19 September 2009

Best Free Download for iPhone: PandoraBox

I don't really have an iPhone. I have an iPod Touch. It's basically an iPhone except that it doesn't have a camera or the ability to make cell phone calls. I'm not saying it can't be used as a telephone. That's another story for another BFD (Best Free Downloads -- what did YOU think it meant?)

In a nutshell, the iPod Touch is a music/video MP3 player with a difference. First of all, the screen is HUGE, so you can actually watch videos without getting a headache. More important, it can run applications like an email client, a web browser, a note pad, and other run of the mill applications. The best part: third parties can write their own applications (called by Apple marketing "apps". Isn't that just cute as sin?) that can really add wild functionality to the iPod. some of these applications can cost as much as $100, though the majority are between $1 and $2.

I don't buy those. I buy the ones that are free. Amazingly, some of the free ones are really spectacular pieces of technology. I like spectacular technology. I like free.

So I have the iPod Touch because I'm cheap as used chewing gum. I'm so cheap that I've become an expert on free stuff. And since I hate Apple Computer, I have combined both my passions in a hobby I call finding the Best Free Downloads for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Let me tell you about a meta-cheap app.

PandoraBox is arguably the second coolest App in the iTunes store. It's free, and its purpose is to find other stuff that is free. Many apps are published as free because they either are a promotional item for a large corporation, or because they make their money from running little advertisements in the app. These are easy to find in the Apple iTunes store.

The part that makes PandoraBox such a great program is that it hunts down and lists applications that used to cost money, or will soon cost money.

There are over 35,000 apps available on the iTunes store as of this writing. Getting attention can be a challenge when 34,999 other applications are also screaming "buy me". One approach taken by desperate software developers is to offer their wares for free for the first few days. This will encourage early users to review the product and start some word-of-mouth buzz. PandoraBox hunts down these little treats and lists them. Sweet!

Some very good applications do not get any attention, and die from lack of interest. These applications are not bad products. They are just not well promoted, or not well explained to the purchaser. There are many reasons why an app can fail. Lack of quality or functionality are not necessarily the biggest reasons.

For reasons that are beyond me, the software developers often drop the price to free before discontinuing the product. PandoraBox lists these for the user who is willing to dig through the bad promotion to find the real value.

In the coming weeks, I will use PandoraBox to find you some of the most interesting applications available for free. Some will have amazing functionality and purpose. (examples: Skype, WebEx, iWoopi, Stanza) Some will just be interesting. "PoopTheWorld" comes to mind.

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