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As the final post for the OMS Blog for Developers it is proper that my last words of advice focus on the two things that matter most for successful businesses – asking questions and validating answers.  The absence of these two things are most responsible for every failed company, failed app, every project overdue or over budget.  For simplicity and general purposes, we can call this Due Diligence.  Normally, it aims to take care that everything is as it is supposed to be before investing in it.  But, equally, it can apply to taking corrective action on problems as they arise.

It is rational that if you are going to invest weeks and months into developing a mobile app to expect something for your effort, above and beyond completing the app itself.  Just because you have an idea for an app does not mean it is worth your time.  Thus, it is desirable to have multiple app ideas to choose from and some fixed basis to compare them against.  If you are just starting out in mobile app development, than simply breaking even might be your control point.  Conversely, you could compare it against your hourly wage for your present or previous job.

You want options, just like all investors do – whether it is on the stock market, commodities, gold, BitCoin, real estate?  Use Decision Points to help walk you through the process of deciding which app idea is best for you.

Far more questions should arise after you have decided upon your next app project.   On the technical side, these will include things like user interface, graphics, layout and design, features and making sure everything works as is intended.  These are all important, but they only bring you the potential to compete with other apps.  Nothing more.

How are you going to monetize your app?  In app advertising is perhaps the easiest option, but it is by no means the only option.  Even if you are working on your first mobile app or may not have a lot of experience with sophisticated payment systems, you do have a variety of options to choose from, some of which may have nothing to do with the app itself.

This may well bring you to question who else is out there that might benefit from your app?  Many small and medium-sized businesses are looking for ways to benefit from the mobile market, too.  Why not try to combine efforts or convince one to help sponsor your app?

From the point you start working on an app to long after you’ve published it, keep asking questions.  Is it performing according to your expectations?  How could it perform better?  Why is it not making more money?  Or perhaps you want to move on to something completely different, do you just want to let your app fade into history, or perhaps license it to someone else?

My hope is that you will turn to the Opera Mobile Guide for Developers to help you find answers to your questions and give you ideas for more questions you may not have asked yet.  In many cases, the answers will require research.  Getting an accurate answer may not always be possible, until after the fact, because even the best app may fail to take off – if only because someone else had a similar idea at the same time and had more people, time and money to market it.  Knowledge is power, so the more questions you ask and the better you validate the answer, the more likely you are to succeed.

Simply, never stop asking questions – they are in the spirit of competition to make things faster, better, more efficiently, more profitably, and better serve the interests of end-users.

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It has been decided that this is the last month for the Opera Mobile Store Blog for Mobile Developers.  Since it was started, its primary objective has focused on ways to help developers achieve financial success.  It has covered a lot of ground from design and business development to marketing and distribution, and much more.  My last few posts will take aim at what will prove most interesting, and likely profitable, for the future of mobile apps.

The future is here, it is just not evenly distributed – William Gibson.

Seven broad categories of development are of special interest:

  • eSports
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Internet of Things
  • Real Time Translation
  • Digital Money
  • Human Augmentation
  • Artificial Intelligence

eSports is still comparatively young, but is a rapidly growing niche with strong marketing and monetization potential.  Over 27 million people watched the League of Legends World Championship last year and many top players have hundreds of thousands of followers and hundreds of millions of page views.  Creating the next eSport sensation is a longshot.  But, developing apps for existing eSports and using cross-promotional or other marketing tools to reach this market is viable.  This deserves special consideration in that competitive gaming tends to draw a higher proportion of super-users (top 5% of spenders) with carry over on active fan sites.

Free Trade Agreements - Though much more abstract as concerns the mobile app developer, free trade facilitates the opening of new markets, expansion of existing markets, and better monetization potential for most markets.  Four major agreements have been or are in the process of being made, including:

  • TransPacific Partnership (TTP – North America and Asia),
  • TransAtlantic Investment and Trade Partnership (TTIP – North America and the European Union),
  • New Silk Road (China, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe)
  • EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (EU and Ukraine)

The impact of free trade will apply in several directions as relates to products, services, markets, wages and the creation of infrastructure to bring improved internet capabilities to developing markets.

It is appropriate to remember that both Singapore and Hong Kong were relatively undeveloped markets in the 1960’s but are both now have a GDP per capita ranking of #3 and #10, respectively.  Developing a market today can be accomplished much faster and while we are not likely to see such a meteoric rise of today’s developing markets, we will see a gradual evening out.  China, itself, is poised to be the #1 largest economy in the world suffice that global mobile dynamics are changing and generally favoring high-growth developing markets over saturated high-income markets.

The bottom line for developers is the reach for your marketing and advertising dollar as measured in downloads and average lifetime value of your end-users.

Internet of Things   –  Still young but overlapping with numerous technologies and endless devices, IoT is rapidly picking up steam.  Per Business Insider, the Internet of Things will add 24 Billion more devices and see over $6 Trillion in spending through 2020 and inherently ties into issues of Free Trade.  For developers, this opens the potential for developing apps enabling control platforms (smartphones, tablets, computers) to interact with a broader range of peripheral devices.

Much more than all of this is the ages-old belief in the “connectedness of all things” – it translates philosophy into common practice.  This has an inherent impact on marketing in that if you create apps for smartphones that can interact with toasters, that you could also be in the business of selling toasters.  The line by which “one thing ends and the next begins” will become increasingly blurred.

Real Time Translation - The ability for you to speak in English and your audience to hear you in Portuguese or Chinese is developing rapidly.  Granted, it may take a few more years to perfect; the more people who use this technology, the faster it will improve.  Real time translation capabilities will make it easier for everyone to do business on an international basis.

Digital Money   -  This is an epically complex matter driven not only by technology but by governments seeking to limit organized crime, terrorism, tax evasion, etc.; along with other far-reaching geo-political and corporate interests in connection with and tangential to free trade.

But of some practical value to developers is the fact that the ability for anyone with a digital device to make a digital purchase will become progressively easier.  One of the major constraints of developing markets until recently has been the difficulty for the end-user to make a purchase via the payment processor the developer is using.  This was an early mistake by many companies who asserted that, “People in developing markets don’t buy things.”  They do buy things, including smart phones and data plans.  The pay walls are gradually coming down.

Human Augmentation  - Some will consider this over the top, but we are moving in this direction.   Aside from overlapping with the Internet of Things and Real Time Translations, potentially the most practical… or perhaps interesting, technology relates to how we interact with computers – and especially how we “see” the data on computers.

One of the characteristics of mobile apps has been that they need to be designed for smaller screens.  It is one thing to work with a 16 inch computer monitor and another to work on a 4” x 6” screen (or smaller).  The gap between personal computers and mobile devices will continue to close, but the single greatest hurdle is the screen size.  One direction being explored could make your eyes the mirror of your CPU.

Most issues of human augmentation will not achieve an economy of scale for several years yet.  Oculus Rift became a household name with a $2 Billion acquisition for taking VR to the next level.  There is the potential for an ambitious company able to create a safe, easy to use, non-invasive device to do the same – and there will be the demand for corresponding software and apps.

And Artificial Intelligence.  While subject to endless debate, there are a few practical points to be made.  Many games of yesteryear failed largely because they didn’t provide enough of a challenge in solo-play.  This is as much a game design as it is a logic design issue.  Several companies are pursuing the development of AI and contrary to what the naysayers would like everyone to believe; each step in the development of an AI makes the next step in its development faster and easier – if in relative terms.  Whether we reach the point of Singularity is almost irrelevant in that each step in that direction facilitates faster, easier developments, almost on an endless loop basis.

Practically speaking?  It is not too much of a stretch to imagine it will be possible, one day, for app developers to focus almost exclusively on game design while providing an interface for an external AI to handle the logic of playing it (against humans)… with different difficulty levels.

Presently, most games provide the computer opponent lots of advantages while providing the human opponent various handicaps.  With a proper AI, those dynamics would likely be reversed.  It is hard to get game balance “just right for everyone.”  This has the potential to resurrect some much older game titles that could have been totally awesome games if only they were a challenge to play.

A look back to see where we are headed…

All of these topics could be explored in much greater depth – and I encourage you to do so.  Some of these points may be a bit of a stretch “today” – but tomorrow?  The first computer game I played was Pong, followed by games like Space Invaders, Pacman… Zork, Ultima before there was an Ultima II, back when the closest thing anyone had to the Internet was a local BBS (Bulletin Board System) relying upon ASCII… for graphics.

Now, we are talking about technologies that may be able to “digitize your brain” so that theoretically some part of “you” can exist “forever.”  Now, we aren’t talking about monochrome monitors, but holograms.  We aren’t using dot matrix printers and carbon paper much anymore, but literally using 3D printers to print houses.   I remember buying an IBM Selectric III for $1.00.

It’s on this basis that I tend to think less of what the state of technology is today and question what it will be tomorrow.  I remember when the common consensus was that the Internet was a passing fad despite all statistics to the contrary.  Those who assert “IT IS POSSIBLE” are proven correct infinitely more times than those who say the opposite.

History and Technology are not on the side of those who say, “It can’t be done.”

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So many games, so little time to play them all!  As a game designer, it is imperative for you to appreciate just how much competition you are going up against.  There are hundreds of games of potential interest to any given player, all competing for their attention, time and money.  Why they choose your game versus any other should be of great interest to you and something you need to regularly reinforce with them.  This concerns your registered users, mailing list, product cycles and your player’s habits.

For starters, whether mobile or pc, people who play games are not always playing the same game all of the time.  Certainly there are exceptions, but in all probability they will tend to cycle through several games over time.  From personal experience and observation of other players over many years, we keep to a fairly regular rotation which depends to varying degrees upon price, new content, in-game progress, a threshold for monotony and whim.

Normally, I prefer to play strategy games, but will occasionally shift over to MMO’s, RTS or FPS type games.  In most cases, these are all games in which my progress is saved, where I can pick up where I left off regardless how much time I spent away from the game.  I may go a year or two, or maybe even five, before opting to return to check out an old game’s new features.

Of special interest then, is what prompts me to return to any given game?  The same principles apply to all other gamers:

  • An investment in time and/or money
  • Discounts on older content
  • New content or level cap
  • Special events offering one or more of the above
  • New play concepts or features
  • Something that piques my curiosity – often through a YouTube video

Email Notifications

The core issue for developers is to notify their players of these incentives, on a regular basis.  In addition to the above points, developers can also offer content that provides in-depth exploration of game mechanics, builds, game lore, recaps or promoting fan sites and blogs covering your game.  Promoting your fan sites is always good for your PR and marketing – and theirs!  It is worth going the extra mile to offer your fan sites in-game items to give away for contests of any sort – from best game picture, caption, riddle, drawing, special achievements, or whatever your imagination can call up.

To go with this, it is worthwhile to spend time examining and developing your product cycle – offering a mix of small and large updates or expansions.  Three factors are involved here.  First, your marketing activities need to be synchronized with your product development to constantly update your players as to what is new and what is coming.  Second, it is worth defining how much time the content in your update or expansion will provide players and in relation to their play habits and time per session.  Last but not least is the price tag for any new content.

Here, I would note that it is useful to include free content that leads up to any premium content.  This may include a free trial period for something like a “universal bank” where players can freely transfer items from one character to another.  It could include providing one or two free adventures developing the story for an epic, premium expansion.  Give players a taste of what they could have to incentivize their commitment whether in time or money toward getting it.

The games I keep coming back to allow me to pick up where I left off – some, but not all of the games are subject to some kind of (temporary) end game.  Once players reach the end game, continued play runs up against the law of diminishing returns.  This is especially the case with MMO’s wherein the rewards that come with any new expansion are almost always better than the best of the previous cap.

It should be no surprise that developers who make an active effort to entice former players to return perform better than those who don’t.  Many developers don’t try to maintain regular contact with their registered users.  As shows in virtually every marketing study, those players who spend once are more likely to spend again.  Those who played your game 7 times or more over the course of 4-6 weeks are also more likely to return to explore your new features and content.

For additional reading on these subjects, I would recommend:

 

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Hearthstone®  from Blizzard is a free to play card game with an estimated 50 million players and making over $20 million monthly (that’s more than Dota 2).  You can download it now via Opera Mobile Store – on Android or iOS.

Here, we will take a look at some of its dynamics that may be of interest to app developers whether from a design, play or marketing perspective.  It’s a rare game that keeps me coming back daily over three months and rarer yet to persuade me to spend real money on a free to play format.  Further, yesterday marked the beginning of Hearthstone’s new Standard Format along with a new “Whispers of the Old Gods™” (Cthulu-themed) expansion pack.

Free to Play or Pay to Win?

It becomes obvious quite quickly in some “free to play” games that one must “pay to play” outside the starting gate.  That, for me, is an immediate call to delete the game.  With Hearthstone, the call to pay is more subtle and refined but repeatedly (and literally) smacking you in the face, but let’s back up.

Gold is the in-game currency which can be spent on Card Packs (100 gold), Adventure Wings (14 in total, usually 700 gold each), or a round in The Arena (150 gold).  Each adventure wing unlocks several new cards while rewards in The Arena scale to player performance (play until you lose 3 or win 12 matches).  So, that’s what you can spend gold or real money on (aside from a few vanity items), but we’ll come back to the real money in a moment.

Gold can be earned by winning 3 matches (10 gold), completing daily quests (roughly 60 gold each on average), through a few milestones (like playing on your Android device or iPhone), and from winning in The Arena.  Additionally, a free card pack can be earned from each week’s Tavern Brawl.  Committing to this “minimum” will yield the equivalent of 2500 gold (2100 gold + 4 decks) per month.

Of course, you have the option to pay real money for any of these items; and there are discounts for bulk purchases – 2 decks for $2.99 ($1.495 each) to 60 decks for $69.99 ($1.167 each).  We can consider the base value of 100 gold as equal to $1.50.  So, the 2500 gold from above has a theoretical in-game value of $37.50 – or roughly $450 over the course of a year.  That’s a fair chunk of change!  Essentially Free, but with a cost in Time.

Many MMORPG’s today offer player’s the opportunity to fast track their entrance into a game – to start at level 80 or 90 instead of level 1, for example.  Time and money are both currencies, of which everyone has more of one than the other.  While being able to purchase “content” does accelerate entry and can help to win, it does not by itself equate to “pay to win”.  In Hearthstone’s ranked play, there is no shortage of players between the ranks of 20 and 15 with undoubtedly awesome card collections.

Card Value

Not all cards have the same value, from several different perspectives.  Every Hearthstone card pack is guaranteed to have 5 cards, mostly Common but at least one is guaranteed to be Rare.  They may occasionally include an Epic or Legendary.   While you can get most cards from opening packs, you also have the option to craft ones you deem essential, at a cost:

  • 1 Legendary = 1600 dust
  • 1 Epic = 400 dust
  • 1 Rare = 100 dust
  • 1 Common = 40 dust

Thus, for the cost to craft 1 Legendary card you could craft 40 Common cards, 16 Rares or 4 Epics.  The process of collecting cards proceeds in basically that same fashion – far more likely to get all of the Common cards before getting all of the Rares, repeating similarly relative to Epics and Legends.

Consequently, this is the big draw for the Adventure Packs, guaranteeing 1 Legendary per adventure wing, plus a “final boss” after completing all of the wings.  

There is no in-game card trading in Hearthstone, as obviously that would cut into sales of card packs.  Leastwise, designers need to spend a fair amount of time fleshing out their game’s economic model – as relates to in-game currency, cash and potential marketing components.

Whispers of the Old Gods™

The inherent problem of Hearthstone’s format, or any competitive format, is that the longer people play it the more difficult it is for new players to effectively compete – making it more difficult for the game to grow.  Honestly, after seeing Dr. Doom and his Boom-Bot companions appear 8 matches in a row, I started questioning my long-term interest in the game.  It’s not that Dr. Doom equated to an automatic loss (more 50-50), so much as realizing how much of a head start that perhaps 20-30 million other people had.  About that time, news came of Hearthstone introducing a new play format which would weed out some of the older cards from most competitive play.  This has the inherent impact of evening out the playing field, some – not completely.

On Day 1 of the Whispers of the Old Gods release and introduction of the new Standard Format, everyone was greeted with 3 free cards (one being a Legendary, C’Thun).  On top of this, everyone received 3 free card packs with cards from the expansion.  Players were also given a new extra Daily Quest – Win 2 Games in Standard and win 5 free card packs.  This was followed by Win 7 Games in Standard and win 5 more card packs.  No coincidence that these add up to 13 free card packs – and roughly $20.00 in base value.

A promotion leading up to the expansion offered the pre-purchase of 50 decks for $49.99 (or $1 per pack) along with a vanity C’Thun (Cthulu) themed card back (a vanity item).

By taking the time to play to earn more card packs you acquire a good deal of experience to help you get the most out of the cards you already have.  By purchasing the content, in many perhaps most cases, players may have a greater selection of cards, but not necessarily the experience to get the most out of them.  It’s a roughly equal trade.

Generally though, my willingness to spend money has been significantly influenced by how much the game gives to me – which after all, if players don’t play – the developers make no money.  That’s not necessarily saying to give everything away for free – not at all.  It is simply advocating, with freebies like the Daily Quest and Weekly Tavern Brawl, to keep us coming back – and to strategically channel our rewards into the things we need most to advance our game further, faster and better.

The majority of my investment into Hearthstone was on the Adventures, purchasing the complete sets at a significant discount for the biggest bang for the buck.  Even so, I could have opted to earn them via regular play at the rate of roughly 1 wing per week.   With most games, there is a dynamic where, “You need the gear to get THE GEAR” – i.e. it is easier to beat a monster with a +1 longsword as compared to a rusty dagger.  Different game… same principle.

Players need to know what they could have to have any interest of getting it – which brings us to:

The Arena

Players have the choice to purchase card packs for 100 gold or enter The Arena for 150 gold.  Even if you don’t win a single match in The Arena, you are guaranteed 1 card pack plus a random reward (gold, dust for crafting, or a single card).  The average Arena ticket sees 3 wins before accumulating 3 losses, and is considered the breakeven point (as in 1 card pack plus roughly 50 gold of random reward value).  One can go “infinite” if they can average 7 wins per ticket (1 card pack plus 150 gold).  That’s a rarity, but some are doing this and you can easily find them on YouTube (Trump and Kripparian are two who come to mind).

The Arena exposed me to lots of cards that I didn’t have – and realizing that card value is not entirely dependent upon card rarity, but presenting lots of new possible strategies based upon card synergy.  Any card in Hearthstone can show up in an Arena Deck – exposing players with a basic collection to lots of cool cards.  Players are given 3 classes to choose from and then proceed to make a choice on 30 three card options and having to make difficult decisions.  It was The Arena and the potential of “endless rewards” that ultimately convinced me to buy the Adventure Packs – and really learn the game.

Choices.  Decisions.  These are the bread and butter of the games that most people enjoy most.

 Blizzard’s Marketing is Comprehensive

It also needs to be noted that Blizzard runs cross promotions for most of its games.  Reaching level 20 with a new character in World of Warcraft®  will get you a new Hero portrait (vanity item) in Hearthstone.  Starting an account in Hearthstone and completing a few achievements will net you a free mount in WoW.  Of special interest to developers is that Blizzard starts promoting some of its new releases by almost a year in advance.  Almost everything Blizzard does includes some marketing component – either to attract new players or retain existing ones.  Of course, their player base does fluctuate substantially, but that is normal to product and release cycles.

Aside from daily quests, Blizzard has game content for almost every major holiday – coinciding with appropriate email promotional mailings.  They have a recruit-a-friend programs along with generous rewards for group play.  Early on, Blizzard was one of the first to offer free CD-trials of its Warcraft RTS games (mid-1990s).  Leastwise, when it comes to marketing a game, take a look at what Blizzard has done and is doing because it is intrinsic to virtually everything they do, including game design.  Their latest moves in WoW have been to simplify character skills and abilities with an eye toward 1) making games fun to watch and 2) make it easier for eSports casters to highlight the action in broadcast events.

Warcraft: Orcs & Humans debuted in 1994 – 22 years ago, which translates to being older than dirt by computer game standards.  There have been a lot of great game companies that have risen and fallen since, but Blizzard not only survived, it has thrived.  My simple assertion to game developers of today is to take a look at what other successful game companies have done and are doing – and try to emulate them.  That starts with producing high quality games, yes — but there’ve been a lot of high quality games produced by companies that have long since bit the dust.  What transcends everything?  Marketing – constantly expanding your audience, getting new and dedicated players.  Including marketing principles in your game design is what retains them.

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Following recent posts on eSports, it seems like a good idea to get into what it means for the world of mobile apps, particularly on the design side.   While many eSports games are played on PC’s, more and more are becoming available for iOS and Android.   Several of the Top 50  eSports Games can be played on mobile already, Hearthstone and World of Tanks Blitz being two quick examples.

Additionally, there are hundreds of apps built around one or many different eSports games – as mods, dedicated game news, gaming tips, training and managing play statistics.  For example, with League of Legends, one of the most popular eSports games, you might look at:

Or, for other popular games:

These are just a few examples, but they provide a wide range of examples to draw upon for app ideas that can tie into a game.  You will need to carefully examine the terms and conditions of each game to avoid legal and copyright issues.  It is advisable to contact and work with the game company, many of which welcome community support.  It can pay huge dividends to get a publisher’s approval and support.  Their approval boosts the potential for successful, popular players to publicly use your app on their live stream events further boosting your visibility.

To come up with ideas, reading the publisher’s game forum and community forums can help you get a feel for what players are looking for.  By looking at what is available, too, you may get ideas on what could be done to make it better, or offer more.

There’s Always Something New Coming

Always bear in mind that hardware and software technology is constantly evolving and can be expected to mitigate the physical differences and limitations of both personal computers and mobile devices.  The science fiction of a decade ago is increasingly becoming the reality of today – from virtual reality experiences and holograms to neural implants and Drones getting bundled up with the whole Internet of Things.

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.  – William Gibson

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Networking is a recurring topic of this blog in that it can help you build marketing and distribution channels, media relations and even develop your business model.  This post aims to expand on the usefulness of networking and assert that it should be a consistent, long-term practice whether you are just starting out in the world of app development or on its lead edge.

Before getting into networking though, I would like to make another appeal to developers to spend a little less time developing and a little more time on other components of your app business.  Unless you are paid to produce apps, developing them does not generate revenue without efforts in marketing, distribution and business development.

The Pareto Principle.   Constantly underscored on the blog is the idea that 20% of your efforts will generate 80% of your revenue (roughly).  This extends similarly to where 4% of your work is likely to be responsible for 64% of your revenue; and that over half will come from .8% of total effort.  Practically speaking, you may spend months developing an app and get paid nothing; but adding it to stores (distribution) will take you a few minutes and provide you the opportunity to make some money.  Simple.

The 1% Rule or 15 Minutes per Day.  Fifteen minutes is roughly 1% of your day.  The basic idea is to spend at least 15 minutes a day doing something other than what you would normally do – and further, an hour or so (4-5%) on a few different things.  My top 5 picks are:

  1. Networking (Developing relationships with other people in your market – from professionals to end users, with a focus on people who actively write about your market).
  2. Marketing and Distribution (Getting on more app stores, letting others know you are on more app stores, cross-promotional opportunities, but generally bringing your networking efforts to fruition with a tangible result.)
  3. Content Development (Anything related to your business/apps – press releases, game play videos, improving app descriptions)
  4. Market Research (Competition, New Tech, App Performance Metrics, New Markets)
  5. Business Development (Pricing mechanisms, special opportunities like grants, finding partners, etc.)

If you are looking for traffic (and downloads) you need to be seen where the traffic is.  Obviously, you can advertise – pay to have your app promoted where you like.  Again, as most mobile app developers are not breaking even, it is appropriate to press on matters of networking as an extension of marketing to help developers generate the revenue needed to launch into advertising.

To this end, it useful to start with three operating principles which make networking useful:

  1. What you have to say about yourself is trivial in comparison to what others have to say about you.  Saying you are great does not quite have the same gravity as when someone else says it.
  2. If it’s been said once, it can be said again, and again.  You can link to it, you can quote it, you can re-use it as needed across all of your business activities.
  3. Every networking contact and every form of online content creates potential for traffic.  The more, the better.

Networking is about developing relationships, suffice that it is a natural process for everyone having  common and overlapping interests.  The goal, of course, is that networking will lead to something tangible – from being referenced in an article, having a well-placed link for others to download your app, or perhaps pave the way for you to meet with someone who can help your business in a profound way.

While networking for the sole purpose of developing relationships is good, unto itself – you are investing time in meeting with others.  It is reasonable to expect a return on your investment on at least some of that time, so you want to network with a purpose.  Your objectives might be directed to getting an interview, an app review or critique, having your app featured and played in a video on YouTube, or setting the stage whereby you can get a favorable, personal introduction to someone important.

We are talking about developing “relationships” and not one-time events.  Thus, we are talking about forming the basis for “multiple opportunities” to create traffic for your endeavors.  It’s not a one way street though, meaning that at the same time you are looking for ways that they can help you, you need to be looking for ways you can help them.  This is where maintaining a regular blog can be useful, as you can always provide them links, comment on their discussions, etc.

Remember the first principle above, the inverse is that what you have to say about someone else is more important than what they have to say about themselves.   If you already like and support what they are doing, promoting it in a meaningful manner is a good step toward getting a good start with them.

Every time you, your business or mobile app is referenced with a link can be said to have a monetary value, even if you received it for free or accrue no financial benefit from it. It is realistically measured by the time it took you to get that link, which is relative to your income.  The point is, that if you are not making money and not engaged in marketing, distribution or networking, you will rarely have the basic possibility of making money.

If you committed to developing one relationship per week after a year, you will have over 50 relationships each with multiple opportunities toward mutually reciprocating, tangible benefit.  It may eventually require more than 15 minutes a day, but you will see the benefit.

Sometimes, idealistic people are put off the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.
Sonia Sotomayor – Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,

 

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Previously, I noted that some more time will be spent looking at China.  Part of this extends from the recent interest of a Chinese investor group in acquiring Opera.  While not privy to those discussions, in my frequent meetings with members of think tanks, like Odessa’s own Nikolai Holmov, China is receiving greater and more frequent attention.  The nature of Chinese business activities are of a magnitude that warrants broader awareness, even if the implications are not specific to the mobile world, but of which the mobile world is certainly part.

One Belt, One Road – The New Silk Road entails a land-based and sea-based trade belt starting in China and stretching through the Middle East, into Europe and Africa.   While the list of countries to be formally included in the investment and development already in progress is not fully defined, it could include up to 40 or more countries.

Prospective countries (land and sea):  Afghanistan, Armenia, Brunei, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

As Forbes.com’s Helen Wang poignantly quoted from the FinancialTimes.com,

If the sum total of China’s commitments are taken at face value, the new Silk Road is set to become the largest programme of economic diplomacy since the US-led Marshall Plan for postwar reconstruction in Europe, covering dozens of countries with a total population of over 3bn people.

A few noteworthy points regarding the scope of the New Silk Road:

  • Expected to reach $1 trillion in investments (from all parties) by 2020, with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank having already allocated $100 billion.
  • Will logistically connect roughly 70% of the world’s population.
  • Countries along the route represent about 55% of world GDP.
  • Aims to net $2.5 trillion (for China, alone) in additional trade over the next 10 years.
  • Logistical and infrastructure investments in road and rail networks, power grids, internet networks, pipelines and port projects.
  • Reduce delivery times from China to Europe by as much as 80%.

To say it is a “big thing” is an understatement, ranking right alongside (and above) the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the “other” two major free trade agreements in the process of being formed.   It is appropriate to note that 1) China is not (presently) involved with the TPP and 2) the United States is not (presently) involved with the New Silk Road – though there may be some businesses from each country actively involved with projects associated with each.

Obviously, there are geo-political interests at stake, too – beyond the scope of this article, but one hypothesis is that economic development will serve as a catalyst to political and social stability (i.e. fewer wars and less terrorism).

So, what does the Silk Road mean to you?

First off, the New Silk Road is a major investment and development project, spanning hundreds (potentially thousands) of smaller projects for many years to come.  It is being done, it is continuing – so you can follow its development to see when, where and if you can fit in for a variety of contracts.  Knowing, also, that some areas presently lacking reliable internet access will (in the not too distant future) have reliable internet access provides opportunities for those who get in on the ground floor.

The broader implications are that China is poised to soon be the largest economic power and is beginning to challenge the predominantly “western” mega-corporations on several fronts, from oil to agriculture, but also in tech.  Word came out this week that Ali Baba is now the world’s largest retailer, surpassing Amazon.com and Walmart.  Fundamentally, many developers have mainly focused on the western market for profitability, but more and more eyes will be looking eastwards for potential volume.

Overall though, with three major “free trade vehicles” in motion (New Silk Road plus TTP/TTIP), the world is about to get more competitive, faster.

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One of the frequent recurring themes I see in the mobile app world is an overly narrow definition of, and excessive fixation on, a “target market.”  This can be a serious problem if your target market is not proving profitable “enough” or you do not take steps to evolve with it.  It can be profitable to explore some diversification by looking a little to the left and right of your target market.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that the Internet is a network, a web, where theoretically any given point can have a relationship (a link) with any other point.  The idea is to spend time finding and developing relationships between what you are doing and other points that would be profitable for it.   That is what marketing and advertising is all about.  If you want to be seen, you go to where people interested in what you offer are.

While you may have a target market for today, you have decisions to make about your target market for tomorrow.  Let’s say your game is targeted to teenagers (13-18) – they will get older, their interests will evolve, they will likely find a job, upgrade their mobile device and have greater means for buying things online or through your mobile app.  While there will always be a steady stream of new youngsters entering your target market (hopefully), their interests and expectations also evolve, if simply by device and in relation to the apps of tomorrow.

How to Diversify?  Diversification is best done on a case by case basis and it can take on several different forms and the following provide a few good examples.

Mobile Apps for Ages 5 – 24.  One commonality for almost everyone from ages 5 to 18, and a good portion of those 19 to 24, is the classroom.  Common to every classroom is a teacher.  By getting one teacher to use your app as the basis for a practical exercise, you could end up reaching up to 180 students.  That is 6 one-hour periods with 30 students per day.  By virtue of the teacher’s relationship to your target market they could be a fundamental part of it.  That does require a distinct decision to include them as part of your target market; if you are not aiming to reach them, odds are you won’t.

Mobile Apps and PC users.  The mobile world tends to differentiate itself from the personal computer world, but there are more similarities inherent to the devices than there are differences. The primary differences are inherent to the end users, across a broad range of demographics.  However, we are talking about a broad range of demographics wherein a) there are people who do have mobile devices and personal computers, and b) those able to afford a personal computer are likely more able to make an online purchase.

But!!!  They won’t make an online purchase if they are not provided the option to do so.  The implications here run in several directions spanning your entire product line and marketing efforts.

Consider, for a moment, it may take you three months to develop a mobile game.  Conversely, it may take you thirty minutes to set up a web page to promote a product, whether your own, as a cross-promotion, or part of an online store or even through promotions and newsletters.  This form of diversification is heavily dependent upon traffic, suffice if you have a lot of traffic and it is not generating revenue for you, it is up to you to find a means of monetizing it (better).

Cross Promotions are inherently a form of diversification for expanding market reach and alternative revenue streams.  Mobile apps can have an affinity with mobile devices, mobile subscriptions, other apps or software in the same genre or category, events, books and movies, or nearly anything else sharing a similar theme or purpose.

Work and Other Activities.  It could also be that your mobile app utility might perform better as an actual business, service (SaaS), or in conjunction with a membership site.   My last article on eSports was another example.  It is not a stretch to think that a developer of games might actually play games, too.  Knowing some of the internal mechanics of how games work can apply to how to play them better, providing a competitive edge and an opportunity to make money.  As many developers have full-time jobs and develop on the side, eSports is becoming an interesting and viable option with the added feature of also being a marketing venue.

Most app developers are not breaking even, as I constantly reiterate.  There are numerous reasons for this, but the top three are:  1) app quality, 2) little or no marketing and advertising, and 3) poor business or monetization model.

It is one thing if you are developing apps simply because you enjoy it and don’t really expect to make money from them.  If, however, you enjoy it and want to monetize your efforts it is also quite easy to get stuck in a rut where you keep working without realizing tangible benefit.  It is also easy to become so fixated on a target marketto not see other profitable opportunities a little to the left or right of it.

For further reference, I would recommend “Reaching a Profitable Target Market” – as sometimes, it is not your product, marketing or advertising to blame for insufficient revenue.  It could be your business model or decisions.

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Let’s start with some numbers.  The world championship for “League of Legends” reached 27 million viewers in 2014.  Over 100,000 people attended the Intel Extreme Masters in 2015, hosted by the world’s largest eSports company, ESL.  Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG aim to broadcast 20 live e-sports events over the course of 2016.  Tournament prizes for some of the top games include nearly $60 million for Dota 2 over 578 tournaments and over $27 million for League of Legends in over 1600 tournaments.

All metrics are increasing:  physical attendance, number of online viewers, number of competitors, cash prizes, etc.

I’ve touched on eSports a few times previously, suffice that competitive gaming is (or should be) a common interest to both game developers and gamers.  At its simplest, competitive gaming provides an opportunity for everyone to have fun and possibly make some money.  However, professional players, teams, ladder rankings and tournament events are also marketing venues – even if the “game” is not your game.   That is to say, getting involved with other racing games is a way to promote your raging app to gamers likely willing to try it.

RacingScott Pruett’s BMW Riley at a 2012 Rolex Sports Car Race

The race car above shows the decals of numerous sponsors who contributed either financially or materially to Scott Pruett’s racing team.  Of course, race car sponsorships represent a different marketing model than is associated with mobile and online games.  It does not hurt to take a look at their model to see how it might be applied to yours:

  • Cars serve as moving billboards for logos (brand name recognition)
  • Teams have uniforms which also prominently feature sponsor logos.
  • Print and media usually reference sponsors as part of “the story.”
  • Cross-marketing opportunities and promotions between sponsors.
  • Autograph sessions for extended and personal visibility.
  • Event hospitality and “free hand outs” to people within the target market.

Numerous marketing and promotion elements are in play and can be easily adapted for mobile apps and eSports events.  The cost of eSports sponsorships vs the opportunities they may create are very much on the low-end of budget requirements, consisting of cost of game play and team apparel, perhaps some extra hardware.  The primary expense is likely to come from admission, travel and lodging to attend tournaments.  Still many events are conducted online at the same time as events become more widespread and accessible.

Obviously, there is a major gap between starting a team and getting the team to place in major tournaments.  Leastwise, you have the option to form or recruit your own team or seek out teams already looking for sponsors.  Like anything else, winning in tournaments comes from consistent and persistent practice.  Still, we are talking about people who are going to play anyway.

One option for developers to consider is to invite the highest ranking players of their own app to form the basis a competitive eSports team for a similar game that is already heavily monetized in tournaments within the same genre.  Companies with enough developers could form their own teams, as well – as not long ago (and still) there are many businesses which have their own baseball and bowling teams.  That goes to say that gaming, sports and esports are not just games but social and professional networking opportunities, as well.

You only need to look at professional sports like baseball, basketball, football, hockey, tennis, racing, even surfing to see the outcome of eSports.  From forming or sponsoring your own teams to running competitions and potentially hosting your own events (physical or virtual), you have several possibilities to consider.  I remember the days when most people had never been online and where the internet was believed to be a passing fad.  Obviously it wasn’t, but the lesson is to get in on the “groundfloor” of The Next Big Thing early.

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First off, I would like to point mobile developers to an external pdf – Essential Facts about the computer and video game industry by the Entertainment Software Association.  This is a detailed review, primarily, of the American video game market. Personal computers remain the dominant gaming platform, followed by consoles and mobile devices (generally opposite the international norm).

My stance is that personal computers and mobile devices are becoming more and more alike. While there are definitely differences, personal computers have been around for a lot longer providing some historical market context for those willing to take a look. Leastwise, many games that were once made for PCs are now available for mobile devices.

What is surprising, and should not be, is that the average age of gamers in the United States is 35. The overall breakout runs:

  • Under 18: 26%
  • 18 – 35: 30%
  • 36 – 49:   17%
  • Over 50: 27%

It is also noteworthy that of 155 million gamers in the United States, 44% are female.

This tends to put a different slant on why many developers are not breaking even, aside from not actively engaging marketing and advertising. A quick look at the games on virtually every mobile app store gives the impression that their target market is a “younger audience” – if not under 18, then certainly under 25 (splitting the age bracket). It’s not that they don’t have a clearly defined target market as much as the competition is “extreme” for that target market. We can also infer that this target market is subject to limited discretionary spending – likely dependent upon parents for their money to purchase games.

Functionally, there are far fewer mobile games being marketed to the 25+, and especially the 35+, crowds where the most likely spenders are found. Their interests appear quite evenly divided across social, action and puzzle game genres, but only socially-oriented mobile games have attracted their attention. Action and puzzle games are not, setting aside online gambling and casino-like games.

It is easier to develop a game for a younger audience than a possibly jaded older audience. Those willing to pay (more) tend to expect more. “More” or “better” is not always concerned with graphics, but the game engine and AI itself. If someone is 35 today, they were likely playing video games on their PC or console in 2000.

Within that context, I can say from personal experience that it is very difficult to find a game (of any sort) that offers significantly better game play than some of these older games. There are the “industry standards” which have gone through several versions since – whether we want to reference Syd Meier’s Civilization, Paradox’s Hearts of Iron, Metal Gear, Call of Duty, Grandtheft Auto, or even World of Warcraft.   A lot of good games then were somewhat ahead of their time or devoted to too small of a niche (then) and have become “abandonware” or picked up by distributors for ongoing release at massively discounted rates.

Yes, those are mostly PC titles, suffice that many games that were PC “yesterday” could do well on “mobile” today, and some are.

Old software does not have to die. If it was good enough “back then” to get an official release in a box on a physical store shelf, there’s a decent chance that a facelift and makeover could resurrect its playtime today. As most of the game mechanics and code have already been defined, the main challenges involve porting them to a new platform and/or language, improving upon its initial faults and perhaps adding a few new components to the game. Those inclined to explore this direction, of course, would need to track down previous developers and publishers to negotiate a license for continued development.

But more to the point of marketing to older gamers is taking a look at all of the different kinds of games they have likely played in the past. What was popular? When and why? How could a particular PC game be adjusted to work for mobile? There are many reasons why most mobile app developers are not breaking even, suffice that where the US market is concerned, too many are competing for too small of the paying market.

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The number one goal with this blog is to help mobile app developers make money, to be profitable. There are many components to building a profitable business and continuing to increase its profitability. It is useful to underscore that 65% of developers are not breaking even with their apps; and likewise; roughly 65% of developers engage in little to no marketing, advertising or distribution efforts. Again, what applies here to mobile app developers applies broadly to most businesses.

One other point needs to be made, in line with the Pareto Principle, 80% of the work you do is responsible for only 20% of your revenues; implying that the other 20% of your work is responsible for the vast majority of your earnings. That is, it may take 2 or 3 months of full-time work to produce a mobile app, all of which earns you nothing unless you are being paid to develop it for someone else. It is EVERYTHING you do after you’ve finished the app that makes you money.

Developers… develop. Most developers don’t like spending their time on other things like marketing and distribution. Nevertheless, it is worth spending 1 or 2 hours a day (20% of your work day) engaged on building your business. You will benefit accordingly.

The number one question is whether you are going to everything by yourself or if you are going to do it with someone. This is your choice, where your other options are to bring in partners or to hire someone. If you don’t have the money to hire someone, then your best bet is to try to find a partner, an agent or gradually outsource work as you can afford it. These are all things that I’ve covered previously (see the Guide), but I do have a few things to add.

Partnerships. Subject to your local business laws, there are all kinds of ways to form partnerships with two or more people. It is not necessary for all partners to have equal shares, equal say or even have a salary. My first commercial business endeavor involved a partnership with four people where our lead programmer retained a 40% share with the other 3 of us having 20% each. Of special interest here is that we were able to pull in a senior VP from a major cable company who was only responsible for providing 2 hours of guidance per week.

The main point, it is possible for new companies to bring in high quality talent without necessarily paying anything. There is a generational divide in that many mobile app developers today are young (20 – 40) at the same time as there exists an massive and underutilized pool of very experienced retirees (45 – 70) who would be happy to contribute in building a new business. In the other direction, there are plenty of college students graduating every year unable to find regular jobs.

Functionally, it all boils down to there being a lot of people without a product to sell or who fundamentally do not want all of the responsibilities that come with having their own business. As a mobile app developer, you are able to produce products which you can use to attract the people to help you build a profitable business.

Outsourcing. There are likely to be many occasions where you need something done that you cannot or do not want to do, for whatever reason. Many of these things reside in the “only need to do it once” category – like creating a company logo or business card, writing an app description, or even getting your apps set up on different app stores. You might also be looking to localize your app or its description, getting press releases written and distributed, or getting a web site up. There are literally hundreds of different things involved in developing, improving and promoting your business. These don’t need to be expensive:

  • Fiverr.com – You can find loads of people to help you on just about anything relevant to your mobile app with some tasks costing as little as US$5.00 – translations, business logos and cards, graphics, press releases and distribution, social media marketing, web sites and more. One benefit of this site is that you can review showcases of previous sample work.
  • Freelancer.com – An all around place to hire and offer your own freelance work.
  • MTurk.com – Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” – another freelance/crowdsourcing site with low-end costs.
  • Clickworker.com – Microjobs strong on content development and surveys being of possible interest to mobile app developers.
  • Odesk / Upwork – Merged and now operating as Upwork; comprehensive and on the higher end of the freelance market.

When it comes to any business venture the more you have “for show” the better you will fare – true whether you are a mobile app developer, in online sales or run a brick-n-mortar establishment. Prioritize your needs based upon what is likely to provide you the quickest return on your investment. You always have the option to do it yourself, possibly learn a new skill, save money and increase your potential for making money in the process.

