Toronto-based Mobiroo will begin to offer its “apps on-demand” service in the Asia Pacific. Through a partnership with Malaysia’s biggest telecommunications provider, Celcom Axiata Berhad, Mobiroo will offer an “All You Can App” subscription service providing unlimited access to a selection of top paid apps and games. The service acts very similarly to the way Netflix or Spotify streaming works. The current app library is nearing over 750 with more titles added daily. (more…)
According to new reports from Juniper Research and news site Cinema Blend, the mobile app market will expand to 160 billion downloads in 2017. Just in 2013, there is only a 80 billion download projection, which is already a significant increase year-to-year.
In its report entitled, “Future App Stores: Discovery, Moonetisation & Ecosystem Analysis 2013 – 2018,” Juniper Research discussed the app discovery and app store revenue. It also brought up new app discovery tools put in place to spread awareness to and increase downloads. The report specifically mentions the new Google Play Game Services feature which will make discovering apps that friends easier to find. It will also rank free apps higher than paid ones, increasing the total number of downloads for the year.
The numbers here show that the mobile market is constantly growing. Unlike other gaming platforms, mobile apps and downloads are not limited by hardware restraints and is the easiest to appeal to casual users. There are no signs of slowing for the industry.
For more information, refer to Juniper Research’s whitepaper available here.
Social-mobile gaming developer Digital Chocolate today launched its first real-money gaming title Slots! Pocket UK for iOS in the U.K.
Powered by real-money gaming platform Betable, Slots! Pocket UK is a slots game that allows U.K. users the option to wager either real money or virtual currency and chips on pulls of the slot machine. Betable first announced its partnership with Digital Chocolate back in November 2012. Digital Chocolate is one of 10 developers so far to partner with Betable for its real-money gaming platform, which is still a private beta program. Betable handles all the real-money aspects of the game on the backend, including compliance, fraud prevention, identity checks, wagering, and gambling results, while Digital Chocolate can focus on the development of the actual game. In order for players to gamble with real money, they must be authenticated with Betable by signing up, depositing money, and more.
“[Betable] helped us leapfrog the whole race into real-money gaming by allowing us to partner with them on their platform, and of course, they have the license in the U.K. to do real-money gaming,” Jason Loia, chief operating officer of Digital Chocolate, told Inside Mobile Apps.
There are about three ways to enter the real-money gaming market. First, an IP-licensing deal like how Zynga partnered with real-money games operator bwin.party, where bwin makes a game that’s Zynga branded. Second, a developer can acquire their own real-money gaming license, but its a very expensive and long process. It costs millions of dollars and takes years to acquire a gambling license. Lastly, a developer can acquire a company that already has a real-money gaming license, but whatever developer that acquires a company with a license would have to restructure because they have to become compliant with whatever country’s government that allows real-money gaming. After analyzing its options, Loia says Digital Chocolate realized it couldn’t enter real-money gaming alone, and it didn’t have deep enough pockets to obtain a gambling license in each country where real-money gaming is legal. With Betable, Digital Chocolate gets to make its own game, control its IP, and have Betable do all the backend real-money gaming legwork, all under a fair revenue share model.
“There’s some bigger companies that are going after the licenses themselves, but for us and the majority of the gaming sector, it makes more sense to partner with experts in that field,” Loia says. “We’re not experts in real-money gaming law — Betable is. We’re experts in making great social games for mobile and web. The partnership makes total sense.”
Slots! Pocket U.K. launches with seven thematically different slot machines, with more to come in the future. Themes in this release include a safari-themed slot machine, an underwater machine, a Wild West machine, and more, all with its own sound, characters and storyline. Each slot machine also features its own mini-game, which can be unlocked depending on the spin of the wheel. When completing mini games, users earn the chance to level up (users have to level up to unlock more slot machines) and win more. Lastly, the combination of potential winning spins increases based on the number of friends a player has.
The game also features an advanced power up system, which rewards users with virtual currency. For example, a player can take a chance and apply a multiplier to their spin, or they can throw an anchor to hold on to a specific reel within the machine, altering the outcome, or make a quake and shake the reel for a winning combination. No matter which power up a player utilizes, they earn bonus points. The real-money slot machines don’t have any of these power ups from the virtual-currency machines as the real-money machines look and feel like a slots machine a user would see in a casino.
Loia says the future for real-money gaming is when regulations open up even further so real-money gaming mechanics could be added to social gaming in general, not just casino games. Digital Chocolate’s portfolio mainly consists of free-to-play social games like social racer Race Track Rivals (review), medieval fighting game Kings and Warlords, city building game Millionaire City and more.
