Children’s multimedia developer Ruckus Media is rereleasing its Ruckus Reader app, this time as a universal app for Apple devices—including the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone—driven by a focus on the growth of mobile computing in the children’s market. The new Ruckus Reader app will launch with about 100 interactive titles, readalong e-books, and videos and offers publishers a combination distribution channel, retail marketplace and digital reading/consuming software.

Ruckus has revamped its app and business model since it launched in 2010. Originally Ruckus content was only available for the iPad, but the new app is supported across all Apple devices. During a conference call with Ruckus Media CEO Rick Richter and Ruckus chief content officer Jason Root, Richter called the new Ruckus Reader app “a new superstore,” and compared the platform to the Comixology app, a digital comics app that also includes a digital distribution channel and a retail marketplace as well as digital comics reading software. Comixology is a fast-growing digital vendor that has grown to become a dominant distributor of digital comics.

Richter called the revamped Ruckus Media app “a very user-friendly one-stop shop for e-books or anything that can be [distributed] digitally for kids.” The new app launches with 100 digital titles from Ruckus Media and multiple publishers; Richter said Ruckus has signed up about 1,000 pieces of new digital content. Ruckus will release one free title each week along with new for-pay content.

Since Ruckus Media launched in 2010, there have been 1 million Ruckus Media apps downloaded and about 14 million user sessions. Richter said Ruckus has more than 800,000 consumers in its database. Richter said “we’re looking for new publishers,” and emphasized that “the new storefront is dynamic. We can add and change content, have flash sales or add new categories.”

All content is downloadable and lives on the device, “so kids can watch the content in the back of the car or in a restaurant,” Richter said. “There’s instant access and no need for wi-fi.” Content includes interactive storytelling from such properties as the Transformers, My Little Pony and Crayola; narrated readalong e-books include Curious George, Toot & Puddle and The Polar Express and digital content from Nickelodeon; short films and videos from VeggieTales and The Wiggles and music videos from Laurie Berkner.

In addition to being a distribution and retail channel, the Ruckus Reader app captures registration data from parents—Root said “we have a rock solid COPPA privacy policy, we over-message parents on privacy concerns." And while Richter said the app offers an easy purchasing procedure – four clicks to purchase from buy to download – the app also allows parents to set the app to block any purchase by kids. The app also collects data on usage that can be accessed by parents. Root said, “Parents have shown themselves to be most interested in usage data and less in concerned with educational aspects. They seem to put a premium on time spent in the app by their kids, and we can track it on the app and on the Web site.”

The move to transforming the app into a retail channel supported across the Apple mobile platform marks the growing importance of mobile computing and the freemium model, Richter said. Free downloads help drive traffic to the e-store and Richter said Ruckus was teaming up with its publisher/partners to help market the app and also drive traffic to the app and the site.

“Mobile devices have created an enticing world of entertainment and convenience,” he said, “but at the same time it has created new challenges for parents. It’s our mission to help parents navigate this complex landscape while continuing to engage children with high-quality content they want to read, play and watch again and again. And with the new Ruckus app, we’re able to build this relationship with current customers as well as new ones by providing a one-stop storefront to simplify and enhance the entire Ruckus experience for parents and kids.”