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It was recently announced that Chinese investors have expressed an interest in Opera Software. I do not know and cannot comment on the specifics, but the news can be found on Reuters and Forbes. As it’s been a while since I’ve done a Market Insight post, this seems like a good time to take a look at how your app might fit the Mobile Market in China.

Demographics:

For starters, China has the largest population in the world with 1,375,150,000 people; about 90 million more than India. The urban cores of several cities have populations larger than many nations:

  • Shanghai – 24 million (more than the entirety of Australia)
  • Beijing -21 million (about the size of Romania)
  • Tianjin – 15 million (slightly smaller than the Netherlands)
  • Guangzhou – 13 million
  • Shenzen – 11 million
  • 11 more cities with a population over 5 million

China has 56 recognized ethnic groups, and nearly 300 living languages to go with them. By far, the most common language in China is Mandarin (960 million); with Wu, Yue and Min languages spoken by 60-80 million people each along with Jin, Xiang, Hakka and Gan spoken by another 20-45 million. While outside the scope of this article, the official language in Hong Kong is English.

This brings matters of app localizations to an entirely new level. Localization is critical in regards to both language and social-cultural look-n-feel. Marketing your app in English, or any other language, is not likely to win you many fans though over 100 million Chinese citizens do know English as a second language and the demand for English teachers and TOEFL tutors is very high.

Of additional demographical interest is the age and gender breakout to get a feel for the size of the market (in relative terms) by type of mobile app.

Age structure: % Male Female
0-14 years: 17.1% 124,340,516 107,287,324
15-24 years: 14.7% 105,763,058 93,903,845
25-54 years: 47.2% 327,130,324 313,029,536
55-64 years: 11.3% 77,751,100 75,737,968
65 years and over: 9.6% 62,646,075 68,102,830

Finances

In 2011, China’s GDP per Capita ran at roughly $5.6k and steadily climbed to roughly $7.6k in 2014; about 10% growth per year, but subject to fluctuations as all things are. What is important, however, is Purchasing Power Parity where $7,600 per year equates to about $13,000 in what it can actually buy. It is important to note that GDP per Capita and PPP do not necessarily reflect the actual average of household incomes (much lower), but are useful in relative terms.

China’s historically “cash is king” market is rapidly transitioning to electronic payment systems. Credit card circulation soared from roughly 25 million in 2002 to 186 million in 2009 and to over 450 million credit cards at the end of 2014.

Mobile Platforms and Proliferation

Per the World Bank, it is estimated that there are 93 mobile devices for every 100 people (up from 72 in 2011). Keep in mind that some people have multiple mobile devices and subscriptions. That equates to 1,275,000,000 mobile phones.

While over 70% of China’s mobile users have Android devices, few use Google Play, relying instead on over 200 other app stores. Thus, while the Chinese mobile app market is indeed massive, developing distribution channels is critical to achieve optimum performance.

Only two platforms are in play in China, Android (70%) and iOS (28%), with all others making up only 2%. It is important to note, however, that revenues are much greater for iOS apps than for Android.

Estimating an App’s Market Potential in China:

If you were to evaluate countries for which you would want to localize your app, China should rank pretty high on the list, especially if Mandarin is the target language. For the sake of a quick ballpark potential of app users, let’s presume we are considering a free to play game (with in-app advertising for monetization) designed to be interesting mainly to predominantly Mandarin speaking (spoken by 65+%), 15-24 year old males (106 million), factoring 90% have a mobile device, for a base population of 62 million.

Size of Prospective Market:

  • Android Market: 43.4 Million
  • iOS Market: 17.3 Million
  • Blackberry & Other: 300,000

Of course, reaching everyone in the market is another issue entirely, suffice that even selecting a fairly narrow niche the potential ROI for making your app available in Mandarin is likely greater than that of any other language. Girls are gamers, too, as are many under 15 and older than 24.

The Virtual Silk Road

China is an international player and has been in a long process of liberalizing and modernizing its market for many years. This short article could not possibly cover all of its important and very interesting impact on global trade, real or virtual. China is the largest online retail market with sales reaching over $400 billion in 2014 and estimated to reach a $1 trillion by 2019, per Forrester and TechCrunch. Factoring in purchasing power parity on a near 2 to 1 ratio, it would make sense for more developers to begin looking at China’s mobile market.

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China or India? Brazil or Mexico? The United States or the European Union? How do you determine the markets you should enter? That there are many variables to consider is an epic understatement. The points addressed here can help anyone identify their best market opportunities.  This article is the first part of a white paper being prepared to support indications that only a minority of developers engage in marketing, and even fewer do market analysis.  And yet it’s not difficult, by the time we’re finished — it will be pretty easy.

Freely available data sources are referenced wherever possible. Some data will require personal research and may not be readily available. Still, there is enough information readily available online whereby anyone can get a good rough idea of where to concentrate their efforts without knowing a lot about marketing.  

1.  Country Population

Important for future perspective and helping to understand some of the broader dynamics in play. Total country population is relevant only as it is likely to influence where you start looking to market your apps. Bigger countries = bigger markets, right? Well, maybe.

Find Country Population:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

 

2.  Average Income

It’s impossible to dismiss the importance of average income when it comes to evaluating prospective markets to target. There are several factors to consider.

The two simplest components are average income and purchasing power parity. Average income in US Dollars is typically defined by a country’s GDP divided by its population.

Purchasing power parity equates those US Dollars to what people can buy locally. A good point of reference for this is the Big Mac Index – measuring the cost of a Big Mac in different countries around the world. In Norway, a Big Mac is over $9.00, but in China might be less than $2.50. In essence, the app you are trying to sell to the North American Market for $3.00 won’t make headway in most other markets at the same price. This gets into market and price segmentation.

Some countries have a purchasing power parity significantly better than its GDP may indicate. Income influences pricing and price can dramatically influence interest in a premium app, freemium upgrades and costs of in-app currency.

There are a LOT of other factors appropriate to mention, though most of them apply to fine tuning marketing campaigns. Wealth distribution, unemployment rates, urban vs. rural population and wages, discretionary income, seasonal spending trends, etc. can all be useful points to consider.

Find GDP per capita:
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD

Find countries by Purchasing Power Parity:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

 

3.  Mobile User Population

Finding the approximate number of devices and mobile subscriptions by country is relatively easy. It is essential to factor in the number of people who have multiple devices and mobile subscriptions. In the United States, it might sound like everyone has a mobile device. More accurately, the average US mobile user has more than 1.5 devices – reducing the eligible market to about 238 million people. Determining unique users is more difficult and in the absence of research results may require you to make an estimation.

Find number of mobile devices by country:
http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.CEL.SETS.P2

Also consider:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use

4. Language

Many countries have more than one common language. Overall usage levels require research to determine the extent of overlap. Within our global environment, many languages carry weight far beyond national borders. Ignoring immigrant and diaspora communities dismisses some key language-specific revenue sources, frequently wealthier than their native communities.

If you develop and localize an app for a specific language, it makes sense to examine all of the countries in which the language is spoken. Additional localization components may be necessary.

Most Spoken Languages:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_widely_spoken_languages_(by_number_of_countries)

Languages by Country:  
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0855611.html

5.  Age and Gender Demographics

Playing a major role in breaking out likely users, age and gender both have an impact on app usage tendencies. Age (income and wealth distribution) tends to have the strongest impact on overall credit card holding rates.

We are talking in terms of averages here – broad classifications to which there will always be exceptions. The two oldest age groups (55-64 and 65+) can mostly be factored out of calculations, or given reduced weight in calculations.  Likewise, the youngest age group (0-14) will not have credits cards and only developed markets will have any appreciable number of credit card holders in the 18 – 24 age range.

Demographics by Age & Gender (and a lot more):  
http://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/countries

4. Credit Card Penetration and Alternative Payment Methods:

Outside of developed markets, credit card usage can vary widely and the same applies to the ever expanding field of alternative payment systems. If you have a paid or freemium app, or one that allows the purchase of in-app currency, you need to have payment systems that match those available to your end users – customers.

Credit cards are the standard for most developed countries, typically working in conjunction with services like Paypal. Mobile phone payments like M-PESA in Kenya are showing signs of real growth, but frequently require an in-country presence for a business to establish an account. The proportion of people within a country having access to these payment systems requires research and that data is not always readily available.

Initiatives by Visa and MasterCard can be expected to substantially increase Africa’s market share in the years ahead. Developer-level partnerships can also pave the way for more effectively accessing developing markets, too. For example, if you or a trusted partner has an account able to accept mobile phone payments within a country can make a world of difference in your marketing strategy and app’s profitability.

One source of useful credit card information can be found on the Visa site:
Credit Card Market: Economic Benefits and Industry Trends by Scott Schmith

7.  Mobile Platforms

With all of the above factored, you are getting closer in defining your app’s target market. Your next step is to determine what portion of the market is using the combination of platforms and devices compatible with your app, i.e. Android, iOS, Nokia, Java or HTML5, and the like.

Awesome Resource for PC and Mobile Statistics:
http://gs.statcounter.com/

8. Interest by App Category

Enough data is available to indicate that users of specific devices have preferences for specific types of apps – education and learning vs. travel or utility vs. gaming. Just within the games category, there are all kinds of genres, from strategy to puzzle, shooters and adventure.

There’s no single source of data for this kind of information. Different networks have their own statistics and what might be said for Apple devices tends to be quite different for Android.  

These factors, 3 – 8, are primary factors in determining the overall number of people within a given market or country who might be interested in your app.  This provides you the upper ceiling  for your app.  

Concluding Notes:

No two campaigns are exactly alike.    What you are able to establish through collecting the information in this article will go a long way toward establishing your total market.   Reaching your market — well, that’s another story and will be treated in the second installment. Feel like experimenting? You can add your app to the Opera Mobile Store or begin your own advertising campaign in minutes.

Many, many more factors go into setting up a proper marketing campaign.  Some campaigns seek to saturate the market; others aim to pick up maximum customers with a very limited ad spend.  And there’s everything in between.

Of interest is your ability to better compete with the bigger players — development companies that do have a dedicated marketing team.

 



 
If you found this article useful, you might also be interested in:

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Opera Mobile Store has a Do-It-Yourself Advertising Campaign Manager to help you get a boost for your last minute holiday advertising. This is good for developers who already have their apps on Opera Mobile Store.

You don’t have your app on Opera Mobile Store? Take the time now to do so. There’s still some time before the holiday to get your app registered and to start your own campaigns. Lots of people will be getting new smart phones, tables and other electronic goodies and will be looking to add apps for them during and after the holidays!

Advertising with Opera Mobile Store enables you to reach mobile users that you are not likely to reach otherwise. The vast majority of our customers use the Opera Mini browser and have Opera Mobile Store on their speed dial. Opera is attractive for customers in many countries because our browser compresses data to help save on bandwidth and data usage fees with carriers. Registration of your apps on Opera Mobile Store is also free, unlike on Google Play or the App Store.

Starting a Do-It-Yourself Campaign Manager requires an initial deposit of at least $250, that you can add directly via PayPal or your Credit Card.

 

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It would be an understatement to say that the Nokia X series did not go as planned. Released in February 2014, the series was cancelled in July of the same year following Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia. While total sales figures for the Nokia X series are not available, it is known that at least 16 million devices were shipped in 2014.  An estimated 10 million were sold during pre-order, theoretically including up to 4 million in China.

While the intention here is to focus on Nokia X, much of what can be said applies equally (or even more) to all Nokia/Symbian devices.  While not the largest app market, it is large – and tackled properly, even Nokia X can represent an “economy of scale.”  There are many different marketing strategies, but let us boil them down to two basic ones:

  1. Follow the crowd – compete for a small piece of a big pie.
  2. Avoid the crowd – compete for a large piece of a small pie.

The Nokia X and Symbian markets are examples of that second strategy. Many developers have dismissed the entire Nokia X and Symbian markets because they are smaller than the huge Android market. That is actually good news for mobile app developers able to see the marketplace in strategic terms and who are more opportunistic in their development efforts.

The Pros of the Nokia X and Symbian markets outweigh the Cons, quite substantially.

There are two primary downsides to the Nokia X and Symbian markets. First, it is a smaller market. Second, it is somewhat more difficult to monetize. We will come back to that second point shortly.

The following points can all be construed as favorable and beneficial for Nokia/Symbian developers:

  • Opera Mobile Store is the default app store for almost ALL Nokia devices
  • Fewer Nokia/Symbian apps to compete against compared to Android and iOS markets
  • Lower advertising costs relative to Android and iOS markets
  • Develop and Test for fewer total devices
  • About 70-75% of Android apps are compatible with Nokia X
  • Easier to develop customer loyalty if you have multiple apps
  • Potential to retain customers when they upgrade from their Nokia devices
  • Developing markets are typically growing faster than developed markets
  • No cost to register your apps on Opera Mobile Store

I don’t have present figures, but a total of about 120,000 apps were developed for Symbian – with 1.6 million apps designed for Android and another 1.5 million for iOS. Of those 120,000 Symbian apps, many are no longer in circulation and many others are not being actively updated or upgraded.

The point here is that competition in the Android and iOS markets is intense and you are competing against some of the largest developers in the industry.  That’s not your only option – and not necessarily your smartest option.

Nokia X was an effort to make an affordable full-feature smartphone for people living mainly in developing markets. That directly implies that most are not likely to have credit cards, Paypal accounts, or a lot of discretionary spending money. So, yes – it is more difficult to monetize apps with this target market.

I’ve heard it said that people in developing markets don’t buy anything… That is absolutely NOT true, as for starters they purchased a $100 smartphone. It may be more accurate to say, that at least in the past, many could not make online purchases owing to the paywall. Payments via mobile carrier have and will continue to offset this obstacle.

Super-Users

It is fairly consistent throughout the mobile app market that the vast majority of app revenues (aside from in-app advertising) are derived from a small minority of users. This follows the Pareto Principle quite closely wherein the “convention” is that 80% of the market sticks to free to play; but 20% are likely to buy something (that 80% of revenues come from 20% of your end-users).

The super-user segment focuses on the top 20% of that top 20% – essentially, your top 4-5% of paying end-users will likely be responsible for 65% of your in-app store/upgrade revenues. When you have a large base of end-users, you may also see that there’s a sub-1% user group responsible for nearly half of your revenues.

Free to Play and In-App Advertising

Most app developers are still generating some portion of their revenues from in-app advertising on a free to play basis. That strategy is well-suited to Nokia X/Symbian market and vastly simplifies your marketing effort.

For starters, you need only have your app on Opera Mobile Store to be accessible to the vast majority of active Nokia X/Symbian users. Registering on Opera Mobile Store is free, unlike Google Play or the App Store. The greatest results, as one might suspect is getting your app into the Top Section – easier than you may think.

Lifetime of Customer and Cost of Acquisition

It should be remembered that the Nokia X line was introduced as an entry-level device, with the long-term interest of Nokia X users upgrading to Lumia devices. For developing countries, the lifespan of a device can run from 6 to 10 years – from what we’ve observed historically. Sooner or later, mobile users will upgrade their smartphones – probably to Android or iOS. A bit of strategic planning and development can help you retain your Nokia/Symbian customers when they do go to upgrade.

A little bit of trivia may get you to thinking about the benefits of long-term planning – In the 1970’s, average wages in Singapore were around $600 per year; today – average wages run nearly $62,000 considering purchasing power parity. Median wage in the United States is about $51,000, in comparison. Perhaps the easiest way to big-time success comes from being the first to get established in a market where no one else or few are competing.

Contact our Business Developers to see how easily you can get your Nokia X and Symbian apps into the Top Apps on Opera Mobile Store.

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Knowing how to make a proper introduction can go a long way to helping you get properly introduced, too. You can always introduce yourself to others, but there are occasions where it is desirable for someone else to make the introduction for you.  The functional axiom is that what others have to say about you is more important and usually carries more weight than anything you could say about yourself.

A proper introduction helps to establish trust and rapport between the parties involved.  It makes starting a discussion exponentially easier than a cold call – particularly with established veterans and professionals in an industry.  Introductions help to expedite discussions toward more productive ends.

Proper introductions are valuable for anyone, which is to say – they may be beneficial to mobile app developers, too.  They apply directly to helping you get in front of people who can satisfy a specific need or business objective:

  • Specialized mentoring from a successful professional.
  • Helping get a key member for your start-up team.
  • Getting a friendly starting point with a potential sponsor, investor or strategic partner.
  • Arranging discounts or special terms on products or services that you need or offer.
  • Virtually any type of business deal or arrangement.

A Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine

Introductions have historically carried a great deal of weight.  Some organizations, most notably fraternal orders like the Masons, developed their own protocols to make it easier for their members to “vet” one another.  Trust is a big part of any business relationship, but it usually takes time to build, sometimes too long.  Who are you going to trust more – someone you’ve known for twenty years or someone you just met?  Following that logic, are you likely to trust someone referred to you by a friend of twenty years more than someone who just emailed you a business proposition?

Vetting is a natural, normal and sane approach to business.  Today there is some friction between that which is known as the “Good Ole Boy Network” and “Transparency” – suffice that even where transparency is required in business, there is also a vetting process involved to make sure those applying for a contract (as an example) have the capabilities of fulfilling it.

You are responsible for the introductions that you make – they are representative of your reputation and judgement.  Introducing someone who turns out to be a problem for the person they were introduced to will likely hold that you in association with that problem, too.  Leastwise, you always want to strive to make favorable introductions – based on honest evaluations of how favorable the interests of those being introduced are met.

The Introduction Itself

Easy enough to do, a proper introduction includes:

  • A Personalized Opening.
  • Who – The person’s name, their company and position.
  • Where – Where they actually live or do business, and web site.
  • What – What they need, offer or their objective.
  • Why/How – The reason/s why both parties should talk.
  • When – Usually relating to the term of the relationship with the person making the introduction but would include any associated time-sensitive components.
  • A Qualified Closing

Here’s a basic example of an introduction that you might send via email:

Hello Jake,

It’s been a while since we last talked but I remember your business keeps an eye out for promising mobile apps. In this regard, I would like to introduce you to John Smith from Copenhagen, who is the founder of myuniqueapp.dot.com.

John is interested in possibilities for joint marketing opportunities and strategic partnerships. We’ve been talking about the things he is able to offer for about three months. It looks to me like it would be good for the two of you to talk. He will be attending the conference in London in December, so he could meet with you personally.

We’ve known each other for a few years, and as you know I do my best to send qualified opportunities your way.  I think John has something for you to consider – and with that, I will leave the floor to him.

Best of luck to both of you,

 

The format can be customized as the situation dictates, suffice that it provides everything to get discussions rolling on a productive basis.

There’s quite a bit more to cover regarding introductions – which I will do next week.  Perhaps an unusual topic as relates to mobile app development, it should not be.   Making business deals is not something most would call easy – and is probably even harder for most app developers.

The process of introducing and getting introduced is itself a “strategic initiative” that the vast majority of businesses ignore – quite often to their detriment.   Most organizations are suffering from an excessive reliance upon “tech” and not enough involvement with the “human” side of the equation.

As with everything, there are processes to follow – and we will get to them.

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It may be a bit of an exaggeration, but in principle – yes, there is “free money” out there for those enterprising enough to find it and go after it. Enter the world of grants where governments, large corporations and sometimes universities, non-government organizations and private foundations provide money to do… something. Grants do not require repayment. For our purposes, we can also include “requests for tender” which are invitations for proposals.

The following are just a (very) few examples reflecting the variety of organizations issuing grants, what they are for, and grant sizes.

 

Are Grants Like a Lottery Ticket?

Before going further, I want to qualify that this is not “easy money” and it is not particularly “fast” either. Considerable research and paperwork is involved coupled with a sometimes lengthy evaluation process. It can take from 6 months to 2 years or longer to receive any funds – all variable per project and issuing organization.

On the other hand, grant money is money that is already budgeted. It is there and someone will get it. The number of people or organizations applying for grant money tends to be a small, but very competitive field. Quite simply, most grants are not widely advertised, few know about them, fewer still apply for them.

Grants are like a lottery ticket, except for two things. You can’t buy the ticket – instead you do the research, the paperwork and complete the application process which is specific to each grant. While you are not guaranteed to win a grant, the more familiar you become with the grant process the greater your chances of winning future grants. That comes through research, talking with other grant writers, being better prepared with the information needed for the next grant application, as well as developing relationships with grant-issuing organizations.

Grants are worth pursuing if you are:

  • a small-medium-sized business open to additional projects and revenue-generating opportunities
  • an organization actively engaging the “greater good” (i.e. civil society).
  • a developer focusing mainly on utility-based apps
  • an entrepreneur with good project management and team building skills
  • good with research and documentation and willing to network your skills with organizations interested in applying for grants

Grant Writing is a Job and Business Opportunity

The last of these deserves extra comment. Many businesses are involved directly or indirectly with the kinds of research, development, technology and other interests usually associated with grants – but are not involved in pursuing grants. Some of them would be if they knew about them and had someone able to pursue them (do the research to find them, coordinate the grant paperwork, go through the application process, etc.).

That could be a job for “someone” – potentially a small business unto itself. Essentially, those interested in this pursuit would first get tied into all of the different grant opportunities and look for other “aligned” businesses, developers or other business arrangements such as special purpose vehicles (SPV’s).

Where to Find Mobile App Grant Opportunities

First, this will often depend upon where you live (country/geographical region). Second, “following the money” will likely lead you to government agencies, large corporations, banks and universities – specific to your country. Additionally, you will want to keep an eye on international aid programs like USAIDEBRD (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development), the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Project, various agencies of the United Nations, and all manner of Start-Up Accelerators and Incubators.

A more proactive approach would involve setting up a Google Alert or an “If This Then That” recipe to keep you notified of new grant opportunities as they are announced.

Requests for tender deserve mention in conjunction with grants in that they provide money for you to develop something much more specific.  This puts you in the business of being a subcontractor.  The big difference is that you will not hold the rights to the end product.

While most grants are for utility-based apps, there are occasionally grants awarded for games – especially with an educational bent.

Winning your first grant or bid will be your greatest challenge, but once you do – future applications will be easier not only for your familiarity with the process but for also having something to show. It probably won’t be easy.  Completing your first grant application might involve several days of effort.  After a couple, you can have all the work done in 1-2 days.  Then it is just a matter of waiting to see if you win or not – and not giving up on applying to future grants.

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GritsYou have the potential to find an income in the world of mobile apps without being a mobile app developer.   There’s that old saying from West Virginia, “If we had some ham, we could have ham and eggs… if we had some eggs.”  What I am here to say is that you, too, can have ham and eggs even if you don’t have ham and eggs.  If you don’t like ham, switch it with grits…. grits and eggs.

Gee… thanks.

Okay, well, let’s put it a different way.  The difference between being self-employed and unemployed is that one of the two is waiting for someone else to provide them an opportunity (for an income).  A self-employed person will frequently pay out of their own pocket to find (or create) the same opportunities.

Fundamentally, it comes down to a lot of people perceiving they cannot generate an income because they don’t have something to market (or an audience in that market).  That something could be a product, but it could also be “any” job skill.  There are, of course, situations where the world is stacked against you or even an entire geographical region.  Even then, there are possibilities – provided we have the willingness and determination to seek them out.

But let’s skip the philosophy for now and jump into some distinct possibilities where you can find an income from mobile apps without being a mobile app developer.

Are you fluent in two or more languages? If so, you might examine freelance or even professional work for the “localization” of mobile apps. Many apps are released in a single or limited range of languages. Localization makes it easier for an app to engage users who speak different languages.

Being a localization agent works best for two types of markets. The first market concerns economy of scale as relates to language demographics coupled with mobile platform (Android, iOS, Java, etc.) penetration. The second concerns helping to open up new markets.

Localization will involve text, graphics with text, and possibly changes in an app’s graphics for greater cultural relevancy. The greatest technical hurdle is going to involve how any in-app purchases are handled. Localization can also be tied into additional local marketing services. This has the potential to be a full-time job or small business with a low (sub-$1k) to no upfront investment, other than your time.

The Local App Expert – If you are a good writer and can talk in front of an audience, being an “app expert” could be made into a part-time job. This presumes you know your way around a wide range of apps – games, utilities, the different app stores to include Opera Mobile Store and some basic troubleshooting skills.

The “conventional” approach these days is to set up a blog and a YouTube channel and eventually grow a following. The real benefits, however, involve going “old-school” and expanding into newspaper, magazines and journals, radio, possibly television, but with a heavy focus on lectures and speaking events.

Organizations – businesses, non-profit organizations, social clubs, retirement communities, etc., frequently host events. Often times, they like to bring in guest speakers for a topic and are even open to topic suggestions.

Add-on ideas include developing a niche specialization, becoming an expert on local e-governance components, and making arrangements with app developers to promote their apps during your events. While there is minimal financial investment required, it can take up to three years from a standing start to see some income. A creative, aggressive approach focusing on speaking engagements can help expedite revenue flow substantially.

The Niche App Expert has comprehensive knowledge on utility-based apps for a specific purpose. This is a lot like the local app expert, but here you are likely going to be focused on a specific industry or career field – but it could be international.

The venues you would be looking to get into would involve both online and offline magazines and journals, industry-specific membership web sites and podcasts, conferences, trade shows, exhibitions, possibly colleges and universities. Your theme is likely to be something about “apps to make your job easier.” With proper knowledge and positioning, you could expand into providing consulting and possibly training services.

There is quite likely to be a higher financial commitment to this approach as it may involve acquiring premium apps, keeping up with new devices, and subscriptions/admission fees for industry journals and events. You can try to get into events for free by requesting a journalist pass. Sometimes, trade mags provide free subscriptions to industry specialists as they may be making their money on advertising.

The Patron, The Investor and The Business Maker

My post on LinkedIn goes into more depth and additional options suffice that everyone has the potential to put “something” on the table (figuratively speaking). This is likely to translate to money, knowledge, resources, networking, or time. You have something to invest – and it is up to you how much you will invest and where.

The mobile app market is very interesting but largely not very different from any other market. Over 90% of mobile apps are distributed for free and that roughly 70% of developers are struggling to break even. That would imply it is a “different market” – but it parallels the same market dynamic faced by starving artists for over a thousand years.

Relative to the logistics and distribution involved in almost any brick-n-mortar business, the dynamics of mobile app development are exponentially easier and with near-zero cost.

The PROBLEM is that there is not a lot of handshaking going on between mobile app developers and old school business development, quality assurance, marketing and distribution. Of course, the big mobile app developers are not having a problem because they can afford to hire people with this experience (not that they always do).

The BENEFIT to resolving this problem stands in the risk to low investment ratio and return on investment potential for someone to help solve “one promising developer’s problems” in monetizing their app.

The process to doing that is getting people with business experience talking with mobile app developers and programmers. Mobile app developers… develop – they don’t really want to know more about marketing or business development. However, they can implement or integrate a significant amount of those marketing and business development components into their app code.

We all see “the problem in front of us” in a different way. That’s completely natural. How successful we are in solving the problem comes down to a combination of will and skills. What’s likely to perform better – one highly motivated person with one or two skill sets or a team of highly motivated people with all of the required skill sets? Good teams almost always win.

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Several inquiries over the past few weeks have come from non-developers with ideas for mobile apps. Half of the questions concerned how to go about creating an app, while the other half focused on finding funding or sponsors for the their app idea.  Some attention has been given to this, but it can be expanded upon.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Vetting your idea can save you a lot of time, energy and money. I recently was at a conference where a “senior investor” was bragging about having started something like 70 businesses, of which more than 60 were “disasters.” It was painful – listening to him that is, as it is highly indicative that he spent little or no time vetting his start-up ideas.

Going into mobile app development without being or having a mobile app developer is an uphill battle. It can be won, but that will come through a focused, persistent effort for a good product backed by a good business and marketing plan. It’s one thing to make an app; it is another to make a profit on it. Understand that 90+% of apps are distributed for free and roughly 70% of mobile app developers are not breaking even.

But you do have one advantage.  If you are not an app developer you won’t get caught up in making an app just because you can – and then trying to monetize it in a very competitive market.  While a developer can make an app for free, all of the time invested in making it and then trying to monetize it is an expense.  Instead, your time can be devoted to evaluating whether you can monetize your idea for an app.

Research is critical.

There are millions of apps; odds are pretty good that there is already an app similar to what you have in mind. There may not be, though. Even if there is something closely resembling your idea, there could still be room to compete.

You want to make informed decisions, either way. Fortunately, initial research is pretty easy – consisting mostly of keyword searches on search engines and app stores. Simply use the words that would define what the app does as your keywords. If you intend for your app to be specific to a specific geographical region, you can add it (i.e. India, Maharashtra, Mumbai).

Example: If you wanted to create an app that will connect you with fire department, ambulance, police department, etc. via one button, you could use keywords like:

*  ambulance app

*  ambulance app Mumbai

*  emergency service app

*  emergency speed dial app

Your First Decision Point

This early research should bring you to your first decision point – to proceed or not?  No one else can really answer that for you – it depends upon your degree of interest, how much you can and are willing to invest, what the competition looks like and what you think the monetization potential could be.

Leastwise, having spent some time examining what already exists you should be able to reach one of the following decisions:

  1. No – there are already lots of apps out there that do mostly what I had in mind, or
  2. Yes – my idea looks better than anything else that I’ve seen and it warrants further examination.

Don’t be disappointed if you decide not to pursue your idea, you’ve avoided a bad investment of your time and resources.  This does not preclude you from trying to evolve your idea, or since you’ve started looking at the wide world of mobile app development — perhaps exploring other ideas!

Feature Lists

While you are doing the searches, keep track of the URL and app names of anything that comes close to what you have in mind. You will likely want to download and try using those apps, or at least make a list of their features to compare (or add) to yours.

This is not to say that your app needs to include everything that other apps do, just to provide you a broader perspective on what you could do.

It is also worthwhile to evaluate the effort other developers put into creating their app. This type of information might be found on their company web site, possibly news stories or press releases concerning fundraising, talking with mobile developers or even raising questions on public forums (Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, etc.). This can yield information like the company having received grant, investment money or is receiving specialized assistance, that it involves complex code or needs to connect with third party systems/software, has special security issues, and so forth.

Try to get an idea for:

  • how many developers worked on the app?
  • how long did it take them to create the app?
  • how is their app performing (# of downloads)?
  • are they getting good end-user reviews?
  • does it appear that the app is profitable for them?

Exact information is not really needed here. A rough approximation is useful for having something to compare against.  Knowing their app required only one developer three months to create or required a large team six months, will help you gauge the resources you will need to produce your app.

One emergency service app, for example, raised over $60k via a Kickstarter campaign plus $500k in contests in conjunction with students from MIT and Harvard – two prestigious universities.   That’s an indication that what may seem like a simple idea is really quite complex.  Their app would need to include GPS data, automatically acquire local emergency numbers, handshake with every telco and mobile operator to place calls even when the user has a “zero balance” on their account, etc.

Avoid the Mom Test

It is essential to ask questions and listen to the answers, preferably from people able to provide an objective and informed answer.  That means avoiding asking your friends and family…

“Mom, is this a great idea for an app or what?”

“Oh, absolutely Dear, that’s the best app idea ever!”

Functionally, the more critical the answers are, the greater their value. You don’t need people to tell you that your idea is great. You like it enough to question whether it is worth pursuing. You need someone to play devil’s advocate – why it is not great. That provides you the opportunity to make your idea even better and more competitive.

All of this barely scratches the surface.  If you would like more, take a look at Part One and Part Two of “Non-Developers with Ideas for Apps” to add some additional perspective.  Then, feel free to explore the rest of the Developer’s Guide as there is a lot of information useful not just for developers, but in almost any business (variable by article and subject matter, of course).   The next few articles will also be devoted to how non-developers can get into the mobile app market one way or the other.

 

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Need another great, potentially free, way to promote your apps? Challenge your players to compete for prizes and bragging rights. We’ll take a look at some of the benefits, options and possibilities that you can explore to help you get the greatest benefit from engaging your players with contests.

First, competitions can be announced any time as special events, or on an ongoing monthly or seasonal basis. They mainly require some creativity coupled with time and effort to promote. Where possible, keep the theme and rewards central to the nature of your app. It’s appropriate to try planning a month ahead of time and having everything set up at least two weeks before the competition is announced. Plan on at least a week’s worth of promoting the event – getting announcements out to web sites, posted on social networking channels, perhaps even updating your app’s description on app stores.

Types of Competitions

The type of competition should be centered around the kind of app you have and the elements of it that can be easily measured – whether in a video, screenshot or through your own in-app tracking. This might be associated with doing something the fastest, getting the highest score, being the first to reach a certain level or unlock.

However, competitions do not need to be performance-based. Coolest screenshots, puzzles based on in-game content, Easter Egg hunts, most interesting build or load-out, funniest captions, even fan fiction, can all serve as a cool event to promote your apps and games.

Real vs. Virtual Rewards

Real prizes like free mobile devices or cash are great. Most developers, however, tend to be short on cash, so first we will take a look at Virtual and Vanity Item rewards. After that, we’ll return to more tangible prizes.

One only needs to consider that Blizzard generated $2.1 million in sales of its Celestial Steed mount in 2010 to realize that virtual vanity items have “real value.” Value has always been subjective, and it’s become even more abstract in the digital age.

Virtual rewards can include anything that equates to a “quality of life” improvement for the player – being able to run faster, have a faster mount, extra storage, be able to summon bankers or vendors, have extra crafting professions, swap builds for free, in-game or in-app store discounts, account upgrades, a free month of premium game time, etc. They can include performance enhancing prizes – better gear, vehicle upgrades, stat boosts. Rewards could just as easily be a new “skin”, a rare pet or mount, unique items or titles.

The benefits of virtual rewards are that, aside from your development time, they are free – can be given away as many times as you like. The main concerns with these rewards are maintaining balance in the game and its economy. That said, you can easily establish multiple tiers of rewards so that everyone who participates gets something, while the “best” and perhaps “wild card” winners get something better.

Real rewards, in the sense of something more tangible, do not necessarily require a large budget. Here, again, you have many options available to you. You can offer rewards out of your own pocket or budget, or you can coordinate with another app developer or business to sponsor your competition.

Offering real rewards will usually require you to observe local laws regarding contests, and it may be necessary to limit eligibility on a regional and/or age basis.

Taking money out of your own budget is the “easiest” approach. It is not necessarily the best approach, but in certain cases could be a good option to consider. Cash prizes are offered by some games and most tournaments. Instead of cash prizes, you could offer digital devices, t-shirts and other “paraphernalia” (via sites like Café Press), gift certificates, or other mobile app or software products. This lets you shop around with whatever budget you may have.

But, you don’t necessarily have to foot the bill yourself. You have the option to approach other businesses to sponsor your event, too! This approach sets up the potential that they may help promote your event – wherein your event offers prizes that promote them. Win-Win. Make sure to give your sponsors like this a nice write up in conjunction alongside your promotion of the event.

Say you have a F2P “Racing” app, good but not top of the line. You could approach the developer of a premium “Racing” app offering to promote it in exchange for one or more free copies to offer as prizes. All the way around, this would be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

In some cases, you may be able to arrange an extra commission with the developer of the premium app for any purchases and downloads you are able to generate for them. This is heavily dependent upon their tracking mechanisms and would be easier if you are able to provide coupon/discount codes.

Functionally, your prizes could be just about anything – virtual items or currency, unlocks, an account upgrade, a slot on your beta test team, cash, tangible products or simply bragging rights.  The greater the perceived “relative value” – the more compelling the competition is likely to be.

Promoting Fan Contests

You have the capacity to enable others to announce competitions on your behalf!

This is a great way to gain “evangelists” in promoting your app. Remember, there are two types of “super users” – those who help monetize it for you by using your app and purchasing in-app products, and those who help promote your app. Both are important, suffice that your “evangelists” are the ones who are best able to help you attract paying customers. There are even game sites that cater to announcing game competitions – and you don’t need to be the latest and greatest app to get a mention.

Offer your “evangelists” incentives for their own game play and prizes they can distribute to their audience.  The easier you make it for your closest followers and greatest fans to promote you – the more likely they are to do so.  The more you promote them – the more likely they are to run events.  And, the more you are able to help them monetize those events or expand their own audience encourages them all the more.

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In the old days, back when people watched television and had to sit through countless laundry commercials on the horrors of static cling and “ring around the collar”… 

Well?

Well, that’s the point. Back then, there were television commercials to promote all manner of products. The more visibility the product got, for the most part, the better it sold in the stores.

But that was then and this is now. Or is it? No. Times may change, but most things remain the same. The more visibility you get for your product, the better it will perform. The one BIG difference is that back then, producing and running television commercials involved a good chunk of change – a chunk of change that most app developers do not have… and should not be spending on television commercials.

App Developer and Famous Movie Producers?

Today, we have all manner of cheap cams, free video editing and screen capture software, and sites to place them on, like YouTube. There’s even free special effects with the likes of Looksery and voice modification.

I’ve even been able to produce a few amateur test videos, and while not bad, nothing worth showing off – but with free resources and a nominal investment in time. That is to say that anyone seriously interested in producing a video could have something nice for show with a few weeks of effort. Or, you may already have friends able to assist you – no expensive, professional video shoot or studio required.

That is to say with virtually no money you can produce a video and get it distributed “for free” to anyone and everyone willing to show it. Odds are that this will not generate a lot of traffic or downloads for your app, but it could. Under a completely free, bootstrapped scenario, it will be a matter of a focused effort or the chance it goes viral – but fundamentally, you will be relying upon someone with viral capacity to make that happen.

Providing Content for Content Players/Providers

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of players have channels on YouTube where they feature reviews, walkthroughs, tutorials, explain game mechanics, feature game play, show-off different “builds”, so on and so forth. Some of these players have thousands of channel subscribers; some of their videos have hundreds of thousands of likes. Nothing precludes you from contacting these video-savvy players to give your app a review or some playtime – if you are confident that your app has merit.

This approach can be taken several steps further to include hiring a player to play and produce videos. That would not be too different from how things used to be. Being open about the video being a paid production or that the player is being paid to show the game play is important for transparency. Reviews should be impartial, and usually are if they are free, but paid reviews must carry a disclaimer.

Featuring Celebrities?

While anyone could produce a video, obviously high-profile gamers, game reviewers, or even “celebrities” will prove more effective.  Most major brand names have been doing exactly this in one form or another for as long as anyone can remember. Point is that anyone who endorses your product, even on a paid basis, most likely considers your product worthy enough to not be detrimental to their reputation and future earnings potential. It’s about as simple as that. Endorsements carry a lot of weight.

For as much interest as there is in games, there is as much interest in “What is the Best …. ?” and “What are the Top 10 …. ?” There are countless versions of these types of videos spanning most game genres on YouTube and other video hosting services.  People listen to what others recommend:

In short, that’s lots of extra free advertising to boost your apps – going from a very broad perspective to very niche specific – sometimes on a monthly basis.

Stay Tuned for More…

Coupled with this is the additional need to promote your videos via your web site, in-app messaging, emails and newsletters. Videos presenting new features, demonstrating interesting or complex game mechanics, superior plays and “funny stuff” is a great way to get inactive or infrequent players to come back and play your game some more.

 

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A target market, simply enough, is the group of people you focus on reaching with your app, product or service because you believe they are the most likely to pay for it or use it. Your target market is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Some clarifications and notes are appropriate as many businesses really have a hard time defining a “viable target market” – in relation to a good Product/Market Fit.

This infers an audience of end-users that:

  1. Will like and pay for (or use) what you offer (Product Focus)
  2. You can reach AND has an interest in what you offer (Market Focus)
  3. Is large enough to be profitable for you (Business Model Focus)

Note that many developers relying upon in-app advertising for their revenue only need people to use their product, not necessarily pay for it.

Most companies heavily focus on only one of these points, A or B or C. Profitable and successful companies do their best to address all three A, B and C. Note that while this is written mainly for mobile app developers, it also applies to almost all small businesses, too.

Product Focus

Most developers, most companies, focus heavily on product – constantly striving to improve their product, always trying to improve their product’s fit to the market. Product Focus is heavy on tech focusing on improving Features, Interface, Price, and other items intrinsic to “The Product.”

Product Focus naturally comes first – it is The Idea and The Solution to a Problem that prompts starting a business in the first place. It is, equally, a natural result of looking at what someone else has done and thinking you can make it better, faster, or cheaper. Improving your product makes it more competitive, more attractive, more likely to compel people who see it to buy it or use it.

The benefit of this focus is to improve conversion rates in your target market.

This is all good, but it could be better by having a larger target market.

Most new businesses do not fail for technical reasons, but for other issues ranging from lack of preparation, funding, marketing, lack of revenue diversification and management.

Market Focus

Generally speaking, a poor product with great marketing will perform far, far better than a great product with poor marketing. That is why we are surrounded by fast food chains. There might be some argument there, but it is an analogy that will keep me out of too much trouble.

Good marketing engages to reach either the largest possible OR the most profitable pool of consumers while remaining true to its product.  There is a lot to marketing, suffice that it comes down to maximizing either your Quantity or Quality – in both product and customer base.

  • A million non-paying customers is on par with a million dollar product with no buyer.
  • A million people paying $1 is on par with one person willing to pay $1 million.

Remaining true to the product is the common denominator.  This is where your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) comes into play. While your USP could be product-specific, it affords you the potential to differentiate yourself beyond your product.

  • Better Tech Support
  • Better Customer Service
  • Better Engagement with Customers
  • Unique Market Presence
  • Language Localization capabilities
  • VIP or Industry associations

As long as you have a functioning product and intend to continue improving your product, then the people who could use it become the center of attention. 

Let’s take the case of a utility app for accountants. It’s designed for accountants. That might be your core target market. Or not. Who else does accounting? Small business owners? Tax advisors? Moms with households on a budget?