“The more exciting thing about real-money gaming is when you can couple the broad reach of those social games with the massive monetization that real-money gaming brings to the table,” he says. “That’s when it truly explodes and changes gaming forever.”
Mobile app developers can now add social engagement features, two-way messaging, a real-time news feed and more to their apps in minutes with Scringo. The new product provides mobile app developers with those features to help them increase user engagement, distribution and monetization.
The product was described by Scringo co-founder and CEO Ran Avrahamy as “one place for developers to simply choose what they want to do and add to their app.” Basically, a developer can add a slide-in and slide-out handle UI that can be implemented on the righthand or lefthand side of their app. In this sidebar hub, developers can add features like a news feed or messaging system to their app.
Developers can manage features in their app via Scringo’s dashboard called the Developer Zone, featuring drag-and-drop customization for all the features that appear in the sidebar, without having to update their app via an app store. The Developer Zone also provides insights gained from users using Scringo, including the ability to see user metrics like location, platform, device and more.
Scringo’s main feature is its real-time activity feed. Basically, a developer can add an in-app social network to their app, which in turn, may increase user engagement. Developers can call for an activity inside of their app to appear in the activity feed. E.g. a developer can add a line of code to an app like Shazam, so when a user listens to a song, that action will be added to the activity feed. Developers can also implement a favorite button into the feed — e.g. a like, high-five or heart. Avrahamy adds that Scringo is suitable for content-centric apps such as music, video or picture apps.
Scringo also adds a messaging layer to an app. Users can message other people using the same app or even the app developer. The ability for developers to directly contact their users could help developers with quickly responding to feedback, reporting bugs, fielding suggestions for new app features and more.
Scringo also developed its own contextual and content-based algorithms, which suggests to the user people to follow based on a user’s gender, age and location. Users can log in to Scringo with their Facebook or Twitter credentials, which will create a personal app profile for the user within Scringo. Users can also find and invite friends through Scringo to use the app they are using. In essence, users would be doing the work for the developer to spread their app virally.
Before officially launching today, Scringo was in closed beta testing for months. More than one thousand developers participated in the beta, with Scringo integrated into more than 250 apps. Data from the beta showed that its product increased the average user time spent in an app by 97 percent and the average number of recurring sessions by 89 percent.
“[The beta] gave us amazing information about those users and seeing what’s keeping them inside the app,” Avrahamy says.
Avrahamy says the eight-month old startup received an undisclosed amount of seed round funding from an unnamed venture capital firm from Israel.
Developers can download Scringo’s free iOS or Android SDK here, which can be implemented in minutes, Avrahamy says.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, mobile app monetization company Flurry released data regarding dating app usage, finding nearly twice as many active male users as active female users.
More specifically, males accounted for 64 percent of dating app usage and females for 36 percent.
For this report, Flurry analyzed 20 top dating apps, which accounted for 17 million active users delivering more than 2.1 billion sessions in January.
Flurry also broke down gender distribution of dating app users by operating system, finding that iOS had a more balanced distribution, with males accounting for 55 percent of the user base and females for 45 percent. However on Android, males accounted for 66 percent of dating app usage, while females accounted for 34 percent.
Age-wise, Android was the platform of choice among the younger adult crowd, with 38 percent of users under the age of 25.
Lastly, Flurry saw that users generally open their dating apps eight times a week and use the apps for 71 seconds at a time. Flurry saw even more usage on dating apps for gay men, where people usually use them 22 times a week for 99 seconds at a time.
App discovery service AppGratis raises $13.5M in Series A funding, delivers up to 700,000 installs for app developers
AppGratis is an app that features one free app a day and sometimes an app that’s heavily discounted as well.
“I look at the market today and I see people throwing millions [of dollars] at building the most complex technologies around app discovery. We’re throwing a lot of money at building the simplest product you can find in the market today,” AppGratis founder and CEO Simon Dawlat told Inside Mobile Apps.
Since AppGratis’ launch in the U.S. last week, the app has already reached the one million new user mark, and reached as high as the No. 6 spot on the top free iPhone apps chart. Dawlat also claims that AppGratis can deliver between 500,000 to 700,000 installs for an app in a day.
“From all the approaches to app discovery, we’ve set out for the simplest one, which is featuring a great free app every day and giving this app a hell of a lot of exposure among our community of app shoppers,” Dawlat says.
One of the apps AppGratis featured, Etermax’s word game Word Crack, generated 701,556 downloads on Jan. 12, according to a tweet from the official Word Crack Twitter account.
AppGratis, which was founded in 2011, currently has more than seven million users worldwide and more than two million daily active users (DAUs). It’s available in more than 120 countries including Japan, Brazil and now the U.S.
