∞ Developer turns iPhone app into a brick and mortar business

Charleston, SC-based Slicker is taking its iPhone app to the streets, literally. The iPhone developer on Tuesday opened a brick and mortar location and is using its iPhone app as the basis for the business. slickerCharleston City Slicker takes users through a step-by-step tour of the historic city. Chris Metts, the owner of the company, utilized many of the iPhone’s technologies to give users an immersive experience while in Charleston.

The problem is that you can’t rely on the fact that visitors to Charleston will know that you have an iPhone app available to help them tour the city. So, Metts opened a location in the heart of the historic district that caters to the large tourism industry in the city.

“We can’t count on the App Store to do the marketing for us, we are a needle in the haystack there,” Metts told The Loop.

Metts is renting the iPod touch, complete with City Slicker, to tourists so they can tour the historic parts of the city. This isn’t just an audio tour though.

Slicker utilized location services in the iPhone, so the application knows where you are during the tour. The Charleston app also features over an hour of hi-definition video, interviews with experts associated with the sites you visit, and in some case, a look inside some of the buildings that are not available to tourists.

You can also view pictures of how buildings looked during the Civil War. So as you walk around and the audio part of the tour explains the importance of the building, you can look at your iPhone or iPod touch and see what it looked like back then.

There are very few developers I’ve talked to that have been as excited about their app as Chris Metts was today. But it’s more than just his enthusiasm that will make this app turn into a great business, Metts also believes in the city the app is based on.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen a developer take an iPhone app and be able to turn it into a brick and mortar business too. Truly, quite a feat.

Metts has several applications on the App Store including Rome City Slicker, London and Paris.

I wish I was in Charleston tonight as Metts opened the doors, so I could take an historic tour myself.

  • Hi Jim,

    Welcome to your new gig! Good article. Interesting topic. It’s actually inspiring, as I’ve just recently started my own new gig as an iPhone developer.

  • Jim Dalrymple

    Thanks Daniel, glad you like it. Keep me up to date with your app.

    • mauri booton

      This sounds like a GREAT idea. Did you first check out linking up with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau… or are you of the independent entrepreneurial ilk?

      Something tells me there will be more of these brick and mortar sites developing in other cities in the future.

      Good luck!!


    • JJB

      Verizon and Sprint coverage is terrible in rural California. I’m really really happy that Sprint kicked me off of its unlimited roaming plan for roaming too much and forced me to switch to AT&T – the iPhone is killer, and at least in the back woods of northern California, AT&T has great 3g coverage.

  • alan Norman

    I find it hard to be enthusiastic about any Apple product since buying my iMac MY PRINTER HAS NEVER WORKED ! IT FAILS TO BE RECOGNIZED BY MY imac I have been to abnormal lengths to resolve this problem the last being to send a recorded delivery letter over two week ago to the manager of the Regents Street branch to this date I have not even received a courtesy call or letter or Email I thought I was buying Einstein instead I got Stan Laural ! and yes I am very ANGRY!!!!! out of pocket and completely FED UP. So if I was asked what do you call a computer that cant operate a printer? I would have to say an apple imac.

    • scubagarth

      Two things: 1) how is your complaint relevant to the article

      2) sorry about your bad experience. I have never had issues with peripherals connecting to my iMac or MacBook Pro. I have had issues with my hardware, and always Apple has been very willing to help out. My Applecare protection plan has been extremely valuable, and when I’ve had a problem I take it to a 3rd party repair shop and they get it done quickly and zero cost to me. Maybe you should try going to another store if the manager at your local Apple store is not helpful. Or just go over his head.

      • JJB

        OS X has always been a bit finicky with printers in my experience as an IT guy.

        Best bet is to remove printer drivers, unplug printer, find all printer preferences for that printer, delete them, or at least move to the Desktop, reboot, re-install drivers, THEN plug in your printer.

        Never plug in a USB printer before installing the drivers (on a PC or a Mac) unless the install instructions tell you specifically to do so.

        Good luck.