Leastwise, if you are able to produce very sophisticated accounting apps, odds are darned good you can make simplified, watered-down accounting apps that every day mothers could use, too.  Marketing, at least, can help define areas of opportunity that could fit the product.

Target market is important, it is the cornerstone of your business – but defining it too narrowly will, in most cases, reduce your revenue potential unnecessarily.  Again, in most cases, if you are in business you are looking to create opportunities, not eliminate them.

There are exceptions to that rule – and they usually pertain to premium and prestigious products and brands where the minimum customer commitment is outside the average (think Golf Club Memberships and having a representative from Goldman Sachs as your personal investment advisor).

That level of premium placement is not typical for most small businesses – even if they might like to be there, the odds of starting there are slim to none.   It is almost always necessary to build up to that.

Business Model Focus

This is where the REAL fun is – as it concerns You and Your Company encompassing your Products, Marketing, Networking and Making Deals. Here is where you are able to turn what you have into far more.

Revenue models are one component involved here – free (with in app advertising), freemium with upgrades or in-app store, premium, subscription sales, subscription-based distribution programs, package bundling, content partnering and more.

Which is best for you? Well, that takes some research to determine. Many online companies have switched from subscription models to free-to-play models with in-game store options. We are also seeing companies going from free-to-play back to subscription models, too.

A focus on business models could you lead to look at any one of the following possibilities to help build your business and maximize your revenue, too:

As a special recommendation, see Ash Maurya’s “10 steps to Product/Market Fit” (on Slideshare.net). 

 

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The Black Sea SummIT underscored that it would be a good idea to provide some tips for your next public presentation. These points would apply to expos, conferences, or simply delivering presentations about your company – whether in a B2B, investor or public format. Whether you are an app developer or pretty much in any business, the same factors apply.

Most conferences, trade fairs and expos 1) rent vendor/exhibit space, 2) openly accept guest speakers, and 3) offer great opportunities for meeting others in the industry, networking and making deals. It is always worth attending local events relevant to your trade. Costs of admission, travel, lodging and the time involved warrant prioritizing any non-local events you attend. This warrants doing some research in advance on which events best match your interests and desired opportunities. It also mandates a budget and establishing goals that will contribute to some kind of return on your investment.

The focus here is on three things to help you get the most out of your next conference.

One – Research Event Participants

Knowing who will be participating at an event provides an open door to business opportunities. They are looking for opportunities, too. If they weren’t, they probably would not be attending. Make a list of participants and try to define what you have to offer them along with what they may have to offer you.

  1. List the people and companies you want to meet.
  2. Define what you can offer them or what they can offer you.
  3. Where possible, make advanced arrangements to meet with those on your list.
  4. Seek out everyone else at the conference to set up a convenient meeting.

Depending upon your business, product or service line, possibilities exist for negotiating special terms for advertising, distribution, cross-promotions, software trials, training, perhaps sharing of market data. There could also be opportunities to initiate agreements with mobile device manufacturers to ship with your app pre-installed. In some cases, there may be opportunities to form joint ventures or special purpose vehicles to enter new markets.

Knowing who will be there and having desired outcomes for each will transform the event into a high intensity engagement where really big deals are possible.

Two – Preparing Presentations

The difference between a good presentation and a bad one comes down to three fairly simple factors.

  1. Have an Awesome Elevator Pitch. You are competing with lots of other companies to grab people’s attention and memory. Your product or service is not “important” to them – the REASON why they would want your product or service IS very important to them. Aim for one sentence that succinctly defines what you do and why they need it.
  2. Ability for the audience to “See what you show” – If you plan on delivering a PowerPoint Presentation – Simplify and use BIG Text so people can read it 200 feet away. If necessary, provide free, high-quality handouts of additional important or detailed information to your audience that they would not be able to read from the projection.
  3. Stick to Three Core Points – the most important parts of your product or service as they relate to the audience you will be in front of. Your audience is being inundated with information. Structure your presentation according to those three points – 1, 2, 3 – relative to the time you are allotted which may be 5, 15 or 30 minutes.

Three – Press Packet and Press People

Most events are covered by several press agencies – newspapers, television, bloggers, industry magazines, etc.   All have the intention of producing at least one article or story about the event.  Take advantage of this for free press and publicity.

One vital step in preparing for the conference is to have a press packet tailored for the event and the kind of media exposure you want. Note that for these events especially, your press packet should include some “quotes” from your CEO/CIO/CTO/CFO, co-founders, president or vice-presidents.  These are as good as gold to journalists writing stories.

This should include any recent app releases, upcoming releases,  beta tests, calls for beta testers, search for investors, a story about your company or endeavors that is fit for a broader audience, or something more creative.  It could also be useful for letting the person know you are someone who can help source information for them.

Make it a point to find the press people at these events and you could be handsomely rewarded with free press coverage and possibly a long-term relationship with a media venue.  Odds are you helped make their job a little bit easier.

These points are good whether you are a mobile app developer, in tech or not.  If you intend to deliver a presentation in front of a large group of people, spend some time rehearsing in front of others.  The advanced preparation is likely to help you stand out and deliver a better, more memorable impression to the people you want to reach.  These are events where people are looking for deals, the worst thing they can do is say no.  Get the right people to say yes, and you won’t ever have to worry about hearing “no” again.

 

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The Black Sea SummIT took place last Saturday, the largest IT conference in Odessa. While I rarely write on events in Ukraine, this provides a special opportunity.   While the conflict in Eastern Ukraine continues, it is mostly a “contained situation” which does not much impact the rest of the country. It could be said that the conflict has served to catapult Ukraine into the forefront of a lot of investor interest.

Ukraine is a tech-savvy country, having the fourth largest population of certified IT professionals in the world following only the United States, India, and Russia – all with much larger populations. There’s a lot that can be said for Ukraine (favorably), but Odessa is of specific interest as a strategic logistics hub and for its “historical” relationship with corruption and organized crime. There’s a lot more that can be said about that, suffice that it is now center stage in an ongoing aggressive anti-corruption war. To facilitate its economic realignment, a considerable effort is also being made to attract foreign investors, businesses and start-ups.

So, that’s a bird’s eye view of landscape behind the Black Sea SummIT – and “all of that” under the auspices of the EU-Ukraine “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (the DCFTA) likely to go into effect January 1, 2016. Opera Mobile Store maintains an office in Odessa started by former Vice-President Victor Shaburov, who started Looksery (also with an office in Odessa) – making the news this past weekend for getting picked up by Snapchat for $150 million.

SDC10797

Getting back to the SummIT, it was partitioned into three areas – 1) Main Speakers, 2) Start-ups, and 3) Tech, each covering a lot of ground making it impossible to cover everything here.  Some will make into future posts.

Here, I want to highlight a number of business incubators and accelerators available to aspiring Ukrainian and Eastern European entrepreneurs, with some follow-on notes.   Each of these were participants of the Black Sea SummIT.

Simply – these are the people and types of organizations you want to connect with if you are looking to seriously start a business.

Business Incubators and Accelerators*

*Google Translate is used for the English links to otherwise Russian web sites.

Business Incubators and Accelerators help start-ups with office space, facilities, networking, collaborative development, classes and work groups led by experienced business people.   Connecting with an incubator or accelerator is almost always a good step for developing your business.  These groups help you develop your business plan, refine your products/services, can facilitate access to investors and definitely help with all manner of professional networking.

Access to facilities, including high speed internet access, high quality printers, copy machines, conference rooms, work space and more helps minimize your earliest startup costs, but these all pale in comparison to their networking functions.

While not exactly an incubator, I would like to give a shout out to the Hillel IT School in Odessa (English and Russian) – as a great place for picking up a wide range of tech skills – java, iOS, web project management, QA testing, CC++, Android, etc.  For investors and businesses looking to start an office in Odessa, that’s probably a school you want to have on your short list for hiring your entry level technical staff.

Two Ukrainian Start-Ups

Many startups were present, but two of them have my avid, personal interest.

SDC10795Educator.io – A Learning Management System (LMS).  I was pleased to meet Pavlo Grebeniuk, CEO of this start-up, and learn about his company.  What makes his idea and company especially promising relates, in part, to the EU-Ukraine DCFTA.  A large number of companies will need to educate a very large number of people, rapidly – across a combination of English, Ukrainian, Russian and other European languages.  This will involve everything from ISO compliance to language-specific training across almost all business professions.  His company has the platform, the specific languages, and the networking backbone most capable of supporting Ukrainians assimilating the relevant portions of the 2,135 page document — and everything else associated with it.   Best of luck Pavlo!  I will be following allowing, attentively!

MMOne Company - Virtual Reality, 360 Degree, Full Motion Machine.  I’ve been following this one for a while, and it is getting significant traction.  Ubisoft has gotten behind this start-up and the machine will make its primary debut at the 2015 Paris eSports World Cup featuring game play with Trackmania² Stadium.  These work with Oculus Rift to take VR to the next level.  In addition to entertainment uses, I see these as being useful for a variety of specialized training for civilian and military applications.  Seriously, considering the number of drone crashes we’ve seen over the past year alone, we might want to make sure that the drone pilots have a freaking clue about how to navigate.

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The Evil Geniuses took the top prize in DOTA 2’s “The International” 2015 – $6.6 million.  Meanwhile in Pro-Golf, Jordan Spieth brought home  $1.8 million for winning The Masters.

Metagaming is basically using “real world knowledge” for in-game benefits to include such things as raid strategies, making in-game money, game add-ons to improve efficiency, etc. Metagaming is natural, logical, exceedingly common, perhaps unavoidable, but only really discouraged in the old-school roleplaying game genre.

Mega Metagaming, as I’ve coined the term, makes use of “real world knowledge” for in-game and real-world benefit: real money, notoriety and influence in addition to in-game benefits. It is also very common, but still with considerable untapped potential. Online gaming is an ever-evolving “market” wherein eSports is but one component; albeit the largest and most lucrative, presently.

The Monetization of eSports

The prize pool of The International 2015 – the fifth DOTA 2 championship tournament amounted to $18 million dollars. Compare this to Pro-Golf’s Master’s Tournament for 2015 where the prize pool topped $10 million, for the first time ever. Going further, we can look at the payouts:

DOTA 2

  • Evil Geniuses – $6.6 million
  • CDEC Gaming – $2.8 million
  • LGD Gaming – $2.2 million

The Masters

  • Jordan Spieth – $1.8 million
  • Phil Mickelson – $880 thousand
  • Justin Rose – $880 thousand

Call of Duty, League of Legends, Turbo-Racing, Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike, World of Tanks and countless other games have also had tournaments with high-stakes prize payouts. This is not limited just to games, either. In 2013, Kapitall, a company oriented to investor education offered $100,000 as the top prize for its Market Tournament.

Behind the Scenes

There are a lot of people engaged involved in a lot work behind the scenes in making these tournaments happen.  The creation of a professional eSports Team to compete for millions of dollars is similar to everything that goes into forming, managing, training and financing a real-world sports team.

Beyond the eSports teams, someone has to organize the tournaments, coordinate the technical and streaming/television components, create the web sites, sign the sponsors, conduct the marketing and advertising, get the vendors to sell burgers and pizza to thousands of people attending the events – just to support the tournaments.

Tournaments represent a fairly small portion of the collective gaming ecosystem.  There is much more to gaming than tournaments.  There are many opportunities to make money from gaming the more one understands the broader gaming ecosystem.  That’s not to say that they are easy or as simple as getting paid to play games.

Guilds and More

In the lead up to this article, I addressed how to make a great gaming guild.   At its simplest, a gaming guild is a group of players who cooperate toward common goals (like Raiding, Crafting, Roleplaying, etc.).

The Syndicate is the best example of a gaming guild that evolved into something far more than a guild. With over a 19 year history playing games, The Syndicate has an influence on game developers (having several in its own ranks) – as they specialize in game and system testing, strategy guide writing, consulting and feedback.

That entails a lot of hard work – but it is work that would not be possible without “a game” or game developers wanting their services.

But, just as there are gaming guilds there are niche markets to go with them.  Gamerlaunch.com and guildportal.com specialize in providing guild web sites. The monetization components here include not just web site hosting, but advertising, affiliate programs, sometimes gaming guides, and app development of their own. There remains plenty of room for localized expansion (by country, language and even by game genre).

On top of this, there are game review sites, magazine and video channels on YouTube – all of which can have an influence on a game’s development and player community, too.  What developers and players should know by now quite well is that game reviews can and do have a significant impact on the life of the game.   While written for developers, an earlier post on “Super Users” would also be useful for gamers aspiring to get more from their gaming activity or seriously interested in Mega Metagaming.

Gold Farming

Reselling in-game goods and currency for real money is, if not illegal, against the terms and conditions of most games. I don’t want to get into this too deep here as it is a topic of its own.

More and more game developers are experimenting with a variety of currency conversion models to address a wide range of issues to include making it possible for “free to play” gamers being able to access premium content.   Others, like Entropia Universe actually do have a real to virtual conversion model.

It is also appropriate to note here that both Congress and the Internal Revenue Service of the United States has examined taxing MMO-derived income.  Leastwise, there are many, many issues complicating the entire real vs. virtual goods and currencies exchange to warrant a separate examination.

With that discussion and perhaps as an expansion upon it is the future of digital currencies, in general.

Nevertheless, there are games that do permit you to plunder your way to enough in-game currency that you can swap it with the game developer for “real game time” – i.e. their paid subscription rate and other premium content.  Having a guild – a group of people to help you with that brings advantages for everyone in the guild.

Games as Tools for Education and Professional Training

This is a big pot of stew waiting for more and more people to stir it.  As the classroom itself becomes ever more digital, we will see “games” adapted for additional purposes.  It is an old concept, in fact, going back to the old 1983 movie “Wargames” with Matthew Broderick.

There’s the obvious correlation that when forming a professional eSports Team, some will employ others to provide professional training.  As computer games in general are becoming increasingly realistic, they begin to provide professionals low-cost, convenient access to hands-on application and training in realistic environments not likely to be found elsewhere.  This includes military training where it can be extremely expensive, is not always convenient and can have broader implications (real or imagined) in live training exercises.

In this direction, we might also look at wargaming (conflict simulation) as it takes place at King’s College London, quite possibly the most prestigious wargaming environment in the world.  One might even say that’s “very old school” – compared to what is available today, even with conventional smart phones.

Over the Top?

Certainly, some will assert that elements of this article are somewhat “over the top” – that it is improbable that end users, people who play games, may earn anything like a living wage doing so. A look at the past and present, however, points to that being an inevitable outcome in the not too distant future.

The core catalyst is the increasing affordability and availability of smart phones, globally. The electronic game industry can be traced back to arcade games of the late 1970’s into the 1980’s. By 1982, the arcade video game industry in North America alone generated $8 billion in revenues (equating to over $20 billion in today’s dollars).

With the proliferation of personal computers, global sales of computer and console games in 1994 amounted to about $35 billion in today’s dollars. Continuing through the early 2000’s, the vast majority of this market comprised mostly North America, Europe and portions of Southeast Asia.

As a reference, in 1997 per the US Census Bureau, only about 1 in 3 Americans had a personal computer. The smart phone of today has greater power, functionality and graphics than what was available in 1997. It is accessible and affordable to billions of people. Internet.org and other initiatives aim to guarantee that everyone on the planet has access to the Internet with some Android-capable devices going for under $40.

I realize this posts skips around and is perhaps a bit disjointed, perhaps not fully embellishing upon the idea of mega metagaming.  It is a broad term encompassing many different things, almost all of which relate to or are an extension of the games we play.  The main point considers that for how large the gaming industry already is (and will become), that there are plenty of opportunities to use the games you play for your real world benefit.

Again, I won’t assert that such is easy, but probably no more difficult to earn a living by playing games than the effort to become a professional football player or pro-golfer, a doctor, or any other career out there.  It does not necessarily mean that you will get paid to play a game directly, but that it could very well prove an instrumental part in making money.

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Many online games provide the opportunity to form guilds. One can also form a gaming guild to encompass multiple games. Here, we will look at (1) the different reasons why you might want to create a guild, (2) what to expect, and (3) just about everything to make your guild awesome!

Is Running a Guild Right for You?

The single most important aspect of being a Guild Leader is being an active and regular player – either playing almost daily or possibly being a weekend warrior. It is also helpful to have at least some experience as a member or officer of an existing guild, so you know better what you are getting into. From there, starting a guild is something you might consider if you really enjoy the game or want to make gaming “more than just a hobby”.

  • You really enjoy the game (or several games)
  • You want to make gaming more than just a hobby
  • You are willing to invest in the potential to get more from your game time
  • One or more of the following describe you:
    • You are very social and like to meet new people
    • You prefer playing only with friends and family
    • You are very competitive
    • You work hard and play harder
    • You are very experienced with the game
    • You are an entrepreneur at heart

Starting and running a gaming guild can involve a significant investment of time and energy. Its success and longevity depend a lot on your commitment and reasons for starting the guild.

If you are already a member of a guild and want to branch out, talk with your present guild leader in hopes of creating an alliance for common interests. This can work especially well if you are starting from a social guild and want to focus heavily on PvP or Raiding.

Different Types of Guilds

Being the founder of the guild you get to decide what kind of guild it will be and potentially evolve into. There are several basic types of guilds:

  • Social Guilds – Aiming to be a friendly place for friendly people to cooperate on any aspect of the game, focused mostly on helping everyone to “level up”. Social guilds tend to be large and can eventually evolve into other types of guilds (usually Family or Raiding Guilds).
  • Family Guilds – A place for friends and family often picking up other players who have proven to be very friendly and cooperative.
  • Roleplaying Guilds – Focused on game lore and “immersion” in the game world.
  • Raiding Guilds – Very organized, usually high maintenance groups focused on beating the most challenging “end game” content, ranking high on leaderboards, and often developing a reputation throughout the game’s community.
  • PvP Guilds – Focused on Player vs. Player game components, typically very competitive and the most likely type of guild to seek playing professionally – for real rewards and money.
  • Metagaming Guilds – Not usually referred to as such, but the most entrepreneurial of all. Guilds of this nature aim to be represented in multiple games and to monetize their role within the gaming community.

Note that you do not need to start a guild by yourself. You may have friends or find others willing to co-found a guild with you. In exceptional cases, it is even possible to “inherit” a guild if or when the present guild leader becomes inactive or wants to step down.

Guild Leaders and Officers

As a guild founder or co-founder, you get to define the type of guild it will be, its rules and policies. You are also the one who will, at least initially, make appointments to various “guild officer” positions. The critical point is that you do not need to do everything yourself. You can delegate tasks and responsibilities to others.

  • Guild Leader/s – That would be you, the final arbiter of anything relating to your guild. Note that if you really don’t want all of the associated responsibilities of “final arbiter”, you can fill this role as a figurehead.
  • Executive Director (or similar term) – who has the capacity to act on behalf of the guild leader in all things, your second-in-command, and hopefully the person who will replace you if you decide to step down.
  • Board of Directors / Inner Council Members – whatever you want to call it, these are the people who help you define and decide on all of the complex aspects of the guild, making rules, disciplinary actions.
  • Guild Treasurer – There is an in-game and real currency component to most games spanning everything from guild perks, guild bank space, acquisition of materials for high-end crafting, guild prizes and potentially things like pay to play subscriptions, web sites or even advertising. This role could be divided between in-game and real currency components.
  • Recruiting Officer/s – Players willing to spend time seeking out new guild members through in-game announcements on world or guild chat channels, spending time in “lowbie zones” helping new players for a more personal introduction to your guild. This can also extend to game forums, social networking pages, and your guild web site.
  • Webmaster – What? Yes, webmaster – someone who can set up and maintain your guild web site. This is probably an article unto itself; suffice that if you are aiming to have a large guild, a guild with a reputation, intend to be competitive in tournaments or are looking at entrepreneurial gaming components, a web site is an absolute must for success.
  • Class Training and PvP Officers – Experienced players who know their class (like Warrior or Mage) or very active in Player vs. Player content. Their role is to help other players optimize their skills and equipment for the roles they will be playing.
  • Event Coordinators – This can encompass almost anything – guild raids, PvP zergfests, in-game weddings, crafting events. To be successful, everyone needs to know when they are and what they will need for the event. The Event Coordinator is likely to be the one who maintains the Raid Roster and a list of players who can step in as substitutes.

Your guild can be structured as simply and informally or as complex and formal as you like. The type of guild you form will tend to define some of long-term requirements. Initially, you may not need any of these roles, as your guild grows and matures, everyone in it will need some form of guidance on conduct.

As the guild gets more active in raiding, players will be committing their time and will depend upon other key players to show up. It is not unusual for a raid guild to have a mandatory attendance policy. Real Life issues are important and usually take precedent, suffice that advanced notice of an absence may be required. That may seem extreme for a game, but guilds of this nature are approaching it as “more than just a game”.

Making Your Guild Awesome!

It does not happen overnight. It requires a significant investment of time and effort, a long-term commitment. As your guild grows to the point where you do have recruiting officers, guild events, social media activities, a treasurer, a web site, you are starting to rival many small businesses in terms of online potential.

  • Rules – A clear and consistent code of conduct and disciplinary process for violations.
  • Keep Calm – Avoid getting emotional. There can be a lot of drama in a guild, maintain the code of conduct, enforce it. At some point, we’ll cover more on this with another article.
  • A Regular Schedule of Events (raids, PvP hour, etc.) – start with one per week and expand as you grow. You want at least one occasion each week with maximum participation and remind everyone why your guild is the best for them.
  • A Promotions Protocol – how someone can rise in the guild ranks from new member to officer.
  • A Suggestion Box – Welcome and encourage ideas from guild members.
  • Diplomacy – coordinate events with other guilds, really good for high-end raids and PvP.
  • Clearly Defined Goals – let everyone know what your next objective is – the next raid boss to beat, getting everyone geared up, donating to the treasury so you can buy the next guild bank tab, etc.
  • Advanced Admissions Process – Some guilds require members to submit an application explaining why they would be a good fit for the guild, how they might benefit the guild. This is best reserved for when your guild is very established and well-known. This will slow down guild growth, but help make sure new members fit in better.

There’s a lot more that could be covered especially if one really wants to get hard core with the development of their guild. There are not many differences between managing a gaming guild and certain types of “real world” businesses or, perhaps more appropriately, organizations. Not all organizations are interested in making money, but many organizations have a money-making component to facilitate their interests.

The next article in this series will get into Mega Metagaming. As the mobile world evolves, so do games, the way we play them, sometimes the reasons why we play them, and we are well on the way to many games having the potential to be a lot more than “just a game”. There is the potential for playing games to evolve into real paying jobs. It is being done now.

In sports, some have taken the college route; others have gone from minor leagues to major leagues, some made their mark through the Olympics. In each of these pursuits and all of their supporting elements, people are involved. The same has and will continue to spill over to eSports and most segments of online gaming.

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• We all like different types of games – MMO’s, MOBA’s, FPS, eSports, etc.,
• We play for different reasons – fun, competition, to pass the time, to socialize, and more.
• We have different habits – casual or hardcore, pay to play, play for free, solo or group, pve or pvp, etc.

The aim of this article is to cover the benefits of being part of or even forming a gaming guild. Each game has its own dynamics and the “guild” may be called by different names. Guilds are groups of players who are usually friendly and try to work together toward common “game” interests. Considering all of the above variables, we will approach the “guild” in somewhat generic, near universal terms from the perspective of a player and as a current or aspiring guild leader.

Guilds for Players

Being part of a good guild brings with it numerous benefits:

  • Guild chats enhance your social experience.
  • Better access to tips and guidance for game play.
  • Guild members may donate in game items (equipment or crafting materials) to help you advance.
  • Guild members are often willing to “Group” with you to tackle “group content”.
  • Guilds usually offer in-game perks (from stat bonuses to storage space) you might need to pay real money for.
  • Access to the highest tier, end-game content with the best gear (raids).
  • Some guilds provide training for player vs player and guild vs guild events.
  • Guild membership can lead to long-term, real-life friendships.
  • Membership in some very competitive guilds can be prestigious and lead to tournament play where the stakes can include real electronic gear or even cash payouts.

In many games, guilds advance gaining prestige and perks relative to the total of their player’s achievements. Thus, most guilds are always happy to get new members. If you really enjoy a game and think you will play it frequently, it is worth doing some research before joining a guild. You might check out their guild web site (if they have one), watch to see how active they are in ”world chat”, examine game-specific guild rankings, or spend some time talking to their guild master or a guild officer. Ultimately though, the benefits of being part of a guild far outweigh “going solo”.

Guilds for Soloists

More and more social games involve “persistent worlds”. Many players do prefer to play solo – something a lot of people do not understand. It seems counterintuitive to play solo in a Massive Multi-Player Online Game of any type. Many players are subject to frequent and unpredictable interruptions – perhaps on call for work, watching after children of their own, or any number of other reasons. Players who do not group are likely trying to be polite, not wanting their interruptions to slow you and the rest of your group down.

If this describes you, it should not hold you back from find a guild that is good for you. Most guilds would still be very happy to have you, just explain that you may not be able to participate in all group activities because you may have frequent interruptions. Real Life always comes first.

Guilds for Guild Masters

All of the benefits listed for players apply to guild masters and officers, too. There are all types of guilds, casual and hard core, some intending to remain small and others much more ambitious – and spanning “multiple games”. We’ll take a look at how to set up and develop a game guild in the next article. It is appropriate to point out some additional benefits present and aspiring guild masters might consider for realizing additional benefits from their game play.

Guild Web Sites/Pages – Not all guilds have one, but it can be very helpful to have one for recruiting new players. Many games offer in-game currency for referrals. Setting up a guild web page may require “some work” but the dividends can be worth it. Many gaming communities provide free “guild web page” hosting and the same can also be achieved through most social networks. Simply setting up a guild web page provides exposure to basic web site development (a real job and business skill) and provides you the means to reach new players before they join a game.

Guild Officers – You don’t need to do everything yourself. As you begin developing your guild, others may volunteer for “special duties” – some may be very social and happy to help recruit, others might want to specialize in Player vs Player competition, organizing raids, setting up your guild web page.  The entire process of appointing officers provides experience in setting up real organizational structure.

Social Networking – If you set up a guild web page, you can add a Facebook or Pinterest presence, too. Leastwise, as the “guild master” if you want something for your guild, you can advertise for volunteers in your own guild, web site and social networks.   Elaborating upon why people would want to join your guild is itself an exercise in marketing.

Guild Perks and Fundraisers – Guild stuff usually costs some combination of real or in-game currency.  The more perks your guild has, the easier it can be to attract new members.  How you finance that, especially if you are approaching this from a “free to play” perspective is not a whole lot different from bootstrapping a real business.

Those are some real world benefits of developing a guild that have more far reaching uses than simply taking down an “end-game boss”.  There are potentially many more benefits – suffice that if you really enjoy playing games we moving toward a world where there are (or can be) incentives to do so… and it is not all that different from liking football so much that you become a professional football player.

Mega Metagaming – per Wikipedia, “Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.”

I’m sort of inventing the term as it generates all of 45 search results on Google. It is not new, people have been doing it for years perhaps as the natural (and perhaps unintentional) result of developing their “gaming guilds” or “gaming sites” into something that is or comes close to being a “real world business” – where guilds or teams have a “brand name of their own”.

Those who understand the various dynamics applicable to mobile app and game designers are able to apply those dynamics to their own benefit, the benefit of their members and the benefit of the developers, too.

But, we’ll leave this subject for discussion after discussing how to set up and develop a good guild.

The Internet’s fundamental purpose is to help people communicate information. That information could be a simple message, a picture, a video or a computer program. With so much information being shared, it is not always easy to find what you need – in a timely manner and usable format. This includes finding others who need what you have. Here, we’ll take aim at some tools to help you find… anything.

Four points apply to how efficient you can be at finding what you need:

  • Need to know what you are looking for to have a good chance of finding it.
  • Different tools work for different jobs; several tools are needed to build a house.
  • Information flows constantly – tools to automate save you time and effort.
  • The Internet has lots of “boxes” (like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn) which frequently require you to open the box to find out what is inside.

That fourth point is especially important when it comes to Twitter, Facebook, other social media, and the ever expanding Internet of Things.

One thing I’ve always advocated is spending at least 15 minutes every day in “research” – regardless of what you do, what your job is, or how well your business is doing.  Fifteen minutes = 1% of your day. Per the Pareto Principle, theoretically that 1% of effort may be responsible for over 50% of your total results.  Automating manual searches across multiple “networks” (or boxes in the above analogy) is a 100x force multiplier.

Time is valuable – 15 minutes a day equates to over 90 hours a year, more than two full work weeks focused just on evaluating qualified “information.” Considering that “information” could include “who needs what you have” – in a timely manner, your competitiveness and marketability increases exponentially.

IF This Then That

IFTTT is an unbelievably powerful, extremely easy to use tool that can give you near NSA-level omniscience about… anything.

With “IF This Then That”  you define what you are looking for and if it happens – an “action” will be generated. That action could be to email you (and up to 4 more addresses), or any number of other options depending upon the specific you channels you define – Twitter, Blogger, Reddit, YouTube, Office 365 & Office Calendar, Instagram, DropBox, iOS and Android wearables, GE devices, even eBay and over 160 other different channels are available. The reverse is also possible, that is – if you do “x” then “y” will automatically happen.

Thus, if someone references you on Twitter, you can get an email about it; if someone posts a specific product on eBay, you can get notice of that, too. That’s just one option of many, depending on each channel you define.   IFTTT helps you spend less time searching for stuff and more time acting on relevant things.

Some of you may be familiar with Google Alerts — notifying you of whenever something new on the web matches your “key word” query is published.  That is just one of potentially thousands of applications IFTTT is able to deliver because it does the same thing for nearly 200 different channels including elements of the Internet of Things.

IFTTT was referred to me by HeroicSearch.com’s super innovative PR Team.  Their latest blog post has the potential to make you exponentially more effective with your work, your business, or anything else.  It is that good… if not better.

Lucky Wednesday!

Coffee Craze

Click for your Free Java Download!

coffee-craze1

Coffee Craze makes you the owner of a Coffee Shop – part arcade game, part small business simulator. As the owner, it is up to you to make your little shop a success by keeping your customers happy.

You will play the role of a barista while also managing your kitchen. A barista is similar to a “bartender” – it is an Italian word for one who works behind a counter and is specially trained in serving hot and cold drinks, usually with an espresso machine.

If successful, you will also be able to order exciting upgrades to make your business more fun and productive. Imagine how much talent is required to serve hot drinks on rollerskates!

coffee-craze2In addition to serving coffee and espresso, your customers fancy your cake and pastries, too. Don’t panic when your customers start to line up, just focus on their orders.

Each item on your menu is tied to one of twelve keys which align to their location in your kitchen.

As you finish filling one order, you can move onto the next – as you can put orders into a queue.

When one is completed, the next begins.  That’s important because cakes don’t appear out of nowhere – you have to make and bake ‘em.

 “You can please most people most of the time, but you can’t please everyone all of the time.”

Fast, accurate service will keep your customers happy!

Game Features:

  • Cute graphics
  • Coffee and Cake
  • Intuitive and easy to use game controls
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Fun and meaningful upgrades
  • Career and Endless game modes
  • Convenient small file for downloading

Coffee Craze

Available for Free only on July 29, 2015

If you miss the free download, you can still buy Coffee Craze on Opera Mobile Store here.

What is Lucky Wednesday?  It is an occasional event offered by Opera Mobile Store in conjunction with a developer to make a Premium App available to everyone for Free!

 

Occasionally, I make reference to games from the distant past (sometimes from DOS-land), as frequently they are made into the apps of today. Just as much as I like looking back on the development of games, it is interesting to take a look forward at what the games of tomorrow might look like.

Accelerating technological achievements are paving the way for all of the following:

  1. Mobile devices becoming as powerful as Personal Computers.
  2. Increasingly accessible and affordable, globally.
  3. Real-time voice translation overcoming language barriers.
  4. Increasing popularity of eSports, tournaments and events.
  5. Increasingly realistic Virtual Reality.
  6. The inherent potential of the Internet of Things.
  7. Emergence of Holographic technology.
  8. Efforts to develop artificial intelligence leading to smarter software.
  9. Rise of the Drones…
  10. Robots and human augmentation.

Developers, in particular, should consider these points at length and let their creativity roam wild about the applications they are likely to create in the future.

To extrapolate one line of development, it is likely that the “Internet” will develop into a Virtual Reality Universe. That’s a long way off.   Social networking will eventually rely less upon chat, instant messaging and email and more upon virtually meeting in scuba diving gear to explore the Great Blue Hole off the shores Belize, or anywhere else, real or imaginary. Instead of watching reality television, you will be a virtual participant.   Eventually, we may not be able to tell the difference between a real piece of chocolate cake and virtual one. All of that, and a lot more, is still quite distant – but perhaps nowhere near as distant as some may insist.

Knowing our approximate destinations provides us a lot of insight on the steps we need to take next.

Let’s start with real-time voice translation. This opens up billions of hitherto hard to open doors. If you can do real-time voice translation, you are not far away from being able to translate the entire universe of movies, television and music. Combine this with voice-morphing capabilities and you can have anyone’s voice sound (potentially) like any other voice.

Extrapolate this further, with perhaps future versions of Looksery, and not only could you have someone sound like someone else, but look like them, too. Consider, for example, that several major movie studios are trying to digitally replicate now deceased actors and actresses. It then becomes conceivable that anyone could insert themselves into almost any digital production. You could literally be anyone you want to be and/or fashion them in your image, so to speak.

Picture or it did not happen is an obsolete argument. The “tech world” is in the early stages of being able to do all of these things.

Holographic Technology.   Where would we be without Star Trek and Star Wars? First, we will be looking at holographs much like another form of conventional media. Instead of playing out on a flat television screen, it will unfold in space.

A digression, but this reminds me of when I was four years old and wondering, being confused about, why we could not see what was to the left or right of the television screen?

The spatial limitations of holographs are likely to limit their utility in the long-term. Of special interest is the potential to virtually interact within a holographic environment. This could result in holographic or VR amusement and theme parks. Thirty years ago, we used to insert a coin to play arcade games. This tech component is likely to require high-end gear, but it is conceivable that people could rent that gear on a “pay to play by the hour” basis.

The future has not been written, but there’s a lot to look forward to. For many developers, this may seem far-fetched.

The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed” – William Gibson

It is here and it is constantly evolving. I spend a fair amount of time examining military technology where a lot of what was science-fiction is quite real – drones, lasers, god-like surveillance systems, self-guiding bullets, even invisibility cloaks.

Knowledge of most of these things is in the public domain.  But, it prompts one begins to wonder, “Considering what is public, what is actually secret?” We likely aren’t going to get an answer on that. One thing of some interest is the growing chatter on developments of artificial intelligence.

That is a lot more advanced than what most of today’s developers are likely to work on, but it helps set the tone for ideas that might be considered. The possibilities are endless. They don’t happen all at once, but are the culmination of lots of little steps. Whatever it is that you like to develop, there is a place for it.

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The internet has made it incredibly easy to find other gamers interested in games of any type. If you are a little on the shy side, this article is for you – to help you find players who like the kind of games you want to play.

Social interaction adds dimension to games of any sort. Even online, it can lead to meeting people and forming friendships.  There are stories of people who met through an online game and went on to get married!  In some cases, the social and even managerial skills you can pick up with some games can help you land your next job. Or you become so good at a game that you write guides for it, make money as a professional player, possibly get “almost famous.”

Virtual Sports or eSports is rapidbly becoming a high-stakes arena and its evolution can only be expected to accelerate with the likes of Oculus Rift and 360 degree up-down-and-all around full-motion machines to go with it.

Not to bleak, but with the rise of the drones, the robots, 3-d printers and artificial intelligence, in a few years – perhaps the only thing left for us to do will be to… play games.

5 Tips for Playing Games and Making Friends

The first place to begin finding other people interested in the same kind of games you like is on your Facebook and social media pages.

  1. Make a note that you are looking for others interested in whichever game has caught your fancy.
  2. Add hash tags like #Game #Racing so others can find you easier and search for others using the same tags.
  3. Post to the game’s social wall to invite others to look you up in game.
  4. Do a web search for bloggers active with a particular game and see if you can hook up with them.
  5. A little more hard-core:  Start your own guild and have a free web page to go with it!

The cool part is that when you do make friends via social networks, you can keep in touch with them.  Odds are that one or both of you will get tired of or perhaps “beat” a particular game eventually.  Instead of starting over “all alone”, you can decide together what new game to move onto.

The other cool part about social networking is that many games offer incentives for you to invite your friends.  This can take the form of in-game prizes, in-game currency, sometimes actual “new tech hardware” – mobile devices, peripherals and the like.

A Word of Caution.

Of course, you always want to be careful with your interactions with people online. Block messages from anyone spamming you, report inappropriate and offensive behavior, don’t give out information about yourself that can be used to identify you, or your account. Be cautious and use common sense

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We have mobile devices so we can conveniently communicate with friends, family, coworkers, clients and others.  The following are five very popular apps that can make all of that easier for you on your Android Device.

Truecaller is also available in Symbian, Java, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and iOS.

Viber can be found on Symbian, Blackberry, and iOS.


truecaller

1.  TrueCaller

Take the Right Call with Truecaller. Truecaller is replacing the phonebook, making it more intelligent and useful.  Free Download for Android.

  • Local & International Phone Number Searching
  • Know who’s calling you
  • Block spam callers and telemarketers
  • Integrated with Twitter and Yelp
  • Update your phonebook with your info & pics from your social networks
  • And Lots More!

viber2.  Viber

Join more than 516 million Viber users and make phone and video calls for free.  Free Android Download.

  • Message your friends
  • Make free phone and video calls with HD sound quality
  • Share photos, video 7 voice messages, locations, stickers and emoticons
  • Create group messages with up to 100 participants;
  • Follow Public Chats – get on the inside with your favorite personalities;
  • Push notifications guarantee that you never miss a message or call, even when Viber is off
  • Many more features!

vine

 3.  Vine

Vine makes video fun. You can watch, create and share short looping videos — anytime, anywhere.  Free Download for Android.

Through these videos, called Vines, people have an entirely new medium to express themselves and their creativity. Vine empowers anyone to share stories with the world and is a space where people can connect, entertain and be entertained.

 


contacts+4. Contacts+

Free for Android Users.

Contacts+ is your everyday contacts & dialer app, powered with text messaging, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and much more – all in one place.

With Contacts+ you can send FREE and regular text messages without switching apps, auto-sync beautiful pics to your contacts from Facebook, and get birthday reminders so you’ll never forget a birthday again!

Contacts+ is the place to connect, however you want, with the people you care about!


linkedin 5. LinkedIn – Free App for Android

Get on-the-go access to your professional network with the LinkedIn app for Android.

  • Find and connect with more than 200 million members worldwide.
  • Stay up-to-date with people in your network.
  • Edit your profile from within the app.
  • View and save recommended jobs.
  • Read the latest industry news.
  • Keep up-to-date with your groups.
  • Share content with your network from anywhere.
  • Follow and learn more about companies.

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Much of this blog is devoted to helping mobile app developers, but blogging itself can be very useful to anyone – app developer, entrepreneur, college student – even you. Blogging is something that anyone can do and starts with using fairly basic skills sets.

The two most important components of a blog involve your reasons for blogging and a long-term commitment to it. Of these, it is usually the “long-term commitment” that factors most importantly. Otherwise, as long as you have an internet-capable device, access to a publishing platform and the ability to inform or entertain your audience, you can blog.

Long-term commitment is likely to be the result of your reasons to blog. Data suggests  that 60-80% of blogs are “discontinued” within a month of being started.

Why? My assertion would be that blogs are often started in the belief they will yield some fast results. Blogs are 99.99% likely to NOT generate fast results for anyone. The strengths of Blogging reside in Process.

Simply put, if you are looking for fast results, you are better off not starting a blog. If, however, your interests involve matters of Process, then blogging can be an extremely valuable tool.

Process?

Looking at where you are now, what is something you wish you would have started five years ago that would be useful for you today? Let’s say you wanted to get a college degree while having a full-time job and perhaps a family. Between evening and online courses, you could have had that degree.

Where do you want to be in five years? What will get you there? The longer you delay starting on it, the longer that “five years” is going to be.

The Process itself cultivates commitment and discipline which will make you far more productive and generally more successful than being undisciplined and uncommitted. While it might be said that this can involve doing things simply for the sake of doing them, you are developing your capacity to focus on what needs to be done relative to the long-term.

Results Associated with the Process of Blogging:

• Increase your knowledge and understanding of anything
• Increase your ability to get a job
• Develop a level of authority on an industry/niche
• Expand the quantity of your social and professional contacts
• Increase the quality of your social and professional relationships
• Pick up lots of tips and tricks to grow your blog that apply directly to growing your business
• Ability to re-publish anything you’ve written for different purposes

Professional Skill Sets Gained Along the Way

Inherent to blogging is the development of your ability to produce content of value to your audience, cultivating a better understanding of your audience, a bit advertising and marketing, some search engine optimization, expanded graphical capabilities, increased understanding of metrics and statistics, developing presentations and publishing – in general. Added to these you may end up producing newsletters, running membership sites, producing e-books sometimes hard copy books, advertising sales, potentially even web site development.

It can also open the door to multi-media development, video production, podcasts, traditional news reporting, participation in government and business forums, involvement with think-tanks, and more.
These do not come all at once, but little by little over a few years. It ultimately provides you with far more marketable job skills, job and business options than sticking just to app development or any other distinct job title.

To Learn for the Sake of Learning

Everyone starts somewhere. Experts started out knowing nothing at some point. When it comes down to a good reason to do a blog – Learning is as good as any. It is something that you will be able to do for as long as you live. The only thing you need to be able to do “to learn” is to be able to ask a question – and have the desire to research the answer.

