Editor’s note: On April 25, Facebook announced an agreement to acquire Parse, a cloud-based platform providing tools for mobile app developers. The mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) company could be used by Facebook to make it easy for mobile developers to integrate its SDK and use Facebook login, Open Graph and other components of its platform. And with the recently completed acquisition of advertising platform Atlas, we speculated last week that Parse and Atlas could be made — or some parts of it — free to most advertisers and developers to bring them deeper into Facebook’s ecosystem, ultimately driving ad revenue. Ty Amell, founder and CEO at StackMob, a cloud-based mobile application development platform, explains why Facebook has a big problem on its hands, regarding the steep cost of its platform for developers that’s causing them to leave the platform for mobile. In an effort to stop the exodus, Amell elaborates why Facebook agreed to acquire Parse.
The Facebook acquisition is just the latest move of large public companies taking long hard looks at the MBaaS and API industries. Salesforce recently launched their mobile services platform, Microsoft is in preview with mobile services on Azure and Intel recently bought Mashery for $180 million. Not to mention Layer 7 being acquired by CA Technologies.
With Facebook’s most recent acquisition, does this mean Facebook is moving into the MBaaS space? The short answer: not necessarily. Facebook has a big problem — many of the game publishers that made money for Facebook are starting to leave the platform. While Apple can still get away with charging a 30 percent commission to app developers, Facebook is having a hard time justifying those types of commissions. Apple’s App Store is on rocket ship growth trajectory while Facebook’s platform growth may have plateaued. Without that growth, publishers are having a hard time justifying the steep cost of Facebook’s platform. Public companies like Zynga are having a hard time reaching earnings projections as more and more users move away from Facebook in preference of mobile. (more…)
Mobile ad platform Pontiflex today announced that leading coupon apps on Google Play are seeing CPMs in excess of $10.
Pontiflex allows mobile ad networks and developers to serve sign up ads to their customers. The sign up ads are for deals and newsletters from brands and other business. Advertisers using Pontiflex’s sign up ads platform include brands like Hasbro, Fisher Price and Kimberly-Clark, as well as small businesses such as Paper Hat Press and Dunhill Vacations.
Although Pontiflex didn’t break down which coupon apps were seeing CPMs above $10, Android apps that were performing well with Pontiflex’s sign up ads include The Coupons App, GeoQpons and Coupon Sherpa.
Xymob CEO and developer of GeoQpons Sunit Lohtia tells Inside Mobile Apps that the reason the company is seeing higher CPMs is that the ads from Pontiflex are relevant ads to the users of GeoQpons.
“The sign up offers are related to shopping, so people end up signing up for those offers because it’s in their interest to sign up,” he says.
Developers interested in using Pontiflex’s sign up ads to monetize their mobile apps can go here to download the native Pontiflex AppLeads SDK or by using its HTML5 API.
Mobile app location analytics provider Placed today announced Placed Affiliate, a new way for app developers to monetize their app by providing location data to Placed for market research purposes.
“It’s a new monetization channel for app developers,” says David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed. “No one is doing this today.”
Essentially, mobile app developers get paid by Placed for allowing the company to gather location data from its users who opted-in on Placed collecting such data for its own market research. On top of Placed Affiliate, the Seattle-headquartered company currently offers a free service providing location-based data for mobile app developers called Placed Analytics. Placed also offers a product dubbed Placed Panels, which is a free stand-alone mobile app and survey tool for iOS and Android — called the Panel App in the app stores — that allows businesses to track and measure location-based data from opted-in users, who are rewarded with gift cards or entries into a prize drawing for completing surveys from businesses.
After a mobile app developer signs up for the Placed Affiliate service, they are provided with the Affiliate SDK for integration into their app. Placed wants to make sure it covers all its bases when it comes to a user’s privacy. If a mobile app developer wants to use Placed Affiliate, they must first make sure a user enables location permissions, and second, when a user opens the app, a prompt will inform the user that the app works with Placed for market research on location data. A user can simply select “yes” or “no” if he or she wants or doesn’t want to send location data to Placed. Shim emphasizes that Placed is collecting only location data and nothing else.
“We’re going above and beyond what the legislation has been talking about,” he says.
App developers receive money if Placed can gather location data from users in a 7 day or 30 day period. Shim adds that Placed Affiliate provides incremental monetization. If an app already has monetization hooks through ads, in-app purchases, subscriptions or other means, he recommends app developers keep those and add Placed Affiliate on top of those monetization strategies.
Placed, which already launched a pilot for Placed Affiliate last month, is now allowing any mobile app developer to sign up for the service here.
Back in March 2012, Placed received $3.4 million in Series A funding from the Madrona Venture Group.
Amazon today announced its Amazon Mobile Ads API service for mobile developers to monetize their apps.
Amazon is entering a crowded mobile ad network market filled with the likes of Google AdMob, Millennial Media and InMobi. Even Facebook seemed poised to get into this business at one point last year before it ended its test after a few months.
