Fiksu: iPhone 5 release spiked iOS downloads by 33% in October

The iPhone 5 has been a massive boon for app discovery according to Fiksu. The Boston-based user acquisition and marketing company reports that app downloads spiked by 33 percent after the release of the highly anticipated device.

The company reports new iPhone 5 owners pushed the volume of daily free app downloads from the U.S. app store sky high, rising from 4.07 million in September to 5.4 million in October, a 33 percent jump that was clearly linked to the iPhone 5.

Although the company saw only a marginal increase in overall download volume during September, Fiksu recorded an upswing in free downloads that began on Sept. 21, the day the iPhone 5 launched. Last month Fiksu reported free app downloads in the U.S. increased by 33 percent after Sept. 21, a pace that the iOS store was able to maintain throughout October.

The company also reported that the cost to acquire a loyal iOS user — defined as one who will open an app at least three times — fell for the third month in a row, dropping to $1.06 in October. According to Fiksu CEO Micah Adler, the popularity of the iPhone 5 was a major factor in the shift, as new device owners searched for apps to install.

“Organic searches soared as users around the world actively explored the App Store searching out new apps for their new iPhones. This heightened period of organic discovery – coupled with peak download volumes – drove down the cost of loyal user acquisition,” he explained.

While we’re still hearing complaints from developers about the cost of mobile user acquisition, Fiksu’s latest report could signal relief is in sight — good news for the industry.

High user acquisition costs make it much harder for app developers to break even on marketing costs, since the more a company spends to bring on a set of new users, the more unlikely it is the company will be able to break even unless they are able to effectively monetize a large portion of the acquired users. The high cost of user acquisition has lead to a new wave of cross-promotion networks and prompted TinyCo to create its own affiliate network in an effort to cut down marketing costs.

App Annie: Google Play surging in Asia, global revenues up by over 300% in 2012

Apple’s iTunes App Store may be the most lucrative app market in the world, but Google Play is catching up fast thanks to its growing popularity in lucrative Asian markets like Japan and South Korea reports App Annie.

According to the company’s App Annie Index, the amount of global revenues generated through Google Play has increased by 311 percent between January and October 2012, while iOS has seen its revenue increase by just 12.9 percent in the same period. During October 2012, Google Play saw revenues grow by 17.9 percent month-over-month. iOS revenues actually contracted, falling by 0.7 percent month-over-month.

Although iOS still sees more downloads than Google Play, the official Android market is also closing the gap there as well. Over the past five months, iOS has seen the global volume of free downloads increase by 3.3 percent. Worldwide levels of free Google Play downloads are up 48 percent in the same time period.

According to App Annie, Google Play’s growing strength in markets like Japan and South Korea is a key factor in the official Android market’s growing downloads and revenues. In October Japan became the most lucrative Google Play market, generating 29 percent of the store’s total global revenues, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. The three most lucrative countries for Google Play developers are now Japan, the U.S. and South Korea. On iOS the three biggest markets the U.S., Japan and the U.K. Overall, Japanese Google Play revenues have increased by 10x since the beginning of the calendar year.

Its not just Asian consumers, but Asian companies as well — according to App Annie, Asian companies accounted for eight of the top 10 Google Play publishers by revenue during October 2012. DeNA leads the pack based on its massive hit Rage of Bahamut, followed closely by other Japanese companies like COLOPL, GungHo Online, GREE and NAVER. On iOS Japan accounts for four of the top 10 publishers by revenue.

On the level of individual apps and games, Asian companies are also in firm command of the Google Play charts. The most lucrative Google Play game in the world during October 2012 was GungHo Online’s breakout hit Puzzles & Dragons, with other Japanese or South Korean offerings filling the other nine spots. On iOS only two of the top 10 games by revenue were from Japanese companies — GungHo Online’s Puzzles & Dragons and Square Enix’s card battle game 拡散性ミリオンアーサー (King Arthur of 1 Million People.) For non-game apps NAVER’s social network LINE was the most lucrative Google Play app by revenue and the No. 2 iOS app.

