Part 2 of 3: Our review of Vision Mobile’s seminal “Developer Economics 2012″ report

Vision Mobile is simply the industry’s best research, analysis and strategy firm, and their landmark report (which comes out once a year) is “Developer Economics – The New Mobile App Economy”.

There is simply so much to discuss that we decided to make it a 3-part series of blog articles.  You can catch up on Part 1 here, and jump forward to part 3 here.

Before diving in, please note;

- the report itself is freely available thanks in part to the lead sponsor of the report BlueVia by Telefonica.  However in these blog articles all rights are acknowledged and credited to Vision Mobile

- get your own copy of the full monster-sized report by clicking the image on the left.

Anyway, here are our conclusions and opinions on this excellent insight into the world of developers and apps.  Part 2 focuses on the fact that not all developers are the same, and when planning an app strategy it is vital to understand the motives and needs of who is developing the apps.

According to Vision Mobile there are 8 types of developer;

  • The Hobbyists
  • The Explorers
  • The Hunters
  • The Guns for Hire
  • The Product Extenders
  • The Digital Media Publishers
  • The Gold Seekers
  • The Corporate IT Developers

There is no way I intend to repeat what’s in the report, or explain of them in this blog article.  I could never do it justice.  I thoroughly recommend you read Chapter 2 of the report, which you can easily get for free by clicking the image above.  When I read the report I was able to start thinking about how various aspects of the app economy need to be different to address this fragmented developer base, including;

  • app creation and publishing options
  • app distribution options
  • app marketing options
  • app monetization options
  • ongoing app support options

Let me now take each of those in turn.

THE HOBBYISTS

These guys often rely on app building tools and platforms.  For example, I personally threw a few apps together using Andromo; it took me perhaps an hour, and those apps now have 4 star reviews and tens of thousands of downloads on Android.  Nothing difficult about that.  However I have only made $12 in advertising revenue (that’s very typical of hobbyists, they build simple apps, throw them in the store, and see very little return).  Most hobbyists don’t have the money to advertise and promote, they aren’t experts in the app ecosystem so they don’t know how to manipulate the system to get discovered, and they don’t really care.

Unfortunately in some ways the app stores are TOO open, such that anyone can create a stupid app and take up shelf space, making it harder for everyone to find the better quality apps.  Co-operatives (where small players club together to get scale and buying power) are common in many walks of life including retail; is there an opportunity for a co-operative of app developers?

What’s interesting is that hobbyists need the most help in all aspects of app creation and marketing, but have the least amount of money to pay for that help.  The usual quandary.

Their burning need: to use app-building tools to help create their apps

THE EXPLORERS

Likewise I wonder whether the next level up – the Explorers – could benefit from a co-operative.  However the problem is that the Explorers are freelance developers with some experience in the game, and many of them think that they have the next big home run and the programming skills to match.  They are full of hope, and not so full of real-life experience.  They are adept at eking out a revenue stream from their apps and they spend a lot of time trying things and tweaking their approaches to see what works.

However many of them don’t know how to scale once that home run happens.  There are plenty of examples of runaway successes, by one-man developers, who then can’t deal with the demand (e.g. the sheer number of support emails), which in turn causes negative reviews.  I wrote a white paper a couple of years ago called Squaring Up which talked about the challenges of moving from offering to app to operating a service.  The advice within it is still relevant today to these Explorers.  Get it here as a PDF download.

Perhaps there are opportunities for companies that enable these entrepreneurs to retain their independence but underpin them with quality backing and support.  AppBackr comes to mind as a company that can help an Explorer to get funding for his/her app too.

Their burning need: to use off-the-shelf monetization options such as in-app billing and advertising

THE HUNTERS

These companies are out for success and will do whatever it takes to get there.  They are some of the most sophisticated in using the tools available for success, whether that’s the latest in-app purchasing option, gamification within their apps, or viral discovery via social integration.  They also know exactly how to monetize the apps that they have spent a lot of serious money developing.  They leverage every tool in the book, whether it’s advertising feeds or end-user payments.

As these are “proper” companies with staff and resources, many of the app solutions providers target these Hunters with their wares.  An example that comes to mind is Socialize, which runs an in-app social commenting platform; I am sure they are calling on all the Hunters to persuade them to adopt their SDK.

Their burning need: they need reach and discovery of their apps.  They can create them, but how do they get a large audience to find them?

THE GUNS FOR HIRE

These are companies that develop apps specifically for major customers such as brands and blue chips.  In other words they don’t build apps under their own name.  I wished I had learned app programming in the early days, because every day I seem to come across someone who asks me “can you build apps” and “could you build an app for me”.

Having said that, a lot of these guns for hire are offshore these days, and the Vision Mobile report shows that the typical revenues from building an app aren’t that lucrative any more.  What’s also interesting about the report is that it says “creating the user interface often accounts for 25% of the budget”.  This tells me that the Guns For Hire that succeed in the long run will be the ones that don’t just build apps but also create amazing user experiences – there’s a big difference.

One other thought; how many of these Guns For Hire use the big app stores as their online resume?  In other words, if I was a cool app developer looking for work, I would put my coolest apps in the store under my own name and get discovered that way.  I know a few people who do this, and I know of companies that have discovered their ideal outsource partner as a result of seeing their work in an app store.

Their burning need: they need a sales pipeline of companies wanting to pay them for their services; as with any work-for-hire business it’s often feast or famine

THE PRODUCT EXTENDERS

Here at AppCarousel we love these guys.  Here’s how I would summarize them; “Apps are a necessary evil.  They aren’t app companies, and they don’t want to be, instead they are major brands and D2C companies, and they accept that they have to be into apps in order to achieve their marketing goals including reach and engagement.”

We work with a number of these organizations, and they like dealing with us because we are experts in apps / app distribution / app promotion / app ecosystems and they rely on us to help and advise them … because they don’t want to become experts, they simply want to get their job done and move on to the next thing.  So, unlike the previous 4 categories, they don’t live and breathe apps, apps are simply a means to an end.

