Introducing the Tokyo Art Beat Official iPhone and iPod touch app

Our goal: a simple, clean way to reveal the art events happening around you as you move through Tokyo. No need to plan your gallery visits from home anymore: the app gives you instant access to more than 400 art and design events, available at all times via the phone in your pocket.

In Uncategorized by Paul Baron 2010-02-25

Update: the Tokyo Art Beat app is currently the #1 app in the Lifestyle category of the Japan iTunes store. Thank you to all the early buyers and for the awesome feedback on Twitter #TABapp (more than 400 tweets!)

It may not come as a surprise to you that we here at TAB are big geeks, and more specifically Mac geeks. We’d all been using TAB’s PC site from our iPhone for over a year, and though the site is navigable, it’s far from perfect for the smaller screen. We realized there was a big opportunity to improve the experience by making the information easier to read, and taking advantage of what the iPhone does best: bridget the gap between where you are and what you’re interested in.

Startup screen illustration by Eiko NagaseNearby Seach Results

What’s inside

The Nearby tab helps you locate events around you anywhere you may be in Tokyo, helping you attend more events as part of your everyday routine.

The Most Popular tab gives you a quick sense of the most notable events of the moment, calculated from user feedback on TAB’s PC site. This gives you an easy starting point, without having to sift through the hundreds of events when deciding what event to visit this afternoon.

Nearby events on a mapMost popular event list

The Browse tab lets you explore your own tastes by diving into the full database to search for more specific events, listed by media or area. We also have “smart” listings for opening parties, events closing soon or events that are great for kids.
Interested in illustration? View all the illustration exhibitions in Tokyo sorted by what’s popular, what’s near you, or what’s open.

The Info tab gives you quick access to TAB’s PC site, Twitter and Facebook pages. There’s also a feedback link, so if you have any suggestions for new features, cool events we should be listing, etc., please use this link!

Individual event detailsBrowse our Smart lists

How did this app happen?

Some of you might be wondering how a small NPO in Tokyo, currently holding a fundraising on its website to cover some of its running costs, could find the time and resources to develop an iPhone app?

With a lot of help. Last year we were contacted by developer Chuck Soper and designer Suzanne Ginsburg, both from San Fransisco, who develop for the iPhone and share our love of art. After working out a simple revenue-sharing work arrangement, we joined forces, pouring hundreds of hours outside our regular work schedules to make these apps for Tokyo Art Beat & New York Art Beat possible.

List of opening receptionsOr events for kids


Once the project got some real momentum behind it, we realized that in order for the project to be sustainable, we needed to cover at least some of the development costs. We felt that a paid app was the easiest way we could deliver TAB’s rich content in a convenient form for iPhone users.

From what we have read in the more than 400 Twitter comments, most of you were very happy to help support our work and purchased the app. Thanks to you, we quickly rose to become the 2nd most popular paid app in Japan on February 15!

Browse all events by Media...or Area

Where does the revenue go?

Well, 30% goes to Apple, and the rest is split evenly among the California dev team and TAB/NYAB. The revenue that we receive will be evenly shared between TAB (through Gadago NPO) and NYAB (through ArtBeat Inc.) to pay for event data entry, editing and translation; as well as future development of the ArtBeat technology platform.

So while we aren’t exactly sitting on a pile of diamonds, sipping champagne, we are hoping that revenue from the apps will give us a little fuel to make the sites and apps better, and help us start chipping away at the long backlog of cool features and ideas.

Over the next weeks and months, you may notice the price of the app go up or down. While our goal is to keep the app as affordable as possible, we also want to keep the app viable to maintain, and visible in the App Store. Please bear with us as we learn the trade, and find the best balance for the community.

A listing for Graphics categorySort any list by popularity, Area or days till end

So what’s next?

We don’t know yet, but thanks to you, we’ve got some great ideas already. Many people who’ve purchased the app have sent us kind feedback, and we’re taking note.

Though we can’t promise any one feature at the moment, we’re going to do our best to find a balance that’s easy to develop and meets the needs of the most people.

A lot of you have mentioned that you’d like a way to bookmark your favorite events or to sync the apps with your MyTAB account. We’d love that feature too and are looking into it! We’ve also got ideas on a few pretty unique features that will make the app even more fun to use in Tokyo and NYC.

In any case, we’ll need to carefully look at revenue generated by the apps versus the time required to develop the apps further, including work required on our platform to support any new feature. But rest assured, we are very motivated to make these apps more awesome with each release!

In the meantime, do enjoy the current app. I am sure you will be blown away by how many art events are going on around you on a daily basis.

Thank you again for your support!!

Paul Baron

Paul Baron. Born in 1977 in Paris. After graduating in 2002 from the London College of Communication, he moved to Tokyo to taste Japan's powerful visual culture. After 3 years at Honda R&D as an interaction designer and his 2004 launch of Tokyo Art Beat with Olivier and Kosuke, he now works as a usability and information designer at AQ, a Tokyo-based design & web agency. After-hours, he enjoys holding on to his rapidly fading unofficial title for biggest visitor of art exhibits in Tokyo and baking all sorts of cakes in his new Ikea kitchen. » See other writings


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