Amazon did not share what cut of ad fees it offers developers, but says its service offers a “competitive eCPM.” According to the company’s publisher agreement, the portion of the advertising fees that a developer will receive “may be adjusted depending on a variety of factors, such as the quality of your inventory or deductions for various expenses.” Ads will come with mobile-optimized display ads from Amazon itself and other “top” brands, the company says.
Amazon’s mobile ads API offers ads in two different flavors. First is the “floating ad,” which acts like a typical mobile banner ad that floats at the bottom of the screen. Second, is the “simple ad,” which is a rich media expandable banner ad such as a video ad.
For now, the API is in beta and only available for U.S. users and apps for the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and other Android smartphones and tablets. Note that for the API to work in a developer’s app, the app has to be available for download on Google Play as well as on the Amazon Appstore for Android.
Developers interested Amazon’s mobile ads API can head here for more information and to download the API.
AppGlu platform aims to help mobile app developers and business people with speeding up development time and post-launch operations
AppGlu today released its new mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) that aims to help mobile app developers and business people with speeding up development time and post-launch operations. AppGlu is a San Francisco-based company, which spun out from ArcTouch, a mobile app developer that makes apps for other companies like the Chatter app for Salesforce, the Star Trek PADD app for CBS and the native mobile app for Walmart.
To help steer an app to success post-launch, the company developed a dashboard for its AppGlu product dubbed Control Center, which has three components to it. First, is the Control Center’s content component, allowing anyone, such as business people who work on a mobile app, to update and publish new content for an app without going through mobile app developers. Content is updated dynamically, meaning the mobile app doesn’t have to be updated in the app store and re-downloaded by consumers in order to make changes. Second, is the engagement component, where business people can see their user engagement metrics via graphs, reports and more to understand how content is performing. For example, in ArcTouch’s Star Trek PADD app, business people can see which captain from each of the Star Trek series is most popular among users. Lastly, the insights component allows business people to segment their app’s user base, so they can target and then send personalized content or push notifications to customers to improve things such as engagement and retention.
“What we found in our experience at ArcTouch is that companies spend a lot of time thinking about the development and the launch phases of their app’s lifecycle, but they don’t spend much time thinking about what happens after they launch it,” says Adam Fingerman, co-founder and CEO of AppGlu. “The post-launch management and maintenance is where apps truly succeed or fail.”
For developers in particular, AppGlu’s Content Sync Engine feature, which is patent-pending, allows developers to speed up development time by creating what AppGlu calls a “connected app.” Basically, developers can sync and integrate their app’s locally stored data — from either Core Data for iOS apps or SQLite for Android apps — to a managed backend database in the cloud run by AppGlu, creating a connected app in the same way a developer would create a non-connected local app.
“The real magic and the heavily lifting is done through the Sync Engine,” Fingerman says. “When you’re building an app, you have a local data model. We’ve mirrored the cloud data model to your local model using the Sync Engine.”
There are competitors to AppGlu that provide the same solutions for mobile app development on an individual basis. Competitors like Flurry, Google Analytics and Mixpanel provide business insights for mobile apps.
“The difference between us and traditional analytics is that we’re not capturing taps and page views,” says Eric Shapiro, co-founder and chief technology officer of AppGlu. “Instead, we are capturing how users are using the content. We call that content analytics. It’s automatic and it’s based on the actual content that’s being delivered through the dynamic content aspect.”
Shapiro says he doesn’t suggest that mobile app developers replace their existing analytics with AppGlu. He adds that AppGlu is a complimentary solution that gives people different and useful information. There’s also competitors to AppGlu in the user engagement space such as Xtify and Urban Airship, which handle push notifications for mobile apps. AppGlu’s differentiator with push notifications is its ability to analyze a particular push notification that’s driving a user to a specific piece of content, and how that all directly relates to the ROI of the push notification. Lastly, there are many cloud-based CMS companies for mobile apps, but none of those companies allow its customers to modify content without the help of a developer, Fingerman says.
Fingerman says AppGlu is meant specifically for content-centric apps — such as product catalog, sales brochure, marketing, HR, event apps and more — for the B2E, B2B or B2C space. Apps already using AppGlu include the previously mentioned Star Trek PADD app.
Developers interested in the service can go here to learn about the service’s cost and to download its lightweight, open-source (under the Apache license) SDKs for iOS, Android or HTML5 apps or pre-written sample apps with full source code.
After more than 13 weeks since Apple dropped Google Maps in favor of its own proprietary maps app, Google finally released yesterday a native Google Maps app for iPhone and iPod Touch designed from the ground up for handsets.
Apple first announced at WWDC 2012 in June that the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation was dropping Google Maps as the pre-loaded maps app for iOS in favor of its own proprietary maps with the transition to iOS 6.