Paris-based AppGratis, which currently has 40 employees, makes money through a cost per install (CPI) model with big brand apps and through a revenue share model with indie developers, who don’t necessarily have a big budget. When working with indies, AppGratis gets a cut from monetization methods in the indie developer’s app, such as advertising or in-app purchases.
The new funding AppGratis received will be used to scale the company globally, hire top talent, and build on their app’s self-learning technology which will recommend certain apps to users once it learns enough about a particular user’s downloading habits.
According to our traffic tracking service AppData, AppGratis is currently the No. 6 ranked app on the top free iPhone apps chart.
Monetization and insights provider W3i is stepping up its game with Pocket Gems and other mobile game developers on Android going into 2013. This could be the year that Google’s platform finally catches up in revenues to Apple’s iOS.
Through its expanded partnership with Pocket Games, W3i now provides monetization solutions to Tap Paradise Cove and Campus Life. Far from being mere banner ads, the monetization service focuses instead on providing a native experience in these Android apps — tailoring ads, offers and video campaigns to the user experience.
Erik Lundberg, General Manager at W3i’s San Francisco office (pictured), explains that the shift toward native experiences comes from mobile advertising finally moving away from online advertising models. With 15 years in online ads before joining W3i just eight months ago, he’s had time to study the changing trends.
“In the early days of ads and mobile apps, people took online models and slapped them on a smartphone like small banner ads that are only 100 pixels wide,” says Lundberg. “Users have tuned those out. More native ads like a full screen interstitial or offer-based ads, we see a much higher CPM, like 10 times higher. We think that trend will continue toward native ads that are a part of the application instead of just throwing up a banner.”
Editor’s note: The following guest post was written by Will Lovegrove, CEO and founder of Release Mobile. The company recently launch a new cloud-based data sharing platform called datownia, a product that helps companies connect their data to mobile apps and business systems.
Recognize this? “What’s new: content update”
You may as well write “we’ve got an immature mobile app strategy” in the release notes of your mobile app than “content update”. It means pretty much the same thing.
A search on Google Play and the Apple App Store revealed that more than 1,800 apps were updated in the last six months solely for the purpose of “updating content”. That’s 1,800 developer teams and their clients who worked together to update content in the app, test the app and then re-submit it to the app stores. In the case of one very high profile app — the U.K.’s National Trust — the data update went badly wrong and they had to make a second ‘patch’ release on November 28th. In the interim period, they suffered miserable reviews and their app’s star-rating plummeted.
Releasing a new version of the app into the app store just so you can update content in that app is bad for the app owner, the customer, the developer who built the app and the owner of the app store.
It’s bad for the app-owner because it’s a slow process involving technical work (meaning it’s expensive) and as demonstrated by the National Trust it can be risky. The problem is exasperated if the app has been published to multi-platform channels, e.g. iOS, Android, Web and others. If you don’t simultaneously coordinate the release of new content into all channels then you are creating marketplace confusion.
It’s bad for the customer because downloading excessive app updates can be a pain, especially if you are on 3G or in a broadband-poor area of the country. You’re only kidding yourself if you think that your customers will appreciate a new app version with fresh content because it shows there’s a team behind the app which is working to keep the app relevant. That may have been OK 2009, but it won’t be OK now. Customers may start hating your app if all the new version offers is fresh content. If you are in a competitive marketplace and your rivals can update their content without the need for a new app download then you are already losing.
It’s bad for the app store owner. Perhaps this is not so much of an issue given app store owners tend to be multi-billion dollar companies. But nonetheless, reviewing new app versions is work that someone has to do. Plus, the subsequent surge of downloads of the new version will consume machine and broadband capacity.
Finally, it’s bad for the app developer. Developers hate updating content by releasing a new version of software. Nothing is more frustrating for teams that take a pride in devising state of the art digital business solutions than to have to clean up a spreadsheet emailed to them by a client and hack that into a SQLite database. Developers don’t like handling client data, they don’t like going through software test-cycles (just for content releases) and they hate doing work which they know can be done better with a technical solution such as a CMS with API capability.
APIs are the obvious solution. The issue for many app developers has been that without a client-side API, it’s not possible to update content in apps elegantly. Sure, most good developers can easily create APIs using cloud services and the emerging backend-as-a-service solution providers like StackMob. But that’s not what’s needed. What’s needed is an API provided by the client, so that content update work can be delegated away from developers and back into the hands of the app publishers. An API creation project requires a different type of project, with different stakeholders and different budgets.