A lot of tech people fixate too heavily on “tech stuff” – to where they may know everything there is to know about a program language or development platform. And? If they really knew everything about their “tech stuff” they would also know how to monetize it – to make money from what they do and so much of it that they would be “rich”.

I won’t say that blogging will make you rich, but the process associated with it will help open the door to where you want to be in five years. The first twenty years of my career were focused on matters of Logistics and Operations. While good in both, the capacity to write about my work is the one thing that advanced my career and other interests more than anything else. We all have different strengths and advance in our own unique ways, suffice that cultivating your ability to write helps to magnify what you know, provide insight others who need it, and broaden your skill sets.

Format?

Format is the least important component of writing. You can adapt most of the elements of blogging to web sites, newsletters, periodicals, to LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Twitter is far more limited, obviously, owing to a 140 character public post limit.   See 51 of the best blogging and publishing platforms  for a good list of some of your options for getting started.

The tech world has a way of coming up with new words for a lot of old ideas.  The whole notion of crowdfunding, for example, has roots in traditional fundraising, pre-order sales marketing and old school methods of finding investors.  Similarly there are different types of blogs, but they are all online adaptations of “pre-internet” methods.  They do change and evolve, but just because the name may change does not mean all of the “processes” change with it.  Some do, but most remain the same.

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734382_screenshotTrick Hamster

for Java  and Symbian

Limited Free Trial

Fluffy the Hamster escaped from his cage and is out to travel the world. Can you help him?

It’s a dangerous world out there even for the world’s greatest superheroes. It is even more dangerous for a little, poor, defenseless hamster.

But wait! Fluffy has you to help him navigate the deadly chasms and canyons by building bridges for him. You have to be quick and nimble as there’s no telling what Fluffy will face! Feed him as you go to get cool upgrades!

Trick Hamster is a great game for kids and adults who like to test their hand-eye coordination and reflexes.

Electronic Arts is known for making great games. The limited free trial period lets you try before you buy – making it safe for your pocket book, too.

Free Download with Limited Time Trial

Get it now on Opera Mobile Store — Trick Hamster for Java  and Symbian

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mark-feldman-head-shot

[Editor’s Note – This is a guest article by Mark Feldman, Chief Technical Officer at Findmyshift, an employee scheduling service for managers, founders, and owners. He blogs about SaaS marketing, productivity, and management. Find Findmyshift on Twitter, or try out their Excel scheduling template for free.]

 

Most businesses and marketers setup Twitter accounts, gain a few followers, and do nothing else. At the other end of the spectrum, some people spend hours each day managing their Twitter accounts in order to maximize their effectiveness.

While you definitely can’t afford to let your Twitter account wither away and die, you certainly don’t want to spend the better part of each day tweeting, retweeting, and attracting followers. Luckily, with a little automation, you can have a thriving Twitter following and maximize your lead generation and monetization efforts.

Twitter is an amazing place ripe with opportunities for modern businesses and marketers, so let’s take a look at how you can maximize your Twitter efficiency without being glued to your Twitter feed every minute of every day!

Take Advantage of Twitter Automation Tools

Both businesses and individuals can achieve amazing success with Twitter if they’re able to understand the network and how to effectively manage their accounts. Unfortunately, in order to do so, most people find themselves dedicating endless man hours at the expense of other areas of their business.

Recognizing this, companies have created some incredibly helpful automation tools designed to take stress and time out of the Twitter equation. There are many helpful Twitter management tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and TweetDeck that have varying benefits and capabilities, but here’s a look at what some of these tools can do:

  • Automatically reach thousands of prospective customers and highly targeted followers
  • Use robust automated following engines that allow you to build your Twitter following at a lightning-fast pace
  • Schedule and automate your tweets
  • Track your Twitter keywords and provide you with a keyword archive
  • Save you time by completely automating the follow and unfollow processes
  • Keep your account from being banned due to exceeding Twitter’s follow limits
  • Monitor your competitors, and much more

As you can clearly see, third-party Twitter automation tools can be extremely helpful for anyone looking to maximize their Twitter effectiveness and efficiency. After all, what’s not to like about tools that can help you automate and manage important daily Twitter activities?

However, you need to exercise caution when using these automation tools, because it’s far too easy to let them run unchecked and potentially tarnish your brand or have your account suspended as a result.

Recycle Your Posts

As touched upon above, one of the major challenges of effective Twitter marketing is supplying your following with a consistent stream of content, even with automation tools. Therefore, you may want to consider recycling your posts by making simple little changes to each one.

I know what you’re thinking: “Wouldn’t that lower my follower engagement?” Believe it or not, when done right, the engagement of your followers will likely be the same with recycled posts as brand new posts.

However, reposting the same tweets over and over throughout the day can be quite messy and time-consuming. To remedy this, you can create a content library with various tweet variations to save valuable time (see more about a Twitter archive here). You can even take it one step further by including these tweet variations in a spreadsheet and uploading them to your Twitter tool of choice, making your Twitter content curation as hands off as possible.

Tip: When recycling tweets, it’s important for businesses and individuals to use “Evergreen” content, rather than temporal content or content revolving around current events. This allows the content to be naturally reused over and over again.

What Shouldn’t Be Automated

Although a number of your Twitter management functions can be automated, there are certain functions that shouldn’t be automated, including:

  • Unfiltered RSS feeds
  • Direct messaging
  • Blind retweeting without solid filters

Bottom Line

Your time is too precious to spend performing endless Twitter tasks that can be automated and allow your Twitter presence to run efficiently. By implementing these automation strategies, you’ll be able to cut your Twitter management time from five hours per account per day to less than 30 minutes for multiple accounts. Talk about maximizing your Twitter efficiency!

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Summer’s almost here and this provides you an opportunity to find a college student to work with you as an intern. Internships and apprenticeships both work, they are very much the same if packaged a little differently. The point is you are providing someone a chance to get some hands on work experience, fill some space on their resume, a professional referral and possibly make some money. Here are some considerations and ideas for you to consider to help everyone get a win-win experience with internships.

Considerations:

There are a variety of ways your program can be framed and there are legal considerations for how you define it. It is appropriate to understand that there are both paid and unpaid internship programs, apprenticeships, commission-based only sales jobs, independent contractors, and other forms of agreements to include unpaid consultancies. Legal considerations apply to each that you will need to research specific to your country, but in most cases you can structure conditions to meet those requirements. The main considerations include:

  • Compensation. Again, you will need to consult your local laws regarding unpaid internship programs. It is appropriate to note that training, experience, professional references alone can be valuable commodities depending upon the local job market.
  • Supervision.  A considerable degree of supervision is if not necessary, certainly desirable, but that could be defined simply as having instant messaging via Skype. You need someone with experience to be on hand to answer questions as they arise and provide contextual references.
  • Training materials.  If you intend to run an internship or apprenticeship program frequently, it is practical to create (and retain) reference materials as needed. This may involve an overview of the company, products and services, team members, essential company mission/positioning statements, frequently asked questions, technical manuals, and so forth. These are all good to have “anyways”.
  • Workload. It could be part-time, full-time, flex-time, completely informal, at an office or work from home – defined formally or left completely to a “whatever you want to do” basis.

To what end? Why would you want a trainee or intern?

Speaking specifically for mobile app developers, there is a lot of information to take in regardless what your technical position is – whether on the programming or marketing side. There’s far more that you could be doing, should be doing, but probably aren’t. Getting a little bit of help on these things can go a long way. Examples:

  • Let’s say you would like to expand your distribution network. After showing your sidekick how to add your app to one mobile store, they can proceed to add it to several others. The same could apply to setting up a different promotion for your app on each store.
  • Testing apps. You should have a beta test team, so you can assign your trainees tasks such as organizing bug reports, testing your patches prior to sending out new versions to beta testers, or if they are programmers, to see if they can identify the erring code.
  • Starting something new for you. It could be that after their orientation to your company, you would ask them what they would do in areas that you are not doing – to develop an action plan. That’s good homework! It could apply to how they would manage your social networking, advertising or any of your marketing activities.

Compensation Options

Most app developers are not breaking even as it is, so some sort of paid internship program may seem completely out of reach. As the saying goes, “It takes money to make money” – albeit with enough time, you can make money, too. That’s how business goes – businesses have employees as their time enables the business to make more money.

As noted earlier, there are multiple options to exactly how you might define and structure an internship program and to varying extents, it may end up being nothing like an internship program. Nevertheless, there are people out there willing to work, who do not have jobs, who would like one – so any effort to create a job is favorable on its own merit.

There are a few things that should be absolutely provided.  One is a letter of recommendation – three originals preferably on high quality paper, defining and thanking them for their work, and signed by you.    This would also be good to provide in PDF format.  A recommendation on LinkedIn with points for each of the areas they worked on with you.  An understanding that they can use you as a professional reference with confidence that you will provide them a positive referral.  An personal, verbal thank you.

Of course, if their contribution was less than one would expect, these recommendations and referrals are probably best set aside.

Notes for Prospective Interns and Other Job Seekers

It’s not always easy to find a job.  Sometimes it takes extra initiative when the “standard and customary” methods are not working – like applying for jobs behind a line of hundreds of other applicants.   Job hunting is not easy, it is not fun, it is usually not particularly fast.  In some areas of the United States, people have been out of work for so long they have stopped looking.

Consider the plight of the entrepreneur — who will frequently invest lots of their own time and money just to do what they want to do.  Like it or not, you are an entrepreneur – the only question is whether you are applying to it… perhaps not to create your own business, but maybe just to get a job that you like and are good at.

Between social networking and the various Q&A boards, not to mention LinkedIn, you have the option to approach those you know – and perhaps some you don’t – to give your skills the opportunity to do something for you and them.   If you are good at what you do and can do better than what they are doing, or you can show that you can make them money – you simply need to talk to the owner, avoiding large companies with hiring managers.

If you are new to the job market or to the industry itself, you are likely to be looking for a mentor who can facilitate getting you some hands on training or experience and can help pave the way for your next job.

Be clear with any terms you may have – if you have any expectation of pay, you need to make that clear.  But if it is the difference of showing what you can do for the potential of getting a job vs. never getting past the first interview, taking the extra initiative can be very useful.

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Do you really appreciate your customers and the opportunities they present? Every customer is not the same and while many might have the same interests, their degree of interest can vary radically. Most developers are content with signing regular, every-day customers. There are other types of customers – each able to open the door to different opportunities. Understanding this is the first step in being able to facilitate and explore those opportunities.

It is useful to understand cause and effect relationships and to see that any given action has the potential to create an opportunity. Most importantly, that serves to say that the lack of action typically precludes those opportunities from developing.   Even more important than that is to appreciate that in the digital world “any given action” includes things like “Links” and “Content” designed to facilitate specific actions. There’s a lot of deep theory here, but it is all simple to put to put into practice.

Below is a rough break-out of the different levels of customer relationships associated with the opportunities likely to be associated with them.   This helps establish two things. First, it presents what is likely to happen if the potential for it to happen is “easy” – if there is not a way for regular users to give you a Like on Facebook for your app, they probably won’t. Second, it provides you the ability to evaluate what you can do to facilitate additional opportunities for each and every customer.

Regular Customers – 80%

  • Downloads your app, completes registration and is added to your mailing list
  • Uses your app increasing your revenue from advertising
  • Uses your app and spends money to buy from the in-app store or upgrades to premium version
  • May give you a Facebook “Like”, Twitter Follower or added to your Google+ Circle

Loyal Customers – 15%

  • May be in the top 15% of spenders for your app.
  • Provides a review of your app.
  • Recommends your app to their friends.
  • May download or purchase your future apps.
  • May respond to special offers via in-app messaging, your newsletter or website.
  • May post to game forum/s with tips, tricks, ask questions for help.

Super Users – 5%

  • May be in the top 5% of spenders for your app.
  • Very active in recommending to friends.
  • May be a blogger inclined to post about your app.
  • May make a “guide” for your app.
  • May make a “video” for your app.

Unique Customers – 1%

  • May be in the top 1% of spenders for your app.
  • May be another developer with an interest in some form of collaboration.
  • Might be another business able to collaborate with you on advertising or other app development.
  • Potential future employee or affiliate.
  • Potential introductions to other people of interest.
  • Potential to generate a sponsor or interest from an investor.
  • Potential to be a “Subject Matter Expert” or source for journalists and media.

This breakout should help you see your customer base and such things as average lifetime customer value in a completely different light. As the developer, you need a way to recognize and respond to the existence of each of these possibilities. Essentially, you only need to provide the means for your customers to distinguish themselves.

You can facilitate all or most of these opportunities inside your app, on your web site and even your social media accounts. Apply to the opportunities that are realistic and cost effective for you. You may not need a page for job vacancies or investments, but if you do, having that information available makes it easy for those with the interest to contact you with their interests.


Market reach counts – advertising on Opera Mobile Store can get your app in front of millions of end-users you are not likely to reach otherwise. Contact our sales team today!

If you are looking for different ways to monetize your app, you may find the following articles of interest to you:

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You don’t have to be a developer to get useful information and ideas from the OMS Guide for Mobile App Developers. The guide is written to help developers monetize their apps and build their business, but a lot of the same principles apply to any venture and almost any career – even if they have absolutely nothing to do with mobile apps. Most businesses are still concerned with reaching more customers and being more competitive in their market. Cool things happen by exploring possibilities – let’s explore some that might be interesting for you!

Many posts in the OMS Guide are useful to anyone whether it relates to defining your breakeven point, having mentors or having a press kit, to name a few. Many aspects of mobile are useful for your business as may relate to mobile advertising, mobile friendly web sites, cross promotions, developer newsletters, content licensing, and more. Third, there are considerations about what a mobile app could do for your business – which does not necessarily mean that you need to develop an app from scratch.

Becoming the mobile “lead” in your company. One of the fastest ways to advance in any company is to find something that you can do, that the company needs but is not doing – and offering it. How that is done may vary from one company to the next. Some companies may require an action plan, cost-benefit analysis, a prototype or maybe something more. It is good to talk with management to see what they need. For many small companies, simply volunteering to fill a needed, vacant, function is enough.

Be an SME – Subject Matter Expert on Mobile and the Internet of Things for your company if it does not already have one. The most important aspect of this role is to understand the value it could have for your company. For most small businesses, it is only a matter of time before your expertise will be needed.

Apt App Questions. First, there is the exploration itself – asking questions and embarking to find the answers. What can IT do for you? Let IT be anything – information technology, mobile apps, mobile advertising or even holograph technology. How are others making use of IT?

For every problem, there is a solution. Most of the problems of any business today have already been solved by other businesses. In most cases, the solution is to adopt what others have done to solve problems for their business and modify it to your business. There is no need to constantly reinvent the wheel – we merely need to keep modifying the wheels to the vehicle using them. Every business is unique, so adaptation is necessary.

Look Around. You may not know exactly what you are looking for, but if you are not looking you probably won’t find it. This is a big part of competitive analysis – looking at what others are doing to see if you need it or can do it better. A huge world full of ideas, innovations and solutions awaits discovery with more innovations and new applications of old ideas being invented every day. It is hard to keep up with everything but the more you keep an eye open the more likely you are to see trends that can help position your company to be ahead of the bellcurve for adopting “new technologies” and applications for them.

Talk. Everyone needs a feedback loop – especially programmers and developers. Making it a point to develop friends with them is good for both of you. Programmers and developers are the people best able to tell electronic devices what we want the devices to do. The people who are involved in the other aspects of a business depend upon them to “translate” what we need to the electronic devices. They know the limits of the devices or at least are able to test those limits.

This dialogue will help you see different applications as easy or difficult. By knowing the things that can be done easily and with minimal expense you are in a better position to present different ideas and projects to the management in your company. Not understanding the complexity involved in a project can lead to additional expenses which can undermine future confidence in your proposals.

Is Mobile for You? Your questions are welcome! You do not need to be a programmer or developer to benefit from an expanded knowledge and awareness of mobile or related technologies. Up through 2004, many companies held that the Internet was just a fad – that eventually people would tire of it and move on. They were right in a sense, but more in that technology would continue to advance to offer people more things to move on to. Some have held that mobile is something different than the internet, others simply that they are the merely the same thing viewed differently from a big screen or a small screen.

If you are following tech news – how we will see and interact with “everything” 10 or 20 years from now gets even more interesting and complex. At the very least, it is a pretty safe bet that people are not going to put down their mobile devices to go back to manual typewriters. If Mobile Is as it is now – how much more will it be tomorrow?

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Written September 30, 2013 – Updated:  May 13, 2015

What is your mobile app’s revenue model? Free with paid in-app advertising? Freemium? Premium?  There’s another revenue option that with a bit  more work and some creativity could be a major revenue stream for developers of mobile utility-based apps – membership site subscriptions.

What is a Membership Site?   Here, we are talking about a web site where people pay for access – to other people, specific information, instruction or training, and sometimes for things like a trade association or possibly for matters of prestige.   There are membership sites for everything: celebrity fan clubs, for fans of rock-n-roll bands, for sports teams, churches, hobbies, and online games, too.

Even WordPress can be used to make a membership site.  Many membership site platforms provide a few different levels of membership at different subscription rates for different levels of access.   The benefits of these platforms is that they are mostly “plug-n-play” – all the features are there, most importantly with integrated member and billing management.   Membership sites are usually very feature rich making it easy for the “average user” to add their own content – articles, pictures, videos and other files, conduct live stream events, maintain an event calendar, make it easy to share across social media, and usually a LOT more.

Why would a Membership Site be useful for a Mobile App Utility?  This requires seeing the big picture and where you and your app fit in it. If you have an app that is useful for people in a particular profession – both you, your professional/social network and your app/s have a place in that profession.   You have the basis to potentially offer and be paid for far more.It is helpful to look at what you do as it relates to both products and services – and see that frequently “services” have greater value than “products” – and that providing products is a great way to promote services.   Tax preparation software, for example, is a great way of promoting tax preparation services. 

It is appropriate to see providing access to subject matter expertise from subject matter experts as a service unto itself.  Depending upon the individual profiles of those subject matter experts, intangibles like trust and prestige can come into play – and to an extent, their own “social-professional connectedness”.  If, for example, you are preparing to graduate from college and are looking for a job as a tax accountant – developing relationships with other established tax accountants can make it a lot easier to get into a good company.  Another example is your local golf course – odds are it probably has a membership club.

How much work is a Membership Site?  Honestly, setting up and managing a membership site can be a lot of work.  Much depends upon how you structure it for the long-term, but one can expect a fairly intensive 30 – 90 days of content development and structuring it for your membership.  Thereafter, you can settle into a schedule of periodic updates.

A few things deserve to be pointed out.  First, you don’t necessarily need to do this yourself.  If you have an experienced colleague interested in some side work who knows your app, you could enter into a partnership with them.  Second, the more you encourage and reward membership participation, the more the site will tend to “manage itself”.  While about 90% of your membership is likely to be fairly passive, the other 10% will be happy to take on an active role because they will see and understand doing so helps others while simultaneously advancing their own interests.

What can this do for you continued app development?

As can be expected, a membership site effort would require producing high quality, industry-specific content, news and additional services. Obviously, this would expand your role well beyond the scope of mobile development. Consider the following advantages:

  • Recurring monthly or annual membership billing.
  • Industry specialists to help define desired features and new apps.
  • A built-in group of beta testers.
  • An additional venue for advertising and acquiring sponsors.
  • More easily connect with industry bloggers and journalists.
  • Your own store front.
  • Better ability to incentivize your “super-users” to promote your app more.

This combines your mobile app – a unique product, with a nearly unique service. The core features of a membership site involve a combination of specialized content, expertise coupled with low level consulting services, community, opportunities for members to network with others (B2B and/or B2C), in some cases – prestige.

Consider how much you make selling each copy of your app. Compare that to what you might make through subscriptions. While heavily relative to the market, it is not uncommon for a web site monthly subscription to run $5 or $50 a month or $50 to $500 per year, or more – per subscriber. Some financial and investor related sites run in excess of $300 monthly. The variation relates to matters of expertise, exclusivity, prestige and target size. Celebrity status (yours or that of your core members) can influence this further.

Structuring Membership Levels – Most platforms offer several levels of membership – like:  Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or even Platinum.   As an example (and a recommendation), it is good to always have one free option – basic – letting people access some of your content, sign up to your newsletter, so that you have their contact information.  Bronze or Silver levels add access to content on a paid basis – perhaps at just a few dollars per month or $10 – $25 per year.  Gold and Platinum levels are reserved for the “major movers” – and those who want access to special services – whether some consulting, one on one time, or perhaps advertising capabilities, often for much more.  The pay structure needs to fit your market.

Additional Revenue Streams.  Having a membership site for a specific trade/industry/interest can facilitate corporate sponsorships and advertising.  For some, corporate sponsorships can be the greatest source of revenue.  In one case, a site focused on electric-powered vehicles made more through advertising than all other sources of income combined.

This may require more marketing savvy and greater effort but your ROI relative to base app sales is potentially much greater. You are not precluded from adopting multiple marketing and promotional efforts. You can still feature your app on stores just like you can promote your site through your app.

It’s not a decision to be made lightly or without research. It requires an honest appraisal of what you can do, the quality and usefulnes of your apps, and a long-term commitment to a specific niche or industry.   That can extend to who you know and what they are willing to do, too.  Most importantly, a successful membership site requires a deep understanding of your position within the industry and a long-term, persistent effort to improve it.

Frequently, to make what you do most profitable requires doing a lot of other things. Properly approached and developed, however – you can leverage the interests and activities of your market to substantially augment your own efforts. When your “network” becomes a hub or attraction within your industry, others will be looking to increase their position within it, too.

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Getting straight to it, Horizon 2020 is a massive European Union Research and Innovation program with 80 Billion Euros worth of funding spanning from 2014 through 2020. Its goal is, “to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation” – to promote economic growth and create jobs.

This deserves attention, not so much for the EU, but for mobile app developers (individuals and companies) residing in eligible countries to be involved in projects backed by grant funding. Horizon 2020 is not specifically concerned with the Mobile Industry, but its interest overlaps with matters like the proliferation of Mobile Technology, the Internet of Things, and eGovernance.

Participating countries include Iceland, Norway, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, Moldova, the Faroe Islands, Ukraine and of course, all of the countries of the European Union, proper.

ISO 9001+.  Somewhat further afield, but worthy of consideration for developers with the appropriate background or willingness to work with individuals or companies with the experience, concerns development of app utilities to support ISO 9001, et al, (International Standards Organization) processes and management programs. The basic theme is that as international trade agreements are reached, the details will need to be pegged to standards acceptable to all participating countries.

Rather than enact different laws and regulations for all the different trading partner configurations – it is much simpler for each participating country to adopt and apply to a uniform standard (i.e. ISO). While ISO publications are available in multiple languages, there are not a lot of ISO related mobile apps and most of those that do exist are not localized for use in many countries.

EN 15038. Even more arcane, but also relevant, is that some European companies which apply to ISO and work internationally are also concerned with the “standards” of their translations (See EN 15038). Additional information for “TSP’s” is available in The Translation Service Provider’s Guide to BS EN 15038 by Chris Cox which could useful for developers focused on localization services.

While applying to these standards can certainly help you score projects for specific companies, there is plenty of opportunity for developing generic products under these titles for training and management purposes – likely for high-end premium utility-based apps.


For maximum exposure, make sure your mobile apps are available on Opera Mobile Store. Fast, Free and Easy – sign up here!

If this article was relevant to you, you may also find the following articles helpful:

 

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“No single competency is enabling us to elevate the Starbucks brand more than our global leadership I mobile, digital, and loyalty. Starbucks is a clear leader in mobile payments and we are encouraged by how consumers have embraced mobile apps as a way to pay.” – Howard Schultz, 2013

Starbucks generated over $1 billion via mobile payments in 2013. Keep this in mind.

Whether you have a large team, a small team or engaging as a solo developer the option is always there for you to approach other businesses to see what you could do for them. That may sound intimidating if you have not done that before, but the worst anyone can say is “No”. This is not something restricted to mobile app development, suffice that many developers are not generating as much revenue as they would like by developing directly for the consumer market.

Back in the 1990’s, working for Continental Cablevision’s subsidiary distributing Primestar Satellite TV (DirecTV’s #1 competitor then), it seemed odd that they did not have a web site. They got one though, simply because someone asked why they didn’t have one and provided them a prototype of what their web site might look like. That helped launch a new career and a business, influencing also the career paths of several of the managers who supported the proposal.

The idea for mobile app developers is to try to identify opportunities that:

  1. enhance what a business is already doing,
  2. fill “gaps” in what a business should be doing but is not,
  3. apply what other businesses are successfully doing to those who are not doing it,
  4. simplify or solve problems that have a significant impact on a business.

The Macro Picture aims to enable, “Everyone in the world being connected via devices and other things so that they can communicate and do business with anyone, anywhere, anytime.” The race is on to be able to do that.  Companies unable to adjust to this paradigm will likely either go out of business or be acquired by others applying to it. We can reasonably guess that at some point, almost all global purchases will be processed digitally.

From concerns about taxes and untaxed “shadow economies”, money laundering, financial support of terrorism, currency counterfeiting, to simply making it easier to do business, this is in the future. It may be years away yet, but active efforts are moving in this direction, (with Sweden being a prime example)

The future is already here; it is just not evenly distributed.
– William Ford Gibson (See MobilePaymentsToday.com)

That’s a bird’s eye view to provide you ample ideas to play with.

By knowing where everything is going it becomes significantly easier to “reverse engineer” all of things that will get us there. That is to say, for example with languages – the idea is that eventually the entire sum of all human knowledge that is in print will be available to everyone in every language. To some extent, that already exists now, insomuch as things like Google Translate and other translation software can provide a fairly decent gist of content.

For years, I had questions about who was going to pay for all those translators, but the solution is far simpler and exponentially more economical. Back in 1993, it was one of my goals to see something like the works of Baron Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall translated into English. One of his works was written in seven languages – Latin, Hebraic, Greek, Aramaic, German, French and one entire paragraph in English. Conventionally, that would be difficult to translate, cost a lot, and there’d be all of maybe 200-300 people in the world who would even be interested in it. Today, the means of doing so is almost free – provided one could get hold of either one of the seven remaining copies or a microfiche copy of it.

These may seem like digressions, but cover some very simple problems to some very complex ones, all of which are par for the course for small businesses. There are millions of small businesses out there, not to mention plenty of big businesses, too.

Every creation does not need to be unique, suffice that you can create your own apps or coordinate with other developers to adapt apps as needed to fit almost any need.

Fundamentally, it is you – the mobile app developer who is best able to help the world’s businesses get to where we are going. Whether or not we “really want to get there” is a totally different question, but the race is on.

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Today’s Lucky Wednesday – and for a limited time you can pick up this premium app by 3in1solitaireInlogic Software for free.

Solitaire, FreeCell and Spiderette – all in one app!  You know them, you’ve played ‘em , but do you have them on your mobile app? These are games you can play against yourself when you are bored or simply waiting for something or someone. In fact, before these games were called Solitaire, they were called “Patience” – going all the way back to 1765!

There’s something strangely hypnotic and soothing about any of the different versions of Solitaire. This was even recognized by Microsoft which started including Solitaire as part of the Windows Operating System starting with Windows 3.0 back in 1990. Solitaire is the kind of game that helped people intimidated by computers to warm up to them – easy to play, requiring attention to detail – and a lot of luck!

The game has been so popular that it was even referenced by The Statler Brothers in their 1966 song, “Flowers on the Wall” which spent four weeks as Billboard magazine’s #2 Hot Country Singles chart and #4 on its Hot 100 – but the Statler’s version was “a card short of a full deck” —

Counting flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do.

Now, you can get all three of these versions of Solitaire for your mobile device for free – save a dollar and be guaranteed to have something help you pass the next time your bored or need a quick distraction.  Download 3 in 1 Solitaire now from Opera Mobile Store and make sure that you will ALWAYS have something to do!

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As you know, the more platforms your app works on, the more money you can theoretically make. The more stores you are on, the more money you can theoretically make, too. When it comes to Testing and Improving your app Product pages, the more stores you are on the easier it will be for you to run multiple tests and compare multiple changes.

As you are in the business of improving the performance of your app, improving your app’s product page follows a similar process. This follows the processes typical to A/B and multivariate testing except that most stores are not likely to provide you the means to test different descriptions side by side. Thus testing should follow something like the following process:

  1. Develop several different product descriptions and/or screenshots
  2. Use a different product description on each store your app is on – be on as many stores as needed to test simultaneously.
  3. Evaluate all results according to a statistically significant sample size (1,000+ viewers).
  4. “Promote” your best performing variant to your highest trafficked store product page – it is now your “control”.
  5. Analyze all results, make changes and repeat 1 through 5 until you achieve acceptable results..

Every mobile store is not the same – each has its own audience with different demographics.. If you are engaged in advertising and marketing in support of your app on a specific store, that also impacts your demographic sampling. All of this needs to be noted and characterized in your evaluations of each app store.

It deserves to be noted that on many app stores, without a suitable promotional effort, it may be difficult for you to get a statistically significant sample size. It may not always justify the effort, but if supported by spending just 15 minutes every week or two promoting your app on that store, you might be surprised.

A statistically significant sample size is tricky and is a study of its own. Under ideal test conditions a sample of 1,040 viewers allows for a 99% confidence level that your overall download rate would be +/-4% of your sample group. If you saw a 5% download rate, overall results could range from 1 to 9%.

With time and advertising, however, you will be able to base your tests on 10k to even 100k viewers to get a more reliable average conversion rate. It is known, for example, that the “largest online merchant” takes great pains to ensure that everything its visitors first see when viewing their store “converts”. Relative to their volume, if a product’s performance is not up to par “almost immediately” – it gets swapped with something else, on a continuous, rotating basis.

When you are starting from scratch, you will likely want to test several “completely different formats” – with the objective of reaching a format that works best for you. These could be long-medium-short versions; they could also be story based or feature-based descriptions; or they may try to trigger end-user emotions by playing on competitive play, intrigue and curiosity, or simply focus on having fun.

If you already have several apps, start with one of your lower performing apps to see if you can improve its conversion rate before working on what is already making you money. While we always want to improve performance, it also stands that you don’t want to break what is already working – and a LOT of companies do exactly that. As you acquire more data and become better with you app descriptions, you can begin testing your better performing apps.

In all regards, multivariate testing is a marathon, not a sprint.

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Your product page is the #1 cheapest, easiest and fastest thing you can improve to impact your revenue.

Almost every company that spends money on advertising does so because they see a suitable return on their investment. Whether you are advertising your mobile app or not, there is one small thing you need to continuously perfect – your app’s product page. My previous article went into this in some detail.

Product pages are easy to create, but difficult to master. They are so easy to create and change that their complexity is usually ignored. The one word I did not use to describe a product page is… simple. There’s nothing truly simple about it. Easy? Yes. Simple? No.

You should always want to improve your product page until a) you are happy with your download rate, or b) have a version that performs better than all other variants. You can reach a point where more people download directly from your app’s icon, but that’s not typical and ignoring your product page even then is hugely suboptimal.

Many app product pages have descriptions that are too short, some too long, many with distorted screenshots. In generic terms, the following are good rules of thumb in developing product pages for mobile apps:

  1. Make it compact – optimize for mobile readers.
  2. Use keywords and make every word count to your audience.
  3. Structure information:
    1. Start with an attention grabbing introduction.
    2. Use bullet points for details and features.
    3. Include a “dramatic” call to action.
  4. Use enhanced text formatting (bold, italics, underline) where appropriate.
  5. Use white space to make it easy to read.
  6. Last, but not least – only use the best screenshots possible.

Most of these specific points can be elaborated upon in much greater detail – and will be in upcoming articles.

“Making every word count” – sounds simple, but infers all of the following:

  • Making use of keywords, end-user “jargon” and exciting action verbs.
  • Psychological elements as selling points and calls to action – to pique curiosity or inflame competitive spirit, etc.
  • Flesch-Kincaid readability elements on average word and sentence length.

The next article will get into the exact process of how to improve your product page, and then we will look closer at each of the specific points above. As a developer though, you probably are already very familiar with how to improve your product page as it involves many of the techniques to help improve your app.  You pick that up from observing others, your own experience and testing.  Same here.

Even then, you want to continuously test and compare your results for the possibility that you can get better results. An additional 1% conversion on 1 million visitors to your page where you average $1.00 in revenues per end user equates to $10,000 for something that might take you a few hours (total) every year to do.

You can get your free “Supreme App Description Makeover” by checking us out on LinkedIn!  If you don’t like what we provide, you don’t need to use it.

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What’s the most important part of your app to optimize for revenue? If you said, “Mark, it’s not my app, it’s my product page that is most important to optimize!” Then, you would be right! While “everything else” is important, your product page is your “packaging”.  This is what people see before people go to eat your app.

Yes, eat it, in allegorical fashion – as if the customer was in a pastry store.  When a customer does see your product, you want to make a favorable impression. It is up to you to deliver it to them.

  • Almost everything about your app is relevant only after someone downloads it.
  • It is everything you do before people see your app that generates your revenue.

Your app product page is the #1 easiest thing that you can improve upon to have the #1 impact on your revenue. It’s probably the smallest line item in the entirety of your whole app development cycle. It correlates directly to the third application of Pareto’s Principle where (loosely) 1% of your work is likely to be responsible for 50% of your revenue.

That may be hard to believe until you look at the numbers and logically think it through. It applies to just about anything that is sold (or distributed for free) online.

Advertising scales relative to your budget. Marketing scales relative to your time and effort, with a rare and incalculable viral element. If you are not engaging in either, you are effectively left with organic traffic. The figures used below, (10k, 1k and 100) are simplistic approximations of the direct impact of these three sources of traffic where download rate is the only variable.

description(AC + M + O) * D * R * U = $1 LV

  • Ad Clickthroughs – Scales to your budget.
  • Marketing – Marketing scales to your time and effort, with an incalculable viral component.
  • Organic – People who almost randomly stumble across your app’s product page.
  • Downloads – Number of people who see your app who download it.
  • Registration – Percentage of users who you
  • Use – % of users who satisfy your advertising or in-app purchase goals.
  • $1.00 Lifetime Value – Plug in your numbers on a straight percentage basis.

This chart shows how everything else can remain constant, but by just improving your download rate can radically influence your revenue. That’s the core objective of your product page. While you can also (and should be) trying to optimize all of your other efforts, so much depends upon this single, small component that it is frequently overlooked and sometimes dismissed outright.

There are many businesses that overlook their content and focus, usually, just on advertising.   In many cases, they are doing well enough even when their content is distinctly subpar.  When they did start working on their content, they were quickly able to realize at least a 2-3x improvement in sales, and with effort, 4x and better.

Over the next few articles, we’ll explore in depth what you can do to optimize your app’s product page.

For now though, I am looking for volunteers for a “Supreme App Description Makeover.”  Find more details in my post on LinkedIn.  Note you already read this article, so you don’t need to follow that link, you only need volunteer!

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Lucky Wednesday

Download your Premium Copy of Pizza Ninja 3 for FREE Today!

pizza-ninja3

There’s the old saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!”

Where conventional hack and slash takes you dungeon diving, Pizza Ninja 3 throws you into the kitchen. You’ll slice, dice, chop and try to shred your way through cheese and mushrooms, peppers and sausages as the pizza orders come in faster and faster.

While slicing them in mid-air is challenge enough, you’ll need to avoid the bombs.

The what?

The Bombs – yes.

One wrong move and your Double Deluxe Combo will turn you into… Tossed Salad!

If you are looking to test your hand-eye coordination, timing and ninjitsu-precision, Pizza Ninja 3 will give you a great work out and… probably make you very hungry… for pizza.

Pizzas, of course, are sold separately and not available for delivery through Opera Mobile Store.

Download Pizza Ninja 3 Today!

Check back with us every Wednesday to get a cool premium app for free!

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World_at_arms-logo

Do you like city-building? Strategy? Games where you can compete against other players and against a computer opponent? If so, you will find this Massively Multiplayer Online hybrid RTS an interesting and exciting mobile app for Android and iOS by Gameloft.

World at Arms is cast in a modern, slightly futuristic, “world” where you take on the role of the United States military rebuilding after a devastating attack by Russian and North Korean Forces, the “KRA”. While an exaggerated theme, Hollywood also produced several movies with a similar theme – Red Dawn (1984), Red Dawn (2012). This is a game though, so it needs to be evaluated more on entertainment value than geo-politics and authentic operational capabilities. A “TLA” would be knocking on my door if I did otherwise...

World at Arms is Free to Play but has an in-app store as should be expected. As with all games produced by Gameloft, you can expect very nice graphics, an intuitive user interface and smooth gameplay.

baseYou start out with a small military base with only a handful of buildings. Your first task will be to build a place for your soldiers to eat – a messhall.

Expanding your base, expanding your production capabilities, building your army and fighting enemy forces (and other players) is the meat and potatoes of this game and entire genre.

Progress in developing your base is guided through the customary “quest” type system. By completing buildings, training units and fighting, you get rewards of many different types. You’ll be setting up barracks, oil production, mechanized factories all the while collecting their production so that you can buy more buildings and units.

Your forces start off with some infantry and a few Humvees with heavy weapons, but will eventually include tanks, helicopters, aircraft, naval vessels and higher tech “mech” units.

storeThere are special buildings and units which can be acquired mainly through in-app currency (like on the left). As you play and complete missions, you will earn a good chunk of in-app currency for free.

You also receive a daily “random drawing” which can reward you with extra units, resources, or other items only available through the in-app store.

Games of this nature favor the socially active. If you can get your friends to play, not only will you have a stronger, more reliable alliance for competing against others, you will get extra bonuses – via sharing on Facebook. Ultimately, you will want to become part of an alliance or have your own. World at War is not a “pay to win” type game – as an alliance with many active, non-paying players can be as strong or stronger than a smaller alliance of paying players, active or not.

There are many more features to this game such as being able to fuse weaker units into stronger units, deep sea exploration and creation of titan-type Mech units such as the Atlas.

Being a wargame designer and an avid wargamer myself, I have high expectations. I’ve played almost all of the different games in the city-building, wargame strategy genre – from Ebony to Soldiers, Inc., for mobile and personal computers, and I honestly World at Arms the best entertainment value in its category – especially for being available on mobile.

Far too many of these games reduce Combat down to mathematical equations. Combat in World at Arms is more interactive, with opportunities to heal your units or blow up enemy units – above and beyond the capabilities of your own units. Stronger units will perform better, but between terrain and a some “strategic options” (like off-board missiles) you can take on stronger forces while striving for “force preservation” of your strongest units. That is, you can lose units faster than you build them if you are not paying attention to the broader picture.

Try World at Arms out today – it’s free and you can get it on Opera Mobile Store – Android version / iOS version.

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World_at_arms-logo

Do you like city-building?  Strategy?  Games where you can compete against other players and against a computer opponent?  If so, you will find this Massively Multiplayer Online hybrid RTS an interesting and exciting mobile app for Android and iOS by Gameloft.

World at Arms is cast in a modern, slightly futuristic, “world” where you take on the role of the United States military rebuilding after a devastating attack by Russian and North Korean Forces, the “KRA”. While an exaggerated theme, Hollywood also produced several movies with a similar theme – Red Dawn (1984), Red Dawn (2012). This is a game though, so it needs to be evaluated more on entertainment value than geo-politics and authentic operational capabilities.  A “TLA” would be knocking on my door if I did otherwise...

World at Arms is Free to Play but has an in-app store as should be expected. As with all games produced by Gameloft, you can expect very nice graphics, an intuitive user interface and smooth gameplay.

baseYou start out with a small military base with only a handful of buildings. Your first task will be to build a place for your soldiers to eat – a messhall.

Expanding your base, expanding your production capabilities, building your army and fighting enemy forces (and other players) is the meat and potatoes of this game and entire genre.

Progress in developing your base is guided through the customary “quest” type system. By completing buildings, training units and fighting, you get rewards of many different types.  You’ll be setting up barracks, oil production, mechanized factories all the while collecting their production so that you can buy more buildings and units.

storeYour forces start off with some infantry and a few Humvees with heavy weapons, but will eventually include tanks, helicopters, aircraft, naval vessels and higher tech “mech” units. There are special buildings and units which can be acquired mainly through in-app currency. You also receive a daily “random drawing” which can reward you with extra units, resources, or other items only available through the in-app store.

 

 

 

There are lots of games of this type all with different themes – but very similar playstyles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can earn in-game currency at a decent rate.

In this free-to-play all-out modern-war strategy game, you will battle across the globe, in the sea’s depths, on the ground, and in the air, following a deep solo campaign and fighting in an exciting multiplayer mode. Take advantage of the rich social features to find allies and chat to devise a cunning battle plan, for free! Join or create your own Faction to combine forces! Make your name known on the leaderboards by challenging rivals and stealing their resources and by becoming the best player in this immersive game!

√ A free war simulation game with brilliant graphics, stunning animations, and realistic units & buildings

√ Collect resources, build, upgrade, and fuse units, construct facilities, and complete numerous achievements to earn free bonuses

√ Engage in innovative battles across the globe and on various terrains (desert, urban, underwater & more)

√ Immerse yourself with the only modern-war strategy game on the market that offers deep-sea exploration and battles!

√ Construct the new super unit, Atlas, and use it as a game-changer in battle!

√ Join Factions with other players or form your own to wage war, dominate, and win rewards

√ Connect with your friends via Facebook and borrow their units during battle

World at Arms is suitable for fans of strategy games, modern warfare games, tank games, submarine games and tycoon games. Download World at Arms for free and enjoy probably the best modern-war strategy game on the market!

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, Operahttp://www.operasoftware.com/press/releases/mobile/2015-03-18

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Follow Opera Mobile Store on LinkedIn! 

We recently started a series of articles to introduce people not involved with mobile apps to consider their potential value and possible roles in working with mobile app developers.   Mobile development and marketing are only two components of the much broader matter of Doing Business.