The exciting thing about these Product Extenders is that there are tens of thousands of them (think of any brand … they all need an app strategy these days) and they almost always have a budget to spend on apps.  If you are reading this and think of yourself as a Product Extender, check out what we can do for you at www.appcarousel.com

Their burning need: they have the creative ideas, they can often get the apps built, but they need expert partners to do some of the more complex plumbing and heavy lifting.

THE DIGITAL MEDIA PUBLISHERS

We all know that traditional and conventional media companies are reinventing themselves for the digital age.  Print media companies such as Financial Times and Conde Nast and your local newspaper have all had to figure out a strategy to embrace the way that people want to consume their content, and although that was plodding along nicely for many years, the sudden emergence of the iPad and e-readers made them hurry up.  The tablet is the perfect way to read the latest newspaper or Golf magazine, and while doing so in the web browser is perfectly acceptable all the publishers decided that they had to build apps because apps are in vogue.

Well, that’s not the only reason; apps enable their content to be discovered in the app stores, and the publishers can either charge for the app download, or more likely either charge a subscription within the app, or a pay-per-use model within the app to access premium content.  Therefore the app is the vehicle that many publishers are using to monetize their content.  However, as you know, Apple takes 30% of all app revenue, and publishers never engineered their business models to give up such a large percentage, so many of them like the Financial Times have decided to bypass Apple and serve up their content in the good old browser.  Read what the FT themselves said about this here.

Their burning need: it’s often all about making money.  They have the audience and the reach, but they have to employ very clever techniques to extract money from people that might otherwise expect such content to be free in this digital age.

THE GOLD SEEKERS

OK, so you have an amazing idea for the next big thing, whether that’s a new way to share this or that with people, or a new way to collaborate with him or her, or a new fun thing to do with any mobile phone, or a new way to use your iPhone to spy on people (could we call that iSpy?!)

Anyway, your big idea is a hit with VCs in Silicon Valley and they decide to fund you.  One of the first things you have to do is develop an app.  Yes that’s right, almost all start-ups with the big dream now have to embrace apps on day one, and the VCs expect it too.  That’s because the next big thing depends on securing a huge number of eyeballs and a lot of user engagement, and guess what – most users are discovering cool new things via apps (Facebook does a good job of spreading the word of what apps people love using), and those same users are spending hours a day inside those apps doing cool things.  Yes, those users could use their regular web browser instead, but they aren’t doing that … they expect an app, and unless the start-up has an app it is unlikely to succeed.

And unless the start-up addresses all the major platforms, it won’t succeed either.  The start-up can’t just do an Apple version, because although that’s a large market many of those users’ friends are not on Apple, so the viral spread stops dead  (viral spread stops dead … that’s poetry).

The big challenge for these start-ups is;

  • how many platforms to support (Apple and Android are a given, but what about BlackBerry and Windows, and Bada, and what about an HTML5 web version, and one for Firefox Mobile OS, and on and on it goes)
  • how many device variants within those platforms to support (the Vision Mobile report talks about how fragmented Android is for developers)
  • how different to make each experience; each platform has a different look and feel, and a different set of APIs
  • how many localizations and languages to support
  • how often to issue updates (many VC backed companies have entire teams just managing the versioning of their releases, including thorough testing)
  • how sophisticated and rich the app has to be (the more complex it is, the more it is likely to break when hundreds of thousands of users start using it)
  • whether to build all the capabilities from scratch or whether to bring in lots of third party components
And that’s why start-ups with cool new ideas still have to raise millions in dollars to find the gold,  Developing and supporting apps on a global scale – on a quality basis which delights the users and causes the viral effects – is a huge undertaking.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
Their burning need; getting viral reach / discovery / buzz / adoption / engagement across millions of users all of whom are swamped with too many things already and are jaded about whether a new app is worth bothering with.

THE CORPORATE IT DEVELOPERS

Our parent company Wmode is set to announce some exciting news about Kryos Velocity very soon.  Velocity is a platform that any enterprise can use to very quickly build mobile apps that extend the enterprise’s systems out to mobile workers.  Yes, it’s true that enterprises can do it the hard way – by learning from scratch and taking months to get something working – however Kryos Velocity is one of a new breed of company that has developed a platform to make it really easy.  That’s not such good news for the IT Manager fighting for his survival, because he probably wants to drag things out by creating “make work” projects, but it’s great news for the CIO of the organization who simply wants better in-field tools and better bottom-line productivity.  Click the picture to read more about Velocity, and stay tuned for more news on this exciting new segment … one of 8 captured nicely by Vision Mobile in their report.

Their burning need:  to get employees to focus on those line-of-business apps that are probably simple yet effective, and which aid productivity, rather than allowing employees to become preoccupied with the thousands of free apps in the app stores which do little to help them do their job.

SUMMARY

It’s fascinating to see the different types of developers out there, and their differing needs.  It’s also amazing to see the number of companies lining up to help them, providing tools and platforms and services.  However when you read the Vision Mobile report, aptly entitled “Developer Economics”, you will see that all is not rosy in the garden when it comes to making money across this diverse and growing value chain.  So, get the report right now for free, simply by clicking the image on the left.

Part 3 of this series is right here.

Terry


Part 1 of 3: Our review of Vision Mobile’s seminal “Developer Economics 2012″ report

Vision Mobile is simply the industry’s best research, analysis and strategy firm, and their landmark report (which comes out once a year) is “Developer Economics – The New Mobile App Economy”.  It  was issued last week, but it’s so jam-packed with info and insight that it took the AppCarousel team a week to digest it all and boil it down into “what it all means”.

There is simply so much to discuss that we decided to make it a 3-part series of blog articles.

Before diving in, please note;

- the report itself is freely available thanks in part to the lead sponsor of the report BlueVia by Telefonica.  However in these blog articles all rights are acknowledged and credited to Vision Mobile

- get your own copy of the full monster-sized report by clicking the image on the left.

Anyway, here are our conclusions and opinions on this excellent insight into the world of developers and apps.  Part 1 focuses on the platform wars.

