Peter Jones talks BlackBerry, iPad and pitching apps
Being a Dragon is a tough life. Sitting on the first floor of an abandoned warehouse in a leather armchair with a pile money on your desk while you figure out what to invest in is one thing, but you need to keep an eye on the companies you already have a financial stake in at the same time.
Rather more the dashing knight than the scaly-skinned fire breather, technology business specialist Peter Jones welcomes Pocket-lint into his makeshift den: a black tabbed off corner at the JCB Toughphones launch in London's Brick Lane - one of numerous pies in which the man has his digits.
From the off we can tell this meeting's going to be a winner. He clearly loves his gadgets. Not only has he vested interests in companies like consumer hardware sales website Expansys, and the handsets we can still hear being tested in the background by getting thrown at plates and plopped in blow up paddling pools; the multi-millionaire entrepreneur takes to immediate cooing as we lay down our Android phone on the table with the Voice Recorder app as our makeshift dictaphone. This is no Dr Dre and after the pleasantries about the JCB event are over, it's not long before we get down to serious business.
Do you use an iPhone?
I did use the iPhone until I broke three of them. I keep sitting on them when they're in my back pocket, so I’m now using a BlackBerry Torch.
It only managed a 7/10 in our Pocket-lint review, how are you finding it?
I've been using it for a week but I’m struggling with it. I’m struggling because my fingers are quite big, so when I flip up for the keyboard the keys aren’t very good. When I use the touchscreen and I clip the keyboard back, again my fingers are too big. On the iPhone I kind of got used to it and it really works. I love the pinch and zoom, I love the iPhone's sensitivity. I just hate the iPhone 4's ability to drop calls every single time I’m on it. It’s a disgrace really that it costs as much as that, but I still can’t make a damn call. So I went to BlackBerry, but I still love my iPhone.
So are you going to be using two phones long term then?
I’m going to have three phones. I’ll take this one today. Seriously, they don’t know but I’m going to pinch this and then I’ll have a JCB phone, my iPhone and the BlackBerry as well.
So, if you're an iPhone guy, then presumably...
...iPad. I love the iPad. And the Galaxy Tab. I did a review of it with Jason Bradbury the other day and what I love about the Galaxy is Flash, and that you can get it up to 64 gigs so it’s on a par, but Flash is the absolute USP on the Galaxy. It frustrates the hell out of me on the iPad that you haven’t got Flash support. I think it’s a fatal mistake.
So, does that mean you'll be moving to an Android operating system on your mobile as well?
Yeah, I will probably do that.
(Jones's aid, Eric, steps in saying "You have to bear in mind that you’re talking to someone that owns several telecoms businesses. It’s like sneaking down into the sweet shop and thinking well, I’ll just try anything.")
Well, in that case it says quite a lot for the phone that you do choose to carry on you at anyone time.
That's very true and, at the moment, it’s this little baby (points to the BlackBerry).
Have you been using any apps on BlackBerry OS?
I’m using Bloomberg on it. On the iPhone I have though, I think I’m full on apps. I don’t think I can actually get any more apps from Angry Birds to the Monkey games, to my kids grabbing it to play Dora the Explorer. All the way to fairly serious business apps I’ve been able to download and find. So my iPhone is full of apps and I love it, but I use Bloomberg more than anything because it gives me a source of information that I need. I’ve got a lot of shares and my game, really, is investment, so Bloomberg keeps me close the market. That’s my favourite.
Has anyone ever pitched an app to you?
No, no one has. It would be an interesting one to do. Yes, I would be interested. I think there are so many opportunities. The big issue for me is the income you get from building the apps, designing the apps and getting them out there. When you pick on Angry Birds and all the top apps, they’re making money but putting them up on Apple I think they've got a closed market. They only give the developers a percentage, so you’ve really got to sell and really sweat that business. You’ve go to do something else. It’s not just about application itself.
I’d love for somebody to turn up and pitch a range of vertical market applications as one. What I mean is one concept that can apply to different segments of different market places. So it’s not really a single game. It’s more of a whole business.
One app I’d love to have is a pitch app. You could use FaceTime in an app called Pitch2Me. You would click a button to pitch to me. Direct access to Peter Jones through an app. Pitch me your idea and, if I like it, I’ll rate it, and, if you get three stars, then you get to go down to Lloyds Bank and pick up two £500 tokens.