These articles might prompt you to consider connecting with others for the knowledge, skills and experience they can provide you – to make your apps more competitive, address pay wall issues, or begin acquiring some operating capital for marketing/advertising and further development.

Mobile is still new enough that there are a lot of business savvy people out there who might actively use mobile devices and apps, but don’t know how or where they could possibly fit in.  Doing business in mobile is not all that different from any other kind of business.  There are some differences, but many of them apply to making Mobile much easier than both brick and mortar, as well as conventional internet related businesses.  However, that ease – that low barrier to entry gives rise to a much greater level of competition, same problem if of a different magnitude.

Fundamentally, almost every problem we encounter has been encountered by someone else before.  More often than not, those problems have reliable solutions.  Consequently, it is of great potential value to get people with different interests, skills, experience and perspective to begin connecting and talking with one another!

Let us know what you think of the first three articles in the series, in the comments below or on LinkedIn!

These are part of a series of articles to introduce people not involved with mobile apps  The “best of” articles posted on LinkedIn will be curated and integrated into the OMS Guide.

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Where the value of a game is concerned, most players have four concerns relating to pay models:

  1. How much can I afford to spend on games per month?
  2. How much of that am I willing to spend on a specific game?
  3. Are there other games out there that will provide the same level of satisfaction but cost less?
  4. Am I invested so heavily into a game now that, “I have to keep playing it”?

These are questions developers should be asking about their players, too. There are thousands of games out there representing every pay model permutation possible. Each has its own level of financial investment to fully experience.  Money, while very important is only one element in the equation.

According to Scott Rigby, author of “Glued to Games”, there are three core reasons why people play games:

  • Competence – The potential to show progress and achievements – better stats, better equipment, more achievements, more gold, better skills.
  • Autonomy – Having choices, ability to make decisions and have control over the outcome – the option to try different things, decide moral dilemmas, etc.
  • Relatedness – To feel like we matter and are making a “contribution” to the world and to things to which we associate ourselves.

This correlates closely with findings from a CareerBuilder.com Survey of over 6,000 people from 2007. Their survey indicated that when it comes to work, people’s “dream jobs” are more concerned with having fun (39%) and being able to make a difference in society (17%), than making money (13%).   “Having fun” is functionally a combination of Competence and Autonomy, under Rigby’s analysis.

Games provide a means to fulfill the things that we may not be realizing in other areas of our lives.  That is, if we are not having fun at work, when we are on our free time, we are likely going to seek out “whatever it is” that we call fun.

When it comes to game design, one of the first questions a developer needs to ask is, “Why is someone going to play this game?”  What will it provide that the player really wants, or even needs?  Game theory and psychology plays an important role in the success of a game, and it is directly demonstrated when “virtual vanity items” such as a +5 Tome of Epic Uper Strength in one MMO is available for US $24.

Games that offer a strong social or competitive environment depend upon the Internet, while games that focus on solo play generally don’t. Players are willing to play more and pay more when they have a strong social connection with other people playing it. Their investment in the game is no longer just measured in monetary terms, but social ones, to friends, teams, guildies, and sometimes even responsibilities within a guild or team environment.

Where Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness apply to all games, it can be generally said that most hugely successful games that do not rely upon an internet connection depend upon delivering an immersive experience – in play, graphics, etc. Most that do rely upon an internet connection rely upon a variety of strong social components. It is hard to get both via a mobile app today, but that will not always be the case.

This is all important as it relates to defining your position within the market. This does require some competitive analysis and surveys of your beta-team and players, alike.  Compare your app against what other games of a similar nature offer players.

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Every year we select The Opera Top Apps Awards winners from 300,000 applications available on the Opera Mobile Store.  This represents only the top-downloaded apps in the period from December 1, 2013 through November 30, 2014.   This year, the categories are divided across Games and Utilities for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Java.

App Developers are free to use the Award Logo in their program descriptions, on their websites or in any other online or printed media.

Our best congratulations to our Winners in each category!


awards_2014_overallwinner

Overall Winner

For the most downloads spanning all categories, the #1 Overall Winner for Opera Mobile Store in 2014 is… (drumroll)

mo_icon_big_thumb_226625

Truecaller

by True Software Scandinavia AB


awards_2014_android

Android™ Games & Utilities


awards_2014_symbian

Symbian Games & Utilities

  • Symbian Utilities

  • Truecaller – Caller ID
    by True Software Scandinavia AB
  • Facebook
    by Facebook
  • Frim NG 
    by Ardetiel Services Limited

    Note that there are many country-specific versions of FRIM, so make sure to look for the one that is best for you.


awards_2014_blackberry

Blackberry Games & Utilities


awards_2014_java

Java Games & Utilities


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Just because you are a mobile app developer does not mean mobile app development must be your only line of business activity. Considering that most app developers are not making money on their apps, some diversification in your product and service offerings could go a long way! There is a long list of business activities directly relevant to your mobile development work. Let’s take a look at some:

1.  Mobile Development Contracting and Subcontracting. This almost goes without saying, yet it still frequently ignored. Be available to other companies seeking to outsource their mobile development work. Many developers are fixated on producing their apps, suffice that getting paid to develop other people’s apps provides you experience, professional contacts, and some operating capital.

2.  Graphics Design. Whether you have a team or not, odds are you have some involvement with graphics design. You do it yourself, someone on your team who is good at it, or you outsource it. So, take stock of what you have and what your development partners are capable of. If you have the means of producing high quality graphics, animations, videos, etc., you have the potential to market these as part of your services.   If you outsource, this will involve negotiating a discounted rate with your partner and/or adding a mark-up on their rates. Many web site developers make these arrangements as a standard practice. Your apps can be used as part of your showcase, too. This offers a near-zero barrier to expanding your business.

3. Translation and Language Optimization. Technically two different services. All of the main factors associated with graphics design apply here, provided you, someone on your team, or someone you outsource to is fluent in two or more languages. Add expertise in specific industries, colloquial use, jargon, search engine optimization skills for matters of language optimization. There is an active need for both of these skills, internationally. Large companies pay for these services, too.

4.  Product Testing and Reviews. Companies do pay for unbiased product reviews and this can be a good way of getting a lot of free product. Approached on a long-term basis and with videos on YouTube, you can build your own mobile app user audience before you produce your own apps. This is a fairly limited opportunity, but on a per language basis. Good to have your own web site with this approach.

5.  Fancy Legal Advisories. The dividends for being a tech advisor for law firms can be very useful by way of their clientele. Lawyers depend upon all kinds of technical specialists as “professional witnesses”. Professional witnesses do get paid for expert services. See Wiki on Professional Witnesses for more. Make yourself known to your local lawyers and law practices… contrary to popular opinion they won’t bite you. Usually.

The first three are fairly obvious, suffice that if you are in business, having diversified sources of revenue is important, especially given the nuances of the monetization of the mobile app market. All of these additional business activities warrant having a web site for your business.

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Merry Christmas & Ho! Ho!  Ho! to everyone!

In presenting this list, I realize that no one will ever want me to do their Christmas shopping for them… ever.  There are so many apps and so many different tastes, interests and age groups to consider to make it kind of difficult to find 5 apps suitable for every child out there.  So, the goal was reduced to trying to find at least one app for just about everyone.   That, I think was achieved… without including a single Zombie App!

 

ginger1.  Talking Ginger

A cute talking kitten app. My wife talked me into getting a real cat, insisting that real cats don’t shed hair, don’t go potty in places where they aren’t supposed to, generally eat everything you give them, and that she would take care of it. She was wrong on all accounts. So, when your little ones look up to you and give you that look that you simply cannot refuse, you know the look, “I want a kitten!” You can now put a smile on your little one’s face and download Talking Ginger. Parents should note this app may involve some in-app purchases and an additional download of 6 – 42 Mb to get the best graphics quality.

 

 171076_screenshot_12.  Chess

Chess is a classic, easy to learn, hard to master game. For all of the games out there, Chess is arguably the oldest game people still play. Simply knowing how to set up a chess board these days implies a certain measure of… sophistication. There are also a lot of different chess game apps available, all quite good with different features so you may want to shop around. I selected this version for having a very traditional and authentic chessboard look-n-feel with 7 difficulty levels and lots of extra features. Chess is like mental martial arts, “Wax on, wax off!” This is not just a game for boys either, over 3 decades ago, a girl put me into checkmate on the junior high school chess team tournament. I was stunned.

 

dragonage3. Heroes of Dragon Age

“Heroes of Dragon Age hits all the right notes… impressive depths in terms of strategy, style of play, and character design make this Dragon Age tie-in a worthy addition to your games folder.” – IGN Asia

Collect heroes and fantastic creatures and do battle! Produced by Electronic Arts, you get a high quality game with rich graphics and an extensive storyline supporting solo and player-vs-player game play. There are literally thousands of games out there; trying to select a few “for everyone” is pretty hard.

Back in the day, about when the Apple IIe first appeared and role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons started becoming popular – with nerds like me, there were girls who played, too. Well, okay, technically, there was just one girl who joined us “once in a while” – but fast forward to 2009 and there were 400,000 girls playing World of Warcraft just in the United States.

Today? Well, Today, Winter is Coming! The entire fantasy genre is coming to life like never before.

 

wikipedia4.  Wikipedia App

Parents today can be very, very thankful for not being hit up every year to buy a new 20-30 book set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica – technically, they stopped printing in 2010. Today, Wikipedia can be considered an excellent free encyclopedia simply for the number of people who contribute to it. Everyone should be able to have free access to information. Looking back, anyone who actually received an Encyclopedia Brittanica set for Christmas – and I know there are at least a few of you out there, you probably felt ripped-off… because you really wanted the newest G.I. Joe. Okay, well, you probably didn’t want that either. Anyways… now, you can make sure your children always have the information they might need at their fingertips.

 

booba5.  Talking Booba: Santa’s Pet

A Christmas App List for Kids probably would not be complete without some kind of Christmas related app. Where Talking Ginger is likely to appeal to young ladies, Talking Booba might be funnier for little lads. The best thing about Booba, for parents at least, is that you will never have to buy a real one!

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Santa is making his list and checking it twice to find out who has been naughty and nice. And here is a list of my own – a list of nice apps that you can download from Opera Mobile Store for your new (or old) mobile device. I stuck to the practical and pragmatic, things that can turn your smart phone into a… Swiss Army Smart Phone for adults. Tomorrow being Christmas Eve,  we will take a look at Apps for Kids

40213_screenshot_111.  Skype

Skype for free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype. Quite simply, Skype is free and it can save you a bundle in talking with your friends and family wherever they might be. Skype has added new payment options to make it easier and cheaper to connect with people who don’t have Skype, too.

 

2. 17699_screenshot_1Alarm Clock Plus

Did you wake up and see your alarm clock flashing 12:00? Late for work? You probably do have a battery powered alarm clock somewhere and it might still work provided you’ve replaced the batteries in the past year or two. But since you are likely to always have your mobile device with you and you regularly make sure it is charged – it can serve as your alarm clock, too.

 

9872_screenshot3.    Currencies Free

Is a dollar still worth a dollar? Or maybe it’s worth just ninety-five cents today? Since the money changers have their own buy and sell rates for different currencies, you need to know what the “real value” of that currency is before you go to convert it. Numerous currencies have declined by as much as 50%, even 100%, over the past 12 months. It is hard not to be facetious if you are watching the money markets… or your own money.

 

218303_screenshot_14.  Any.Do

A basic, but very functional To-do and Task List notemaker. You may not have a pen, you may not have paper, but odds are you will be carrying your mobile device. Ironically, if you take the time to write or type something, you will most likely remember it anyway. It also has supports microphone use for voice to text conversion making it even easier to take note of that ten million dollar idea that you have during your ride home on the crowded subway.

 

11723_screenshot_35. Uninstaller

For as many apps as you are likely to download and try over the next few years, you will likely want a way to uninstall the ones you don’t use – to make room for more. I remember the day when a computer specialist told me, “You will never need more than a 300 megabyte hard drive.” Yeah…   If you get a new Android gadget for Christmas this year, do yourself a favor and try to keep your apps and files organized.

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Why would your app make a great Christmas Present?

We’ve been busy getting everything into place for the Opera Mobile Store 2014 Mobile App Awards which we are expecting to announce in mid-January. Right now though, we’re looking to do a special Christmas presentation – to recommend 5 or 10 mobile apps that would make a great Christmas present.

Let’s make this a little different. How about we ask you – yes, you – the mobile app developer, why your app would make a great present for the holidays?

Granted, right now giving apps as gifts is not mainstream, yet. Still, people buy mobile devices over the holiday season. Parents might download apps for their children. Some will be buying new devices for themselves. Others will be looking for cool things to download after they open their gifts to find a shiny new Nokia X or Google Nexus 6. Children will be asking for their parents to buy stuff, too. Wrapped or not, this is the season for giving and one can bet that there will be a lot of apps being downloaded.

So, head over to our Facebook page and you will see the most recent post (for December 16) asking you to tell us about your app and why you think it would make a great “gift” – in 50 words or less.   Keep it short.

This gets you some free exposure right away. Then, if your reason is compelling, your app will also get featured on our blog – before Christmas.

We will do something like this for New Years, too, but first things first.

  1. Head over to Opera Mobile Store on Facebook
  2. Tell everyone why your app would make a great present.
  3. If you make the cut, we will message you back through Facebook.

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Share your bookmarks with the new version of Opera for Android

The most recent update of Opera for Android makes it easy to share your favorite sites.

How?  Just follow these four simple steps:

  1. Tap the Bookmarks entry on your Speed Dial.
  2. Tap Manage and select which bookmarks or bookmark folder you want to share.
  3. Tap the share button (beside the trash icon).
  4. Name your bookmarks collection, then tap OK.

opera-favs

This version also has a few other neat tricks like showing you how much you save with Opera’s bandwidth conservation technology.

Download the latest Opera for Android on Google Play now!

For more information, see Peter Wallman’s original post on the Opera Blog.

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Happy Thanksgiving to our North American Readers!   Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent more time playing a variety of online games. One thing I was looking for specifically is how they encourage their users to get their friends to get their app – and I’d have to say, most developers fall far short of their potential. But not all. Some are very, very good at getting their users to refer lots of their friends – via Facebook and email. Some of the best still fall short of what they could do.

The first point for developers is to always build in a convenient way where people who like your app – game or utility, can introduce it to their friends. You might do it through Facebook, but not believe it or not, not everyone uses Facebook.   Thus, it is also good to support an email option with a unique referral code for each user.

It is good to go one step further, and provide some additional support for bloggers and others with their own web sites. A unique referral ID can be used just as easily on a web site as it can through an email. However, this is where you can provide your “super users” (those who talk about your app the most) some nice graphics to showcase details of your app on their sites.

The email program makes it easy for your users to refer a few of their friends. Adding the extra graphical “bells and whistles” helps bloggers reach all of their readers which can number into the hundreds, even thousands. In short, you are looking to provide your super users a fan kit which can include some of the following:

  • Wallpapers
  • Screenshots
  • Icons as they can be seen in your app/game
  • Graphical components similar to your site’s look ‘n feel
  • A user FAQ
  • Cool content of your own design that bloggers and webmasters can post freely
  • Let your imagination run wild and crazy!

Each and every one of your users can be a sales agent on your behalf. Make it easy for them.

Refer a Friend Rewards

There are some people who will like your game so much that they will refer it to anyone just because they think their friends will enjoy it. That’s not something you can count on. Incentivizing, rewarding your “sales people” – can inspire otherwise “casual users” to become “super users.”

Rewards?

  • In app currency,
  • Feature unlocks and upgrades
  • Virtual vanity products
  • Free copies of your new app/s
  • Free trial keys to your apps to share with their friends
  • Physical prizes
  • Insider access – interviews, behind the scenes looks, first access

Use your imagination and consider what those who use your app would most appreciate, even ask them directly.

This then, leaves three questions –

What should the reward be for each referral? This is hard to answer, as depends upon your pricing (someone selling a Toyota probably won’t get the same commission as someone selling a Mazaratti) and perhaps more importantly – where you are at in your app’s lifecycle. During the first stages of your release, you might aim to provide greater rewards to encourage a quick ramp up of referrals, and let it taper off after 1-2 weeks, then run special incentives periodically. A decent rule of thumb is to provide rewards equal to 10-20% of the value of what an average new player would bring you.

Should there be “qualifications” or criteria for referrals?   This may add more code to your apps, but simply rewarding installations or one-time players doesn’t really help you if you are on a free to play or freemium model. That may work for premium, though. You need to set the criteria relative to the dynamics of your app – perhaps new users need to reach a minimum level, play for a certain amount of time, or make an in app purchase.

Should there be a limit to the number of referrals that are rewarded? My inclination is to think that you should not set a limit on referrals. Once someone “caps” the number of referrals in their limit, they aren’t likely to be as proactive. Plus, it’s kind of like telling a salesperson, “I only want you to sell ten apps.” – “But, I can sell 20!” – “No, I only want you to sell 10!”

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Video and data optimization can deliver $28 billion net gain to mobile operators over five years, independent analysis for Opera reveals

Original Press Release at Opera.com

Oslo, Norway, and Mountain View, Calif. – November 13, 2014

Mobile operators globally can benefit from a net gain of at least $28.7 billion over five years by deploying mobile video and data optimization technology in their networks, according to new findings from ABI Research, revealed by Opera Software’s Skyfire unit today.

abi-opera-skyfire-qoe

The independent research, carried out on behalf of Skyfire, details how video and data optimization can positively impact quality of experience for users, which directly translates into reduced churn and subscriber tariff upgrades. It can also dramatically reduce operators’ capital and operational expenditures through the expansion of virtual capacity, resulting in significant total-cost-of ownership (TCO) savings.

Key findings, based on a conservative assumption that if just one in three operators deploys video and data optimization technology, the savings and revenue boost will therefore be as follows:

  • Churn-reduction savings: $12,947 million
  • Tariff-upgrade revenue boost: $6,481 million
  • Total-cost-of-ownership reduction savings: $9,347.6 million
  • Total over 5 years: $28,776 million

Mobile video and data optimization technology play a significant role in all three areas. Churn reduction savings are brought about by boosting the quality of experience for users, which leads to additional revenues from retained customers. Operators can generate additional income from a proportion of end users through upgrades to higher tariffs, driven by improved quality of experience and, therefore, a greater desire for more data. TCO savings are based in part on boosts in software-based virtual capacity for mobile video, which result in more video being played successfully per unit of CapEx.

“The continued rise in data consumption continues to put substantial pressure on mobile operator networks, and user experience is now seriously suffering as a result. End users are hurting, and many operators are using ‘band aid’ equipment patches and fixes to keep existing networks and infrastructure up and running – hardly a long-term solution,” says Nitin Bhandari, Skyfire CEO and Opera SVP of Operator Products. “This new analysis from ABI Research demonstrates that mobile video and data optimization can make a significant and positive impact both to the subscriber experience and an operator’s own user-experience KPIs. These elements all combine to bring enormous financial benefit to operators’ business performance.”

Regional variations

ABI Research developed an interactive “Mobile Video & Data Traffic Solutions Analyzer” that allows seven developed and emerging-market operator scenarios to be evaluated to assess the impact of mobile video and data optimization.

The model uses actual country market data, from economic and demographic data to mobile operator subscription and radio access network (RAN) deployment data.

The analyzer produced the following outputs for each region, combining to form the “Total worldwide revenue boost, churn and TCO savings”:

  • Asia-Pacific: $9,320 million
  • North America: $6,375 million
  • Western Europe: $4,954 million
  • Eastern Europe: $2,610 million
  • South America: $2,600 million
  • Africa: $1,784 million
  • Middle East: $1,133 million

“During the course of our interviews with the mobile operator community, it became clear that many networks have been historically designed to only support the sporadic needs of a voice and messaging client base. End-user expectations are rapidly evolving; operators must now deploy mobile data and video optimization solutions that can effectively enhance the amount of traffic the operator can handle in a given location,” says Jake Saunders, Vice President and Practice Director, ABI Research. “Our research, and analyzer, shows that the potential benefits of mobile video and data optimization translate not only to expanded virtual capacity and reduced capital infrastructure spend, but also to reduced churn by delivery of a more satisfactory and richer mobile internet experience. Even in a monthly data quota environment, there is an opportunity for operators to up-sell the mobile internet experience to their customers.”

Sample use cases

Philippines, churn reduction: Using the Philippines market, where there is some 4G subscriber adoption (2.5 million) but a much larger proportion on 3G (22 million), the average data throughput in the base station cell edge zones is estimated to be 365 Kbps without optimization. Boosting the quality of experience by enabling 30% to 60% greater data throughput can boost overall subscribers by around 2% per year and increase the subscriber retention rate equating to additional retained service revenues of US$204 million over a 5-year period.

Brazil, tariff upgrade: Using a conservative scenario of 2%, ABI Research calculates that an operator in the Brazilian market can generate an additional US$474 million in service revenue over a 5-year period from its 3G and 4G subscribers, attributed to faster user data rates and improved QoE.

Rocket Optimizer

Rocket Optimizer, from Opera Software’s Skyfire unit, is a robust and surgical mobile video optimization solution that provides operators with Experience Assurance and cloud-based mobile video Quality of Experience (QoE) management. In August, Skyfire announced that it had added streaming audio optimization to the platform, and, in April, announced Rocket Insights, a video analytics dashboard that helps operators better manage their network loads by providing real-time analytics.

Further information and detail

Network operators wishing to explore the Mobile Video & Data Traffic Solutions Analyzer should contact Opera’s Skyfire unit at http://www.skyfire.com/about/contact.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera, Rocket Optimizer and Rocket Insights are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Original Press Release on Opera.com

Jakarta, Indonesia – November 13, 2014

Sponsored Web Pass from Opera brings more Indonesians to mobile internet

3-million-hours-of-free-internettMobile internet users will be able to enjoy three million hours of free mobile internet access over the next two months, with Opera Web Pass service, sponsored by Berniaga.com.

Berniaga.com, Indonesia’s top online-classifieds site as verified by comScore, is sponsoring three hours of free internet per day, and available only for Telkomsel customers. Through this partnership, Berniaga.com and Opera Software hope to introduce new consumers to the mobile internet in Indonesia.

The subscribers can enjoy browsing the mobile internet, such as checking the latest updates on their favorite news portals or searching movie schedules for the nearest cinema, all for free.

How to get free internet with Sponsored Web Pass and Opera Mini

To browse the web and enjoy free internet with Sponsored Web Pass, users just need to open the Opera Mini browser, click the “Paket Internet Webpass” Speed Dial icon and select the “Free Internet by Berniaga (3 hours)” web-pass option. Users will be able to browse the web and enjoy three hours of sponsored internet access for one day

Sponsored Web Pass will attract new mobile internet customers

“Indonesia is the fastest-growing C2C marketplace and classifieds market in Southeast Asia, and this growth is propelled by smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices,” says Reynazran Royono, Deputy General Manager of Berniaga.com. “With Sponsored Web Pass, we believe we can reach new consumers by making it easy and convenient for them to access the mobile internet.”

“Internet penetration in Indonesia has seen tremendous growth in recent years. We are very excited to collaborate with the market leaders in Indonesia and reach more Indonesian users,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. “We are confident Opera Web Pass will encourage people to go online more often.”

Easy-to-understand mobile internet

Opera Web Pass is available via Opera Mini, the fast and easy-to-use browser app that shrinks webpages by as much as 90%.

Opera Web Pass bundles mobile internet in easy-to-understand, affordable packages that are time or content based. Purchased within the Opera Mini browser, Opera Web Pass is an alternative to complex data plans based on megabyte usage.

For more information on the Opera Web Pass solution for operators, visit: http://www.operasoftware.com/products/web-pass/

About Berniaga.com

Berniaga.com – founded in December 2nd, 2009 – endeavors to be the number one place in Indonesia for buying and selling quality second hand items and services. The website helps people to find what they are looking for in a safe environment to shop through multiple platforms (desktop, mobile, and app). It offers a cutting-edge technology platform with social media integration and provides optimum browsing experience for Indonesian users. The site has grown phenomenally since launch and is fast becoming the most popular place to buy and sell across Indonesia; it is currently the number 1 Classifieds site in Indonesia, based on July 2014 comScore unique visitors data.

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Video boost, a first for web browsers, debuts in Opera Mini 9 – Nov 7

iPhone and iPad users will see less of the dreaded video-buffering wheel, using the new video boost feature in the Opera Mini 9 web browser, released today. People love watching video on their mobiles and tablets. Unfortunately, this can eat… Read More

 

Digital Fashion Week expands its runway to Smart TVs through Opera TV Snap – Nov 7

Millions of global Smart TV viewers are now able to watch Asia’s leading fashion event Digital Fashion Week through its TV app.

Digital Fashion Week developed its first TV app using the Opera TV Snap technology, which transforms online video content into ready-to-run apps fully optimized for Smart TV devices…  Find out More

 

Opera Mediaworks partners with Viggle to introduce Add-to-DVR technology – Nov 6

New mobile ad technology, developed by Opera Mediaworks in partnership with the entertainment marketing and rewards platform Viggle, gives TV network advertisers the ability to offer a brand-new call to action, Add-to-DVR, as part of their mobile campaigns… Learn More

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October 17-18 @ Minsk’s Renaissance Hotel

Just last week, the Opera Mobile Team traveled to Belarus to participate in DevGamm Minsk 2014.  DevGamm is a major game conference attended by over 800 participants from many of the world’s leading gaming companies where the focus is on game design, not marketing.  We would like to take this opportunity to share some pictures from the event with you!

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Picking up from Monday in discussing aspects of Opera’s Mobile App Subscription Store, it is appropriate to delve into its value for developers of premium mobile apps. Why is this something you would want to get into? How can it really improve your revenue vs. single copy sales?  You can talk to a member of our support team if you already know Opera’s Mobile Subscription Store is something you want to investigate further.

Behind the scenes – Mobile Carriers as “Mobile App Retailers”

If you were to visit any traditional brick-n-mortar business, you would see that there is a lot going on behind the storefront, itself. For large supermarkets like Walmart, you will find many large warehouses, lots of people receiving and stocking products. You will find a fleet of trucks delivering pallets of goods to each store. There are all manner of other costs involved – costs of the buildings, the fuel, the insurance, etc.

In the mobile world, the closest things to brick-n-mortar businesses are the mobile carriers themselves. They have the license to operate in a particular country or region; they have the towers; arrangements with local mobile phone dealers to sell phone cards or arrange long-term subscription plans; plus their own marketing and advertising personnel and budgets. These are multi-million, sometimes multi-billion dollar businesses in their own right.

Payment methods

There are two major obstacles to overcome as relates to international sales 1) affordability, does the customer have enough money to buy your product?, and 2) payment method, is the customer able to pay in an acceptable format?

The majority of the world, outside of Europe and North America, do not have credit cards or Paypal accounts. Does that mean they don’t have money? Does that mean they don’t buy stuff? No, it just means there is a gap between their ability to pay and your ability to collect payment.

The Subscription format resolves the first. Opera Mobile Store’s expertise along with the in-market specialization of each Mobile Carrier identifies the “happy point” at which customers are willing to pay for mobile apps. This completely offsets the need for developers to apply to price segmentation or concerns that someone from Europe might pick up what you are offering in Southeast Asia on a bargain basis. Most large scale businesses do apply to price segmentation because the Purchasing Power of a Dollar in Ukraine, India or Brazil is not the same as in the United States, Italy or Japan.

Mobile billing takes care of the second. Customers are able to buy time for their mobile phones. That “time” basically is money. The mobile carrier collects payments on behalf of the customer and processes those funds to Opera Mobile Store in a format that can be paid to you – the developer.

Economy of Scale

Together, between the 1) logistics, 2) financial systems, and 3) market penetration, working with Mobile Carriers in the sale and distribution of premium apps makes it much easier to achieve Economy of Scale, per Wikipedia

In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output.

Enterprises.  Do you think of your mobile app development company as an enterprise?  If not, maybe you should – as if you produce quality apps worthy of a premium price tag, the subscription store can help really give your efforts the kind of boost they deserve!

Low Revenue per Unit vs. Offset of Your Advertising Costs

The only downside to the subscription store sales model is that you, as the developer, will make less per individual copy than a traditional premium app sale. At the same time, however, you are paying ZERO ADVERTISING unless you choose to supplement the Mobile Carrier’s marketing and advertising efforts with your own.

This is not a guarantee that your app will be heavily promoted by the mobile carrier, only that if your app is in their mobile app catalog that it will be available to all of that carrier’s mobile subscribers. The mobile carrier is also seeking to maximize their revenue. That means that your place in the catalog will go through a number of rotations, relative to the time that your app is in the catalog, and where with reasonable notice, you can withdraw your app from it.

These points are worthy of much, much deeper discussion as they also figure into the structure of your marketing strategy. During the initial release of your app, you may not have a large advertising budget. So, what better way is there to get free advertising and substantially boost your short-term revenue to boost your own marketing and advertising budget?

Let’s talk about your app!

Another factor that deserves note is the simple ability for you to be able to say that your app is available through “Big Company Name/s.” This can be very useful for start-ups and independent developers, alike.

Historically, getting products accepted by a large-scale retailer is a lengthy, expensive process. Under Opera’s Mobile App Subscription Store – the process is free, and relatively fast. With it, you can go from single copy sales to a mass distribution environment.

Contact our support team now to begin the process of getting your app seen by millions of mobile subscribers in promising mobile app markets.

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The Opera Subscription Store is a relatively new service offered by Opera Mobile Store to Mobile Carriers.  It is an open catalog of premium that Mobile Carriers can offer to their mobile users.   Mobile users pay a weekly subscription fee for “All You Can Eat” access after a free seven day subscription.  The “All You Can Eat” model is rapidly becoming an international industry standard for generating superior revenue over traditional single sale installations.   For astute developers, and readers of this blog, the Subscription Store approach is also the basis of a larger marketing strategy.

Distribution and Revenue Model 

The Opera Subscription Store does add another tier to the division of revenues, but it also adds another level of distribution.   It expands the market reach of your mobile app to include the millions of mobile users serviced by specific mobile carriers.  This is an economy of scale approach that is impossible to replicate so cost-effectively with non-digital products.

The mobile carrier receives the first slice of revenue from the subscription store for acting in traditional terms as a “retailer.”  In this model, Opera Mobile Store serves as the distributor.  You, as the developer, stand in the role of the producer or “original equipment manufacturer” if you are more familiar with traditional retail.

As the developer, your share of subscription revenue is based upon how many times your app/s are downloaded relative to the total number of apps downloaded across the entire storefront.  It is possible for you to have several premium apps in the subscription store.

A bird in the hand is worth probably more than two in the bush. 

The largest question is whether as a developer you are measuring individual app sales, total revenue, rate of revenue, or market reach by number of customers on your mailing list?  Different developers have different objectives, different measurements.   The only standard by which the “All You Can Eat” subscription model may come up short is on the revenue you may see compared to individual app sales.

For simplicity’s sake only, you might receive $3.00 for selling one copy of an app, whereas the subscription service might see $3.00 for generating 10 downloads.   The question then is whether 1 registered user is worth more than 10 registered users?  That’s when marketing people get into establishing “average lifetime values of a customer.”  Will you ever develop another app?  Do you have other products for sale?  Do you produce a newsletter?  Do you network and do business with other app developers and businesses?  If so, the average lifetime value of your customer does not end when they download your app… it is just the beginning.

  Your bottom line and breakeven point is the same whether you sell only 1 copy or 10 million copies of your app.

Payment Method

One of the best things about the Subscription Store is that the Mobile Carrier takes care of the payment method.  This enables you to reach millions of people who do not have access to a credit card or Paypal account.   In Europe and North America, these payment methods are taken for granted.   Credit card access is less commonplace in other regions and for a growing number of people even in developed countries with previous credit problems.

Without a payment processor able to receive funds in a manner that customers are able to pay, you have no market.  That is one of the primary reasons why most app developers have thus far failed to monetize many developing markets.  The ability for mobile carriers to accept payments removes that problem for you.

Segmenting User Groups

Mobile carriers are largely defined by their areas of coverage, like MTS Ukraine obviously services Ukraine.  This simplifies segmenting your user groups by country and language, which is particularly useful for developing and organizing your customer email lists – facilitating your potential for localized marketing efforts.   That is, instead of sending out mass-mailings in English, you can design them in Ukrainian or Russian while also including a link to see the e-mail in English.

Social Networking

The ability to segment your user groups is also a facilitator for social networking.  You know their language, their mobile carrier, and that they have an interest in your app.   This offers a variety of actionable possibilities – where you can hire or source a community developer, find community representatives, and/or identify the leading social figures (bloggers, members or leaders of organizations, or others with large followings).

For one angle on this, you might check out Working with and Encouraging Fan Sites .  For a second angle, consider Super-Users and Monetization under how can you appeal to your top evangelists.  In summary, these two articles should stimulate some ideas on how you might expand your reach into a specific market by promoting the people who are already promoting you and/or by making it easier for them to promote you.  Again, sometimes you don’t need to have an established marketing presence in order to have an established market presence.

The more you are able to think like Borg, the better you are able to be Borg.

Localization of Future Apps

Knowing that you have a dedicated user community means that you have a ready market for any additional apps that you develop.  You have their email addresses and can market directly to them, in their language.  Through your social and business networking with others in a particular region or using a particular language, it is easier to find and establish relations with people who can help you with your localization efforts on a more cost-effective basis, potentially even for free.   There are some very generous fans out there.

Regional Migration and Expansion

Having an established market presence in one country makes it easier to get into neighboring countries.  This is also part of any social or business networking efforts, suffice that many carriers have an international or regional presence.   By working with Opera Mobile Store, we are able to facilitate your apps availability to Mobile Carriers in Eastern Europe and South America, and expect to have additional arrangements in Asia and Africa.

We’ll cover more on Wednesday…

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Original Press Release

Moscow, Russia – October 20, 2014

Russian connected-TV users now have instant access to more than 130,000 full-length premium movies, sitcoms, cartoons, concerts and popular stand-up shows, thanks to new apps launched in the Opera TV Store application platform.

With these apps, connected-TV audiences can access catalogs of the Rutube, ivi.ru, Zoomby and Now.ru online video websites on the main, big TV screen and watch popular TV shows, such as Comedy Battle, Univer, Nasha Russia and many other big hits – all from the comfort of their sofas.

The Rutube apps were created with Opera TV Snap technology, which transforms online video content into ready-to-run apps fully optimized for Smart TV devices – in no time and at no cost.

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More than 130,000 videos arrive on the Opera TV Store application platform

End-to-end solution for content owners and publishers

Opera TV Snap is the fastest way for video publishers to reach new audiences via the home’s biggest screen. It also enables content owners to monetize their existing video catalogs through Opera’s own ad networks and similar partnerships.

Apps created with Opera TV Snap are distributed through the Opera TV Store, an HTML5-based application platform that gives users a rich selection of entertaining and informative apps.

The Opera TV Store is currently shipped on millions of devices with pay-TV operators and major television, Blu-ray Disc players and set-top-box manufacturers including Sony, TiVo, Samsung, RCA, TCL, Vestel, Amino, Changhong, Humax, Hisense, Konka, Skyworth and more.

“Today, we are witnessing immense growth in the online video market in Russia, driven by the wide adoption of Smart TVs. It’s projected that 10 million Smart TVs will have been sold in Russia by the end of 2014, and this number will grow three-fold in 2017. Bringing Rutube, ivi.ru, Zoomby and Now.ru’s video content to the Opera TV Store is great news for Russian viewers. They will now have a great choice of the best content, which they can get on their TV screens with just a click,” says Daniel Nordberg, Head of Content Acquisition at Opera Software.

Publish your app

If you have an online video channel that’s ready to hit prime time as a TV app, visit opera.com/tvsnap/ and click “Get started”. Add the details of your channel, and your TV app will be generated in less than a minute, ready to submit for moderation.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 800 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Opera TV Snap are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Everything has a cost, whether it is measured in time or money. Without getting into the philosophical connotations too deeply, Aristotle asserted that the more intangible something is, the greater its value. We have farmers who sell food that is essential for life making very little. Basketball players, movie stars, fashion companies and diamond dealers make big money for providing entertainment and prestige. Shoes are relatively inexpensive until you through a Nike branding symbol on them.

Time can be considered the most valuable commodity of all as it is an abstract concept.   For however much time we may have, it is never enough and no amount of money can really buy us more. The inconvenient fact is that some are able to monetize their time better than others. Some people have more time than money, some people have more money than time.

These are relevant factors both in game design, monetization and lifetime value. Some games are very casual and may only involve a few hours of play to experience all they have to offer; others may involve hundreds – potentially thousands of hours of game play – just to reach the “end game”.

Games tend to offer an incredible “value” for the amount of entertainment they provide. Compare, for example, paying a $5 or even $15 monthly subscription for “All you can play” to seeing one movie at a cinema, or ordering one pizza. This dynamic goes all the way back to the 1970’s, if not earlier. TSR, the company which originally produced Dungeons and Dragons founded by Gary Gygax, priced its “modules/adventures” for about $5 to $10, or about how much someone would spend on a pizza. The idea was that adventure would offer 4-5 people entertainment for 3-4 evenings.

Perhaps a digression, but “back then” it was frequent for people who played D&D to have a dedicated group of players and one “game master” (DM). Each adventure had suggested levels like 1st to 3rd, 4th to 6th, and so forth.

What happened when a new player joined the group? Did they start out at 1st level like everyone else?

No, the game master usually had them roll a “new” character that was slightly below everyone else’s level. That way they could play, be relevant and have fun.

Things are a bit different today, but the dynamics are still very similar. Many games are offering very similar options to new players. A game that has been out for some time will see most of its player base in or close to the end game. Where does that leave the new player? In the starter zone and 120 hours away from being able to play at the same level as their friends?

A large number of dedicated gamers are happy to do that, but for some, that’s not practical. Offering them a fast start option is not a game breaker. Neither does it need to be free, especially in an otherwise free to play game. Most of the larger MMO’s are catering directly to this niche, offering advanced set-up or fast start options to new (and old) players alike.

Is that fair? Is that Pay to Win? That requires spending some time evaluating what Pay to Win really is – which really is not within the scope of this article. However, there is a distinct different between Paying to Win and just Paying for the Potential to Win.

The Lottery is by nature a Pay to Win game. To win, you have to buy a ticket. But just because you buy a ticket or a thousand tickets, there is no guarantee that you will win… anything. That does not advocate giving away Lottery Tickets for free.  So the Pay to Win argument really only goes so far. Its relevancy applies most when games involve direct competition between players. That is not characteristic of most games; definitely some.

Gear and Skills. For most players, the concept of “you need the gear in order to get the gear” goes without mention. Depending upon the game, the same can be said for inherent game attributes and skills – like Strength or Power Attack. So also, there are games where actual physical player skills, hand and eye coordination define winning or losing. There are “challenges” in some games that I’ve personally spent hours trying to complete and still have not completed. There are no Pay to Win options for those, and rightly so.

Crafting. One other thing needs to be considered. In many games, you might be able to get a head start in terms of “character level” but not professions or other crafting options…

I might be a powerful 90th level Paladin and can subdue large dragons with a wave of my hand, but I don’t know how to make you a glass of water…

Well… Crafting is not just a matter of time, but resources. Whether to try monetizing crafting abilities depends very much upon the structure and vitality of your game world’s economy. It influences supply and demand within your game world, so needs careful evaluation.

The functional point though is that your game is not a “job” – it is or should be aiming to be a form of entertainment.   And if your game involves groups or other forms of socializing, you also want to aim at making it easy for new players to associate meaningfully with those who introduced them to it.  That does not, in all cases, mandate a fast start.  Indeed, in many cases, it does mean starting out from scratch like everyone else, and letting their more advanced friends help them get up to speed.

Ultimately, if your game involves a large trek from starting area to end game, monetizing the ability to jump in closer to the end game is an option useful and valuable to your players and to your bottom line.

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This is another Pareto Principle oriented topic that can help you structure your monetization methods to achieve significantly greater revenue and potential for profitability. The Pareto Principle asserts that roughly 80% of your revenue will come from roughly 20% of your efforts. Sometimes it is 90%/10%, other times 70%/30%. The core objective is properly defining the specific activities that generate the most revenue or attract the most new users. There is also considerable dependence upon having a large enough user base to minimize statistical deviation.

Application of the Pareto Principle could be used to say that 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue; and the inverse – the remaining 80% of your customers will generate the 20% balance of your revenue. You could even define your own work and activity in similar terms by saying that 20% of what you do will generate 80% of your revenue.

The super-user classification, however, goes into the second tier of Pareto Principle application – that is to identify the 20% of your top 20% revenue or new user generating customers, i.e. your Top 4%. That’s your super-user segment.

How can you appeal to your paying super-users? It could be as simple as offering larger or bulk purchase deals.

Let’s say you sell in-app currency for real money offering packages for $1.00, $2.50, $5.00, $10.00 and $25.00. This offers something for the vast majority of the customers who may opt to purchase your app’s currency. If you are seeing a significant ratio of $25.00 purchases, you may consider adding a larger package for $40 or $50.

That’s not entirely out of the question. One major online company has indicated that roughly 3% of their customers spend $100 per month on their social network games (a combination of PC and Mobile apps).

Thus, merely by adding another tier of package pricing to your app’s currency store, you could see your super-user revenue increase by 50%, potentially 100%. Of course, it is not entirely that simple, but it is worth testing with a pilot run over one week. Obviously, too, the package should clearly be worth the extra charge and you probably want to practice some pricing restraints, i.e. a price ceiling of $100.

What this asserts is that some experimentation with the pricing of your app’s currency or vanity store items can significantly impact your revenue (positively or negatively). Ongoing, early testing and experimentation will help you find your sweet spots. Relative to the total amount of work that went into producing and marketing your app, how much work is this? It almost doesn’t register as a single percentage point.