RSS is a good stand-in for a mobile content API (and frankly is often overlooked and highly underrated) but if you want to do something more sophisticated with your data than an API is the only real solution. And that’s where the catch-22 is. For many businesses mobile apps have been an experiment: a test to see what the market is like. Expanding a mobile app project to also build an API will require more money and a longer, more technical, project. However, spending more money when the market is unproven is not sound. Yet apps that don’t refresh with content are not going to be as valuable or helpful to the customer as integrated-apps. So how good a test of market potential is a static app really going to be? This is a problem which troubles a very large number of businesses who are just entering the mobile app market.
The answer is clear: any company wanting to launch a new mobile app must also integrate that app into a content management system as part of the project. This is something that developers must advocate and not let themselves be talked out of. Otherwise those developers face the same fate as the National Trust’s mobile app developer team and have to scramble to patch a software release which could have been completely avoided if the app was connected to a simple content API.
Footnote: the author of this article contacted the National Trust to recommend an API for their future mobile content updates and was informed an API project was underway and would be online in early 2013.
Mobile-social gaming powerhouse GREE announced on Dec. 6 that it invested $3 million in independent mobile game studio MunkyFun, a partnership, MunkyFun believes, that aligns with the direction both the companies plan to pursue.
“MunkyFun is about making fun above all else and connecting people,” said Nick Pavis, CEO and co-founder of MunkyFun. “We see that connecting people through games is where things are going and this is where GREE has made a lot of success in Japan and foreign territories.”
MunkyFun, which was founded in 2008 by a group of former LucasArts developers that worked on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, had developed notable titles including free-to-play iOS title My Horse under the guidance of developer NaturalMotion and FPS Archetype.
“Back in 2008, we decided we wanted to do something a little bit more interesting than ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ repeatedly,” Pavis said.
Pavis told Inside Mobile Apps that although the indie developer considered multiple companies to partner with, GREE stood out to MunkyFun the most. The Tokyo-headquartered company is moving toward building more technologically advanced games, he added, which aligns with MunkyFun’s plans as well. GREE, who’ve been in talks with MunkyFun for quite some time, will also bring its expertise in user acquisition, marketing and monetization.
“Another thing that GREE brings to the table for a small developer like ourselves is cash-flow,” Pavis said. “This investment is allowing us to expand in line with the industry. The industry is exploding and there’s just a wealth of opportunity. It’s moving quite fast. It’s good to get an injection of cash to help us expand at the rate that we need to in order to take full advantage of this growth in this industry at this time.”
MunkyFun also plans to expand its team and move its office to a former Ghirardelli Chocolate factory at Jackson Square in San Francisco.
The studio, which has 15 to 20 million total game downloads to date, plans to launch a couple of new games in early Q1 2013 on GREE’s platform.
MunkyFun has been independently and privately funded company up until GREE’s recent investment.
HitFox driving 10,000 mobile game installs per day for mobile game publishers, expands with offices in San Francisco and Paris
HitFox incubated startup AppLift is an affiliate service focused exclusively on mobile games generating installs for games from game publishers. Types of game affiliates in the network include mobile game review websites, other apps, TV stations and more.
The Berlin-headquartered HitFox, an incubator focused on investing and acquiring game distribution and user acquisition startups, was founded by serial entrepreneurs Jan Beckers, Tim Koschella, Ruben Haas, Hanno Fichtner, along with Team Europe. They are currently partnered with more than 160 game publishers including Electronic Arts, Nexon and King.com.
HitFox’s three current marketing and distribution startups under its roof are ad2games, AppLift and Game Finder. HitFox’s other mobile-related startup like AppLift is Game Finder. It’s a mobile game discovery app for iOS and Android that curates more than 700 free game apps and returns the most relevant games to the user. The app is already available in Germany, but is launching in beta in the U.S. and France.
In an effort to have offices in locations where their customers exist, HitFox is announcing its expansion to San Francisco and Paris. The company recently entered the Asian market with an office in Seoul.
“We are in a period of rapid expansion,” says Jan Beckers, CEO and co-founder of HitFox. “It was very, very natural to be there.”
HitFox, which was founded in May 2011, is also announcing the hiring of Nicole DeMeo, formally of Scoreloop and Peak Games, as vice president of marketing and strategic relations for its San Francisco office. Jean-Philippe Decka is also being brought on as head of business development at HitFox’s Paris office.
HitFox monetizes by taking a cut on the CPI rates from AppLift and ad2games and ads in Game Finder. Companies with a similar product to HitFox’s AppLift that help publishers drive installs include Fiksu and Chartboost.
The incubator staff has grown from 25 to 75 in 2012 and aims to acquire or establish at least two businesses per year.
HitFox received “mid-seven digit” seed funding in June 2011 from Holtzbrinck Ventures, Tengelmann E-Commerce Beteiligungs, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Kite Ventures and Heiko Hubertz.
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