Firstly let’s look at where developers are committing their resources (and are planning to over the next 12 months).  It has clearly become a two-horse race, where the only platforms they care about are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.  The report discusses in detail the reasons why, but in summary it’s all about reach.  iOS and Android have the volume of handsets being shipped, the largest addressable market, the most visited app stores, and the most mature ecosystems.  Developers want to spend their time developing on platforms that can reach the eyeballs of their users. Windows Phone can’t deliver that yet, and BlackBerry has a diminishing market share and a weaker ecosystem these days (even though the report states that BlackBerry is easy to develop for and quite lucrative to make money from).

If there is a third platform to watch, it’s mobile web AKA web apps AKA HTML5.  The report nicely analyzes why this is lagging behind native app development, and will continue to lag behind for a long time (it’s because Apple and Google do a better job of supporting native apps than web apps, and because their app stores don’t feature web apps, and because native apps can be much richer thanks to better platform APIs).  Here at AppCarousel we have showcase solutions to help developers of web apps to get noticed, and some big HTML5 app store plans for later in 2012.  But right now we agree that the distribution and discovery options for native apps are superior to those for web-based apps.

The report highlights that revenue generation for developers is highest on Apple because Apple has a higher income demographic, the quality of content is higher (and can therefore attract a premium), and it’s easier to pay via the App Store / iTunes than it is on Google Play.

Facebook

The report then crystallizes what could well be the next big trend; for developers to leverage Facebook.  Yeah yeah yeah, I can hear you say, developers can easily add Like buttons into their apps, share capabilities, and they can promote their apps on Facebook.  Well that’s not what the report focuses on.  Vision Mobile believes that;

  • Facebook is the next web
  • Facebook is the “platform of platforms, atop iOS, Android and mobile web”

Until I read Developer Economics, it hadn’t really dawned on me how significant Facebook has become as an “alternative” to the giant Apple and Android app stores.  Here’s why;

  • The report argues (and we agree) that although the Apple App Store and Google Play have reach, they are very poor at addressing the next four challenges faced by developers; targeting, discovery, adoption, and engagement
  • Facebook recently launched their App Center, we wrote about it here
  • The report states that “Facebook is offering global discovery, distribution and targeting to 900 million active web users, along with direct billing [via Facebook Credits]“
  • Facebook’s userbase is fast approaching 50% of the total internet users worldwide
  • But more importantly, Facebook isn’t a standalone app store, it’s a fully integrated social experience (of which apps are just a part of it), so it’s a more natural way to discover relevant apps alongside the things you do on Facebook, and users discover apps that their friends use and that are recommended to them by their social circle

So from the perspective of developers, they should ignore Facebook at their peril.  It’s no longer about developing an app and throwing it into an app store.  The game has changed, and having a Facebook strategy is suddenly essential.

Today most developers use Facebook as another discovery and promotion point for their Apple and Google apps, but the big question is whether developers will migrate in large numbers to developing native Facebook apps and HTML5 web apps that singularly get promoted via Facebook, such that the existing app stores become redundant.  Our view is that it’s horses for courses; native device apps have very different roles to play compared to Facebook apps, and they will all live happily alongside each other for a long time.

Part 2 looks at the 8 kinds of developers that Vision Mobile have uniquely identified and analyzed; the Hobbyists, the Explorers, the Hunters, and more …

Part 3 looks at what history has taught us (with a liberal dose of hindsight), including Java ME, BREW and BlackBerry, and how those lessons can be applied to app development going forward.

See you soon

The App Carousel team


When is a TV not a TV (Part Two)

For part two of “When is a TV not a TV”, we’ll be looking at what constitutes today nowadays. (Part one here!)

By the time I get home late at night (from working those 20 hour days *cough*), any of the shows I would have wanted to watch are long past their regular broadcast times. That’s the problem the PVR/DVR/TiVo solves, right? Not always. I don’t have every channel, nor am I always near a TV set. What is more conveniently available is WiFi and a supple data plan for when a hotspot isn’t available. I can get a lot of the same content directly from the providers themselves, when and where I want it. Big Bang Theory is only ever a short URL away. What if I want to watch the a live hockey game? NHL Center Ice is available right on my iPad. The point I’m trying to make is that Video on Demand (VOD) is huge, and the universe of connected set box boxes, the rise of Netflix, smart TVs with more Over-The-Top (OTT) content, and again, content providers making their content available in this manner is the proof. Traditional channels will have their place for a long time, supplying timely, pushed content (it’s Cinco de mayo time, right?) and being a great leanback experience for when we don’t want to demand, but rather, unexpectedly delighted.

So when I’m watching the LA Kings wipe the floor with the St. Louis Blues on my tablet, am I watching TV? A whole lot of better knee-jerk descriptions seem to come to mind before “TV”. I’m watching the game, the feed, the show, the video…you get the idea. The same concept follows along if I’m streaming news from YouTube on my phone. Let’s not forget that all these internet “tubes” are in reference to the CRT tube TVs, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find many people who would describe watching mobile YouTube as “watching TV”. Take it from the other way around. Standing at Best Buy, no one has any problem navigating themselves to the TV department. There’s no issue with pointing at a television set and saying “Yeah, that thing there is a TV.” At least, this is at least what I’ve gathered from some informal polling. It’s a sign that there’s some sense of division between what is TV and what isn’t. There’s a growing divide between gathering around a communal television set and individual viewing, which translates into usage of all these similar-but-different screens and services.

This isn’t just in one direction either. TVs are continuously becoming more like tablets or smartphones, with Android and HTML5 playing an increasing role on what shows up on your big screen. Most reports put smart TV growth in the triple digits.

What about the  TV Everywhere initiative, spearheaded by Comcast and Time Warner? The idea here, poorly paraphrased, was to give their customers a way to get their TV service that they subscribed to from whatever screen they wanted. Similarly, Sling Media’s SlingBox allows you to view your TV service from your myriad of different devices. The key words here are “TV Service”. This ideal that there’s a service provider for televisions, that has been around for generations and still exists today, helps to serve as a guideline for what is actually TV. If a device was meant to be primarily served by a television service provider, then the device is TV. If viewing the programming on a device that isn’t primarily served by a television service provider, then you’re viewing the TV service from a non-TV device. If  you’re viewing videos from a content provider on any screen, it may simply be that: watching video.