How can you appeal to your top “evangelists”? Your other super user segment involves people who may not be spending money on your app but are attracting people to it – bloggers, reviewers, active social gamers and networkers. Almost every online game has a “refer a friend” option which frequently rewards them with in-game currency for each referral who signs up and/or who plays to a certain point.

First, if you don’t have a referral incentive program for your game already, you should probably make one. Secondly though, you want to spend some time reinforcing their efforts. This may require some tracking, for which there are tracking tools available.

If you know of fan sites or blogs, periodically reference them on your own forum/s or web site. If someone posts to your Facebook page, thank them for their post and consider granting a small, but noteworthy, in-game “prize”. The only limits are your own creativity and willingness to invest a small amount of time into the people who are trying to help you – even if, for their own reasons.

And Everyone Else

The super-user segment does not mean that you should ignore or dismiss the other 80 or 96% of your customers. It could, however, prompt you to evaluate substantially reducing the amount of effort you invest into supporting the lower tier 4% and 20% of your customers who are draining your resources (i.e. forum trolls, uncommon devices where your app is simply not working as intended, etc.)

Fundamentally, the larger your user base, the better – in the extreme majority of cases.

Finally, the Pareto Principle is not an exact thing; it is a very useful guideline. It requires keeping apples, apples; and oranges, oranges. It was originally the result of an observation of wealth distribution that 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth, something that holds true (or truer….) today. It is applicable to categorizing the work that yields revenue in mobile app development.

By and large, developing – creating an app generates no money whatsoever. The marketing and promotion of it does.


Market reach counts – advertising on Opera Mobile Store can get your app in front of millions of end-users you are not likely to reach otherwise. Contact our sales team today!

If you are looking for different ways to monetize your app, you may find the following articles of interest to you:

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As a new developer it can be frustrating to generate self-sustaining revenue by competing with apps on the “global market”. It is largely a matter of supply and demand, where the number of app of potential interest to “anyone” can make it difficult to reach someone – because everyone else is trying to do the same.  There is the potential to achieve better, even faster, revenue through apps for your local market.   The kicker is that once you have a functional app for one local market, you have a template for many other local markets.

One type of local app can be likened to a “community portal” – representing area establishments, businesses, sports, clubs, etc.   You will likely want to apply a theme to it – related to sports, community, entertainment, etc.  It could be presented as much as a game or utility, or both.   Conceptually, this is far from new, there are plenty of examples out there that you can draw some inspiration from.  The core component is monetizing your app under this model.

Market Research is Required.  If you run with sports, you will want to know which sports to target, how many local high schools, colleges, and private leagues are in close proximity to your target city.   Your theme can just as easily be focused on night clubs, local bands, general business, education, religious or charitable organizations.  To qualify the potential of your “theme”, you might also physically survey their activity levels – frequency of events, number of special events, attendance levels, etc.

The larger the local population, the better off you are.  While you might want an app for a small town, you would likely want to broaden your target to encompass a county or district.

Define Your Possible Revenue Sources.   It is important to be creative in listing out all of the “even remotely possible” sources of revenue that could be associated with your app.

  • Business Advertising – standard in app ad sales, not limited just to your app, but your web site, newsletter and/or promotional emails.
  • Sponsors – getting local business and establishments to fund your app’s development, don’t forget to check with your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Association office.
  • Reseller Agreement – offer their products in your own in-app store or get a commission for any sales you direct to their site.
  • Memberships/Subscriptions – evaluate whether your app offers enough to warrant charging customers a monthly, quarterly or annual fee, but you would do well to offer the first 30 or 90 days for free.
  • VIP Package – work with local business and establishments to offer VIP only discounts or trial freebies – ranging anywhere from a free month of a local newspaper, free web site access, a free oil change with your yearly automotive inspection, a free shampoo with a hair cut.
  • Alternative Options – crowdfunding, local business development grants, possible local business incubators, scholastic and industry contests can also be researched and evaluated.

With creativity, almost “anything goes” – these days you don’t necessarily need a product to have a product, just as long as you know and have an agreement with someone who does.  Your role is to promote their business through your app.  The difficulty, as we know, is that there are so many apps, that they are often given away for free.  It is difficult to monetize free, but not impossible.  Functionally, it is much easier to monetize something when you know where it fits and how it interacts with everything relevant to it.

Define Your Breakeven Point.   Include your projected development time and all the expenses associated with developing your app.  You want to know in advance how much you will need to generate before starting on your app so you can evaluate whether the market will bear it – whether just $5k or $25k.

Knowing how much you will need can help you define how much you would need to raise from each possible source of revenue.  Conducting a survey of local people about how likely they would be to spend money on any aspect of your app will provide you a better basis for assessing the potential of the revenue components.

If you estimate that you will need $10,000 for your app and you know that you can likely get $3 from 1,000 local subscribers, then you have some basis for considering the VIP upgrade for $30 to possibly 20% of them.  That wouldn’t be out of the question for a developed market with a population of over 250,000 people.  That accounts for $2,400 + $6,000, leaving you theoretically shy of $1,600 from your base target.

You can then look at other means of revenue or possibly expanding your target market to pick up the shortfall.  The goal is to find as many revenue streams as you can, so that if one falls short, another can pick up the slack.

By working with local areas businesses and establishments, you substantially increase your total marketing capability.  If your app helps a business connect better or more frequently to their existing customers, and help bring them new customers, they are likely to promote it.  You can offer to help them by providing the content to make it easy for them to do so.

Repeat.  Once you have one app that shows signs of success for one area, you have the capacity to bring it to other locations.  That’s really the true goal, because the vast majority of your development cost is already taken care of.  All you need to do is create another version of your app that focuses upon a different theme or location.  That’s likely to include just graphical and text adjustments – and then the networking and relationship development efforts to get new businesses on board with your new app.

However, now that you have one successful app out there, you can sub out for a community relations manager to help in building up the client base for your new app.  By showing that it works in one location provides reasonable basis that it can work in other locations of a similar demographic and business breakout.   Moreover, you are not limited to working on just one new app at a time, but can aim for doing the same for multiple cities or counties.  In short, you don’t need to go global to be profitable.

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How can you know if an app idea will be profitable? You can’t, but you can define its potential for profit. There are really about five core components involved with a profitable app – 1) size of target market, 2) your reach within that target market, 3) conversion rate, 4) popular acceptance of the app, and 5) pricing or business model.

1. Size of Target Market – It is very important to define your target market as precisely as you can.   This involves demographical and mobile market data:

  • total population of designated market (country/region)
  • gender ratio
  • age range
  • interest group or profession
  • platforms/devices
  • language/s
  • available payment method/s

Using the references here, you should be able to define most of these points on a combination of ballpark number and percentage point basis.   Age range can be tricky, particularly with premium games for children requiring adults (parents) to purchase on their behalf.

The size of your target market is itself very useful at least for helping to define what is not likely to be profitable in the way of free and freemium apps.

2. Your Market Reach – This will likely be much harder for you to define as it will require you to know the demographics reached by your advertising venues.  Further, you will need to approximate what portion of their audience you will be able to reach through your advertising – how many people in your defined target market will actually see your advertisements?

3.  Conversion Rates – How many people reached by your advertising will proceed to purchase, install, use it, upgrade or make in app purchases?   You want to track all of the conversions applicable to your app.  Projecting these rates is difficult though.  Your previous experience can be a useful guide.  Alternatively, factoring in an extremely conservative rate (like 10-25% of what you would expect) plays it safe.  You might also factor in how actively you will be watching and working to improve your conversion rates.

4.  Popularity – While there is a lot that you can do to influence the popularity of your app, a large portion of this will relate to the overall quality of the app and how competitive it is compared to similar apps.  Getting a viral lift can propel an app’s profitability into the stratosphere, but for as many times as that happens – it does not happen for 999 others.   It’s best to consider this as icing on the cake when making projections on an apps potential for profit.

5.  Pricing or Business Model – Whether you decide to go with a free, freemium, premium, or subscription model will substantially define your profit potential.  There are other factors to include, here, too – possible revenue from B2B arrangements, monetization of surveys, or even whether you opt to produce your app via crowdfunding.  These all influence the extent to which you will depend upon your app’s lifecycle and end user longevity.

Customer longevity should really be included as a sixth core point for the purpose of any but premium apps.

All of these points taken together can give you a reasonable approximation of an app’s potential.   The size of your target market, how many you can reach and then convert are your primary indicators – and can help you define the optimum business model.

The basics of supply and demand are worth considering, too.  You might have a very small target market – for example Canadian Doctors and Medical Professionals.   If your app is useful and interesting to them, that could push your app into a high-end premium or subscription payment model.

 

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Deciding on Your Next Mobile App Development Project

Mobile app development is best pursued as an investment of your time, skill and resources – they will certainly consume them. It is worth reiterating that you should have several possible app ideas available for consideration versus being locked into one. With just one idea, there’s no real choice or means of comparing possible outcomes (in ROI). But, just because you have lots of ideas for great apps does not necessarily mean you can run with all of them, or even your best idea, immediately. There are many things to consider when you come to decide, “Which app will you work on next?”

While you want a constant stream of app ideas, you want an efficient decision making funnel to help in sequencing your future projects. You can’t fear tossing aside a bad idea or bog down in prematurely investing in projects that are beyond your means.   The funnel works by applying 3-4 of the following sequences:

  1. Is the app idea worth investigating?
  2. Do you have everything needed to make the app?
  3. Are you going to adopt the app into your development planning?
  4. Are you going to develop the app?

These questions are not asked all at once – because you normally will not have all of the information available to make an informed decision.

1.  Is the app idea worth investigating? - This is the gateway question – and can usually be answered fairly fast and on an informal basis.   Does the idea have the potential to be marketable?  Does it sound within your ability to do?  Do you have an affinity for the project?

Ideas can come from many sources, including your end users (customers) – suffice that some ideas simply are not worth investigating and should be tossed aside.

If an idea for the app is worth investigating further, then you can add it to your prospective projects folder.   By deciding the app is worth investigating, it is worth your time to make a detailed description of the app.  You will need more information before you can take it further, but this is the starting gate question.

2.  Do you have everything needed to make the app? – The second stage of evaluating an app is much more involved and complex.  There are many questions that you should answer.  There are some very good ideas out there, but the cost in time, money or other resources are too great for what you can reasonably expect.  Likewise, some ideas might look good at first glance, but come up short in a marketing analysis.

The aim of this step is to classify each app idea as a) worth doing, b) Not worth doing, or c)  better for someone else to do.  It involves answering the following kinds of questions:

  • Is your team technically capable of doing it? (programming, graphics, payment system/s, etc.)
  • Time to market – how long will it take to develop?
  • Will you be financially viable in the time it takes to bring it to market?
  • Do you have everything you need to do it? If not, who and what more is needed?
  • Target market and marketability assessment?
  • Pricing or business model (free/freemium/premium/subscription)

When defining whether something may be worth doing, you do not necessarily need to base your assessment on current conditions.  It may involve learning a different platform or be based upon a device that has not achieved market maturity.  As long as you can reasonably expect that you will eventually be able to do it, it can be designated as a “keeper.”

There are ideas that would simply work better or be more profitable if done by someone else – perhaps a big player, a specialist or a friend.   You could just “give the ideas away”, but you can also try to monetize them.  That needs to be treated separately.

3.  Are you going to adopt the app into your development planning?

By this point, you have an idea that is fully fleshed out and you know that you CAN do it.  The questions now are If and When are you going to do it?  You may have several viable ideas, but you finite resources with which to engage them.  Some good ideas may be abandoned or perhaps placed in the “give away” folder for not fitting into your overall business profile (i.e. a focus on games vs. utilities), appear to offer a lower ROI, or any number of other reasons.

Here though, you are able to define which projects you are going to pursue and assign a sequence to them.  This is obvious for games with planned sequels or utility apps of increasing complexity for a particular niche.

4.  Are you going to develop the app?

This is the final analysis – an ultimate do or don’t.  Here we recognize that conditions may have changed since we decided to add the app to our development plans.  Maybe a key team member left, maybe the market for an app has dramatically changed, maybe our finances are not up to the task, or any number of reasons.   Ideally, you have a few apps which have past your third decision point – others that you have plans to do.  If so, you can likely switch over to one of them whether you decide to delay or drop the other one.

 

Usually these decision points are not made simultaneously.  It is not uncommon for #1 and #2 to be consolidated into one step.  Sometimes the idea for an app is handed to you in a fully fleshed out form (employee proposals), so you may go straight from #1 to #3.

The process itself may seem cumbersome, but attention to the decision making process can help save thousands of hours pursuing projects that had no chance of getting anywhere before they even left the starting gate.

With my own projects, the primary project I want to pursue is ultimately the last project that I will pursue, partly as a matter of project sequence, secondly in relation to potential funding.  If I did what I really wanted to do though, it could easily translate to thousands of hours of wasted effort.  Having seen several companies invest considerable amounts of effort into projects that get killed before public launch is indicative that the decision making process was lacking at some stage – usually in defining everything needed in the second decision point.

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Today, we’re going to take a field trip to see what those “other guys” are doing on the PC side of game development, and see – what, if anything, is useful for game development on the mobile side. For this, we are looking at Panzer General Online, produced by Ubisoft. Gaming veterans will remember the original Panzer General as a very popular war game originally produced by Strategic Simulations, Inc., in 1994. It was a turn-based game played out on a hexagon-based map featuring all the varied types of military units from World War II – infantry, armor, artillery, aircraft and more.

Panzer General Online is a different breed of game (or wargame) as it is, essentially, a Trading Cards Game. I never thought I would play one of them. That I would like it enough to sink some money into it? Not a chance in Hell.

So, here we are…

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System requirements:  current browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Chrome are recommended), Flash version 11.7 (or higher) and a working internet connection. Additionally your PC should have at least 1 gigabyte of RAM, a CPU with 1,5 GHz and a video card that supports DirectX 9 or OpenGL.

Panzer General Online features worthy of developer interest:

Variety of Play Options:  Loads of PVE (4 campaigns); Endless PVP (Fixed skirmishes, Ranked Play, Survival Mode), plus plans for alliances.

Truly Free to Play: There does not seem to be anything that you cannot get by earning in-game currency. It can be a grind to get the best “stuff” – as it is with any game. It is not “Pay to Win” because there is a difference between having the best stuff and knowing how to use it.

An Interesting Economy: It has 2 types of in-game currency which can be earned through both PVE and PVP play – Prestige and Coins. You can purchase Prestige for real cash. How currency is used involves strategic decisions across a variety of options.

A Monetized Game Market: All players can sell their unwanted equipment on the open (black?) market, but not all at once. It costs Trading Tickets to post something for sell and the number of tickets required varies relative to the quality of what is being sold. Players can buy “expanded” access to the market via prestige. Players get the trading tickets back over time. Personally, I ended up getting 2 Rare Cards of the same type

Strategic Crafting: There are two parts to each card in the game – the Unit Type (like a King Tiger, Sherman or T-34) and there are the “Commands” available to it. A single card can have up to 3 commands. Some commands are very basic, let you perform One Action. Others can apply a global effect, let you make 4 moves, or do something detrimental to your opponent. This adds depth, complexity and a lot of thought because frequently the orders you want are not readily available on the equipment you would prefer to use.

Highly Competitive: Basically, doing PVE content helps you get what you need to be competitive in PVP. As you go up in the rankings, you have a chance to win even more prizes on a weekly basis.

Tangible Daily Reward: You get a small, but steady amount of in-game currency every day you log in. This includes coins, prestige and other valuables which can only be purchased through prestige.

Fast Matches: The vast majority of content can be completed in 5 – 15 minute matches.

Encourages Making Friends: Some of the PVE content would constitute a “grind of unimaginable proportions” if you tried to do it solo. These are “boss challenges” – that need to be completed in a certain amount of time, or you start over. By having lots of friends, these challenges become easier and equate to “rewards” for everyone who contributed.

Good Graphics: However you slice up a World War II game, it all comes back to having little “figurines” to move around – like we had back in the 1970’s and before… The graphics are attractive, maybe not mind-blowing, but authentic. A Panther tank or US Army Jeep in game looks almost exactly like it did in real life – just a lot smaller.

The combination of all of these points makes for an authentic wargame despite its very non-traditional format. There’s always something “more” or “better” to go after and always new strategies to try.

Panzer General Online convinced me to purchase in-game currency first for hitting the sweet spot as a game, secondly for appealing to innate “greed” and “curiosity”. I wanted to see what was in the random booster packs and maybe get lucky.   Okay, call it gambling in a sense. You can “grind” your way to being able to afford “anything you want”. Contrast that with spending a little to possibly get “something you want.” Do I want to spend 800 coins on an enhanced booster pack for 4 random units or do I want to spend it on 1 unit that I could definitely use?

What I think is especially valuable for developers – for PC and mobile, is the “incredible ease” Panzer General Online of bringing players to the point of “wanting something” in the game. It is sometimes easier to write after reading what others have written. So also can it be easier to develop after examining what others have developed. In this line, I recommend Panzer General Online as a game worth investigating to developers.

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If you are in the business of producing apps or software, you really want people to like what you are producing – whether it is a game or utility. The follow on question is what do you do when someone really does like your app, game or utility? Some will set up a fan site or dedicate a few pages of their existing site to your talk up your app. How do you encourage this? How can you work with your fans to help them get the most value and mileage out of their efforts promoting you?

Fan Site Package – Make it easy for your fans to promote your app. Provide graphics and terms and conditions information that they can “copy and paste” into their web site. Encourage them to let you know they are starting a fan page by providing your appropriate contact information.

Fan Site List – Keep and maintain your own list of fan pages on your site. This gives them a highly relevant and valuable backlink to show that they are “official” fan sites. Periodically review them on your own site. This can be just a brief 1-2 sentence description of what their blog is talking about this week, or point to a feature article for the month.

Privileged Access – Be available to them!   Have a member of your team sit in with them on a podcast or YouTube video production.   Be open to interviews, provide guest article content on game features, update them first on any new plans and upcoming releases.

Monetization Potential – Look into offering fan sites an affiliate program where they can receive a commission (5-15%) on the purchases of any new users who make purchases through your app. This can be in real money or in app currency.

“Guilds” and “Friends” – This is something that should be considered during the initial app development phase, to include or not. The idea is to make it very easy for other users to interact with others, to reach out to newcomers, and contribute to the formation of relationships, casual or professional. For purposes of utilities, while you may not use the term “guild”, you can still allow the formation of “groups”.

In example, if you are producing an app for “marathon runners”, “dieters”, “investors” (or anything like that), you have your base app that does whatever it is designed to do. Add to this a messaging system so that others can send motivation or advice.

Contests and Events – There is nothing better for a fan site than for it to have its own contests and events, especially when “everything they need to do for them” is provided. You can run your own contest or event for everyone, too; if you like. You can give your fan site/s the ability to offer their own prizes supplied by you, or provide incentive to them for helping you promote your global event. There are all kinds of activities possible in this direction – for holidays or specific professional occasions, a weekly TGIF or a nightly “happy hour”. Anything goes.

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Back in the first stages of the “global financial crisis”, an idea came to me that I presented as a 22 page “open source business plan” under a slightly different name. That was in 2008, and now I would like to submit the core points of that plan to mobile app developers.  The idea can be defined in different ways – “Information Crowdsourcing”, “Social Networking Management”, or any number of others.   Take from it and apply to it as you like.

Core Issues – The Problems

Social networking requires time searching for relevant people and data. Social networking is also substantially segmented by hundreds of social networks of scale (Facebook, etc.) and thousands of other smaller ones. It does not help to search on LinkedIn if the people you are searching for are not there. More time is spent searching than making decisions or acting upon the data found.

The Internet is a means of connecting people with people and information. Where there is an extreme supply and demand for information, there is a relative lack of tools to reduce saturation and increase relevancy.

Social Networking is a very personal function. Heads of state have ambassadors. Even ambassadors have vice-ambassadors.

Per Wikipedia –  Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

The Internet and Networking ultimately has the potential to reduce this to being 1-2 degrees of separation. That is saturation and it hinders relevancy. The decline in relevancy can be cited as basis for the declining effectiveness in television, radio, and newspapers.  People are wanting increasingly specific vs. very general information.

Solutions?

U-Borg – Help Customers Connect with the Right People and Information in a Timely, Efficient and Actionable basis.

John sells Specific Stuff.  He wants to connect with other people who buy and sell the Same Specific Stuff – regardless of their language or location; or maybe he wants a specific location but where everyone speaks a different language. 

He could spend a lot of time searching for this or he could sit back and let people feed it to him.  This is a very basic situation and there are all kinds of ways John could go about it, now.   But how actionable is the information he finds going to be?  How efficient is it for him to be doing that research?  How efficient is it?

The aim is not simple “lead generation” – but something more like Help A Reporter Out, except even more specific in focus and detail.  HARO makes it easy for journalists to find sources for information – spanning any topic.   On a business basis, it enables all contributors to the network the potential to monetize “what they know” and/or “who they know.”

The simple point is that information is a commodity, it exists in abundance but is relatively difficult to monetize unless you are able to achieve very good matching.   Whether sourcing information, making industry specific introductions, the business concept is readily given to be extremely niche specific while not confined to the likes of “one network.”

Numerous possibilities for monetization exist, both for the business itself and for participants on a crowdsourcing basis.  These consider everything from personal introductions, information sharing, personal assistant services, or bundles on a pay per use, package or monthly subscription basis.

[Note:  Reading through this, I realize a few things – a) that it differs significantly from the business plan fleshed out in 2008; b) that the overall idea may be somewhat nebulous, but c) the core principles are the same and even more pronounced now then they were then.   The need for “ultra specific information” is only increasing; so is the ability to provide it – but it is the “matching of supply with demand” that is still a long ways from being optimal.]

 

 

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Publish or Perish is about the best advice for anyone seeking to play a prominent role in any niche. That goes for mobile developers, too. Everything you do accrues to your professional capabilities even if it is not specific to writing code. Publishing – producing content – games, articles, graphics or videos does not usually have an immediate return on your investment. It applies to the long-term – where you will be at 1, 3 or 5 years down the road, and beyond.   The sooner you start, the sooner you will realize the benefits.

One of the most important things to understand is that the more you produce, the easier it becomes to produce more. Another very important thing is that you don’t need to be in a mad rush to produce content. You just need to make a consistent habit out of it. If you engaged simply to produce one item per week, over a year, you would have 52 items published!

The core issue is that “information can be infinitely recycled”. Information can also be almost infinitely repurposed. This means that parts of what you produce in one article can be used in future articles. Part of what you wrote for a blog post could be used for a newsletter, white paper or press packet.

The following is just a general list of different types of publishing activity:

  • Traditional Web Site Pages
  • Blog Posts
  • Newsletter Articles
  • White Papers
  • E-books
  • Brochures
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Press Packets
  • Press Releases
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Social Media Posts

In virtually all cases, all or part of each of the items above can be referenced or used in almost any other type of content.   Portions of your web site can be used to make brochures, press packets and other presentations.  Experienced MS Office users can insert videos into their documents – PowerPoint Presentations and even white papers… and of course, blogs.

For  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes, it is always good to strive for “unique content” – material not found elsewhere.   That usually means about 80% unique content, in that you can reference up to 20% from different sources.  Not everything demands applying to SEO principles however.

There are two other potential sources of content:

  • Forums
  • Membership Sites

Both of these types of “content” are or at least can be driven to varying degrees from your end-users.   Both involve a correspondingly high level of administration overhead and are not recommended content venues unless you are willing to invest in developing a “community” around your app, your development activities or otherwise in the way of a business or special interest.   Involving your end-users in content development, providing them appropriate credit and in some cases monetary or other incentive can also be extremely rewarding.

Curating

Curating is basically taking things that have already been written and improving upon them, or assembling the best information on the same topic from different sources.

The Secret to Successful Content

The problem with most types of content is that they remain static.  They don’t need to be.  The electronic format makes it easy to change anything without having to pay to have it put into print again.

The #1 format that I’ve found to work best is a hybrid between something like Squidoo and a regular blog.  The idea is to have ONE PAGE that presents ALL OF THE BEST OF… on a single topic.  Your primary objective is to make that one page into the ULTIMATE RESOURCE that anyone interested in your topic turns to when they want to learn more about it.

The point is to update it on a regular basis – to add in the newest “BEST OF” content on a regular basis while segmenting older content into an archive.

Remember – the whole purpose of the Internet is to enable People to Communicate Information.  That’s why (and how) social networks become successful.   The more people talk about what your apps, the more likely your apps are to be popular and profitable.

If you are interested in more about content development and publishing, you might also examine:

 

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The OMS Guide for Mobile App Developers organizes the best of the articles of the blog into major topics for easier reference.    Major areas include Business Development, Mobile Design, Mobile Marketing, Apps for Newcomers, Industry Insights and Global Mobile.  As we continue, more categories will be defined.

Effort over the next few weeks will be directed to updating and improving some of the content to increase its value and usefulness; add examples, include more resources, reference meritorious external content and more.  Also, having a better view of what has been covered can help define topics that still need to be covered.

The goal of this blog is directed to helping mobile app developers improve their revenue.  There are a lot of things that go into that.   While there are basically four revenue models used by most mobile app developers, it deserves to be emphasized that there are more:

Top Ten Mobile App Revenue Models

No… it’s now up to 11!

Business Development

Opera Mobile Store Opportunities

New to Mobile Apps?

Mobile App Design

Crowdfunding

Mobile App Marketing

Industry Interviews & Insights

Global Mobile & Other “Stuff”

 

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Opera renews partnership to preinstall Opera Mini on all upcoming Micromax Android devices

Original Press Release

New Delhi – September 18, 2014

Opera Software and Micromax, one of the world’s largest handset manufacturers, have announced that they have extended the time frame of their partnership to preinstall Opera Mini as an exclusive third-party mobile web browser on all Android devices launched by Micromax. These devices will be available in India, Russia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

50 devices already available

The two companies joined forces last year and to date Opera Mini has been preinstalled on over 50 models of Android smartphones and tablets shipped by Micromax. This partnership has enabled millions of Micromax users to enjoy the benefits of browsing the internet with Opera Mini.

Reasons to preinstall Opera Mini

Opera Mini is popularly known to deliver a smart, more social web experience at high speeds. It offers features such as Smart Page notifications, Speed Dial website shortcuts, download manager, password manager, visual tabs, saved webpages for offline viewing and a share feature – all creating a smooth and fun browsing experience. Opera Mini compresses webpages to as little as 10% of their original size before sending them to the handset; as a result, content is delivered faster, and users save on data costs. Consumers can monitor their data savings via Data Usage menu in the browser. By preinstalling, Micromax can make sure that its users get a smooth web experience from the devices.

Opera Mini on 50 Micromax Android devices

 

A Micromax spokesperson comments, “Smartphones have paved the way for a more connected world, with internet being one of the game-changers in the handset industry. At Micromax, we have always strived to democratize technology for the masses through our innovative product portfolio, service offerings and smart partnerships. Through this collaboration with Opera Software, we are empowering our users with a seamless and faster web browsing experience, giving them an unmatched user interface on their smartphones.”

Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software, says, “This partnership has helped us reach out to millions of people whose primary source of web consumption is through mobile devices. With Micromax becoming the #1 handset manufacturer in India, there is a huge opportunity for us to equip a wide audience with the power of the web.”

Opera Mini is also available as a free download from m.opera.com, or users can download it for their Android smartphones from Google Play.

About Micromax

Micromax Informatics Limited is one of the leading consumer electronics company in India and the 10th largest mobile phone player in the world (Counterpoint Research). Over the past 5 years, Micromax has pioneered the democratization of technology for masses by offering affordable innovations through their product offerings and removing barriers for large scale adoption of advanced technologies. Micromax is currently the 2nd largest smartphone company in India with a market share of 17.5 percent in Q1 of 2014 (CyberMedia Research). The brand’s product portfolio embraces more than 60 models today, ranging from feature rich, dual – SIM phones, 3G Android smartphones, tablets, LED televisions and data cards.

The company also has many firsts to its credit when it comes to the mobile handset market including the 30-day battery backup, dual SIM phones, QWERTY keypads, universal remote control mobile phones, first quad-core budget smart phone etc. The company has its operations across Russia and SAARC markets. Micromax sells more than 3 million Mobility Devices every month, with a presence in more than 560 districts through 1,50,000 retail outlets in India. With presence across India and global presence in Russia and SAARC markets, the Indian brand is reaching out to the global frontier with innovative products that challenge the status quo that Innovation comes with a price. For more information, please visit www.micromaxinfo.com

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 800 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Mini are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Opera Max data-savings app to be embedded into MediaTek’s LTE System on Chips

Original Press Release

Oslo, Norway, and Hsinchu, Taiwan – September 17, 2014

Opera Max, a data-savings app for Android phones, will be embedded into MediaTek’s LTE System on a Chip (SoC). The first two MediaTek SoCs to be shipped with Opera Max are the high-performing 64-bit LTE SoCs MT6752 and MT6732 chips. Opera Max will enable smartphones with these chips to consume half as much the data within the same monthly plan at no extra cost.

Opera Max

Opera Software has leveraged its market-leading video and data compression technology in Opera Max, which compresses video, photos and text across most apps and browsers on a smartphone by up to 50%, extending the life of a user’s data plans at no cost. The app also enables videos to start faster and take far less time buffering.

Users can easily monitor and manage the mobile data consumption of each app from Opera Max’s intuitive dashboard, which also reminds users when they are travelling away from their carrier’s network, so users can adjust their connectivity settings accordingly to avoid paying expensive roaming fees.

“This partnership validates MediaTek’s commitment to developing powerful and affordable chipsets to help manufacturers spur smartphone adoption in the Super-mid market – a new market structure comprising an unprecedented volume of premium mid-range devices worldwide. We want consumers to fully enjoy the 4G LTE multimedia experience while minimizing data costs associated with powerful smartphones,” said Jeffrey Ju, General Manager of the MediaTek Smartphone Business Unit.

“As mobile consumption grows with new data-hungry apps and mobile videos, compressing mobile data is more important than ever,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Opera has been a leader in mobile data compression for almost a decade, bringing millions of people online by lowering the barriers for accessing and enjoying the web. Today, we work with MediaTek, a market leader in cutting-edge system on chips for wireless communications, bringing Opera Max to their LTE chipsets and preparing smartphones for the next wave of data usage. Together, we are pushing the envelope for the entire mobile industry.”

MediaTek’s MT6752 is a 64-bit True Octa-core LTE SoC with eight 2.0GHz ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs and a Mali-T760 GPU – powerful enough to satisfy even the most demanding power-users. MT6732 is a 64-bit quad-core LTE SoC also based on ARM’s Cortex-A53 CPUs. Both target the emerging Super-mid market where consumers are seeking high-performance smart devices at an affordable price.

To learn more information of Opera Max for OEMs, please go to http://www.operasoftware.com/products/opera-max-oems

About MediaTek Inc.

MediaTek is a pioneering fabless semiconductor company, and a market leader in cutting-edge systems on chip for wireless communications and connectivity, HDTV, DVD and Blu-ray. MediaTek created the world’s first True Octa-core™ smartphone platform with LTE and our CorePilot™ technology releasing the full power of multi-core mobile processors. Through MediaTek Labs™, the company is creating a worldwide ecosystem in support of device creation, application development and services based around MediaTek offerings. With an emphasis on enabling technology for the masses and not the chosen, everyone can be an Everyday Genius. MediaTek [TSE:2454] is headquartered in Taiwan and has offices worldwide. Please visit www.mediatek.com for more information.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 800 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Max are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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It is entirely too easy to dismiss or underestimate the value of your mailing list. Many companies have mailing lists that are underutilized and frequently enough, almost never used. There is almost always an inherent radical variation between what your email list is worth and what it could be worth. Of course, making it worth something does require effort. The question is whether you can meet or exceed your ROI expectations on that effort? And… when?

Increase Opt-Ins through the Registration Process

Customers expect to hear from you when they first purchase and register your app. Even if they opt out of your newsletter during registration, you still have (at least) three opportunities to get them to opt in. This needs to happen while you are still fresh in their minds.

#1 – Day 1. Thank you for your purchase, provide technical support and contact information, newsletter opt-in emphasizing value to customer.

#2 – Day 3 or 7. Welcome your customer’s feedback and include another newsletter opt-in.

#3 – Day 30. Recap – thank them again for their purchase, keep the door open for feedback, cover your latest news or upcoming product releases, and emphasize this email is the last one they will receive from you in support of their purchase, offering additional support through your newsletter opt-in.

Future mailings are possible, too, especially for new app releases; suffice that if customers are not opting into your newsletter you need to respect their desire to be left alone.

Within this framework, you have four opportunities for customers to opt-in to your newsletter – once during initial registration and through three follow-up messages.

Newsletter and Mailing Frequency

It is difficult to pin down an “optimal” frequency for emails to opt-in customers. It varies by person, by product/service, and the value of the information in the mailing. Newsletters tend to have lower engagement than special offers, but that does not preclude a special offer from including some of the value of a newsletter.

The core focus of any email to customers is on your desired outcome – what you want them to do. As long as that is clear and everything else is not intrusive, you should be good. Technically, you can heavily emphasis special offers in the mailing and provide newsletter components on your landing pages.

Functionally, special offers can be presented more frequently than newsletters in that if you are discounting your app for 30 days, you can include an initial mailing, a reminder 7 days prior to its close and potentially a last minute offer 3 days before closing.

There are no hard set rules, however – if you are in doubt, you might ask your customers directly and personally. In these kinds of occasions, it can be useful to provide some value-added options to the customer.

“We are evaluating the effectiveness of our company’s newsletter and special promotions. You are one of our most respected customers, so I would really appreciate your thoughts. Below is a very short survey. If you can complete this for us, we can give you A/B/C.”

Determining Mailing List Value

The most basic way to associate a value to your email list is to define your Revenue per Email OR Revenue per Subscriber while also taking into consideration your Cost per Acquisition (or cost of getting each new subscriber).

Let’s say you have a mailing list with 10,000 addresses – and over the course of a year, the revenue you are able to attribute to email marketing is $25,000.00, the base average value of each of your subscribers would be $2.50.

You may also need to factor in the cost of acquiring each new email address over the course of the year.

Having a “very imperfect valuation method” is better than having no valuation method, suffice that there is considerable potential for you to engage in a more detailed analysis. The objective here is to prompt those who do not take their mailing list seriously, to start.

Once you’ve started, you have a considerable range of options to increase its value.

The following are some items to look at for improving the value of your email list:

  • Average purchase value in relation to what you promoted in each mailing.
  • Number of mailings conducted over the year.
  • Examine engagement rate relative to your email format – expect engagement to drop off if every mailing looks the same.
  • Look at B2B cross-promotional opportunities – just because you don’t have a new product to offer does not preclude you from promoting other products/services on a commission basis.

Appeal to multiple price ranges relative to what you know about your audience and super-user segment. The Pareto Principle asserts the idea that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. Within this segment, it frequently holds true that about 60% of your revenue may come from a select 4% of your customers.  While the majority of your users might be interested in low-end price options, there are likely to be a few interested in a higher buy-in.   Consider that even in some free to play games, there are players willing to pay $50 for a +6 stat tome…  Is everyone going to?  No.  Giving that possibility to the 1% who would can account for a large portion of your profits.

Last but not least, understanding this point is including a B2B link to a page that promotes what you can offer other businesses. Some of your customers, in addition to being end-users, may also have their own web site, store, business or professional interest in your niche.

I intend to revisit this article or expand upon it – there are a lot of loose ends.  Again though, the interest is to get those who are not treating their mailing list seriously to begin moving in that direction.

 

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You don’t have to be mobile to take advantage of mobile.  You just need to know someone who is.  This is a continuation of Friday’s post on Using Mobile to Help Grow Your Business.   In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, everyone was introducing their local web site developer, “I know this guy who can make a killer web site for your business, he can set you up with anything…”  Voila, the Internet as we know it!  Well, a part of it anyway.   Now there’s this mobile thing and to be honest about it, unless you are well ahead of the bell-curve as a small business owner you may well have a hard time seeing how it can work for you.

First, while PC’s have been around, forever…  Mobile apps and the mobile app market as we know them today are relatively new.  While mobile does go back to the late 1990’s, Apple’s App Store only started in July of 2008, with the predecessor of Google Play starting one month later.   That helps provide some context.

Most business owners who set up a web site likely found  there was more involved than just having a web site to help monetize their business – advertising, seo, social networking, building email lists of customers, producing newsletters are all part of doing business online, too.

While some may see Mobile and PC/Internet as two different things, they really are the same thing seen through a large screen or a small screen.  Essentially.  Where personal computers and laptops focus on software, mobile devices focus on apps (software by another name) to extend their functionality and value.   Overall though, Mobile Devices are becoming more and more like Personal Computers, in terms of power and functionality, but imminently more convenient.

Applying Mobile Apps and Advertising to Your Business

First, it is important to underscore that Mobile Internet Traffic exceeded Personal Computer Traffic back in January of 2014.  If you are focused on the otherwise “traditional” internet user (one who uses personal computers or laptops), you are reaching less than half of your potential audience.   Having a mobile-friendly web site for your business – one that is easy to view on small screens is one objective for your mobile customers, discussed separately.

Mobile offers you four broad possibilities for you to explore for your business:

  1. Mobile Advertising is very competitive with traditional online advertising on both costs and engagement.
  2. Mobile Apps offer the potential to put a “small part of your business” on your customer’s smart phones – something that can be useful and valuable to them on an ongoing basis.
  3. Even if you don’t need a custom-designed app for your business, you have the potential to collaborate with mobile app developers in their own in-app advertising.
  4. You can make use of many existing apps to support your business – and in some cases, combine several apps to work together for unprecedented customer engagement with the likes of “If This, Then That.

Your Common Ground with Mobile App Developers

Mobile app developers come in all sizes, including SME’s and large corporations, but you will likely want to connect with solo developers, small teams, or possibly a collective of developers, local to your business.  The heart of this discussion gets to two core points.

  1. Do you share a common audience?
  2. What are you able to offer each other (to include each of your customers)?

Let’s look at a few examples in defining a common audience.

  • If the developer specializes in games for preschoolers and your business has school supplies, children’s clothes, toys, educational services for young children, or even products/services useful for parents, you probably have a pretty good match.
  • If the developer specializes in health-related utility apps and your business provides medical, health care, fitness, diet, perhaps even LOHAS (Lifestyles of health and sustainability), you could have a good match, too.
  • You might also look at expanding your products and services to better match the types of apps the developer is already producing.

Simply, the match does not need to be exact to be beneficial.  It may involve adding a special service, offering new product lines, or expanding to reach a new audience.   These all stand as the kind of considerations small businesses should be examining and evaluating anyway.

If there’s a match, you are able to enhance the value of a developer’s mobile app by offering discounts or specials to their end-users with coupon codes.  In turn, the developer is able to help you to reach more new prospective customers – through their app AND through their customer newsletters.

This is the beginning, but only the beginning of forging a good networking and business relationship.  You will need to work out the costs for running promotions, perhaps explore an affiliate or commission program along with how to track it, possibly look at some form of cooperative marketing effort for promoting the app.

The key point here is that many developers of mobile apps are stronger on the tech side than they are on the marketing side.   That can be a great fit if you are strong on the marketing side and weak on the tech.

Sponsoring Apps and Developers

One very important point to understand about the mobile app ecosystem is that most developers are not making a profit on their mobile apps.  Over 90% of mobile apps are distributed for free with developers relying upon in-app advertising and/or in-app purchases for their revenues.

Developers are going to develop apps “anyways” – as in most cases, it is a function of “time” (not money).  Most small developers do not consider their time as part of their “bottom line” when it comes to creating an app.

They have the ability to write code and create programs that can do a lot of cool things.  The time to write and test code on different devices precludes learning or applying to a lot of other things – like marketing, advertising, branding, networking, etc.

Understanding these dynamics can be useful and profitable for both of you.  Sponsoring the development of an app means providing upfront funds for a portion of the app’s overall development cost in return for things like:

  • a portion of the app’s advertising space,
  • inclusion in the developer’s other advertising channels – web site, newsletter, etc.*
  • possible press releases about the sponsorship arrangement
  • possible revenue sharing opportunities

Additional opportunities could also include serving as an agent for the app developer in finding other sponsors and engaging in promotional activities on their behalf.  These matters are all matters of traditional business negotiations.

The main point is that you do not need to be a mobile developer to benefit from mobile apps across several channels of activity.

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This was one of the most popular posts from last year that is appropriate to revisit again.  In asking hundreds of mobile app developers what they wanted help on, we got a lot of different responses. Most of them fell within three categories – a) how to monetize their app, b) how to market their apps cost-effectively, and c) making it easier for apps to be found and discovered. There were a lot of other questions, some regarding specific platforms, specific app components, etc.

One of the first aims of this blog has been to help developers better monetize their mobile apps. Most app developers gravitate to one or two of 3 or 4 revenue models – free, freemium with ads, freemium with in app purchases, or premium direct sales.   Most of these are revenue models not really covered elsewhere.

Top 10 Mobile App Revenue Models

  1. In-App Advertising
  2. Free with Paid Upgrades
  3. Premium
  4. In-App Currency (and Vanity Products)
  5. Crowdfunding
  6. Memberships/Subscriptions
  7. Sponsors
  8. Surveys & Reports (plus Survey Sponsors)

Number 9.  Okay, Number 9… aside from associations with The Beatles, we covered the idea briefly earlier with Strategizing with Older Apps.   That mainly examined the idea of buying licenses to older apps and rejuvenating them for newer markets. One of the most important aspects of developing a business plan and getting into any business is having an exit strategy.  In this regard, you may look at selling the rights to your app, licensing it out or considering a similar arrangement.