Editors Note: We have made a small update to the text of this story to better clarify how App Annie arrived at its revenue numbers. Changes are indicated with italics. Credit to John Koetsier at VentureBeat for the new information.

Carrier billing, ultra-broad distribution earning Fishing Joy 2 $1.6M a month in the Chinese Android market

It is possible for developers to generate monthly revenues in the six figure range from China’s Android users according to CocoaChina. The company reports its game Fishing Joy 2 is currently earning more than $1.6 million per month in revenue from the Chinese Android market.

The casual title has a free to paid conversion rate of more than 30 percent, and sees average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) of $0.40 — numbers that would be high by the standards of the American iTunes App Store, let alone for the Chinese Android market. For reference, during its most recent quarterly earnings report, Glu Mobile reported ARPDAU figures ranging between 6.4 cents and 9.3 cents in its midcore titles Blood and Glory: Legends and Frontline Commando. According to China Mobile’s official monthly gaming report for September 2012, Fishing Joy 2 accounted for 4.5 percent of all gaming revenue generated on the company’s platform.

CocoaChina’s US GM Lei Zhang attributes Fishing Joy 2’s success to his company broad distribution strategy, a stringent anti-piracy policy, and most importantly, access to carrier billing.

Fishing Joy 2 is currently available in over 200 third party Android and carrier stores in China, many more than most international or even Chinese companies typically target. While the distribution strategy increased CocoaChina’s integration, QA and maintenance workload by up to 10x, the move also significantly increased the title’s revenues and visibility according to Zhang. “Revenue doubles, which is worthwhile given its scale we are seeing right now,” he explains. “More importantly, for casual titles that scale is key, it is essential to achieve a complete coverage of a market.”

CocoaChina also aggressively hunts down pirated versions of the game. According to Zhang piracy is still a significant problem in China, with most pirated titles taking the form of a direct upload of a stolen APK, complete with third party SDKs and even malware along for the ride. “For most popular western titles, if they don’t have a local presence or partner, you will be able to find pirated versions with significant downloads in major chinese android markets,” he explains. CocoaChina’s efforts may not be cheap but they have been effective in reducing the impact of piracy on Fishing Joy 2’s revenues.

The most important factor in the title’s success however, is access to carrier billing. CocoaChina has secured Master CP (Content Provider) status from several major Chinese mobile carriers, a designation that allows the company to utilize carrier billing for the game even when users play a version downloaded through a third party Android market.

Zhang tells us that carrier billing accounts for 90 percent of Fishing Joy 2’s total revenue. As our readers are no doubt aware, the widespread use of carrier billing is also what enables Japanese and South Korean audiences to monetize at such a high rate. Combined with Flurry’s recent report indicating China will soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market, CocoaChina’s report is  good news for both domestic and international developers looking to expand to the Chinese market.

GREE’s Q1 2013 sales dip 5.4% Q-over-Q to $466.7M, but sales in “recovery trend” after kompu gacha ban

The heavy costs of GREE’s international expansion and the lingering effects of the kompu gacha ban have taken a bite out of the Japanese giant’s profits. The company’s net profit for Q1 2013 fell 26.3 percent quarter-over-quarter and 3.6 percent year over year to 9.06 billion yen ($111.5 million).

Q1 2013 is GREE’s second straight quarter of declining revenues. Net sales for the period were 37.9 billion yen ($466.7 million) down 5.4 percent from Q4’s 40.08 billion yen ($508.6 million), and 17.9 percent from Q3 2012’s record high of 46.2 billion yen ($578.1 million).

According to GREE’s earnings release, the company’s “monthly net sales bottomed in July” — the month that coinsides with complete phase-out of the kompu gacha sales tactic. The practice, which heavily incentivized the purchase of random virtual goods, was banned by Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency for encouraging gambling like behavior. However, GREE also reports its monthly net sales are gradually recovering. GREE’s paid services sales were 34.6 billion yen ($426.1 million) for the quarter, up 26 percent year-over-year, with sales increasing month-on-month during the period.