Does this sound a little tedious and arbitrary to you? I don’t blame you. When the evolution of the connected TV and IPTV is at the pace it’s at, the lines blur. As long as the terms are agreed upon when you’re talking about them, you’re well on your way to clear linguistic bliss.

Let’s end off with this question:  Is TV becoming (dare I say it) a legacy product?

With the TV industry generating at over $350 billion on revenues, this is a probably a stretch. There’s tremendous growth in new technologies, new monetization models, and new players mixing up the TV value chain, so there’s some arguments to be made on either side.

- Colin Chong


HTML5, DevCon5, and which browsers embrace HTML5 best

Yesterday and today (25th and 26th April 2012) sees the DevCon5 conference in Santa Clara, focused on the next battleground in mobile and apps – HTML5.  I see that our good friend Ronjon Nag, VP of BlackBerry App World and Intelligent Systems at RIM, is a keynote at the event.  We believe that one of RIM’s competitive advantages and strategic opportunities is to embrace HTML5 ahead of the other mobile giants, and to build a healthy ecosystem of developers that leverage the power of HTML5 in their apps.  It’s RIM’s annual bash in Orlando next week and AppCarousel will be there, we will report back on what announcements they make in this hot new area – HTML5.

So exactly how does BlackBerry fare when it comes to support for HTML5?  Well, incredibly well actually.  The following report is great reading – and a real eye-0pener.  I do want to give full credit for the article, published at HTML5trends.com, an excellent source for this kind of info.  http://www.html5trends.com/browsers/chrome-and-blackberry-most-html5-compatible-browsers/

 

Chrome and Blackberry most HTML5 compatible browsers

April 5, 2011
All the browsers of today tout their support for HTML5. The latest offering from Microsoft, Internet Explorer 9, is beating the chests in its HTML5 support and the beauty it brings to the web. So does the recently released Firefox 4 with it’s web o wonder. All these browsers do certain tasks very well. But, where do they actually stand in their all-round support for the HTML5 standard.

We checked for ourselves with the tests at HTML5Test.com and the results are posted below. In desktop browsers, we consider the current release of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. For mobile browsers, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Maemo were chosen.

The Desktop browser comparison is posted below:

Chrome is the clear winner here, followed by Firefox and Opera. As you can see IE9 has a lot of work to do. In fact IE9′s HTML5 score is below that of all the mobile browsers considered below. We also saw how well the available betas of  these browsers are faring and looks like Safari has put in a lot of work making it claim the number 2 position after Chrome.

The mobile browsers comparison is posted below:

Surprisingly the leader is blackberry. It’s score is comparable with desktop browsers. iOS Safari follows in with number 2 position. I am confused as to why Google has not merged the Android browser and Chrome source code. It might be good for branding purposes also. Currently manufacturers wrongly brand the Android browser as Chrome Lite, but we can’t blame them for this. Android browser is at third spot followed by Maemo at fourth place.

So now you know whether to believe the marketing hype of the companies like Microsoft and Apple when they talk about HTML5. But, at least the progress made is very encouraging. Go browsers go!


2011 trends in apps that AppCarousel embraced in 2012

A case study highlighting the power of good market research

In the summer of 2011, Wmode, a leading provider of digital media solutions to wireless carriers and telcos, decided to launch a new business targeting the new wave of organizations getting involved in the app space.  That business is AppCarousel, which is going from strength to strength in 2012, thanks in no small part to intelligence provided in industry reports such as VisionMobile’s annual research report series entitled Developer Economics (get a copy of the 2011 report here).

As part of the formation of AppCarousel, Wmode undertook extensive research into the changing nature of the app economy, the trends that were shaping the market, and the needs of brands, publishers, media companies, developers and enterprises. One of the reports that Wmode accessed was Developer Economics 2011, VisionMobile’s seminal research report on apps, developers and brands going mobile.

There were several themes in the 2011 report that AppCarousel embraced, and which have become widely acknowledged in 2012 as key industry issues. The list that follows is extracted from the Key Messages section of the 2011 report;

  • “Use of mobile web accelerates” – AppCarousel designed its platform from the outset to be content agnostic, so that as mindshare moves from native apps to web apps, AppCarousel’s platform can continue to showcase all manner of content types in a single store.  This is particularly relevant for the TV sector where HTML5 apps present new opportunities in 2012.
  • “Experimentation on the rise” – AppCarousel was built from the ground up to be fast to deploy, with maximum flexibility in both the back-end and the user interface, enabling AppCarousel’s partners and customers to experiment in the market to see what resonates with their increasingly savvy end-users.
  • “Commissioned vs. direct monetization” – Developers that realize there’s more to life than putting a paid app in a big store and hoping for the best are increasingly getting involved in merchandising, bundling and affiliate models. With this in mind AppCarousel was architected to embrace these changing business models as they emerge in 2012.
  • “Role of operators” – While operator app stores remain popular, there is an increasing need to get those stores – and the unique content within them – discovered alongside the handset stores from Apple, Android and BlackBerry. Therefore, AppCarousel was designed to showcase great content in one place, wherever that content happens to reside, which is proving to be a great way to drive traffic to operator stores in 2012.
  • “App stores are a one-way street” – AppCarousel realized that in any market where there are two or three giant players, including the dominant Apple and Google, new entrants emerge that don’t want to rely on those distribution options. Instead they want to differentiate themselves and retain control of their brands and supply chains.  This has created a whole new wave of smaller app stores, in markets including TV, where their needs are different, and where AppCarousel can address their specific needs.
  • “Developer segmentation” – As with any maturing market, specialization takes shape, and with that comes the requirement to group apps more logically and to target those groups of apps more effectively to the right users.  AppCarousel set out to address that opportunity via its niche showcases of highly focused apps and associated content.
  • “Brands go mobile” – A brand cares about one thing over and above everything else; its brand. VisionMobile’s report predicted the rise of branded apps, so AppCarousel adopted a white-label approach, allowing brands like CBS Interactive to brand their showcase experience and to rise above the app stores where their content is hosted.
  • “Multi-screen future” – One of the big takeaways from the 2011 report was that 2012 would be more than simply developing apps for smartphones and tablets; industries like TV would become ready for apps.  Much of AppCarousel’s 2012 activities are centred on helping companies in the home entertainment sector to make apps a part of their solution.

