In the teen sex comedy American Pie, actor Jason Biggs types his character’s name into an online dating site and gets an instant reply. A mobile app developed in Toronto allows a user to insert his or her own name into the scene instead. It also allows the user to insert the name of a prospective date, along with a short message, such as “Let’s go the prom.” Ten-second clips from such Hollywood movies as The Fast and the Furious, Despicable Me and King Kong get turned into customized greetings for sending to friends.
“It’s a new form of social messaging,” developer Julie Steiner said Tuesday from her downtown office. “Anybody can create their own wallpaper and ringtone now. This they can’t do on their own.” Steiner, who comes from a career in Canadian television production, signed with Universal Pictures to supply clips from 100 big films. Currently, 14 can be found at her website www.percyfx.com, with others rolling out at a rate of two or three a week. A deal with a second studio for 250 film clips is to be signed within days, she said. The app is free. Two free samples are also offered. The other customized clips cost money: 3 for 99 cents, 10 for $2.99, 20 for $4.99. The movie studios get a cut, and links to Amazon.com and iTunes allow users to rent or buy the whole movie.
“This is as professional as it gets — a state-of-the-art iPhone app that wows users,” independent technology analyst and journalist Carmi Levy said when asked to review the application in London, Ont. “Who wouldn’t be delighted. . . after receiving a customized movie clip like this? “The question is whether this is a one-time centre-of-attention thing at a party or the kind of app that someone would use every day for months,” he said of business prospects. “Fun? Absolutely. Buzzworthy? Probably. But sustainable? Doubtful.”
Steiner said the app’s uses are endless: “Flirtation, invitation, silly messages, wish Mum a happy birthday.” At the moment, the PercyFX app can be purchased on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The clips can be read on any other devices through email, YouTube or Facebook. In September, the application is to be available on Android versions, then later in the fall on Windows mobile and Blackberry devices, Steiner said.