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Friday, June 1, 2012
Garrett Hill's BlackBook App

By Keith Hamm
ESPN.com

The days of using a Sharpie pen and an outdated Thomas Guide to map out your favorite skate spots are over. Especially if you own a little piece of modern technology called a smart phone. Got one of those? Thought so. Now check this out: Zero pro Garrett Hill -- backed by the same brothers behind the Maloof Money Cup -- has released an iPhone app called BlackBook that makes it easy for skaters to pinpoint spots and create corresponding trick lists.

"The whole [development] process took about a year," Jason Ossenmacher, the app's project manager, told ESPN.com. "We spent a ton of time refining and fine-tuning it, making it so that when you're out skateboarding, you don't have to fiddle with it. It's just a complementary tool." Ossenmacher added that they're planning on rolling out an Android version "within the next few months."

Earlier today, ESPN.com caught up with the 24-year-old Hill -- a Los Angeles native who's been riding for Zero for about eight years -- to talk about the project.

ESPN.com: How did you come up with the idea for this app?
Garrett Hill: I was getting really frustrated with my iPhone's inability to neatly store all my skate-related info and media in one place. There were just days when I had too many spots to skate and it would take until one in the afternoon just for me and my crew to make a solid decision as to what we were going to film next. I wanted something that could store all my spots and trick lists in one place. Unless you have a whole lot of patience and time on your hands, picking a spot to shred when your hyped on just getting out there and dropping in off something huge "in-the-moment" just isn't going to happen. That's what I love about BlackBook, I can just call someone up and say, "Hey, let's hop in the car, blast some "Darkness," and get to this exact spot so I can land this trick, and then I want to check it off and feel really good about myself!"

What was the first step in making this happen?
I got really lucky after hoarding this idea for a while with no tangible way to make it happen. I don't remember who reached out to whom, but Maloof Money Cup put their faith in me and got hold of a fantastic tech team for the job. We meet once a week and just get really hyped on making stuff more streamline; the app [just came out today] and we're already talking about doing new and innovative things with this thing.

Did working on this project take away time from skating?
Not at all. I've been actively filming throughout this whole process; it probably got me to skate more than usual because I was just hyped to get out into the streets and test it out. It's made filming multiple skate parts really manageable. I guess that's why it's a productivity app. It really boosts productivity.

Will the app turn into something that skaters can us to share spots, photos and tricks?
There will certainly be a feature allowing skateboarders to share their photos and videos in the very near future. We named the app BlackBook because we wanted it to stay relatively private; it's a personal app, and most people don't want their treasured spots blown up. [But] skaters can easily send their pins to whomever they choose.

We don't plan on creating a skate spot directory. But skateboarders definitely have the option to submit their footage and photos directly to us from the app. That way, skaters who may not otherwise have had the opportunity, can showcase their stuff on the BlackBook website and even win some cool stuff for it.

The BlackBook app is available on iTunes for 99 cents. "Cheaper than a pack of gum," says Hill.