    • stuart rankin

      wow that sounds really rare. Printers are normally a snap to see. i dont see u on any of the discussion forums on the apple web site – i was hoping to see what it there was a thread i could follow and perhaps be able to assist u in getting your printer going. if u r still interested in troubleshooting it, drop me an email with some details – your imac specs, your printer model – is your imac intel or ppc.

      warm regards stuart

    • Jake Snake

      User Error…

    • Erichd

      I’ve never had any trouble making a printer work with my Mac, even when the printer manufacturer was all high and mighty like you seem to be.

      1) Why post here? Go to the Apple discussion boards with your make and model, and get asolution within the week. http://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa

      2) If you’ve recently bought your MAc, you may get a visit to the local Genius Bar free… if not, it may not cost much… call and see.

      3) Do what I did with my $50 Samsung multifunction: google it. Follow the already proven directions, and voila!

  • The Klondike Kids

    We were in Charleston in April 2009 and certainly could have used this application. We did various tours (water and land) before we went walking with our city map in hand. This application and service would certainly have made not only finding things easier but understanding what we were looking at and know what we were passing along the way that we didn’t know about. To also be able to know exactly where we were and how far we were from our target would have been a major benefit.

  • Bob

    Alan, try installing the printer driver that should have come with your printer (unless of course it’s not compatible, but you would’ve been smart enough to check that the printer’s compatible with Mac, right? Right…)

  • Ed & Darlene Gulka

    Since I bought my Mac, I am not able to scan from my printer to my computer. I have an HP printer and I wish I had known this before I spent all this money on my Mac. Do you have any answers for me to help me get this to work? What do I do?

    • stuart rankin

      what are your mac specs? What exact printer model is it. This should be a simple procedure. Tell me those things and we can trouble shoot.

      Can you connect ANY other printer to it? Try this if you can.

      regards Stu

      p.s. Macs rock – you will see. 🙂

      • Mrakro

        These people are probably the same folks that switched to Macs because they were just “fed up with their Dell.” They probably couldn’t get their printer to work on that either. Or if it did, it’s because their intelligent next door neighbor’s 15 year old son set it up.

        User error, that’s all there is to it. I’ve never had any problem of any kind with ANY peripheral I have ever tried to connect with the many Macs I’ve owned.

        And you can’t complain if you haven’t tried to fix it. The manager at the Apple Store can’t do anything. Make an appointment and visit the FREE Genius Bar.

        It is highly possible as well that some people aren’t meant to own computers.

    • Erichd

      Ed & Darlen,

      HP has a section fot heir speicfiically for Mac users:


      Try finding your printer there, and downloading the drivers, or do an Internet search for them. The problem should not be insurmountable, particularly if the printer and model are recent makes.

  • stuart rankin

    for example I went to APPLE icon on top left of display and clicked ABOUT THIS MAC – a wondow popped up – I am running OS 10.5.7 I have a Mac Pro. 2 x 2.8 Quad Core Intel Xeon.

  • Shap

    Alan Norman,

    Although anyone has the right to voice their opinions, there is probably a better forum for you to post your anger, especially considering it has nothing to do with either the iPhone or the Twitter app this article wrote about.

    I also noted, that although you specified and iMac, you neglected to mention which printer (brand and model) you are trying to get working and also which iMac version you have (PPC, Intel, Year).

    I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m having a go, just thought it a little odd, the response you left. If you can provide me with some more information, I’d be more than happy to provide assistance if I can.

    In regards to this product, I personally felt AR with Twitter would be a tremendous solution, however I have to agree that a better use for the technology must be found before its widely adopted. Great article Jim. Keep up the good work.


  • Shaps

    That’s funny, I started replying to Alan when no one else had, after writing my post, HEAPS of responses, and all about him. HAHAHA..

    How can you not be enthusiastic about Apple products, when there’s all this lovely Mac community trying to give you a hand in a time of need??

    Good on you guys.

  • RV

    To alan Norman and Ed & Darlene Gulka:

    • How is your complaint(s) any relevant to this article?

