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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Topps Bunt app: Can the company save itself and a beloved hobby with baseball cards that live inside your phone?

Shoutout to Sy Berger.

“The initial thought exercise, in 2012, was, If you were to re-create a baseball card, in our day and age, what would it look like?” Michael Bramlage told me. “First thing was, it should live on your phone. You know, the phone in your pocket is about the same size as a baseball card.”

Bramlage, the vice president, digital at the trading card giant Topps, is talking about Bunt, the free app I used to open a pack of Topps Frozen Phenoms.  My phone shuddered, and gold digital confetti exploded on screen when the pack turned out to contain a “super rare” Yasiel Puig card… Were I to trade that Puig card to another Bunt user—Bramlage says trade offers pour in at the rate of more than one per second—any return I’d receive would be similarly notional. If I kept it, I could slot it into my Bunt lineup, and Puig’s real-world statistical output would earn me points in an in-app fantasy game, which would in turn earn me “coins” that I could use to buy more digital cards.

You can also spend real money to buy those coins—it costs $9.99 for 20,000 or $74.99 for 500,000 if you’re in the mood to splurge… The result is a Web success big enough to leave a Pablo Sandoval–sized offline footprint, both through a robust secondary market—rare Bunt cards, and others with “digital signatures” that mirror players’ autographs, are priced in the hundreds of dollars on eBay—and multimillion dollar revenues through the app…

progress makes Grandpa Simpsons of us all, and this is not a cloud worth screaming at. It’s tough to see Bunt as anything but a necessary evolution in a business that needed one, and a way to make something I cared about relevant and appealing to people who’ve never had reason to think of it as either… One generation’s cards are neglected in dust-shrouded boxes; another’s move and grow, relentlessly, in the permanent mint condition of the Internet. Which seems more valuable to you?

The District Attorney Posted: December 23, 2014 at 08:54 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, business, internet, topps

 

 

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