Number 10.  This one is basic – Have your own store.  Whether you sell your own stuff, act as a retailer or simply as an affiliate, depending upon the nature of your app and its popularity, not having a store leaves money on the table.   The aim is very simple – promote products related to what the users of your app use.

11.  Government Grants.    While it is not easy to get your first grant, once you have been through the process, know the system and how it works, governments will give you money to… design stuff.   The same goes for various endowments and non-government organizations (NGO’s).   The filing requirements can be burdensome, advocating perhaps hooking up with a grant writer or someone who has already done it themselves.   Many governments also announce projects for open bidding.

Quite a few of these can be mixed and matched, you don’t and really should not lock yourself into a single method of monetizing your effort if you can help it.

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Original Press Release

Oslo, Norway, and Seoul, Korea – September 11, 2014

Opera TV Store has gained another popular international broadcaster. Korea’s leading English-language television network Arirang, has debuted three TV apps in the Opera TV Store: Arirang TV LIVE, Arirang and Arirang Radio Live. Millions of Opera TV Store users are now able to catch up with live Korean popular music and up-to-date world news programs through Arirang’s TV apps, created using the Opera TV Snap tool.

arirang-tv-app

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Original Press Release

New Delhi, India – September 10, 2014

Thanks to Opera’s advanced compression technology, Indian users of the Opera Mini mobile browsers used 75% less mobile data in the first half of the year, according to a report by Opera Software. This is the equivalent of a monthly nationwide saving of Rs 350 million and adds up to a whopping saving of Rs 2.1 billion in the first six months of 2014.

Opera Mini users on Java-based phones saved an average of 81% in mobile data each month, while smartphone users saved about 69%, the report reveals. Among smartphone users, those on Android phones clocked an average of 68.5% savings per month, while iOS users saved about 62%.

The report is based on aggregated information obtained from the Opera Mini servers.

Opera Mini is compatible with over 3000 mobile devices, ranging from basic Java phones to the latest Android and iOS smartphones. This makes it highly popular in the Indian mobile market, which has a healthy mix of consumers using a large variety of handsets. India is also home to the largest number of Opera Mini users in the world.

Opera Mini data compression

These substantial savings were achieved thanks to Opera Mini’s advanced compression technology, which shrinks webpages down to as little as 10% of their original size, reducing data consumption by up to 90%. The data compression also helps render webpages faster, even while roaming, or in places with poor network conditions, making Opera Mini a great companion while on the go.

Small savings add up to big money

Investing in good technology helps users save money. In the case of Opera Mini, the technology is simply free. Users of the browsing app need only do what they do every day – surf the web with their mobile phones – and Opera Mini will save them money.

Daily savings can add up in the long run. The 2.1 billion rupees that Opera Mini users in India saved over just half the year could be used for:

opera-mini-data-savings-india
“We understand how precious mobile data is for Indian consumers, and that’s why our servers work very hard to shrink every bit of data possible for Opera Mini users. It’s indeed gratifying to see that this translates into such gigantic savings for our Indian users. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. We are confident Opera Mini can help Indians save billions more”, says Sunil Kamath, Vice President for Southern Asia at Opera Software.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 800 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Mini are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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The first part of this article covered most of the items that you will need to do to build a solid business in mobile app development. Its main intention is to demonstrate that most of what you do as an app developer does not generate revenue — unless you are being paid by someone else to do the development. The vast majority of your revenue inherently comes from marketing, sales and public relations efforts. The fundamental assertion is that if you stick to something for five years, engage to learn and apply to everything that goes into “that business” — it will be profitable. Well, almost.

Here are three more very important business components deserving of special emphasis. more

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Sub-continent sees a country-wide shift from feature phones to smartphones, largely fueled by growth on Android

Original Press Release

San Mateo, Calif., and Mumbai, India – September 9, 2014

The Asia-Pacific is now the fastest-growing region in mobile advertising, with 70% growth in ad impressions year-over-year — similar to its upward trajectory within the global economy. This was among the conclusions from from the special edition of the State of Mobile Advertising report, released by Opera Mediaworks today.

India is the single-most powerful driver of the Asia-Pacific market, with mobile-ad impression volume growing 260% since July 2013. This is primarily due to the rapid, country-wide shift from feature phones to smart devices, which is dominated almost entirely by the Android platform (41.7% share vs. a paltry 0.4% for iOS).

Opera Mediaworks’ first India-focused report provides data on device adoption, ad types and mobile consumption patterns in the sub-continent, among other things.

Other market-share findings:

  • Social sites and apps are most popular in usage, consistent with the global trend. However, mobile app stores, gaming and education sites, and apps closely follow, which is particular to India users.
  • Advertisements served are mostly for games and mobile devices, together representing nearly half (48.1%) of all impressions. Classified ads, however, comprise a significant portion, with 1 in 5 impressions dedicated to the direct sale of personal transportation like cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles.
  • Most ads are simple banners, but more sophisticated rich media is emerging as a creative medium. Even at only 3.2% of impressions, rich media drives 26.6% of revenue.

With the goal of helping advertisers understand the makeup of the mobile audience in India — and how to better reach them — Opera Mediaworks also published findings about the user base. The company observed that:

  • The Indian mobile advertising audience is young (60% are in the 18-24 age group) and predominantly male (82%).
  • About half are “occasional” users, accessing the mobile web 1-2 times per week, but 21.6% are “frequent” (6-7 days/week), and 6 in 10 ad impressions are served to those “frequent” users.
  • Mobile ad interactions are higher on weekends, and engagement is low during the week.

“The biggest trend that we identified was really about future opportunity,” says Mahi de Silva, CEO of Opera Mediaworks. “Mobile users in India who have shifted to smartphones have done so with Android, and we can see that those users are far more interested in categories like News & Information, Arts & Entertainment and Business, Finance & Investing than the India average. Given the high monetization we’ve seen from these categories on a global level, it’s clear that both advertisers and publishers that can deliver rich user experiences on mobile sites and apps in those categories are going to be successful in India, as well.”

Additional findings from the report will be noted in a presentation by Kshitiz Randhir Shori, Head of Brand Advertising, Opera Mediaworks India on September 11th at the “MMA Forum India 2014: Reimagining Mobile” event at the Palladium Hotel in Mumbai.

He will speak further about how to connect to the Indian audience in meaningful ways through mobile advertising, with a special focus on Sponsored Web Pass and native ad experiences.

To read the full report visit: http://www.operamediaworks.com/insights/sma.html

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 800 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera is a trademark of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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App Development business planThis is intended to be a work in progress, aiming at a comprehensive itemization of the components and tasks in creating a five year business plan for mobile app development. This will involve more than one post.

It is necessary to draw attention to the Pareto Principle in that:

  • About 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of your revenue.
  • Most of what you do as a developer (80%) generates little to no revenue (20%).

You can develop today, tomorrow, and forever — but without marketing, sales, and public relations, not to mention several aspects of business development, you will make little to no money.

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Original Press Release

Oslo, Norway — September 4, 2014

KyivstarKyivstar, the largest mobile operator in Ukraine, will be able to launch a co-branded version of the Opera Mini mobile web browser, according to a new strategic partnership agreement between Opera Software and Kyivstar, announced today.  For monetization and optimization of mobile data, Kyivstar can also opt into the entire Opera portfolio of products, including such products as Opera Web Pass, Rocket Optimizer and Opera Max. The agreement is part of the Global Framework Agreement between Opera Software and VimpelCom Group that was extended in January 2014.

Opera solutions improve mobile internet experience

Opera Mini is a fast, simple and safe browser app for nearly any mobile phone. It shrinks webpages by as much as 90 percent, getting users their content faster. Opera Mini also makes the mobile internet more affordable by helping people get the most out of their data plans.

With Opera Web Pass, Kyivstar will be able to package internet access in an easy-to-understand and affordable way. It includes compelling data packages that are time based, content based or even free for promotional use.

Implementation of Opera’s cloud-based services, including Rocket Optimizer and Opera Max, can help Kyivstar combat the explosion of data traffic coming from smartphones, particularly mobile video consumption. Opera Max is a free and easy-to-use data-savings app that compresses data across almost every app on a mobile device — including video, text and images.  more

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Opera Devices SDK 4.2 brings Android, RDK and 4K support plus new full internet browser

Original Press Release

Amsterdam and Oslo, Norway – September 4, 2014

The industry’s first Blink-based engine for Smart TV devices is getting a major upgrade, with the release of the Opera Devices SDK 4.2 embeddable HTML5 rendering engine. Developed by the most mature vendor in the space, Opera Software, this latest Software Development Kit debuts in time for the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), kicking off next week in Amsterdam.

The Opera Devices SDK 4.2 comes packed with new features:

  • Support for HbbTV 1.5, the latest version of the broadband broadcast specification, with the debut of HbbTV on Opera’s Blink product.
  • A media-streaming option with support for adaptive bitrate streaming, including MPEG-Dash, HTTP Live Streaming and Smooth Streaming. This enables support for all kinds of video services, with better quality and a better user experience.
  • Support for Timed Text Markup Language (TTML) according to a Smart TV Alliance specification and support for multiple video, audio and text tracks for better rendering of subtitles and languages.

Android and RDK support goes live

Support for additional connected-TV device platforms is also new in the latest version of the Opera Devices SDK. In version 4.2, support for devices based on the Android and RDK (Reference Design Kit) operating systems moves from beta to production, joining the SDK’s support for Linux-based devices. The additional platforms satisfies the demands of pay-TV operators and retail OEMs seeking to bring online services, applications and HbbTV to their platforms.

Fully tested for 4K

In a boon for manufacturers seeking to enable 4K content on their devices, the Opera Devices SDK 4.2 has also been fully tested for content and devices with 4K resolution, to manage the high memory flow required for ultra-high-definition television. Over-the-top content is anticipated to become the industry’s biggest driver of 4K content, rather than broadcasted content.

Fresh new full internet browser for TV

opera-tv-browser

The Opera Devices SDK 4.2 also features a totally new internet browser: the Opera TV browser. Empowering viewers to browse the full web directly from their TV with their standard remote control, the latest version features a new user interface completely tailored and optimized for the TV experience. The TV browser has now been deeply integrated into the Opera Devices SDK, making it easier than ever for manufacturers of Smart TV devices to select and deliver a web browser as part of their product offering.

Meet Opera Software at IBC

Opera’s SDK is the most advanced embeddable HTML5 engine for Smart TV devices, shipping on over 25 million devices each year from leading TV and set-top-box manufacturers. To see the latest edition of the Opera Devices SDK in action – and Opera’s premium TV solutions for manufacturers, operators and brands – visit Opera Software at Hall 14 Stand E20 at IBC in Amsterdam (September 12-16). Also meet Opera this week at IFA in Berlin (September 5-10). Book a commercial meeting, or contact zlauder [at] opera.com to arrange a media/analyst briefing.

About Opera TV

The Opera TV portfolio powers rich web experiences on tens of millions of Smart TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players and chipsets for more than 60 customers, including Sony, TiVo, Samsung, Swisscom, Philips, TCL and Sharp.
Tap into the complete suite of tools for creating compelling connected-TV experiences. The Opera TV ecosystem spans the Opera TV Store app platform with hundreds of entertaining apps tailor-made for TV, Opera Devices SDK (software development kit) for creating and rendering HTML5-based user interfaces, and the Opera TV browser for reaching the full web. Opera TV offers solutions for OEMs, pay-TV operators, broadcasters and content publishers. With the Opera Mediaworks advertising platform, Opera TV can help monetize and drive traffic to content through an end-to-end advertising solution. Visit www.opera.com/tv/ to learn more.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and O logo are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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New Opera for Windows and Mac debuts with tab preview feature

Original Press Release

Oslo, Norway – September 2, 2014

Opera for Windows, Mac and Linux now offers over 1000 extensions, small programs that extend the functionality of a browser and personalize the browsing experience. In addition, Opera users can now enjoy a completely new tab preview feature.

1000 extensions for easier browsing

Opera’s move to the Chromium engine last year came with improved site compatibility, but its switch to Chromium’s extensions format also meant that Opera had to rebuild its extensions ecosystem from scratch.

With the help of a conversion tool, detailed tutorials and extensive developer outreach, Opera has managed to get its worldwide community of developers to fill its extension catalog for the Chromium-based Opera browser. Opera’s strict moderation of extension submissions and updates ensures that extension users stay safe. For a complete overview of available extensions, head to addons.opera.com/extensions.

Here’s Opera’s pick of the top extensions designed to make your browsing even more efficient:

  • Turn Off The Lights allows you to focus on the video you are watching by dimming the rest of the page.
  • Translate gives you in-page language translation options powered by the Google Translate servers.
  • Disconnect lets you visualize and block websites that track you.
  • Evernote Web Clipper allows you to clip, save and share any interesting web content easily, as well as to store your notes.
  • Similar Image Search gives you an easy way to search similar images on Google Images and other services.

o24_tab_preview_extensions

Give your tabs extra visibility

With Opera 24 for Windows and Mac, released today, users can see a large preview of a webpage by hovering the mouse over a tab. Tab preview lets users see the most recent snapshot of the website and enables a smooth, visual overview of multiple tabs.

This latest version of Opera for computers also comes with user interface improvements. Windows users with very dense displays can now enjoy a sharper-looking UI, similar to what Opera for Mac users get on Retina screens. With HiDPI support, the UI will – instead of being scaled – get the sharpness it deserves.

Give Opera 24 a try. Download it for Windows and Mac at opera.com.
Find all documentation and tools for extension developers at dev.opera.com/extensions/.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera, O logo and Opera Software logo are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Sometimes, paying $2.99 for all the coffee you can drink is simply not enough and paying $4.98 for twice as much coffee as you can drink is a really good deal! Now, if you are having difficulty keeping your coffee hot, a few drops of habenero sauce will keep your coffee hot all day long. Okay… Today presents some opportunities that you might take a look at relative to where you are in the Global Mobile Market.

SingTel Accelerator – Singapore – September 6 through October 20, 2014 –  is sponsoring a three-staged contest with a top prize worth $10,000 to fast track your app to market. There are a few opportunities in this program worth looking at if you have what it takes to compete.

Ncell  Mobile App Development Competition – Nepal/International – Register your team and idea by October 28, 2014.  Competition is open for four thematic categories:  Agriculture, Education, Tourism and Corporate solutions.  Ncell App Camp offers an opportunity to win cash prizes; essentially with a motive to support you to set up your own start-up firm.

Prizes include: cash reward of Rs. 250,000 net of tax to each category winner. Likewise, one overall winner will receive an additional Rs. 500,000 net of tax in cash plus an opportunity to participate in an overseas App Camp in 2015.

[Category winners – Rs. (rupee) equivalent of about US$4.2k; Overall winner – about $8.5 k]

Winning teams with complete product will receive awards in full at the closing ceremony on Dec 11. Winning teams with working prototypes will receive Rs. 100,000 at the closing ceremony and remaining prizes on completion of their app, as they pitched. Deadline for completing app is Jan 31, 2015.

500 Startups Accelerator – Programs are available in Mountain View, San Francisco and Mexico City.  This App Developer Incubator graduates 100 new companies per year with 4x three month classes.   Companies selected can receive up to $75,000 (net) worth of investments for a 7% revenue share.  As an incubator of mobile developer companies, you get comprehensive instruction and guidance on how to run an actual business.

MORE?

There are other opportunities available, but these are the best three that I’ve found in the immediate future that do not require you to be enrolled in a specific college.  I’ll post more as I find some good ones.

There are numerous app incubator programs.  They all have their criteria to meet and funding is not automatic.  Nevertheless, if you are aiming to make a career out from your mobile apps – incubators are among the best ways to accelerate your way into having a solid start-up foundation spanning the overall operation of a company.

If you know of other programs or would like to talk about your own experience with a start-up, please let me know!

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Why would anyone want to have their app on alternative app stores outside the Big Three of Apple, Google and Amazon? Here are seven quick reasons why you would want to develop a presence on several stores.

  1. Multiple points of presence for expanded market reach.
  2. More chances to develop relationships with different store owners/teams.
  3. Market diversification for the long term, experimenting now will pay dividends later.
  4. Most developing markets, despite short term fluctuations, are gaining on wages and purchasing power parity.
  5. Dollar for dollar, easier to compete on most alternative stores.
  6. Most internet/mobile growth is taking place outside of developed countries – running at roughly 9% per year many of these users will never use Google.
  7. It can involve localization efforts, but this is usually a fraction of developing the full app.

Getting on Opera Mobile Store is easy and free, plus we can help you get on more stores fast.

If you are aiming for your app to stand out and get some attention, competing with hundreds of thousands of other developers and a million other apps is probably not the best place to do it, unless you have a major marketing budget.

No one starts with the ability to compete at the top. Even Cristian Ronaldo, the world’s #1 highest paid football player started out playing with a local team (Nacional) before moving onto football academy, Arsenal, taking part in the Olympics, signing with Manchester United and eventually Real Madrid.

With mobile marketing, you have the option to pick your own battles – to decide when and where you will compete. You don’t have to play everyone else’s game. You just need to cultivate your own game. This involves answering one question,

Where can you get the most downloads for the least effort?

Some will put this question in the form of “least cost”, but this presumes that you must have money to start a marketing campaign – and you don’t. It helps to have money, but there is much that you can do at no cost that can generate downloads immediately, like:

  • Communicating with a store’s marketing team
  • Press releases to get media coverage
  • Getting your Mobile App reviewed
  • Social networking
  • Guest Articles on mobile blog Sites

Leading off with talking to a store’s marketing team, if you have your app on Opera Mobile Store, you have the opportunity to submit your app to me for review or provide a review or overview of your own. We are also happy to post your app on our Facebook wall. Getting on either our blog or Facebook page should make it easier for you to get on other sites, too.

Success breeds success – namely, the more downloads you get, the easier it is for you to get more downloads. It does not really matter where they come from. Once you have direct contact with a customer, you are able to communicate with them directly – to encourage them to give your app a favorable review, recommend it to friends, even incentivize recommendations via in app currency. This expands your marketing channels for your current app while increasing your marketing reach on any apps you develop in the future.

If you are able to achieve a top placement in one app store, you increase the odds of getting the attention of other stores (and people/groups of interest).

Energy flows in the path of least resistance. Making an effort to find that path of least resistance will help you far more than simply being in the same mega stores everyone else is in.

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New technology enables mobile operators to quickly deliver high-quality audio streaming to subscribers without buffering or stalling

Official Press Release

Oslo, Norway and Mountain View, Calif. – August 28, 2014

Opera Software’s Skyfire unit has added streaming audio optimization as a new feature to Rocket Optimizer, its NFV-ready video and data optimization platform for mobile operators, the company announced today.

A recent study by research firm Strategy Analytics into consumers’ mobile music habits in the United States, China, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom* found that 77 percent of mobile users listen to music on their phones – with 70 percent claiming to do so at least once per week or more. Seventy-two per cent also said that they use their mobile phones to listen to music at least once a week when the service is bundled into their operator data plan.

The addition of optimized audio streaming to Rocket Optimizer also comes as increasing numbers of mobile operators partner with digital music streaming services as a way to differentiate themselves in the market, improve customer loyalty and reduce churn. It is for this reason that an increasing number of operators don’t count music streaming against their customers’ data plans.

opera-streaming-audio-optimization

 

Rocket Optimizer manages streaming audio traffic in the same way that it optimizes mobile video traffic. It uses its built-in Experience Assurance functionality to automatically detect when the end-user’s live audio stream is about to stall, buffer or drop off entirely due to a poor connection – in real-time, before the problem starts. Rocket Optimizer then instantly adapts the audio stream to fit the available capacity in the network, in order to ensure the end user receives a smooth, uninterrupted, high-quality streaming audio experience.

Rocket Optimizer’s streaming audio optimization works with most of the world’s most popular streaming music services, as well as with “long tail” streaming content hosted on myriad web sites. It supports both MP3 and MP4 stream formats, and – unlike competing optimization solutions – can also convert streams to the more efficient AAC+ codec, which is able to deliver high audio quality over a low bitrate connection to any compatible device.

“With devices getting smarter and networks getting faster, streamed music – like video – is rapidly growing in popularity among consumers, and operators need to prepare their networks to deliver the superior quality of experience that consumers expect,” says Nitin Bhandari, Skyfire CEO and Opera SVP of Operator Products. “While audio is generally streamed at a lower bitrate than video, users often stream audio for hours at a time – consuming significant network bandwidth. Furthermore, quality assurance is hugely important, as users are extremely sensitive to stalling in audio streams. Rocket Optimizer’s audio optimization saves bandwidth where it is needed, while improving the overall consumer experience.”

* “Listening to the Listeners: Mobile Music Survey Results”, May 2014 (Author: Nitesh Patel)

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Rocket Optimizer are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Official Press Release

Oslo, Norway – August 26, 2014

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100 million Android active users are now accessing the web using Opera’s browsers, twice as many as one year ago, Opera Software announced today.

India, followed by China, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico have the largest number of Opera users on Android.

“We are working hard to make fast, secure and easy-to-use web browsers, and I am very happy that we now have over 100 million smartphone customers around the world,” says Lars Boilesen, CEO at Opera Software.

“We want to create a connected world, where people have access to information, and the mobile web is absolutely crucial to this goal,” continues Boilesen.

Opera Mini is most popular

The most popular Opera app for Android phones is the Opera Mini browser, followed by the Opera for Android browser and Opera Max. Opera Mini compresses webpages to as little as 10% of their original size, getting users their content faster. Data compression is a big advantage on slow networks, allowing for a superior browsing experience. It also makes the mobile internet more affordable by helping users get the most out of their data plans.

Data-savings app compresses video

Opera users in some markets can also cut down on mobile video data usage with Opera Max. Developed for Android phones, Opera Max is Opera’s answer to the massive consumer demand for accessing mobile video, enabling compression of video, photos and text across most smartphone apps.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera, Opera Mini, Opera Max, O logo and Opera Software logo are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Alfred Winston from dotcominfoway.com provided permission to post their infographic – 10 Step Checklist to Build and Market a Successful App.  You can get your own embedding code by accessing the DCI Blog.

So, let’s take a look —

10 Step Checklist to build and market successful app
Dot Com Infoway – Mobile Apps Marketing Agency

In my estimation this covers virtually everything, it is an excellent, informative – process oriented sequence that you can start setting your Gantt Charts to now.

The only thing I would add to this infographic comes before Step One (Defining your unique sales proposition, platfrom and strategy).   Simply – it is to not box yourself into one app as your available options.  I addressed this briefly, tangentially, a few months ago.

Don’t limit yourself to one app, one model, one business idea, one prospective investment.  It may be a great idea, but it needs to be compared to something else.  This can lead to looking at the same idea for an app in several different contexts — your idea for an app might be better presented as a full-fledged business, a subscription service, etc.

When you really like the idea of investing into gold, there are not too many who would say that’s a terrible idea.   But you also have the option of investing in silver or platinum, real estate, stocks, bonds, futures, a new business, etc.  The idea is to get the most out of your next investment.

But, once you have determined that you are going to produce an app – DCI’s infographic is your road map.

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For however much you may know about a particular subject, there’s likely to always be more. What you don’t know, can help you. When setting out to create a mobile app, utility or game, you likely have a vision of how the completed app will work, how it will look, and all of the things it can do. It is worth taking some time to go even deeper.

One of my recent projects involved creating a scenario for The Falkland Islands War between England and Argentina in 1982. That’s a very small project in comparison to my World War II “War in Europe” projects. The Falkland Islands was a small war, lasting only about two months with each country fielding only about 2 brigades each. Yet, for its small size, it includes all of the complexity of much larger conflicts.

In games like this, typically only a few things are really needed – the map, the units involved (Order of Battle), the equipment in the units (Tables of Organization and Equipment), when using a game platform like The Operational Art of War. With this collection of information, one can roughly recreate any type of battle from Alexander the Great to Napoleon to modern warfare engagements.

But a wide range of other factors can be taken into account. Nevertheless, even considering all of the things that you can apply to a game’s design or an app’s functionality, there are a lot of things that are easily overlooked. It is safest to presume from the outset that will be the case.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Turning to other professionals to get their insight can transform an average app or game into an excellent one simply by listening to what they have to say. This can work for any number of social and professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Quora, MosaicHub, and others.   Most especially, sign up to groups relevant to what you are working on.  Explain what you are aiming to do and ask if anyone has anything they would like to see included.

The devil is always in the details and it can be that extra little complexity that makes your app unique enough to stand out against so many other apps, utilities and games. You might be making a utility app for medical students, but getting the input of doctors, nurses, insurance processors, possibly pharmacists, can broaden your potential list of functions. Ultimately, you decide which functions you will include but without reviewing the input from each user segment can mean not implementing some really easy things that will help your app shine.

Enough people are happy to lend their expertise to more than justify the effort. The level of professional input I received on this particular game project exceeded my expectations several times over. Most of it was easily implemented and essentially “makes the game complete”.

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Oslo, Norway – August 21, 2014

opera-mini-web-browser-to-land-on-microsoft-feature-phonesOpera Mini will become the default web browser for Microsoft’s existing feature phones and Asha phones portfolio, Opera Software today announced.

The licensing agreement applies to mobile phones based on the Series 30+, Series 40 and Asha software platforms.

As part of the agreement, people who use the current browser for these phones, Xpress, will be encouraged to upgrade to the latest Opera Mini browser. Factory-new devices will have Opera Mini pre-installed.

Opera Mini is one of the world’s most popular web browsers that works on almost any phone. It has a built-in compression technology that allows people to save on mobile data. Opera Mini currently has around 250 million users, over 100 million of these on Android smartphones.

Microsoft first feature and Asha phones are popular with people seeking affordable, well-designed and reliable devices capable of internet browsing, apps and more.

“We continue to sell and support classic first and feature phones as well as the Asha range, which have performed well with millions of people who want new mobile experiences at lower price points,” said Rich Bernardo, head of legacy business, Phones, Microsoft. “The agreement with Opera will enable us to provide continuity of service as we transition from Xpress Browser to Opera Mini.”

“This is a great opportunity to spread the benefits of Opera Mini to millions more consumers in our core markets. There are still massive numbers of people who have not moved to smartphones, but Opera Mini can provide them with an amazing browsing experience right now,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com, or follow Opera on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Mini are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Social networking is central to developing multiple points of presence. It would be my first recommendation to be “everywhere you can be” – but each involves an investment in time. However, when we are talking about social networking, this does not necessarily mean very much of “your time” or “your effort” – so long as there is someone with the interest to do “do it”.

If you do something good enough, you can bet there will be someone out there who will take it upon themselves to set up web pages about what you do (Squidoo.com is a good example, and that is a Seth Godin project).

What is the purpose of the Internet?  Simply speaking it enables people to communicate and share information free from most physical constraints.

What do people do on Facebook (and other social network sites)?

  • They talk with friends
  • They share pictures, infographics, videos
  • They play games – and the games they play often encourage them to invite their friends to play them, too.
  • They engage both topically, geographically and by language.
  • Many are seeking to expand their own social networks.
  • Many are promoting their own interests – their business, their hobbies, their music, etc.

What are the reasons to be on the same social networks?

  • Lots of other people are already there and using it.
  • They are free and easy to use.
  • Your “competitors” are there.
  • If you are connected with others, what you post might be picked up by them.

People with similar interests tend to congregate together (birds of a feather…).  As with everything else, there is a process associated with this congregating – networking.  The simple goal is to help others meet up with others who have similar interests.  This typically leads to the formation of groups – guilds, blogs, podcasts, possibly businesses.

There is an exceptionally high conversion rate on word of mouth advertising between people who share very similar interests in games.   My niche is in war games, spanning over 30 years of play.   Within this fairly narrow niche, my personal recommendation for a game would induce many of my peers to buy it, and vice versa — because we have.

There is another axiom at play which is the bedrock of word of mouth advertising.  What others have to say about you is exponentially more important than anything you could say about yourself.

So, when you make it a regular habit to recognize and share an article they’ve written, an event they are holding, someone trying to form a guild in the context of your app/game, or a content review – you are well on the way of developing a great relationship.  If you are promoting them, giving them love for promoting your app, they are increasingly likely to promote your future promotions.

Everything does not always have to be about you.  The less it is, probably the better until something really important comes up.

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Team of industry experts and innovators assembled to help advertisers deliver next-generation mobile ad campaigns

Original Press Release

San Mateo, Calif. – Aug 19, 2014

As the mobile advertising industry prepares to meet the growing and evolving demands of consumers, mobile ad platform Opera Mediaworks, which serves 64 billion impressions and reaches 700 million global consumers monthly, today announced the launch of its Innovation Lab.

Unlike a traditional product team, whose primary role is to provide solutions to the problems that mobile marketers face today, the Opera Mediaworks Innovation Lab will focus solely on the needs of tomorrow. The Innovation Lab’s goal is to create new products and solutions, leveraging technical innovation available at scale – that will help marketers reach the next generation of mobile consumers in the most effective and engaging way.

“We’ve tasked the Innovation Lab team with understanding how consumers can and will be interacting with their mobile devices in the future — and with finding the ways that brands can actively participate in that experience,” says Scott Swanson, President, Global Advertising Sales.

In addition to making several acquisitions that added to Opera Mediaworks’ roster of mobile talent, including apprupt in Germany and the U.S.-based mobile video ad platform AdColony, the company recruited from some of the best mobile tech firms and ad agencies to make up the 11 team members of the Innovation Lab.

“It was equally important for us to get people who understood both the realities of the demands that ad agencies face and how to communicate the hows and whys of these products,” says Orr Orenstein, team leader and newly-minted Head of Innovation for Opera Mediaworks.

Orenstein, who was previously the CTO of Mobile Theory, the premium mobile ad network that Opera Software acquired in 2012, has 25 years of tech and mobile experience. He was a strong figure in both creating a strong directive for the Innovation Lab group and in vetting its potential members.

The Innovation Lab will put its energy into five distinct focus areas. They are:

    • 1. Interactivity, via a suite of interactive products that utilize the native capabilities of mobile devices, such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, camera and voice recognition.
    • 2. Receptivity, ensuring that ads are served not only to the right person, on the right device and place, but also at the right time — in alignment with the user’s physiological state, or mood.
    • 3. Targeting, including a proprietary technology that detects the apps on a phone to determine that person’s “digital DNA” and serve a highly-relevant ad based on interests and habits.
    • 4. Location, where the creative and marketing message is dynamically updated based on location. For example: weather-related creative, map to the nearest store, or APR (Annual Percentage Rate) offers from the nearest car dealership.
    • 5. Measurement will continue to be of utmost importance for mobile marketers; the Lab will find ways to improve cross-channel tracking and reporting of engagement metrics as well as understanding what’s driving in-store traffic and mobile conversions. In the coming months, the Innovation Lab will release a suite of new products intended to capture the full potential of mobile advertising. Debuts of these new products will be visible as the team takes to various cities with demo stations at breakfast events intended to give marketers an opportunity to interact with the new advertising products on devices, in person.

 

Readers will get an opportunity to “stump” the brainpower of the Innovation Labs team members by submitting questions on mobile advertising through our #stumpthelab contest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from August 19 through August 26. More on this here http://blog.operamediaworks.com/.

For more information about Innovation Lab, its products and team members, please visit: http://operamediaworks.com/innovation_lab/

About Opera Mediaworks

Opera Mediaworks powers the mobile ad economy through technology innovation, transparency and trust, to create vibrant marketplaces for publishers and advertisers across the globe. This enables advertisers to efficiently reach their target audience and publishers to improve their monetization. Opera Mediaworks operates the world’s biggest brand-focused mobile ad network, serving 24 of the 25 top global brands. We also deliver the world’s leading mobile ad server and monetization tools to 18 of the top 25 media companies worldwide. Our mission is to deliver relevance in the medium where it matters most—on mobile devices.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, Opera Mediaworks has offices in New York, United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine and Norway. Learn more about Opera Mediaworks at www.operamediaworks.com.

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Enhance your travel search with browser tools at your fingertips

Official Press Release

Oslo, Norway – August 14, 2014

 

Whether it’s a transcontinental adventure or a weekend road trip, anyone can be a spontaneous traveler – all you need is a little practice. With the release of the new iOS version of their mobile web browser, Opera Mini, Opera Software shares some valuable browser gems for the spur-of-the-moment traveler.

Get inspired

When wanderlust hits, start by figuring out the kind of getaway you want to have and settling on a destination. For the spontaneous globetrotter, a great way to get inspired is to roam the web for good ideas. Websites such as StumbleUpon and TripAdvisor are great sites to start to look for locations. Look for locations, or join Secret Escapes for last-minute deals on luxury travel. The Discover feature on the start page of Opera browsers can inspire you with the latest articles about popular travel destinations, local cuisine, art, entertainment and more.

Organize

One of the biggest benefits to last-minute trips is the potential cost savings, but it can be hard to keep track of those bargains. Structure your entire trip around the biggest bargains you find by bookmarking in your web browser your hotel, tour or restaurants alternatives or use the Opera Stash function for a quick, customizable single-page comparison.

Preload

When arranging travel in the heat of the moment, it’s impossible to read up on everything ahead of time. And, once you’re on your way, you may not have access to the websites you want to read. Use your mobile browser to create your own offline travel guide while waiting for your flight. Just like your movies and music, you can preload the travel-tip webpages you want to read and save them for offline reading later.
Opera Desktop Speed Dial

opera-desktop-speed-dialReach out faster

Many browsers enable you to add shortcuts to favorite websites. Using Opera, you can store online travel tools such as XE currency exchange and Google Translate as entries on the Speed Dial start screen for quick access. Organize the entries into folders and these important links will be right at your fingertips while you’re on the go.

Extend your data

Whether you’re in downtown Tokyo or out hiking in the vastness of Death Valley, your internet connection can be limited due to congested bandwidth or poor reception. By using a browser that allows for website compression, you can download and stream faster and spend less on expensive roaming bills. Opera Mini on iOS has two data-saving modes in addition to normal browsing without compression. The Turbo mode shrinks data consumption by 50% while allowing for full website functionality. The Mini mode crunches data even further, allowing you to use up to 90% less data.

Browse privately

When out and about in the world, not everyone needs to know where you have been or where you plan to go. This is especially true when booking tickets on sites that remember you, incrementing prices the longer you search. Opera for computers and Opera Mini have private tabs to give you the ultimate feeling of comfort by removing any trace of the websites you visit.

Travel light with nothing but a wallet, passport and a powerful browser. If you already pack your bag like a pro, make sure to pack your phone for the trip ahead as well.  Read more about Opera Mini at http://www.opera.com/travel.

Download Opera for your computer or mobile at http://www.opera.com or visit your favorite app store.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com.

Opera, Opera Mini and Off Road Mode are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Some developers would say that it takes a lot of work to get your app added to any app store. I’m here to say… NAY!

If you give Opera Mobile Store permission to do some of the work for you, you could be done with all you need to do in about 5 minutes. Earlier, I said, “10 minutes” – but today, we’re providing you a letter that you can copy and paste requesting us to do that work, making it even easier and faster to get your apps on Opera Mobile Store and in front of its 70 million monthly visitors.

Get your app on Opera Mobile Store – Even Easier!

  1. Set up an account on our publisher’s platformhttps://publishers.apps.opera.com, basically add your name, email and choose a password.
  2. Copy – Paste and Fill in Your Information using the following letter and sent it to the Opera Mobile Store content team (apps-support@opera.com).

Example Email – Feel free to use – make sure to add your information and attach your APK files:

Subject: Add my Apps to OMS!

Dear Opera Mobile Store,

I’m writing you to request adding my mobile apps to your store. I have set up an account on publishers.apps.opera.com – my user name is:

You can find my mobile apps on Google Play on the following pages:
URL #1
URL #2
URL #3

I request and hereby give you permission to use the text, icons, and graphics associated with my apps on these pages to create new pages for my apps on Opera Mobile Store.

I am attaching the APK files for each app in this email.

To validate that I am the owner of the above apps, you can

(Select One)

A) review my web site – URL
B) reference a review of my apps at – URL

I look forward to future possibilities with Opera Mobile Store. Please let me know if there is anything more that you need from me to complete my request and let me know of any special cross promotion opportunities that can help promote my apps!

Best Regards,

Your Name
Email Address
Company Name if applicable

And that’s it!  If we need anything else from you, we will contact you. We’ve done this already for thousands of developers, so this is not particularly new. We are mainly applying to things that we are learning from developers to make it easy for them – and for you!

 

Need Extra Help? Want more opportunities? More publicity?

If you have an app on Opera Mobile Store, you have the potential for some nice extras.

  • Guest Posts, Announcements and App Reviews on the OMS Blog. I’m happy to review content submitted from developers with apps on Opera Mobile Store. Have something you want to write about? Want to get word out for your upcoming apps or beta test opportunities? Maybe you want to provide an extended review of your app with several screenshots? If you provide the content, subject to editorial discretion, I’m happy to help fine tune it and publish it on the blog.  Write me at MWDabbs@opera.com
  • Letters and questions to the editor – I’m happy to accept both, it is easiest to use our contact form.
  • Interested in reworking your app description? Though only in English, I am happy to take on – in a purely volunteer basis (which means “as time permits”) requests to help you improve your app description. This depends upon volume of requests and other tasks, I will always get to it but I may not be the fastest at it.

And there’s more, but these are the things I’d like to concentrate on most for the present.
Get your apps on as many stores as you can – it is only beneficial to you. I’m not advocating just adding your apps to Opera Mobile Store, but to as many different stores as you can find and get on. We make it easy for you to get on Opera Mobile Store – and we will be happy to introduce you to our network partners.

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Going back a few days, we took a look at statistics from AppFigures.com indicating that roughly 88% of the developers on the Big Three only have their apps on one of them, only 12% on two, just 1% on all three.

The reasons for this are worth investigating in greater detail, suffice that at least one discussion on LinkedIn has pointed to some developers not having enough time to set up an account and how each of their apps will appear in different stores. Before getting deeper into that, Opera Mobile Store makes it extremely easy and extremely fast to get your app on the 5th largest mobile app store in the world.

Get your app on Opera Mobile Store – Easy

  1. Set up an account on our publisher’s platform – https://publishers.apps.opera.com, basically add your name, email and choose a password.
  2. Send an email to the Opera Mobile Store content team (apps-support@opera.com) with a request to have your app/s added to Opera Mobile Store. In this email, you want to include four things:
  • affirm that you are the developer of the apps in question
  • provide a links to each of your apps on other app stores
  • give us permission to “clone” your listing onto Opera Mobile Store
  • provide/attach a copy of your APK files

Typically, you will receive a response within 1-2 business days. If our team needs something more than what you have provided, they will be in touch with you via email.  Our team will “clone” your listing – copy and format your app text, icons and images to OMS specifications, onto Opera Mobile Store.

To make it even easier for you, on Friday I will provide a copy of a letter that you can simply copy/paste and edit that you can send to our team.

All of this should take about 8 minutes to do.

Benefits of being on Opera Mobile Store

In exchange for your 8 minutes, you will have your apps on the 5th largest app store with 70+ million monthly visitors.  Opera Mobile Store generates over 2 million app downloads daily.   You can compete for a top position on Opera Mobile Store’s app lists far easier than you can on the Big Three.

More than this, by developing a relationship with Opera Mobile Store, we can introduce you to our networking partners and accelerate the process of seeing your apps added to their stores, too. We also offer periodic cross-promotion opportunities.

Developers of premium apps can also elect to have their apps placed in special subscription service stores offered by participating mobile carriers.

At the simplest level, getting your app on many different stores increases your total points of presence.  That increases your market reach because not everyone visits Google Play or dines only at McDonalds.   Getting on more than one store increases your options, increases your overall potential for different opportunities.

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If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.  — George S. Patton

This sort of goes against the grain, but for some developers with high quality apps, it is worth considering. Where over 90% of mobile apps are free downloads, going premium inherently makes it slightly easier to stand out.

It may be a hard call to make, but the following points should help simplify your decision.

Does your app compete with the best similar free apps out there? Now, to look at a number of MMO’s on the market that are ostensibly “free to play” – ten years ago, many would have qualified (and many were) subscription based games. Many of these games have gotten better over time, too. Likewise, many were and still are very similar in nature to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft which remains subscription based.

User engagement and surveys.  If you’ve already produced a successful app, by way of number of users, their feedback, and longevity, you’ll have a better sense of whether your upcoming app can hold its own as a premium app. This is worth conducting a survey over. Offer 100 free beta trials and see what your end users think with a survey. There are numerous free online survey sites like SurveyMonkey.com.

Always remember, it is a thousand times easier to start with a high price and lower it than it is the other way around. That is not to say that you can’t temporarily or periodically offer specials. It does not prevent you from taking something that was free and trying to sell it for $10, there are instances where that can work. But you can start your new app out as a premium and later change it to free quite easily.

What will you need to breakeven? What kind of profit are you aiming for? We discussed this previously; suffice that you need to define your breakeven point. If you are looking to depend upon your app as your livelihood, you need to include the costs of your labor, at least in relation to your real cost of living. This obviously applies if you have any employees or partners. The difference between free with in app advertising and/or in app purchases vs. premium (with or without additional in app purchases) is quite significant especially when it comes to pay cycles.

The big advantage with a premium app is that you receive your money faster than waiting for your in app CPM or in app sales to take effect. This enables you to invest that much more into promoting your app faster. Your interest is to reduce the time it takes for you to be paid and initiate a new round of advertising.

Going premium means you will need to forgo most of any in app advertising revenue you might otherwise expect. Most, but not all. It does not preclude you from having a dedicated sponsor or your customer emails where you can offer special promotions offered by other companies wherein you can earn commissions. Again though, you can start out premium and switch to freemium (with in app advertising) later.

Simply though, with marketing you don’t always have to do what everyone else is doing. If you are confident about your app, have good beta user feedback, and have a good marketing sense but lack an advertising budget to match – you may be better off not doing what everyone else is doing.