The company’s net profit fell for the second straight quarter, hitting 9.06 billion yen ($111.5 million), down 26.3 percent from Q4 2012’s 12.3 billion yen ($151.4 million), and down 32.4 percent from Q3‘s 13.4 billion yen ($165 million).

The numbers also meant that GREE’s net sales and operating profit have fallen behind arch-rival DeNA, which reported record sales of 50.3 billion yen ($627 million) during the same period. GREE’s operating profit was 15.7 billion yen ($193.3 million) in the quarter ending on September 30, 2012, 23 percent lower than the 20.4 billion yen ($254 million) DeNA earned during the same period.

The company’s advertising sales were 3.3 billion ($40.6 million) during Q1 2013, an increase of 14 percent year-over-year, but lower than they were in Q4 2012, a factor GREE blamed on declining feature phone sales.

GREE’s overall costs were also dramatically higher year-over-year, a factor the company attributed to its aggressive international expansion. GREE’s cost of sales for the quarter was 4.6 billion yen ($56.6 million), up 123 percent year-over-year. Sales, general and administrative costs were 17.4 billion yen ($214.3 million) for the quarter, a 50 percent increase year-over-year due to increased staff and marketing costs.

The company’s forecasts for the 2013 fiscal year are unchanged. GREE expects to see net sales of somewhere between 195 and 205 billion yen for the full year ($2.4 to $2.5 billion), with net profit in the range of 46 to 52 billion yen ($566 to $640 million).

The company’s shares fell 3.65 percent after the news. They are currently trading at 1,373 yen ($16.91).

Drawbridge exits closed beta, unveils cross-screen mobile marketing solutions

Drawbridge, the mobile ad startup founded and lead by former Google and AdMob scientist Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan is out of closed beta and has taken the wraps of its first two products, Drawbridge for App Marketers and Drawbridge for Cross Device Marketing.

According to Drawbridge, the problem with mobile marketing solutions is that they lack the targeting tools its desktop cousins have — the concept of a user as a cookie doesn’t exist on mobile.

This makes retargeting users (showing ads to a user after they have left the associated website) on mobile extremely difficult, and marketing to the same user as they switch between desktop and mobile nearly impossible. Drawbridge has solved this problem by developing a a methodology for associating mobile devices with desktop devices.

“In the desktop world there are a lot of Cookies available. There are third party companies that have Cookies along interest segments, demographic segments, etc, etc. On mobile we look at ad requests,” explains  Drawbridge’s VP of product Eric Rosenblum.

“When you go to any website on your mobile phone, your phone sends an ad request to a real-time bid exchange, and the request has a lot of information in it. It has a hashed user ID, the time you sent the request, and the approximate location from where you sent the request. It also has the property that you’re on, the size of the ad, the device… Basically we sit on these exchanges and we view all these requests that come in. Over time we can correlate these requests against a desktop cookie that is doing similar things. Then we can take the information from the desktop cookie and say ‘this is probably the same person, and these desktop cookies are also probably applicable to these devices.’ It’s a very large statistical inference model.”

This, he explains, increases the chances advertisers will find the right users, since it targets the characteristics of the user, not just their device or the browser.

Drawbridge for App Marketers is a product for for developers that want to find high value users — the companies behind e-commerce, travel and media apps that are looking to establish a long term relationship, since their business models frequently include subscription based monetization. Drawbridge for Cross Device Marketing is designed for brand marketers looking to drive specific goals like getting users to watch video, fill out survey, or click a link. Both products are built from Drawbridge’s core technology and use the company’s large database of matched devices.

Although the company has just come out of its closed beta, it still has impressive results to report.  The company now has a database of 200 million devices that have been paired with their users, and is adding another 4 million every day. The infrastructure behind Drawbridge’s technology is now fielding almost two billion ad requests per day.

