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6. The flight stuff: Bird watching soars on digital wings

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Article in CNET featuring apps, camera gear and online services show how they make it easy to join in the chase, enjoy the outdoors and spot more birds than your rivals.

Beyond books

Bird app pioneer Mitch Waite was in the wrong place at the right time. The birder and former chief executive of Mitch Waite Press, a computer book publisher, had tried to sell a birding app for Microsoft's ill-fated Windows Mobile software more than a decade ago.

"It was a big flop," Waite says. "We sold 70 copies in the first three months." He was bummed out and burned out -- until customers of Apple's then brand-new iPhone got in touch. "When your customers are telling you you have a good idea but you're on the wrong platform, you should listen to them," he says. iBird arrived in Apple's App Store in 2008.

But the real change came after Apple CEO Steve Jobs' daughter discovered iBird, which then featured in Apple's famous "there's an app for that" campaign. The $15 Pro version describes 944 North American species and includes 3,300 song recordings and 4,500 photos.

"Suddenly all the birders realized, 'I can use my iPhone instead of my book? It has a search engine? And it plays its song?'" Waite says. "That started a stampede."

Millions bought the app in its first year as birders switched from paper to digital. It's since dropped to a steady but lower rate of sales. "The engine that keeps us going is the new birders," Waite says.

Entire article on CNET:


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