Now for the 2012 report – and how you can get involved

Because AppCarousel benefitted from the insight provided by Developer Economics 2011, the team decided to support the 2012 edition by becoming a VisionMobile Media Partner at the request of the VisionMobile team. In this role, AppCarousel is encouraging all developers in the mobile ecosystem to get involved by completing the 2012 survey, which is open until the end of April. In addition to prizes for taking the survey, the biggest prize – in AppCarousel’s opinion – is access to Developer Economics 2012 when the results of the survey will be published as a free report in late June.

Terry Hughes, AppCarousel’s Managing Director, commented: “With so many reports and so much noise out there, it’s great to look back on the predictions made in Developer Economics 2011, and review AppCarousel’s founding principles, and see that they were broadly accurate as the app market plays out in 2012.”  Hughes added: “We encourage all members of the development community to give their input and take the survey, and to leverage the 2012 report in their strategic planning.”

To take part in the Developer Economics 2012 survey before it closes on April 30, to win prizes for completing the survey, and to be sure of receiving the report when it is published, go to www.visionmobile.com/appcarousel or click the image below.


Apps apps apps: words of the month on AppCarousel blog

We track the search terms that people use to find our blog and the ones they use once they are at our blog.  They give an interesting insight into what’s trending in our world (and your world, quite probably).

Here are March’s top words or phrases:

  1. Apps (yes, apps are still hot, and we are well indexed in Google because our business is showcasing apps)
  2. App carousel, or carousel apps, or carousel.  The reason is that there is an app or two out there called “carousel”, Apple has a carousel interface, and carousels are quite a generic term for a way of showing content.  While I don’t think people are necessarily looking for us, it’s great that when they do land on our site they like what we can do for them
  3. Apple.  Now there’s a theme appearing – the first three all begin with “app”.  When APple decided on their company name, little did they know that the App in Apple would be so important!
  4. Android.  There’s another one ending in A!  Seriously, what this does tell us is that when people think about app showcasing and app discovery, they think Apple and Android
  5. App economy.  Sorry about this, but we are still stuck on the letter A and the word App.  What’s interesting here is that a lot of people are typing the expression “app economy”.  So I tried to find out why, and here’s the answer

Forbes on the app economy

As you can see above, on 19 March Forbes referred to the app economy in an article.  Click the image above to go to that article (it’s a good read).

The next link that came up on Google in my “app economy” search was …

A great article and infographic on the state of the app economy

Click the image above to check it out.

Anyway, back to the list of the most common search terms this month;

6. tv and smart tv.  2012 is the year of apps in the TV environment, and we have received a lot of exposure thanks to our partner Myriad Group, and our own articles on the TV space.  “Watch” this space, or so they say!

7. html5.  Oh yes, everyone seems to want to understand this new buzzword they are hearing, and the implications for the app industry.  More to the point, developers that are building HTML5 apps are looking for creative ways to showcase them.  Welcome to our world.

8. developer and develop.  Following on from the one above, there is more developer activity than ever, and we are seeing inquiries from developers who want to get above the noise.  This recent article dives deep into the minds and trends affecting developers.

9. app billing.  I am not sure why this is trending, perhaps because the number of billing options for apps has increased exponentially (carrier billing, PayPal, Zong, Boku, Billtomobile, PayOne, Apple, Google Wallet, and on and on).  Are people looking for solutions, particularly for HTML5 web app billing which is a bit more complex than for native apps?

10. Terry Hughes.  Yep, our Managing Director gets his name around the industry a fair bit, and was recently listed on Vision Mobile’s 2012 Atlas as an advisor, so it’s no surprise people searching for that name land on our site.  However there’s a much more famous Terry Hughes, a baseball player, and the one who directed shows like The Golden Girls, and there’s even a park called Terry Hughes Park in Canada (where our very own Terry Hughes can often be found asleep on a park bench with a bottle in his hand) … did I really say that?  Pink slip on the way.

We will do another one of these at the end of April!

AC team

 


Nothing stays the same for long in the app economy – here comes HTML5

I strongly encourage you to read this truly excellent article on ReadWrite Mobile which is based on Appcelerator’s and IDC’s quarterly report on mobile industry trends.  http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2012/03/mobile-devs-increasingly-inter.php

In case you can’t be bothered to click the link, I have pasted the article in below.  Full credit is given to the author, Dan Rowinski.

Yesterday I was asked by someone in the industry to comment on what this means for App Carousel, so here are my quick takeaways before we dive into the article;

  1. HTML5 reinvents the app store model,  because HTML5 apps are consumed rather than downloaded, so our AppCarousel platform is fully HTML5 compatible.  In fact, in a single carousel, we can showcase native apps, web apps, and anything else related to the theme of the carousel.  AppCarousel as an app platform has embraced the browser and HTML5 just as much as the apps we showcase have, and we are finding that HTML5 is cutting a swathe through the “which platform” debate because the browser is becoming the biggest factor
  2. We see strong activity within the developer community on HTML5, but the big questions they are all asking are “where do I showcase my HTML5 apps and content, how do I make money, and how will users discover me (because HTML5 is effectively just another webpage).”  AppCarousel is working with those developers on brand new showcases of their apps.
  3. The article below talks about how a lot of work is moving to the cloud.  HTML5 is great because (being web based) it integrates with cloud solutions far more easily than native apps, and we see this as a big growth area.
  4. What we are hearing from consumers is that they are either confused (native vs. HTML5 and all the other buzzwords) or they simply don’t care, so if a basketball fan wants to find content related to basketball, he/she shouldn’t have to separately search Android Market, YouTube, and a bunch of mobile websites, he should be able to see everything in one place.
  5. The article talks about Android fragmentation.  To us at App carousel that’s wonderful news, because with fragmentation comes complexity and diversification, and with that comes increased opportunities to build app stores and app commerce platforms for many more players.  If Android was ubiquitous (one build, one store, one market) we would have far less value to add, but as we see Android get deployed on all manner of devices, and customized for all sorts of sectors, Android Market (now Google Play) doesn’t fit the bill for many of them and we are here to help.