Drawbridge also has real client examples to back up its claims. An e-commerce company running an audience targeting campaign was able to increase the lifetime value of its users by more than 200 percent by using Drawbridge’s technology to target users with household incomes of more than $100,000 a year.  A financial service company running a retargeting campaign with Drawbridge saw 338 percent better ROI than any other campaign they had run. Drawbridge’s cost per user was the same as its competitors, but the value delivered was much higher.

“Everyone knows that retargeting works, the biggest problem is that doesn’t work if you don’t know who the user is on mobile. Once you can make that bridge, its not surprising that it works.”

Developer and advertisers interested in Drawbridge’s cross device advertising solutions can find out more by visiting the company’s website.

How PlayMesh used hardcore savages and trash talk to push Valor HD into the top grossing app charts

For mobile developers, getting onto the Top Grossing iPhone app charts is hitting the jackpot. An app in the No. 1 spot can earn as much as $12 million a month in revenue, and even a lower entry is still incredibly lucrative. Quarter Spiral’s Ethan Levy estimates the No. 25 top grossing app sees over $13,000 in sales for every day it holds that position on the US top grossing chart.

In October, PlayMesh was able drive its strategic combat game Valor HD from No. 139 to No. 25 on the Top Grossing iPhone app chart by encouraging what Shawn Foust, the company’s VP and game lead for the title calls “the hardcore savagery” of its players.

The results were  a 30 percent increase in per day engagement, a 10x increase in the number of paying users and a 50 percent increase in the average spend per player. We recently sat down with Foust to learn more about PlayMesh’s turn to hardcore strategy.

Inside Mobile Apps: Valor HD recently gained 108 spots on our top grossing app chart. That’s impressive. What did you do?

Shawn Foust, vice president and Valor game lead, PlayMesh: It wasn’t the result of standard machinations. We didn’t spend an extra dollar, we didn’t go on some giant advertising campaign, we didn’t have a massive sale in game. We did a community initiative and it had an enormous impact on our revenue.

Our game is essentially a series of separate instances called worlds. Each one of those worlds has individual settings that you can modify, and each one of those worlds contains normally between 20,000 and 50,0000 players. Players had began to ask us a lot of questions around world 100, since we had 85 worlds and players were wondering what we’re going to do something special for 100.

We began to ask ourselves what were the things about the game that we really wanted to highlight, what were the things that we really thought the players would really engage in. A lot of the top players have been anxious about meeting other top players from different worlds so they could face off, and we hadn’t given them that opportunity. What we began to do was to market world 100 as a highly competitive environment where all the best players would be. Ultimately it was a test on whether or not this highly competitive game would result in better monetization, greater retention and higher engagement. The answer was a really big yes on all three.

IMA: Can you describe what the financial impact was?

Foust: On per user basis monetization clearly it went up. What I can say is our daily revenue 4x’d. There’s an enormous uptrend on a per player basis, it was essentially up across the board. Our relevant metric is we judge after two months of a world cycle and we haven’t got to the judging point yet.

IMA: You’re new to the game lead position — can you describe what you’ve been doing since you started working on Valor HD?

Foust: The first month and a half was design. All the features that I designed are going to be released about a month from now. Those features are going to be essentially a pure bet on competitiveness. We are just ramping up the savagery in the game really significantly. It’s already I would say an outlier in terms of competitiveness compared to other games. Honestly world 100 for us was a really important turning point to see whether or not players were going to respond to that competitiveness.

IMA:  You said that it was already competitive and now you’re tripling down on it. Are we talking League of Legends style competitiveness?

Foust: I really have an objection to other games that don’t attach meaningful consequences to the decisions the players make. There’s a lot of games where they monetize the progression of the player, and when he finally gets through all the content there’s nothing for them to do. In our game, once you’ve exhausted all of the content that’s actually when the game starts. when there’s nothing left to build that’s when everyone starts to get really aggressive and attack everyone else.