    Anyway, 15 years after converting into Macs, you’re one of the very few I ever heard of with peripheral problems! Macs only require a driver for a printer (you can even Google and download these) in fact they’re so, so easy to operate and connect to peripherals etc. that my 2 yo operates an iBook to watch DVDs and my 10 yo connects printers, ipods and USBs from her mates and at school etc. into my other MacBook. – You need almost no drivers at all, except perhaps for printers and scanners and these are pretty easily (almost automatically) connected after you instal their respective drivers! – But, you must check FIRST if your gadgets are compatible with Macs, which only makes sense.

    All other peripherals I have ever used, like HD, compact and/or pro cameras, USBs etc. just ‘show’ automatically and quickly on a Mac, no need of further installation of software/drivers etc. unlike PCs.

    I can understand your frustration as my wife just recently converted into Macs as well and being used to a clunky PC, one expects a Mac to behave to way one is used to! I have also noticed from years of experience, that lack of knowledge on OS X, makes people get frustrated with Macs, mostly because they don’t know how something is done on a Mac. – And that could be something as simply as turning it on, or most popular frustrating issue is using the ‘Cmd’ key on a Mac, instead of ‘Ctrl’ key as on a PC.

    I urge new Mac users to watch at least a few of the 100’s of Mac video tutorials available on apple.com/startpage and also use the HELP on the menu bar at the top, to familiarise yourselves with a new task, you’re not yet skilled on, before you criticise and blame Macs for something you don’t know how to do!

    …briefly, I cannot think from the top of my head, something a Mac cannot do. (but I could mention 100’s that most Mac users don’t know how it’s done).

    cheers, RV

    “p.s. Macs rock – you will see.”

  • Peter

    Alright, back to the gist of the article. This is a damn clever use of technology. I have never toured Charlestown, but a couple of years ago my wife and I were in Old San Juan, PR on vacation and we sure could have used something like this, not only for the historic sites but also to help make sense of where the really good restaurants are. To that end, I have a suggestion for the developer: How about offering local restauranteurs to purchase a few seconds of video in the tour program in which they describe their restaurants, their specialties, etc. Or maybe a local newspaper would like to buy time to feature their picks for great eating spots in Charlestown. Lots of possibilities with this app.

  • Julian

    This is a great story. I will check out the Charleston City slicker. Too bad most of the reviews were about a person, MAC and a printer….

  • This idea has great possibilities for every tour-worthy city around the world! Entrepreneurs everywhere are probably salivating at this idea.

    One suggestion… as the iPhone has a camera, perhaps future versions could allow the tourists using the app to contribute content / comments / photos / ratings, etc. as they take the tour. Then the tour becomes interactive.

    Your thoughts?

  • Good luck! Can’t wait to see you expand it out!

  • dangit – you can mod this comment and that previous one out – that one was just for you, but I forgot to mention that in the comment.

  • DJS

    Two questions: 1) Does anyone know for certain that Verizon will start offering the iPhone plans, and when? 2) Do you think Apple will put in a swiveling camera in the next iPhone model? I dont understand why they dont have a swivel camera that would allow for iChat functions, face recognition, self-portraits, etc.

    This is a great review of a fantastic iPhone Application. Look forward to reading more!

  • PC

    Great idea – best of luck with it! Re the post on printer not working. I had a new excellent printer but it would not work with Mac. No drivers available from the manufacturer. Got another model from same manufacturer and it works great. so for some reason no drivers available for particular models – need to check compatability!

  • We have been using our touch ipod for our business app, updating and storing our energy efficient window projects from our clients, still havent completed yet.

  • We use some business apps to maintain records of what we do, since I am always on the road, carry my laptop and iphone. But wind up using mainly iphone apps quite a bit. This app store, be nice to check out!

  • City Slicker is a nice app for Charleston, but if you want to explore other cities, try Tally-O. The best part is that you can contribute your own tours and share your favorite destinations with your Facebook friends.