Ski resort smartphone apps take off…

The apps market for activities and sports has seen a phenomenal rate of growth in the past year. With around 31% of the UK population now owning a smartphone (Ipsos MediaCT Technology Tracker), and a massive 60.8 million subscribers in the EU-5 (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) – a rise of 41% between 2009 and 2010 (comScore, June 2010), it’s no surprise that mobile services are becoming so popular.

Meribel iPhone app piste map Already, there’s hardly a ski area in the French Alps not covered by a smartphone app. The apps have a range of services for skiers including resort and weather information, livecams, events and entertainment information – and for those with GPS, a useful tool to record your personal skiing statistics. And the apps aren’t just for the winter. Montgenèvre has introduced summer activities to theirs, which is useful for summer visitors,  particularly cyclists.

So what, you might wonder, has spurred such a remarkably speedy emergence of the resort app? Well, alongside local investment there’s European money available, which aims to help create mobile applications and useful services for European citizens, as well as tourists visiting the EU. Access to subsidies (up to 45%) for research, development and innovation through the Proxima Mobile European scheme has not gone unnoticed by European ski resorts. And since the services must be accessible to everyone, the apps remain free of charge. Albertville-based company Lumiplan Montagne has quickly dominated the  mobile scene by developing a ski resort app formula now familiar to keen skiers and industry watchers. Meribel iPhone app menuThe company is also responsible for the innovation of further real-time technologies on the slopes, including the latest generation of  livecams, dynamic piste plans and scrolling information at ski-lift loading areas. Rivals in the ski resort app market include Infomedia Services, who produce popular apps for Skinets.com, delivering an independent information resource for 13 of the largest Alpine resorts and retailing at less than 1 Euro per app.

Clearly, the developments won’t stop there – and with a youthful demographic among smartphone users, the real winners in the marketplace look like being skiing and winter sports themselves. Which begs the question: will mountain areas be able to capitalize on the technology to entice more summer visitors? Our bet is that they will – with walkers, cyclists and mountain-bikers squarely in their sights. In fact, the apps are already out there…