I wanted to bring back competitiveness earlier in the game, so people are competitive not only once they’ve built up their entire army, they’re competitive 16 hours in. That’s what we think the really big opportunity is. We’re all hardcore League of Legends players here. We all love Starcraft. It’s the type of players we are, It’s the type of players we hire. It’s really what we’ve wanted to do with the game. It’s just there’s a period of time of transition from being a self-funded development team to a venture backed team and that transition required a lot of time on infrastructure and scaling up. [Editor’s Note: PlayMesh raised $6 million from MK Capital in August, 2011.] Now that we’ve got to that point we can really ask ourselves how we want to distinguish our game.

IMA: Are you worried too much competitiveness early in the game will turn people off? Are you willing to trade a wider user base with a smaller more competitive user base that will monetize more?

Foust:  I cannot wait to trade away the casual users. I don’t want them in my game.

The simple answer is I’m looking for the hardcore savages. Those are they players that are unapologetic in their dedication to a game. Players who log in at 3am to attack while the other player is asleep. That’s the type of player that we’re after.

In addition to the competitive marketing we did [for world 100] we also added an interesting event where we had the entire PlayMesh team join the game and play openly. Everyone knew who we were and normally we play under different monikers. We issued a formal declaration of war and basically spent two weeks trash talking our players, then we put bounties on our head to give people additional benefits for taking us out. I’m sad to say that while I was on a plane yesterday I was destroyed. The amounts of counter trash talking I’m currently experiencing is breathtaking. It’s allowed us to get an idea of how dedicated the community is to the game. When you really see people coordinating across three dozen guilds to wreck you, it’s kind of gratifying and terrifying.

FlipToast seeing 30 minutes of use a day on Windows 8, believes potential of the platform outweighs its growing pains

Windows 8 may be an unproven platform, but the the opportunity to get in the ground floor still makes it an attractive one according to FlipToast founder Shivani Khanna. Originally a desktop service, FlipToast is the first social aggregation app to be released for Windows 8, a platform FlipToast views as its hope to crack the crowded mobile market.

When Microsoft first launched Windows 8 the only social apps on the platform were Socialite, Facebook and Twitterama,” says Khanna. “They were looking to get someone dedicated to social to work on their platform. They asked us if we were interested in being the first social app. This was a lucrative proposition.”

Unlike on iOS and Android where native apps are king, FlipToast was able to build out its Windows 8 app using JavaScript, a language typically used in web development. This factor, explains Khanna, makes Windows 8 a safe bet for developers who might want to try mobile, but don’t have the resources to put into dedicated Android or iOS apps.

“The pros from the developer’s perspective is that you don’t have that much of a learning curve,” she says. “The cons are definitely adoption.”

Although FlipToast has struggled to ensure its app will make an impact on Windows 8, overall early numbers are promising. Khanna reports FlipToast is seeing an average of 30 minutes a day on its application, a number than includes users on mobile, tablets and desktops.

“If I had to build an app today I would probably pick Windows 8 because there’s an advantage of being first to platform,” she says. “Microsoft has a lot of money and they’re spending $1.5 billion marketing this thing. They know how to drive adoption. Ballmer predicted 500 million devices will be running windows 8 by the end of next year. Even if we got 1 percent of that market, that is still a huge number for small developers like us.”

DoubleDutch raises $4M Series B round to deconstruct CRM for mobile

Mobile CRM company DoubleDutch announced today it has raised a $4 million round of Series B funding.

Raised entirely from existing investors, Floodgate Fund lead the round with participation from Bullpen Capital and Lightbank. Floodgate’s managing partner Mike Maples Jr. will join DoubleDutch’s board of directors as part of the deal.

Originally developed for desktop computers, CRM software tends to be heavy on features and difficult to use — a combination that has typically made for an unintuitive mobile experience, according Lawrence Coburn, DoubleDutch’s founder and CEO.

“We are going to try and reinvent CRM for a mobile-first world,” he says.

DoubleDutch’s three apps, Hive, Pride and Flock are each designed to replicate a single aspect of a more traditional desktop CRM suite, covering lead generation, salesforce updates and customer relationship management. The goal is to deconstruct the software as several dedicated mobile apps that are specifically designed to work together.