The AppCarousel team

Here’s the article from Read Write Mobile …

This post is part of our ReadWriteMobile channel, which is dedicated to helping its community understand the strategic business and technical implications of developing mobile applications. This channel is sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent.

appcelerator_html5_plans12.jpg

Google and Facebook are in a war for user attention on the Web. This is not just about how many eyeballs are on Google+ versus Facebook but also from an end-to-end platform perspective. That includes messaging, application deployment, social graph implementations and content discovery. Like everything else in the world of technology, this battle is going mobile. When it comes down to developing social mobile applications, Google may be doing better than many people think.

In Appcelerator and IDC’s quarterly report on the trends of the mobile industry, 39% of developers answered that Google’s total assets were more important to them than Facebook’s social graph. Considering the huge lead that Facebook has in the social space, this is a bit of a coup for Google. What else are developers interested in at the start of 2012? HTML5 is on the rise, cloud services are hot and developer interest in Android is dwindling.

Google’s Big Bite out of Facebook

Developer interest in Google’s social properties actually has little to do with Google+, the search giant’s erstwhile social platform. It really has to do with Google’s network effects, the total assets that the company brings to the table in comparison to Facebook’s social graph. When you think of it as an end-to-end platform, it makes a lot of sense. Google has search, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Android Market, Google Play, Docs, AdMob and Google+. Facebook has the social graph and the Open Graph, a ton of user data, an advertising platform (except not for mobile) and 425 million mobile users.

appcelerator_q112_fb_google.jpg

34% of respondents said that they did not fully understand Facebook’s mobile strategy, a damning response against the social platform that has not been fully addressed by the company as it prepares for its initial public offering. To be fair, 61% of developers still have more interest in Facebook social mobile apps than Google, but 90% of respondents said that was because of the platform’s enormous installed user base.

“What they [Google] have done is explain the connections between different properties much better than Facebook has, that is really what our developers were circling around,” said Appcelerator’s principal mobile strategist Mike King, a former Gartner mobile analyst.

Fragmented Android Takes A Dip

Google and Android are activating more devices than ever before. So, how can Appcelerator see a dip in interest by developers creating apps for the platform? It is simple: they are sick of Android’s fragmentation issues.

This is a matter of device and platform fragmentation, but also one of ecosystem. As an Android developer, ask yourself: how do you make money? You do not really have a single good answer for that question, do you? Is it advertising? Is it in-app purchases? Is it a little bit of all of the above? While Monty Brewster would be proud of you, it is a difficult way to go about running a business.

“They have been talking about doing it for a while but developers are getting a little tired of the story without anything delivered. What we see is just a slow chipping away of interest level on Android,” King said. “It is fragmentation not just at the device level but also fragmentation of the marketplace and ecosystem. There is no single good way for an Android developer to make a lot of money. They have to pursue a lot of different strategies.”

This does not bode well for Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s prediction that developer interest in Android will eventually eclipse iOS in 2012. That is just not going to happen especially as actual smartphones running Android 4.0 are few and far between (no major carrier outside of Verizon sells an ICS device as of now). Developer interest in Android smartphones fell about 5% from Q4′s survey.

We will see how this plays out. When tracking developer interests there are always a few fluctuations from quarter to quarter. Have developers found a comfort level with their Gingerbread implementations are and waiting for groundswell of ICS to develop to peak interest? That is going to take a while.

appcelerator_q112_interest1.jpg

HTML5: Not Going Anywhere

Are app developers choosing to shun HTML5? Certainly not.

Appcelerator’s data shows that many developers are looking to HTML5 for a good portion of their apps. About 79% of developers in the survey said that they plan to integrate some HTML5 into their mobile apps this year. Yet, these are not going to be pure-play HTML5 mobile Web apps. When asked what percentage of HTML5 code would end up in their apps, the average developer responded less than 50%. That means that the era of the hybrid app will only grow through 2012.

When King and I discussed the nature of HTML5 versus native development, we likened it to building a house. There are different tools for different tasks. Choosing where and when to deploy HTML5 is like picking a hammer or a screwdriver out of a toolbox. Sometimes it is the appropriate tool for the job, sometimes not. The survey noted that only 6% of developers will write their entire apps in HTML5 while 72% see some type of hybrid and 22% will go fully native.

appcelerator_q112_html_native.jpg

“It really does point to this multi-architectural strategy and developers really seem to agree with that,” King said. “It is a mobile platform-based approach. Picking a platform does not mean picking an architecture. So, you do not have to make a decision between HTML and native apps but rather is it a decision that every developer makes.”

Hello: Cloud

Appcelerator acquired mobile cloud services platform Cocoafish in January and the survey results point to it being a good bet.

“60% of our developers said that they were very interested in using cloud services in their mobile applications and location and notification were the top two services that they were interested in integrating into their applications,” King said. “That was just kind of a ‘nice, we got that right,’ moment for us.”

appcelerator_q112_cloud.jpg

That bodes well for the startup community working on “backend-as-a-service” platforms like StackMob, Parse and Kinvey. Appcelerator realized this when it went out and acquired Cocoafish and will make most of the platform’s functionality available through various channels later in the year.

Maturation in Mobile: This Year’s Big Trend

Mobile developers are on a roll these days. They finally fully understand the platforms, the options, the tools and the limitations of the mobile ecosystem. Developers are no longer in the “exploration” phase of mobile development and have moved to the “acceleration” phase. They expect to be developing multiple applications across several platforms and having their efforts rewarded.

We have seen a lot of corollary data that proves that point. For instance, January was one of the biggest months for downloads on iOS even after peak download rates during the holiday season. There are simply more smartphones and tablets in the hands of more consumers and mobile developers are learning to meet their demands.

appcelerator_q112_maturation.jpg

A note on the Appcelerator/IDC results: 2,173 Appcelerator Titanium developers were surveyed from Jan. 25-27, 2012. Follow-up surveys were done with 484 respondents between Feb. 12-23. While Titanium developers are a particular subset of mobile app developers, the size of the survey and results are usually indicative of the ecosystem at large.


