners for Star FM among Zimbabweans outside the country. So despite my review, this is a win for them.
Good Going Star FM.