“Salesforce, Oracle, Sugar and Microsoft all have very powerful CRM systems that have been built up over years. If you look at the desktop philosophy that makes total sense, but the mobile and cloud trend has sort of turned that on its head,” says Coburn.  “It’s very hard for a mobile application to compete with a desktop CRM but, the way we look at it is that mobile can be an extension of that desktop CRM and then you can have multiple applications that work together to start to recreate the entire functionality of a desktop CRM package.”

Founded in 2011, DoubleDutch currently has more than 238,000 people using its apps and counts the likes of Cisco, Lowe’s, Nationwide and Wells Fargo among its clients. “Accidentally profitable” in the words of Coburn, the company’s bookings currently run between $5 and $10 million a year. Today’s round will be used to expand the DoubleDutch headcount from 22 to more than 50 by the end of 2013, part of which will include opening a European office.  In total the company has raised more than $7.4 million in venture capital.

“We think that every CRM system is at risk to cloud and mobile and we’re playing right in the middle of those two macro trends,” says Coburn. “We’ve seen that there’s already massive demand for our products, and we just need to scale up the company to meet that demand.”

This week’s headlines from across Inside Network

A roundup of all the news Inside Network brought you between Nov. 5 and Nov. 10.

Inside Mobile Apps

Tracking the convergence of mobile apps, social platforms and virtual goods.

Monday, Nov. 5

Tuesday, Nov. 6

Wednesday, Nov. 7

Thursday, Nov. 8

Friday, Nov. 9

Inside Social Games

Covering all the latest developments at the intersection of games and social platforms.

Monday, Nov. 5

Tuesday, Nov. 6

Wednesday, Nov. 7

Thursday, Nov. 8

Friday, Nov. 9

Inside Facebook

Tracking Facebook and the Facebook platform for developers and marketers.

Monday, Nov. 5

Tuesday, Nov. 6

Wednesday, Nov. 7

Thursday, Nov. 8

Friday, Nov. 9

Inside Social Commerce

Tracking the convergence of social media and commerce.

DeNA pays $92M for 20% share in Rage of Bahamut developer Cygames

DeNA has entered into a strategic business alliance with Japanese mobile social developer Cygames, announcing today it has reached an agreement to purchase a 20 percent share of the company for 7.4 billion yen ($92 million).

As our readers are no doubt well aware, Cygames is the third party developer behind Rage of Bahamut, DeNA’s biggest international hit. The card-battle game has held the No. 1 spot on the Android top grossing app chart since April 22 — an eye-popping 28 straight weeks. On iOS, it hasn’t dropped below the No. 10 spot on the top grossing iPhone app chart since the beginning of June. According to DeNA’s most recent earnings report, the title is seeing average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) in excess of $1, a figure 5 to 10 times higher than the typical mobile game generates.

As industry watcher Dr. Serkan Toto points out, the deal also significant because Cygames is actually a wholly owned subsidiary of CyberAgent, another Japanese mobile social gaming platform operator, and therefore, direct DeNA competitor.

The deal is expected to close on Dec. 28, 2012 and pegs Cygames value at more than $460 million, putting the company in a similar range as Gloops, another Japanese mobile social gaming company that was just acquired by Nexon for $469 million in cash.

That valuation is interesting, given that Gloops likely generates more revenue than Cygames. According to Nexon, Gloops generated 23.7 billion yen ($303.8 million) in revenues between June 30 2011 and June 30 2012. Gloops also has a much larger catalogue of titles — 21 in all, including hits like Japan Pro Baseball, Warriors of Odin and Three Kingdoms Guild Battles. Cygames by comparison has released 7 titles, three of which are different versions of Rage of Bahamut.

Current financials aside though, it seems DeNA is willing to spend heavily on Cygames to keep it, and its games under the Mobage umbrella. The company been able to accomplish something both DeNA and its arch-rival GREE have struggled with — launching a breakout hit in the North American market.

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