The Mobile World Congress 2012 Buzz Index!

The gates to the Fira, host of the MWC in Barcelona

It gives us great pleasure to present the 2012 Buzz Index as compiled at last week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) exhibition and conference in Barcelona.

I hear you ask “What’s the Buzz Index?”  I am glad you asked!  Let me explain.  Every year since 2007 we have been measuring what the biggest buzzwords are at MWC, which give a great indication as to what’s hot and what’s not in the mobile and connected devices worlds.  To be more specific, we only focus on the buzz surrounding apps and mobile content and we avoid backhaul, base stations and batteries.

Before diving into this year’s index, I thought I would dig out the inaugural one from 2007 to see how things have changed, and here it is …

NOTE: THIS LIST IS THE OLD 2007 BUZZ INDEX (starting with the biggest buzz item). THE 2012 BUZZ INDEX IS COMING LATER IN THE ARTICLE!

1.                  All things video (including mobile TV, video calling, movies on demand, and all things moving on your mobile phone screen):  9.6% of the 3GSM buzz.  This is significantly up on 2006, indeed “mobile TV” was the buzz of 3GSM 2007.

2.                  Handset management, provisioning, security, spam and virus protection, DRM, OTA and FOTA and sync solutions:9.4% of the 3GSM buzz.  This is a sure indication that phones are becoming like PCs, and they will need all the PC software that we are familiar with including virus protection, updates, content protection, configuration and OTA management.  This is a significant increase on 2006, fueled mainly by lots of new companies focusing on helping us manage our mobile lives and … making our phones into our PCs.

3.                  Messaging and mobile communities (the oldest and longest surviving category, recently expanded to embrace the hot new mobile community world, and which generally involves anything to do with passing messages between mobile users):9.3% of the 3GSM buzz.  Although SMS and MMS have been around for years, the messaging sector has recently been re-invigorated by push email, Instant Messaging and mobile communities, and the reason this category is so high is that messaging is still driving so much of the traffic growth between subscribers.

4.                  Mobile advertising, marketing and search8.3% of the 3GSM buzz.  This is an indication that there’s a lot of smart money chasing that dream, the dream of being able to effectively advertise and market to the captive mobile audience. This is significantly higher up the chart than 2006.

5.                  Rich downloadable content (i.e. downloading stuff to your phone, the companies that facilitate that, and the good old classics including games and ringtones): 8.2% of the 3GSM buzz.  Not only is the content market alive and well, but it is thriving as network technologies enable people to download more, and because there is an entire ecosystem of companies creating great mobile content.

6.                  M-payment (the whole ecosystem focusing on how to replace your cash and credit card with your mobile phone): 4.1% of the 3GSM buzz.  Led by some progressive operators and some exciting handset and network technologies, I predict that this topic will be number 1 in 2008 in terms of buzz.

7.                  Location-based services:  3.7% of the 3GSM buzz.  This has been consistent for a few years now; I was surprised to see this so low down in the list, because I really expected more buzz from LBS this year, especially as it is coming of age, but I think next year will see this category climb higher.

8.                  Internet (i.e. anything related to good old-fashioned browsing of the general internet and using or accessing portals to access internet content).  3.6% of the 3GSM buzz.  A few years ago, this would have been number 1, when operators first started rolling out IP services, but now it is taken for granted.  However 2006 has seen the rise of the ODP, the On Device Portal, which is the next logical evolution of internet content on your handset.

9.                  Convergence (now this really is a buzzword, but as the world moves to all-IP networks, and as voice becomes increasingly voice-over-IP (VoIP), convergence is a necessity because end-users and enterprises will expect all of their services on a common platform using common hardware).  2.3% of the 3GSM buzz.  I predict that in a year or two, it won’t be necessary to talk about “convergence” at all because it will be taken for granted, just as GPRS is today.

10.             All things audio (i.e. music downloading and streaming):  2.0% of the 3GSM buzz.  With all of those MP3 phones, and several new innovative music download and streaming services, I was expecting this to have generated more buzz and hype, but this year it seems that music was definitely displaced by mobile TV.

You will notice that the word “app” wasn’t even mentioned.  That’s right, mobile apps are such a recent phenomenon and they have certainly transformed the industry as we know it.  I would love your thoughts on that 2007 list and how things have changed in just 5 years.

Anyway, on to the brand new 2012 Buzz Index.  Here goes, starting with the BIGGEST BUZZ …

1. HTML5 and web apps.  As publishers continue to try and break the Apple app 30% strangehold on their revenues by launching their content in the browser, and as more and more companies announce HTML5 app strategies (such as Mozilla), HTML5 and the rise of the web app was the hottest topic this year.  The reason HTML5 is number 1 is that it truly is a buzzword, but it’s one that will give rise to whole new value chains and business models.

2. Everything apps.  There was an entire hall dedicated to apps, called App Planet, and almost every company at the show either had  apps of their own, or distributed apps, or leveraged apps in their business.  Yes it’s a far cry from 2007 when the word wasn’t even on the horizon, let alone having a “planet” all of its own.  The challenges facing many in the app game right now are exposure, discovery, merchandising, reach, distribution and monetization … read on.

3. Payments, NFC and m-commerce.  And mobile advertising. As with any maturing market, everyone is saying the word “monetization” and there are plenty of companies offering to help, with everything from carrier billing to micro-payments to NFC to full mobile commerce solutions.  I decided (rightly or wrongly) to put mobile advertising in this same category, because the focus at MWC 2012 was on how advertising has become just one of the many aspects of a monetization strategy, so that for most app developers it’s in the mix alongside in-app payment and other revenue models.  Making money from mobile was big this year.

4. Smart TV and Connected Car.  While it’s not strictly fair to lump these together, they have a few things in common.  They are both markets ripe for the next wave of innovation, they have historically been proprietary embedded systems that are now moving towards open platforms and apps, and many companies are chasing both of them because they feel the mobile market has reached saturation in terms of innovation.  One piece of advice … don’t try to watch your smart TV while driving your connected car.

