Lightning review: Jackson Kayak iPhone app is good but could be better

Tuesday, 04 January 2011
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Jackson Kayak iPhone Mobile

Jackson Kayak has always had a reputation as an innovative and media savvy company so it makes sense that they are one of the first in the paddling community to roll out a custom iPhone app called Jackson Kayak Mobile.

The app brings together the many different parts of Jackson Kayak’s social media element in one handy mobile location. You can easily pick up the latest Jackson news, online videos and photos. They also have an overview of their entire kayak line for easy browsing. One of the more innovative features of the app is the built in chat room. There you can connect with other Jackson Kayak fans through quick messages as well as post photos for others to see.

I think the Jackson Kayak app is a very good start but like all software that is version 1.0, it has some elements that should be improved before it really takes off.

Jackson Kayak MobileMy biggest beef with the app is the 13 second splash video that I’m forced to watch every time the app loads. The bouncy JK Logo eye candy is fine for the first time ever but it quickly becomes annoying, particularly if you use iPhone multitasking. For example, if you flip over to check your email you are forced to watch the bouncing logo video again when you come back. The minor annoyance became a real frustration for me when I tried to use the app while listening to music. Because the iPhone boots up the video the music automatically pauses. If you multitask over to the music player to press play again it still pauses when you flip back to the app due to the video. You get the idea. They need to drop the introduction video completely or at least code it so it only plays the first time it loads.

I really only have two other issues with the app and the first is the colour theme chosen. I understand that the app is an extension of their marketing plan and branding and that’s perfectly ok. My issue is the colour scheme they choose (yellow background and often grey text) is extremely difficult for a colour blind person (ahem, me) to read. They just need to choose a more contrasting font colour in the news section. I quickly gave up after the first two news pieces. Larger text would be nice but I will stop as I’m now starting to sound like my father…

Finally, I was really excited to read that I could browse through their full catalogue of kayaks but sadly I was disappointed with the user interface. After drilling down and clicking on the boat I’m interested in I’m presented with a very tiny boat photo with a very basic boat description. I was really looking forward to clicking on a boat photo gallery or at least more get detailed information than just the boiler plate description currently there.

Don’t get me wrong; I was very impressed to discover that the app was available. In the sad economy today where manufacturers are cutting back and choosing the safe/cheap path to get the word out, I commend Jackson Kayak for stepping up and pushing the envelop once again.

Jackson Kayak fans are very loyal so I think the app has quite a bit of potential to create an online community and customer buzz and I’m already looking forward to their next version.

More info: jacksonkayak.com - App link in iTunes


David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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