Shortly after iOS 6 released in September, Apple’s Maps app was inundated with loads of criticism. The app lacked public transit directions, a feature many users apparently relied upon, which in turn boosted the market for alternative public transit apps. Users even went so far as creating a Tumblr and Twitter account to post the horrific or funny experiences they had with Apple Maps. Apple CEO Tim Cook even wrote an apology letter for Apple Maps’ mishaps.
The Google Maps app is packed with more than 80 million businesses and points of interest, with features including Street View, the ability to see inside places with Business Photos, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions, public transportation information and more.
Google also released a Google Maps SDK for iOS, which will allow mobile app developers to implement Google Maps functionality into their iOS apps. The SDK also allows access to a URL scheme so that developers can call up Google Maps from anywhere within their own app.
The free app is available now in the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch. There was no mention of an iPad-optimized version of Google Maps, although the app does work on iPad, it just looks like a magnified version of the iPhone and iPod Touch version.
Sony announced yesterday that it opened its PlayStation Mobile service to all publishers and developers through its PlayStation Mobile Developer Program that allows developers to make game apps for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation certified Android smartphones and tablets (Sony and HTC).
The PlayStation Mobile platform first launched in October with titles like Loot The Land, Beats Slider and Super Crate Box. Since it’s an open platform, indie developers and large publishers can get their games on iPhone, Android and now PlayStation Vita, with little cost.
As long as developers have a Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) account, they can head over to the PlayStation Mobile developer portal to download the free SDK. There’s a $99 licensing fee to publish an unlimited number of apps annually on PlayStation Mobile, but developers can create and test game apps prior to purchasing a license. Content will be sold in Japan, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia.
Stackmob eliminates API transaction fees, launches Marketplace with members including Apsalar and more
Cloud-based mobile application development platform Stackmob announced today that its eliminating API transaction fees. Instead, the backend-as-a-service-provider (BaaS) provider is charging developers by the services used, including third-party modules from other companies that are part of its new mobile Marketplace for API modules.
Stackmob allows mobile app developers to build, deploy and manage their apps, through integrating OAuth, social services, storage solutions, advertising, APIs, analytics and more. The San Francisco-based company will no longer charge their customers for its API creation and management service, which the company now believes should be free. Instead Stackmob will sell its service and third-party modules that developers can use to add functionality to their apps more quickly. Some enterprise features will be available to companies that need a more robust offering.
Stackmob is also launching a mobile marketplace for API modules, which brings together proprietary StackMob modules and third-party modules that can all be integrated in one click. That first batch of members in the Stackmob Marketplace are Apsalar, Kontrol.io, Crittercism, datownia, inneractive, iron.io, PubNub, SendGrid, Tap for Tap, Urban Airship, UserVoice and iGeolise, with more coming in the future. Currently there’s 15,000 developers in Stackmob’s development community, who have made more than 40,000 apps using StackMob.
The San Francisco-based mobile analytics provider Apsalar will have its ApScience Analytics service as part of Stackmob’s Marketplace. Mobile app developers and marketers who use Stackmob can install Apsalar’s free mobile analytics SDK into their mobile apps, which provides in-app and campaign attribution analytics. On the in-app side, app developers and marketers can drill down into user behavior within their apps, using features such as cohort charts, funnel reports, audience segmentation and revenue and engagement analysis. On the campaign side, mobile app marketers and developers can attribute ROI from installs, user revenue and lifetime revenue (LTV), from all of their mobile user acquisition campaigns.
“The main idea for us is that the best-in-breed companies coming together to offer that end-to-end, holistic solution for mobile app developers and marketers, with everything from the development side to mobile measurement to monetization,” said Sarah Teng, director of marketing at Apsalar. “We’re definitely excited to be a part of that and hope to bring the value of Apsalar to more developers out there.”
In May 2011, Stackmob raised $7.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Trinity Ventures, Harrison Metal Capital and Baseline Ventures.
Content-saving app Pocket announced today a new API, which aims to make it easier for developers to put Pocket’s “Save for Later” capabilities in their apps.
The new API includes easy integration and access to features available in the Pocket native app including quick authentication, drop-in Objective-C SDK for iOS apps, a developer section of their website with instructions and examples and Pocket’s latest features like favorites, content type filters, tagging and domain searches.
Formally known as Read It Later, Pocket is an app that allows users to save articles, videos, recipes and more from the web or an app, and access the content later from different devices such as a phone, tablet or computer. Pocket now has more than six million users.
More than 10,000 developers of apps and websites including Twitter, Flipboard, Tweetbot, Digg, Buzzfeed, Zite and more, have added the “Save to Pocket” feature, and 45 percent of Pocket’s more than one million daily saves come from third-party apps.
Our traffic tracking service AppData shows Pocket fir iOS at the No. 82 spot in the top free apps news genre and at the No. 55 spot in the top free iPad apps news genre.
Developers can sign up and download the Pocket SDK here.
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