5. M2M (machine to machine communications) / The Internet Of Things.  While this has been around for years, it is finally coming of age, because of low cost devices and the need for everything to be ubiquitously connected at all times (from fridges to frigid temperature monitors, from black boxes to white goods, etc.).  Once upon a time these M2M devices had embedded software, now they download apps (just like the rest of us, so they don’t feel left out).  Apps for M2M … watch this space.

6. Devices devices devices.  For many years MWC has been the place where manufacturers launch their wild and wacky new devices, but in the past many of them were just different form factors of mobile phones.  This year we saw the continued divergence into tablets, e-book readers, cloud based computers, media devices, cameras, and in the case of Samsung with their “Note” tablet – as a way of replacing the good old paper and pen at last.  As networks become homogenized (4G is 4G after all), the next wave of differentiation will come from the device OEMs, particularly the Asian OEMs such as ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo who are creating some great new products.

7. Content.  While this may seem like an obvious one, what is happening now is that all the major content providers (whether that’s Netflix or the Financial Times) are going “over the top” direct to their customers, using the network and device only as a conduit.  At MWC 2012 there was a big rise in attendance and exhibiting by non-mobile content companies who see mobile as the way to reach their audiences.  I did also want to put “over the top” in the buzzword index, because I heard it everywhere I went during the week, but I thought I would refer to it as content instead.

8. Mobile cloud.  A couple of years ago Google led the way with their cloud-based approach to email, documents and content, but now everyone is jumping on that bandwagon – the bandwagon of “all of our software, services and content are in the cloud”.  I would say that most new innovative services I saw launched this year are cloud-based, and are therefore either accessible via the browser or some lightweight app.  Music services are a great example, such as Cricket’s Muve, which nicely blends millions of songs in the cloud with a truly personal experience through the Cricket handset and client app.

9. Privacy.  Privacy is the elephant in the room.  Everyone knows that the mobile operating systems glean just a bit too much info about their users, and that many apps send just a bit too much data back to the servers, and that users are getting twitchy about all those Facebook sign-ons that they give permission to.  However it has never been too openly discussed at MWC until this year, when several companies played very hard on the fact that they are private and secure and unobtrusive.  With the privacy backlash about to get louder (particularly in the US in 2012), companies that want to make buzz around this have another bandwagon to jump on.

10. Last, but by no means least … Mobile enterprise.  A lot of money has sloshed into companies that claim they can mobilize the enterprise, with solutions ranging from app showcasing, app distribution, device management, security, policy management, app-ifying existing back-end systems, and enterprise app development.  However at MWC there weren’t as many really good case studies of all this in action as I was expecting, so that tells me that “mobile enterprise” has another year or two left of hype and buzz before it becomes really mainstream.  Where will “mobile enterprise” be in next year’s Buzz Index?

We would love your thoughts.  Add a comment below.

What we are pleased about here at App Carousel is that our solution is perfect timing into the market, just at that time when monetization and marketing of apps is key to success, and when that next generation of devices need apps and app stores that showcase their power and features.

Here’s to MWC 2013 and all the buzz inbetween.

Copyright AppCarousel 2012, all rights reserved.


4 Ways to Market Apps for Smart TV

More than a month after CES, has the buzz around Smart TVs stopped? Hardly. It may be MWC season for the tech world, but manufacturers are continuing to push their latest and greatest into market with aplomb. Don’t believe me? How about this commercial or this launch? With each new Smart TV platform unveiled, a new app store was demonstrated alongside it as a byproduct of app availability. But as we already know: big app stores are not the solution to the discovery problem. How will the creators of great TV-specific apps reach their new audience?

Here are 4 key methods:

Be the innovative leader - There’s something to be had when you’re first to market, but more when you can drive it through a top notch user experience and consistent innovation. Start setting the standards for what users of Smart TVs should expect for the experience you’re trying to create. Make sure users understand the platform, the benefits and short comings. Are you going to work within Android or in a browser with HTML5? The Smart TV ecosystem is still nascent, so the opportunity to be the de facto name in the space is still very much up for grab.

Be an engaged, branded experience - While consumers warm up to apps being on their TV, make it apparent that your offering is coming from a trust-worthy name. That will help to provide the comfort of knowing that they’ll be engaging in a high quality showcase. Give your users a name to connect to and build a relationship with, and of course, maintain the socialization to build on it.

Be curated – Know what your customers are interested in and bring a concerted focus to it. Just like music and books, everyone has different tastes in apps and programming. The more in tune you are and the better the content you showcase can bring a much higher the level of customer satisfaction. Bringing your apps to the living room also means you might not be able to bring the entire experience over. Take the time to select relevant, form fitting products to show consumers. Just as tablets apps have manifested themselves differently than smartphone apps, the same goes for those on the big screen.

Be on multiple screens  – The lines between the phone, tablet, computer, and TV are blurring and fast. The ability to be available no matter the screen will let your customers decide how, where, and when they’ll interact with you. Following this multi-screen mentality is a helpful way to create a stickier experience and the chances of keeping your customer engaged with your product exponentially increase.


Yankee Group’s 2012 mobile industry projections and predictions

Yesterday I attended Yankee Group’s wireless mobility webinar where they went through the trends they are forecasting for 2012.  My top three takeaways;

  1. the key disruptions will come from the changing device landscape (disruptive products like the Amazon Fire for example), changing business models, and the fact that 50% of all smartphones in 2012 will be sold into Asia
  2. personal clouds will be a key driver; NOT walled garden operator cloud services, but open cloud services that are agnostic to carrier and device
  3. Android will continue its march, and will become a serious enterprise mobility player (however Yankee also believe RIM will continue to be strong, which is in contrast to some other analysts)

They also highlighted the importance of HTML5 (nothing new there).

You can get your own free copy of the entire report here http://web.yankeegroup.com/report2012PredictionsRegistration.html

And if you have nothing else to do for an hour you can replay the entire webinar at http://blogs.yankeegroup.com/2011/12/06/webinar-2012-mobility-predictions/

Tell ‘em AppCarousel sent ya!


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