Supply and demand, especially where supply exceeds demand as it does in the mobile app arena (i.e. over 90% of mobile apps available for free), requires creativity and distinction.

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Startling? Nay… Mind-blowing figures have come out from AppFigures.com indicating that of over 500,000 mobile developers on Google Play, the iOS App Store and Amazon, only 12% sell their apps on more than two stores. Only 1% sell their apps on all three of these major venues.

Just as surprisingly, but more expected, 55% of the developers on Amazon also have their apps on Google Play. Why might that be? My inclination is that developers on Amazon are more aggressive and savvy in their marketing efforts. This is, in part, an extension of Amazon.com’s early and trend-setting implementation of an excellent affiliate program.

One semi-rational argument presented as to why developers do not place their apps on every store that they can get on correlates to “all other sites ‘combined’ not being able to compete with Google Play on sheer numbers.”

That entire position deserves to be challenged point-blank across several points of analysis.

1) Over 2,000,000 mobile apps, on average, are downloaded on Opera Mobile Store every day. Opera Mobile Store is the fifth largest independent app store in the world. It works with a growing number of mobile carriers offering a subscription-based option for developers with premium apps that is performing substantially better than traditional single copy sales options.

2) Opera Mobile Store offers paid advertising to mobile developers to promote their apps on Google Play. This is a popular option that can substantially boost an apps performance on Google Play leading to improved organic performance over time. Under this paid advertising option, having your app on Opera Mobile Store works to boost your app’s position on Google Play. For additional details, please contact our Sales Team.

This point alone establishes that stores outside of the Big Three are able to help you directly and indirectly, provided you take some time to explore what they have to offer.

3) Mobile developer statistics underscore that A) a solid majority are not breaking even, and B) commit little to no money or time to marketing, Just posting your app to a mobile store with little or no effort to promote it inherently and obviously equates to a low download rate.

Generally, dollar for dollar, hour for hour, your money and time invested in promoting your app outside of the Big Three will have a greater impact than promoting it inside the Big Three. It is easier to be seen and heard when there are fewer developers competing for a smaller audience’s attention.

4. Not everyone accesses Google Play. Like China. Being only on Google Play is like saying, “I don’t even want the possibility that my app might become popular in a market of 400 million 3G mobile subscribers and over 1.2 Billion mobile subscribers overall… I don’t want to make any money, I just want to… sit here, in the corner.”

5. The following are the top ten reasons most businesses fail during their first five years according to the Small Business Administration of the United States. Items in red highlight core mobile app market issues.

  • Lack of experience - as indicated in the VisionMobile Survey, “developers who have produced 1-3 apps are only 15% likely to be generating over $5k per month.”
  • Insufficient capital (money) – 52% of developers spend $0 on marketing.
  • Poor location - 88% of developers with apps in the Big Three don’t have their apps on more than one.  
  • Poor inventory management - typically not having an app available across multiple outlets is the equivalent of intentionally limiting production and distribution, unlike brick-n-mortar which is physically constrained by production, storage, packaging and shipping.  
  • Over-investment in fixed assets – Not Applicable.
  • Poor credit arrangement management – Not Applicable.
  • Personal use of business funds – Possible, but a separate issue.
  • Unexpected growth – Not Applicable.
  • Competition – Compounded relevancy.  Not only are there over 500,000 mobile app developers tracked just in the AppFigures.com report, but 88% of them are focusing on two stores.
  • Low Sales – Over 91% of current mobile apps are distributed on a free basis.  Basic rule of market supply and demand, it’s hard to make money on a product that sells for free.

While it may take you some time to set your app up on different mobile stores and it may take some time for it to be approved and publicly listed, it amounts to a fraction of the time involved in marketing any offline product.  Take a few minutes now and get your app set up on Opera Mobile Store.

A little bit of effort has the potential to go a long ways – but one thing absolutely guaranteed is that if your app is not available where millions of mobile app users are looking, none of them will download it.

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This goes for just about any entrepreneur. THE ONE THING that makes it easier to engage others on just about anything is that the worst they can say is, “No.” The goal with business socializing, however, is to not make a pitch unless you are reasonably sure they will say, “Yes.” Business socializing should aim at learning about other’s interests, not making pitches, but developing relationships. You want to get to know others and you want them to get to know you – in a favorable light. Far from simply trying to “schmooze” your way through to a good reputation, this is only earned through exhibiting good character and good works.

Venues. Where to meet other business people for the sake of socializing? Just about anywhere except a dank, dark room with no internet connection. There are the obvious events like tradeshows, job fairs and conferences. Local community events, non-profit organizations, special interest groups, colleges, vocational technical schools, alumni organizations, fraternal organizations, veterans groups – all have the potential for meeting fellow business people.

The best place to start with is with the things you like to do and that interest you. The deeper you immerse yourself into what you are going to do anyway, the more likely you are to meet others with overlapping interests. The main thing is don’t limit yourself exclusively to the Internet – mix it up with real people, in person, on occasion.

Awareness. Helping others get to where they want to be helps you get to where you want to be. Knowing what others need or what would be useful to them is an important part of business networking. It’s always a good idea to vet a person’s seriousness, experience, motivation and other idiosyncrasies so you can offer qualified opinions of what they are capable of doing, and how they will achieve it.

Rapport. Don’t expect to hit it off with everyone, nor for anything to develop right off the bat. If you’ve taken the time to meet someone and you have their email or phone number, follow-up with them periodically. It only takes 2-3 minutes, and it’s easy. Early on, you can just ask them to explain what they do, what areas they service, and other specifics. Some people go so far as to keep an index card for each of their contacts – their birthdays, anniversaries, names of children – just to help break the ice. Some of your new contact may become fast friends, naturally and with no prodding.

Matchmaker. This provides you the opportunity to make introductions and be a matchmaker. Being a matchmaker in business, just as in personal relationships, carries risks for you if your introductions go sour. If you say Joe is an excellent graphics designer and turns out not to be, that’s on you. But, if your introductions lead to sales agreements, perfectly completed projects, and other good things, you will be remembered as the one that helped make it happen.

Your Future. The people you meet and the relationships you form today have the potential to come into play almost any time of your own choosing. If you know someone has an urgent need for something, you have the capacity to take it upon yourself to help them find it. So also, every day you have the potential to inadvertently bump into someone new who would be a good match for one of your other business contacts. The point is, you do not need to depend upon “random happenstance.”

One thing that helps a writer when they get a case of writer’s block is to spend more time reading, more time looking for questions and finding the answers to them.  Similarly, in business, if you are in a rut, it can be helpful to get out and meet with other business-minded people. You can wait for business to come to you, but every hour of every day, you have the option to try to get something going. Fundamentally, this requires helping others find what they want.

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A lot of email gets trashed before it is opened.  More email gets trashed within a mere second or two.  Yet, there are some emails that never get deleted because they are valuable to the recipient.  Eleven of the following 13 email elements stand to make your email more than just another piece of thinly coated spam.

Emails are one of the best ways you have to communicate with your customers.   Just because you may want to do a standard mailing does not mean you cannot implement “newsletter’ish” components to spice them up.  The core interest is developing engagement with your customers.  If you can get them to link to any of the following, you have the ability to reinforce any additional messages you might like.

Without further adieu…

1. Fan Site Section – reference interesting updates from a few of your fan sites. Each only needs a short sentence capturing the gist of what their latest post is about. You develop a stronger relationship with your bloggers while helping build the community around your app.

2. YouTube Walkthroughs – this can be your own or one of your fans. With games, this can help end-users get through a particularly difficult puzzle, illustrate the dynamics in fighting a major boss, or illustrate the benefits of a particular build.

3. Live Events – let players know when you will be having real-time conferences so you can take their questions, get their feedback, release new game information, discuss new devices or just talk about special features of your app similar to a walkthrough.

4. Bonuses – good if you have a web-driven application where you can modify content and settings on the fly. Let players know about events when they can get extra rewards, extra experience, or participate in seasonal activities.

5. Holiday Gifts – this is a good one if you are able to send in app prizes to specific end-users or enable them via in app messages. You can use a loss-leader strategy to give away free “in app currency” to sway users to perhaps add some of their own real money to get that “next upgrade”.

6. Easter Egg Hunts – another activity that probably requires you to be able to push content to your end users. This makes a mini-game out of player’s seeking even more bonuses and holiday gifts. This can be a matter of how many “fluffy bunny bits” they can find in two minutes or turning them in from wide-ranging exploration of different areas in your app.

7. Coupons and Discount Codes – This is a really good option if you have a geographically focused audience or are able to develop a relationship with a business with broad-based national or international reach. This is a B2B networking opportunity where you might be able to get a lump sum payment for including a promotion in your email. This requires some business networking savvy, but can work very well with an ongoing sponsor.

8. Reviews, Reviews and More Reviews! Links to mobile friendly Product, Web-Site, Service, or Book Movie Reviews with themes related to your app that you know your customers have a very good chance of being interested in. This is even better if you can arrange some form of reciprocity – possible commissions or reviews in-kind. It’s even better if you have a forum on your web site where you can discuss them with your customers.

9.  Interviews!  Links to web pages featuring interviews with your company president (or you), your CIO, CMO, CTO, Vice-Presidents, Lead Developers or others whom your customers may have an interest.

10. New App Promotions – This one goes for granted, let your existing end users know of any new apps you are about to release, what their status is, anticipated release date, beta test opportunities, first public viewing venues, etc.

11. Special Offers – Another regular feature that you should try to include in every mailing, that you should try to mix up in each mailing. Offers can include discounts on in app currency or gear, or discounts on special services with utilities and discounted upgrade options. More than this, you can work out commission-based referral agreements with other developers and businesses on products or services likely to be interested to your end users. Simply put, just because you may not have a product to sell does not mean you do not have a product to sell… someone else does!

12. Beta Tester Invitations – Start cultivating a beta test team for your next app now.

13.  Follow us on… – Always include links to where your customers can follow you on different venues like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, GooglePlus, etc.

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 The following data is drawn primarily from the ITU – International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) on information and communication technologies.

The top graphic includes North and South America, which really should be segmented into North and South.  The second graphic covers all of Africa.

It needs to be stated that these numbers count subscriptions, not exactly “absolute people” – some people have multiple devices, multiple subscriptions.  The American market demonstrates that clearly, there are more devices than people.   It shows what saturation looks like, though it would likely look even more “static” if the South American data was sectioned out.

Americas - Mobile Subscriptions

 

Africa

For Africa, we still see signs of growth in mobile subscriptions, a trend likely to continue for several years yet.

The disparity in GDP and PPP is probably the number one reason why the African Mobile Market does not get anywhere near the attention of the American, European or even Asian market.

VisionMobile’s  new data about the state of the mobile app development industry based upon a survey of 10,000 mobile app developers indicated that developers could make more money developing enterprise apps than focusing on end users.   Those with the skills and experience likely will gravitate to these better paying opportunities.

While it can be argued that some markets are saturated, the global picture is not – only 40% or so of the world’s population has internet access, many of these via mobile device.   Zuckerberg’s initiative with Internet.org aims to bring the Internet to the rest of the world, where he relates on BusinessInsider.com:

Today, only 2.7 billion people are online — a little more than one third of the world. That is growing by less than 9% each year, but that’s slow considering how early we are in the internet’s development. Even though projections show most people will get smartphones in the next decade, most people still won’t have data access because the cost of data remains much more expensive than the price of a smartphone.

Everything considered, 8-9% growth per year is really sort of fast.   It implies a doubling rate every 8 to 9 years, a task that would be nearly complete in about 20 years.  But… and there is always a but, that is a linear projection and does not consider the Law of Accelerating Returns.

The “mobile Internet” as we know it is far younger than the “PC Internet”.  Every day, mobile devices tend to get a little more like mini-PC’s and PC’s are getting a lot more like mobile devices.  Ultra-light weight and ultra-thin laptops vs. tablets.  Technological Convergence is an ongoing process that will continue as it always has, except increasingly faster.  Add Google Glass, 3-D Printers, and all manner of new technologies, along with new applications.

So, that’s a huge digression without ever getting to the point I was going to make today about emerging markets.  Instead, just look at the different data points on the two markets detailed above and consider one thing.  Would you be better off spending $1.00 in a market with plenty of potential for growth or one that is already showing signs of saturation?

What I won’t say is that making money in developing markets is any easier than making money in developed markets, but we will explore this further next week.

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Digital ad industry veteran, Ryan Griffin, will lead team, help mobile ad platform turn customers to partners

Original Press Release

San Mateo, Calif. – Jul 30, 2014

As part of an ongoing effort to tirelessly help customers unlock the full potential of mobile advertising, Opera Mediaworks today announced the formation of its Strategic Accounts Group, a division of the mobile advertising company that will focus on transforming customer relationships into partnerships.

The new team will focus on strategies such as programmatic buying, advanced targeting and post campaign insights, as well as compatibility with new technologies such as location-based outreach, native advertising and beacons.

Leading this effort is Ryan Griffin, who joins as SVP of Strategic Accounts after his tenure as VP of Strategic Sales at Undertone. Griffin will work out of the Opera Mediaworks New York City offices, reporting directly to Scott Swanson, President, Global Advertising Sales, on the West Coast.

“Too often as a platform, we are seen simply as a source of media, but we have so many great insights and new technology to share that we believe will help drive our clients’ bottom lines,” Swanson says. “Our strategic accounts group is intended to get closer to the top brass ‘up the food chain,’ with insights and research about mobile advertising best practices so that campaigns can be designed and planned optimally from the beginning.”

“I decided to join Opera Mediaworks as a function of the company’s unique advantages in technology, data and consumer insight, and the global leadership position those provide. The launch of the Strategic Accounts Group – and its goal of unlocking incremental value for key customers — proves that the company has even more growth potential,” says Griffin. “Opera Mediaworks has brought together an amazing team, and advertisers should be excited for the potential that the company’s international offerings bring to their mobile activation. Mobile is the future of digital advertising, and I’m thrilled to be a part of a company that is in a prime position to accelerate innovation in the space.”

About Opera Mediaworks

Opera Mediaworks powers the mobile ad economy through technology innovation, transparency and trust, to create vibrant marketplaces for publishers and advertisers across the globe. This enables advertisers to efficiently reach their target audience and publishers to improve their monetization. Opera Mediaworks operates the world’s biggest brand-focused mobile ad network, serving 23 of the 25 top global brands. We also deliver the world’s leading mobile ad server and monetization tools to 18 of the top 25 media companies worldwide. Our mission is to deliver relevance in the medium where it matters most—on mobile devices.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, Opera Mediaworks has offices in New York, United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine and Norway. Learn more about Opera Mediaworks at www.operamediaworks.com.

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More new data about the state of the mobile app development industry has been released by VisionMobile based upon a survey of 10,000 mobile app developers. The report confirms a lot of things we already knew, but adds considerably more detail from the developer’s side of the equation.

For one, the majority of mobile app developers are not breaking even. VisionMobile’s report indicates that 69% of developers are making less than $1,000 per month (gross) with two-thirds of those making less than $100 monthly.

They also confirm that there is a relationship between revenue and mobile app development experience. Where developers who have produced 1-3 apps are only 15% likely to be generating over $5k per month, those with 4-9 apps are better than twice as likely to do so (27%).   Fifty-two percent of developers who have produced more than 50 apps are generating over $5k monthly and over half of those are actually seeing revenues greater than $25k!

That’s logical and normal, practice makes perfect. But it does bring up sustainability, as Herbert Stein said, “Trends that cannot continue, won’t.” If left unchallenged, per InfoWorld.com,

… by 2018 only one in ten thousand consumer apps will be considered a financial success by their developers, according to the market research company.

A lot can happen in four years. Unquestionably, the number of mobile users will increase, along with the number of developers, number of total apps, number of different mobile devices, etc. These are all basic supply and demand elements which are underscored by the simple fact that presently, over 90% of mobile apps are distributed with a price tag of $0.00.

The base of in-app advertising as a primary revenue source is likely to become more fleeting. With more newer mobile devices, faster networks coming into being, more apps being produced, end users will likely end up downloading more apps. That tends to decrease the amount of time they spend on a per app basis.

The VisionMobile report places significant emphasis on the potential for enterprise app development proving to be far more lucrative than consumer-oriented development. This is an important consideration for developers, certainly those with the skills and experience will gravitate to these kinds of projects.  Developing apps for businesses involves more complexity than is reflected in most free apps on the market.

Businesses are depending upon ever growing amounts of data from more sources and need to pull it altogether to simplify work for their managers and employees.  For starters, they can get into corporate networking, contract negotiation, fulfillment, bridging multiple pieces of software (sometimes it is proprietary), not to mention security components.

That’s one direction to look at, but it’s not the only one. Friday, we will take a look at another direction, the same direction I’ve tended to point at since starting this blog.

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santaChristmas is only 149 days away! That’s a good thing because it gives you time to plan and prepare your 2014 Holiday Marketing Plan! The excitement!   Beginning preparations now will help you take advantage of the busiest shopping season of the year.

According to MarketingLand.com, Mobile accounted for 29% of holiday e-commerce orders in 2013, roughly a 50% increase over 2012.  This year will likely see more mobile devices given as gifts than any year, yet. Developing markets are benefiting from more full-feature mobile devices being available for under $129.

Will you have a new app ready by Christmas? Many companies time their product releases to coincide with the holiday season knowing it can get extra exposure. If you can have your app ready by the end of November, you will still be able to jump into the marketing frenzy. But Christmas can also be a good time to bring rejuvenate an older app, by placing it on sale, bundling it with a new release, or offering special incentives, such as discounted in-game currency.

As mobile sales are real time and do not involve shipping, you can take orders all the way up to the last minute… and even after.

Here are a few things that you can do to prepare:

  • Don’t concentrate solely on Christmas – there’s Thanksgiving in the United States, Hanukkah, New Year’s, the Winter Solstice, the Dongzhi Festival to celebrate Winter, Yule, among dozens of other holidays recognized far and wide. Then, there’s Festivus for the rest of us. There’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, too.   Decide on the dates you want to focus on.
  • Themes. Knowing which dates you want to focus on and the nature of the holiday will go a long way in helping you decide upon a promotional theme. That provides your artists time to come up with ideas versus throwing together some cheap clip-art at the last moment.
  • Define Seasonal Events to boost social media engagement. It might be that you run a “12 Days of Christmas” give away, or run a GPS Easter Egg type of event. You can have a series of posts prepared well in-advance of your events.
  • Defining your events well ahead of time gives you plenty of time to promote them and your new release with public relations. These events provide you the opportunity to reach out to your local newspaper, television or radio stations, local and niche bloggers to publicize your event s to their audience.

All of these things take time to prepare and get set up, and even more time to promote. Plus, you have your own family to think about. The more you can get out of the way in advance, the more you will enjoy your holiday season and the more likely it is that it will be more profitable than if you waited until the last minute, or pulled a Scrooge!

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Leading mobile video advertising platform to consolidate under Opera’s mobile ad subsidiary Opera Mediaworks

Official Press Release

San Mateo, Calif. – Jul 24, 2014

Opera announced today that it has completed its purchase of mobile video advertising platform AdColony. The deal was announced in June and first reported by The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today.

The acquisition of AdColony, which specializes in delivering TV-like HD mobile video uninhibited by latency and slow load times, will increase the reach of Opera’s mobile ad subsidiary, Opera Mediaworks, to more than 700 million global consumers. Will Kassoy, CEO of AdColony, will continue to run day-to-day operations at AdColony in addition to taking on a new role as CMO of Opera Mediaworks.

This acquisition under the Opera Mediaworks umbrella is aimed at strengthening Opera’s mobile advertising offerings to publishers and advertisers around the world. The addition of AdColony will enable Opera to deliver the highest-quality mobile video advertising experience on smartphones and tablets.

“Opera is a natural fit for us and helps us accelerate our vision to extend the reach of our TV-like experience to a global stage,” says Kassoy. “Its commitment to quality, innovation and the consumer experience is very synchronous with our company vision and culture. Together, we will be able to deliver great innovation and market growth for our customers worldwide.”

“Video has historically been one of the more challenging aspects of mobile advertising, yet it’s also the most engaging ad format we can provide,” added Mahi de Silva, CEO, Opera Mediaworks. “Having AdColony as part of our service portfolio gives us an enormous advantage over other networks and platforms — without the compromised quality and speed that so often accompany mobile video ads.”

Not only will AdColony’s technology and expertise in the mobile video business be integrated into Opera’s mobile ad business, including its programmatic offerings, but the team will also work to consolidate its mobile video technology across Opera’s consumer and operator products.

Full details of the transaction can be found in the Oslo Stock Exchange press release distributed with the June acquisition announcement here.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com.

About Opera Mediaworks

Opera Mediaworks powers the mobile ad economy through technology innovation, transparency and trust, to create vibrant marketplaces for publishers and advertisers across the globe. This enables advertisers to efficiently reach their target audience and publishers to improve their monetization. Opera Mediaworks operates the world’s biggest brand-focused mobile ad network, serving 23 of the 25 top global brands. We also deliver the world’s leading mobile ad server and monetization tools to 18 of the top 25 media companies worldwide. Our mission is to deliver relevance in the medium where it matters most—on mobile devices.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, Opera Mediaworks has offices in New York, United Kingdom, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine and Norway. Learn more about Opera Mediaworks at www.operamediaworks.com.

About AdColony

AdColony is a mobile video advertising company whose proprietary Instant-Play™ technology serves razor sharp, full-screen video ads instantly in HD across its extensive network of iOS and Android apps, eliminating the biggest pain points in mobile video advertising: long load times and grainy, choppy video. As a leading mobile video advertising and monetization platform, AdColony works with both Fortune 500 brands and the world’s top grossing publishers. The company’s reach, targeting and optimization tools and services provide advertisers with a superior way to engage mobile audiences at scale. AdColony’s app developer tools and services provide publishing partners with ways to maximize monetization while gaining insight needed to continuously optimize content and advertising offerings. AdColony is a privately-held company backed by Insight Venture Partners and has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, New York and London. To learn more about AdColony, visit www.adcolony.com.

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A recent survey by PerfectoMobile.com involving over 900 users indicated 44% of mobile app defects are found by the end-user impacting the app’s functionality or even rendering it inoperable. This pinpoints the obvious need for more testing across a broader range of mobile devices. This is not easy even for big companies. So, the focus here is what you can do to entice a robust beta test team without having to hire them.

1. Internship or Apprenticeship Program – Starting on the high end, this requires some work on your part, but it can offset substantial overhead when it comes to payroll. I’m a big fan of both types of programs as they stand as solid alternatives to the traditional college and university systems in countries where tuition can be exorbitant.  Virtual internships (telecommuting environment) are also becoming popular.

Per Wikipedia – An internship is a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers. Internships for professional careers are similar in some ways to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs, but the lack of standardization and oversight leaves the term open to broad interpretation. Interns may be college or university students, high school students, or post-graduate adults. These positions may be paid or unpaid and are usually temporary.

Both approaches require setting up a training program, providing oversight and feedback to the student or apprentice. You can also aim for an accredited program by working with specific colleges and universities which can pave the way for finding interns every year.   Accredited programs involve developing a formal work-study program, basically an outline of what the intern will do and what the value of doing that is.

This is experience that they can put on their resume which you can back up with a formal letter of appreciation. If your growth permits, this also provides you with candidates already familiar with your company who may fit in better.

Considerable thought should go into this. Interns could even be tasked with managing other parts of your beta testing, thus some practical managerial experience complementing the technical components of their work.

 

2. Localization plus Revenue Share – Another high end component is to look for potential partners who are in markets where platforms and devices outside your normal prevue prevail. Just as an example, if you were looking to have your app available for Blackberries, you would likely want to look at South Africa – the one country where Blackberry still flourishes.

You will need to negotiate with any prospective partner the scope of work, share of revenue and all the things that go with it. One approach is that in exchange for beta testing and quality assurance of your app for a platform and/or range of devices, that they receive a distribution license of their own good for their local market, a

However, this approach provides an opportunity to have specialists in specific platforms and devices do the testing which should result in lower defects.

In exchange for their beta testing and quality assurance of your app for a platform or range of devices, you can offer them a limited distribution license of their own.   This would probably include authorization to localize your app into their local languages. It would also be appropriate to require their localized apps to indicate they are the result of a joint effort between your company and theirs. There are different ways this can be handled.

3. Advocates – Easier to arrange, this involves working with specific people who want to be associated with your company for reasons other than employment. They might be friends, they might love your app, they have a high profile in the niche serviced by your app, etc.   These might be players, they might be “guild masters”, they might have blogs or web sites of their own. These are good people to have on your side and it helps them look good by having you on their side. In exchange for their beta testing efforts, you can reward them with free apps, giving them tickets to “exclusive public previews”, a guest article on their blog, interviews, and inside news of what’s coming next. These can be your most loyal, die-hard supporters – keep them happy and they will go out of their way to make you happy and not just on the beta testing.

4. Company beta-testing – Another approach for utility-based apps is to try to work with companies that would benefit from your app. This can be a bit harder to swing, but if your app stands to be particularly useful to certain professionals – it is something they need and want to make their job easier, they will likely be willing to invest some time to help you iron out the wrinkles. It will likely require networking with their programming or technical managers, CTO, or perhaps CIO. You can sweeten the pot by assuring them that they will receive a nice placement in your credits.

5.  Bounty Hunters –This will require you to actively maintain a web page listing all of the feedback as it comes in. A typical forum like phpBB would likely be sufficient. The basic idea here is to award a nominal cash prize via Paypal to the first person who finds and reports a bug – perhaps $3-5 each. Alternatively, if your app involves in-app currency or prizes, those can be used as substitutes. This probably works best with games.

6. End Users – Most companies tend to rely upon end users for almost all of their beta testing, so this isn’t included in the “point count” or why this post isn’t “Six Ways to Build your Beta Team.”  End users can be really good for getting a volume of beta testers, but many will be dead-weight, simply wanting free access to your app without providing you feedback.  Still, that can be good if they ultimately really like their game as it paves the way for word of mouth referrals.

Crowdsourcing via the various crowdsourcing boards, or simply outsourcing your QA on a device or platform basis are also good altneratives.  They are not “new” either.

You are not limited to one method, and really given the follow-on benefits of each, it can be worth aiming to include all of these methods for a true, high quality public release.


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If you are needing to bootstrap your mobile apps, the following articles can provide you additional tips and perspectives to help you maximize your efforts:

 

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Subscribers get unlimited access to mobile entertainment

Official Press Release

Moscow – July 21, 2014

MTS Russia subscribers will get unlimited access to games and apps with today’s launch of App Market, following a cooperation between Opera Software and Mobile TeleSystems, the leading telecommunications operator in Russia and CIS.

The App Market store, built on the same technology pioneered by the Opera Mobile Store, offers MTS Russia mobile customers a weekly subscription to more than 3,000 premium games and apps, including popular mobile gaming hits such as Angry Birds Star Wars II, Modern Combat 4, N.O.V.A. 3, Tor 2: Realm of Darkness, Real Soccer 2014, Green Farm 3, GT Racing 2 and many others. New apps will be appearing in the store every week. The App Market service is available at appmarket.mts.ru to all MTS users who use the internet on their Android, BlackBerry or Symbian phones and tablets.

“Our project with Opera Software will allow MTS smartphone users to get the latest and greatest apps at a very favorable price. App Market will be interesting to both mobile gamers and those who would like to further smarten up their smartphones with useful content, be it ebooks, online dictionaries, photo editors or other apps. Affordable access to games and apps is yet another benefit of smartphones and will contribute to further increasing the smartphone penetration rate on the MTS network,” says Vyacheslav Nikonov, B2C Marketing Director, MTS.

“Opera Software has cooperated with MTS for several years, and during that time we have made mobile internet more accessible and faster for MTS customers with our flagship browser Opera Mini. Now, with the launch of the co-branded App Market store, MTS Russia users will get easy access to thousands of mobile games and apps directly from their mobile accounts,” adds Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Mini are trademarks of Opera Software ASA.

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Our friends at Xsolla just posted about Game Site Essentials.  The article by Josh Bycer underscores the importance of having a web site – for informational purposes, to support direct sales, customer support, developing community interaction, and more. The goal is not just to have a web site, but a good one. Sounds expensive, and it can be if you go about it wrong. Otherwise, a web site can provide an awesome ROI.

We’ve been through this cycle numerous times since the 1990’s. The original problem with web sites not providing an ROI is that small business owners (and developers) thought if you build it, people will come. Building a web site is only the first part of the equation. The second part is making the web site an active part of your business. It’s an ongoing effort, but it need not be a major effort.

Let’s get into the details of cost, benefits and perhaps a few tips.

Domain Name – The number one reason to have a web site is that it gives you a simple address whereby anyone else in the whole world can find you! Easier that than trying to explain how they can find your app in a mobile app store. The aim is to keep it short, sweet, easily associated with who you are – your business or the name of your app, aiming for a .com. Domain name registration is renewed yearly. The first year often comes free as part of a hosting plan with many internet hosting services. Thereafter, it will run $10 – $25 a year depending upon hosting service.

Web Site Hosting – The most important thing is to research customer reviews of different hosting companies paying special attention to complaints about technical support, server speed and server downtime. Then you want to look at features and benefits, whether they allow you root directory access, storage limits, automated installs of web-based software like WordPress, etc. Most hosting services also offer discounted rates based upon your payment plan allowing you to save significantly on paying upfront for a full year of service vs. monthly or quarterly billing. Your mileage may vary, but most purposes can be served by accounts ranging in the $99 to $199 per year range.

Other hosting notes – Most hosting services will give you a basic amount of traffic per month. If you go over it, you will incur a small per Mb or Gb charge. When that begins to be a regular occurrence, you can usually upgrade your account to accommodate extra bandwidth. Storage is only likely to be a major factor if you use a lot of multimedia. If you are just starting out, aim for a streamlined approach being frugal with the number of videos, large downloads and graphics you employ. Storage, too, can be bought on a per Mb/Gb basis, and there are a variety of file sharing services that you can use to supplement your site – usually for free.

Web Site Design – Back in the 90’s, companies were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on custom web site design, millions on extra functionality. Today, there are several customizable web site packages and platforms for a “plug-n-play” experience. WordPress is a very popular free program with thousands of free and commercial templates available. Other options include content management systems like Joomla and Drupal. Cost is free unless you go for a commercial template. Commercial templates vary widely in price from $10 or less to well over $400.

Graphics – If you are looking to spice up your site graphically, there are an abundance of free clip art sites, a large amount of free stock photos, and sites like istockphoto.com that offer professional multimedia at very reasonable rates. If you are or have access to a graphics designer or make use of screenshots of your own software, you are in an even better position to make a great looking web site.

Content – The main cost of developing content is your time. It need not take a lot of time. The core essentials of a web site include an “About You” page, a “Contact” page (with your press kit), and then a page for each major component of your business (your team, partners, clients, projects, products, services, etc.). You have millions and millions of web sites as examples to draw from.

Statistics – The first thing to do once you have a web site is to set upa Google Analytics account so you can get deep statistics on your visitors – where they came from, what they look at most, how long they look at it, etc.). Most hosting services will also provide you with some basic statistics software like AWStats and WebStats. Note that different analytics systems measure some things differently so if you employ multiple tracking systems you won’t always get the same results. Variances will typically be in the 5-20% range.

E-Commerce Capability – This could just be a free Paypal account or you may take advantage of more comprehensive services like authorize.net, woocommerce, etc. These services tend to charge monthly and per transaction fees. For many small businesses, this will likely run $25 – $50, monthly. On this, it is best to scale to growth, implementing better ecommerce capability after the site is already more than paying for itself. It would be something to look at after your site is netting at least $500 monthly – if you are starting with a budget. If you have a higher profile, then you may need to include this right away.

SEO – Optimizing your site to generate a high volume of organic search traffic is good to aim for. It can also augment the effectiveness of any paid search advertising you may do. In many ways it is too often overstated and overrated. It is not something to be paying for right off the bat, it tends to develop over time and is amplified by the quality and effectiveness of your backlinks. SEO is really its own topic and could be the basis for several articles.

These are the main things that tend to come up with a web site. More bells and whistles can add to the cost, complexity and functionality of a site. If you are starting with a budget though, you scale to growth by keeping it basic and adding only after the site (or the products/services it is promoting) becomes profitable.

I would add that it is very important for your site to show signs of life – to leave no question that you are active and in-tune with your customers. This is best to show on the front “home” page of your site. Add a Twitter feed, include links to your social networking pages. Include short news updates – that include the dates. Try to change something on your home page once every two weeks.

So, a bit lengthy, but a basic web site should cost you less than $200 per year. That $200 can technically support several web sites. In return, your web site provides you a 24 hour – 7 day a week – 365 day a year advertisement, customer service and technical support representative, sales person, recruiter, and press agent – that will do exactly what you tell them to do.

A web site is more an investment in time, but it is also a “virtual piece of property” which appreciates in value as you build upon it just as a vacant plot of land does.


Apps on Opera Mobile Store are downloaded in 230 countries and territories. Make your app available to millions of customers around the world – Free, Fast and Easy, Sign-up here!

If you are needing to bootstrap your mobile apps, the following articles can provide you additional tips and perspectives to help you maximize your efforts:

 

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Image courtesy of Wikicommons

Image courtesy of Wikicommons

There is a tool for everything. There are so many tools for so many different purposes that it is difficult to keep track of them. Here is one that tool that works well for a variety of analytical purposes, especially in helping to define and isolate problems to their root cause. This is called the Ishikawa Diagram, Fishbone Diagram and/or Cause-Effect Diagram. It can be easier to use a tool than describe how it is used, so interested readers might refer to Wikipedia for more details.

The function of this tool is to show the causes of an event or problem. The intention is to go beyond that and to identify “the fewest causes responsible for the most problems” – following the Pareto Principle.   The consideration is that you also want to prioritize the tackling of problems according to how strongly they impact your business and profitability.

Image courtesy of Wikicommons

Image courtesy of Wikicommons

Simply, the idea is to define the major contributing parts of a “Cause” – which as Wikipedia shows, can vary according to the type of work you are doing. Customize this to your project. As it shows, the major parts associated with marketing are known as the 7 P’s – Product (or Service), Price, Place, Promotion, People, Positioning and Packaging.

Details are then added to each Cause. Where the type of machine being used by the end user can be a “cause for a problem” – you might have a long list of mobile devices.   The extent of your testing could be a factor, suffice that your focus is on the devices in which your app is not working as intended. Listing all of those out might help define a common issue.

The Root-Cause Diagram itself should help you get pretty close to the problem, but is best used with The Five Why’s. The aim of asking, Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Is to break a problem down until it cannot be broken down any further. The answer to those five why’s should help explain how the root cause of a problem can be effectively solved.

Wikipedia points out here that “people do not fail, processes do.” Perfect the process and you will get good results.

These tools and techniques work even better when part of a broader quality control and process improvement program – whether Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, or otherwise. Each has its nuances and their effectiveness is debated. Everything does not need to apply to the rigors of a full-fledged Black Belt project. Many of these things can be done on the fly, based upon priority, deadlines, budget, etc. When you apply to “the process” long enough on a variety of different projects, many problems are resolved before they ever happen.

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This article is for everyone, not just mobile app developers. Survivor and Big Brother are two television shows where over a dozen people compete in a closed environment to be the “last person standing.” I rarely watch television and this is the kind of television that I would typically watch last… or not at all. But I got curious as to what the draw was… What makes these television “game” shows so popular?   It didn’t take too long to discover why – negotiations of alliances, backstabbing, showmances, lots of contests, social strategy and the simple notion that one could be on the chopping block one moment and king of the house the next. There are some really good lessons to consider applying to real life.

The Sand Box. We don’t live in a closed environment. Every day, we have the potential to interact with any of 7 billion people. Our options for friends, partners, alliances are, for all practical purposes, unlimited. We can wait for others to reach out to us, or we can reach out to them.   It might be said that the odds of anyone else reaching out to us is directly proportional to the extent that we reach out to others.

gianniThis is not new. The “social game” has been played forever – it’s how countries were formed, it’s how big businesses get started. Previously though, everyone had to interact in person or through message courier. Today, we have the Internet and we have roughly 2 billion people practically at our fingertips. What that means is that it is easier to find people interested in British Shorthair cats, playing fantasy baseball or looking to start a business developing mobile apps for astronomers.

Making Deals. Why should someone listen to you? Why should you listen to them? The art of making a deal frequently revolves around being able to provide something people want. It’s not a one way street. The odds of making a sale are greatly increased when you have something another actually wants or needs.

The question is what do you have to offer? What’s your product? Or service?   Do you even need one? As long as you have time, you have something to offer others who are in need of help. Add your skill sets, your ability to reach others, not to mention any potential you may have to invest or simply make a purchase. You have your voice – tweets, facebook posts and reviews.

Trust. Frequently, it does not matter what you have if you don’t have trust. Trust does not happen overnight. You have to win it – through words, action and consistency over time. One axiom is that the best way to get to where you want to be is by helping others get to where they want to be. The more someone trusts you, the more likely they are to ask you to help them. That usually comes with a reward.

Keeping Clean.   The big difference between real life and a game show is that we are not locked into a closed environment and forced to compete to be the last one standing. In that kind of environment, like it or not, you may have to get your hands dirty. The game rules dictate that you have to nominate or vote for “the lesser or greater” of two evils on a regular basis. In real life, that’s not the case. It’s not necessary to get your hands dirty, developing that kind of reputation is not good for business… at least until you have a monopoly or cartel on that business.

Don’t give up.   A lot of these game shows require not just physical ability, but social skills, a strong mind, thick skin, long-term planning skills, and a heck of a lot more. One day you can be down in the dumps, the next day riding high. That’s real life. As long as you keep trying to improve your game, your “game” will improve. It’s not just a matter of playing to your strengths, but mitigating your weaknesses. Frequently, it is simply easy to find others who are stronger at things in which we have no skill.

It means asking for help. That’s a big part of the “game shows” – sometimes everyone in the show may be up for getting one person out of the house. They have to show what they can offer to remain in the game – and sometimes all they can do is pledge their loyalty next week with a commitment to do what others want. That inevitably comes down to whether they have gained people’s trust.

There are a lot of ways to say the same thing – and this post only reiterates what I’ve been saying all along in trying to find ways for developers to reach out and network with others, here, here and here, amidst many more.

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Considerable focus has been given in this blog to help mobile app developers bootstrap their way to success and to make use of non-equity based crowdfunding. It’s a slower path to success, usually, and less risky. Sometimes, it is worth raising the stakes by raising substantial funds to accelerate growth on time-sensitive opportunities. In this case, you may be looking to get a small business loan from a bank, seek venture capital or angel investors, or possibly go the equity-based crowdfunding route.

In the United States, Angel Capital Association cited 70,000 companies raised more than $24 billion from a pool of about 300,000 angel investors in 2013. Relative to the United States, the JOBS Act components on equity crowdfunding have yet to be fully defined by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). Internationally, equity-based crowdfunding tends to be regulated on a per country basis. Many of the components associated with what you would need in an equity crowdfunding presentation are the same (or very similar) to what you would want to present to more traditional investors.

This is not everyone’s cup of tea, a minority of small businesses go after major investments. But the same components are helpful for getting smaller investors and especially business partners. Sometimes you don’t need the money, you need the technical capabilities, the marketing savvy or a keen eye to help move your business in a profitable, strategic direction. While there are people out there with money to invest, there are also people who have time and skills to invest, too. If your project is viable and appealing enough, you could bring in professionals for a share of your business that would otherwise require salaries exceeding $100,000 annually.

All of this requires extensive consideration, beyond the scope of what is addressed here, but I will try to follow up on these points in the near future. They involve everything from your comfort level in doing business, personalities, trust, due diligence, contract terms, etc. The primary consideration for ambitious developers concerns pie – in simple terms, whether it would be more “fulfilling” to have “100% of a small pie” or “a slice of what could be a much larger pie.”

Your Elevator Pitch – As addressed previously, you want a brief, simple but dynamic explanation of what you are aiming to do – 30 seconds or less. Ideally, you want this to raise the interest of investors and partners who are a good fit for your business, while turning away others who would not be a good fit.

Some will take the position that you want every investor you can reach to be interested in your plan. That’s not necessarily the case.   A substantial amount of time and effort (sometimes expense) is involved in the due diligence and exploratory phases of an investment or possible partnership.   Don’t waste your time, don’t waste their time trying to force a match.

Business Plan – This can be tricky. A full-fledged, traditional business plan can take up to three months to develop, sometimes longer. The primary components you want to include are:

  • Executive summary,
  • Profiles of your founding team,
  • Overview of your products/services,
  • Overview of your target market,
  • Estimated time to market (how long it will take you to be ready to do business once you are funded),
  • Funding target (and possibly key positions you still need to fill),
  • Intended use of funds,
  • Legal and ownership structure,
  • Financial Projections

These are not easy to define. An experienced investor will likely be able to tell in 3 minutes or less if your business plan has substance or if you are winging it. That’s not to say that a business plan with substance is viable, only that that they will spend more time on the details. It is the responsibility of an investor to perform their own due diligence efforts – to make sure that what you are saying is legitimate or not.

If you are new or uncomfortable with how to write a business plan, look for help and make use of the resources widely available on the internet, for free. One place to start, regardless of where you live is the US Small Business Administration simply because it does have extensive materials on developing business plans.

Tips specific to Mobile App Developers

Many of our readers  live and work in developing countries where sometimes there are not a lot of local business development resources.   First, there are a number of “business partner search boards”  – where you can both post a project and look for others matching your interest.

Don’t underestimate what you have.  The simple fact that you reside outside of some mainstream markets can be used to your advantage.   Mobile started in developed countries and in consequence, those markets are becoming saturated.  Conversely, and as should be obvious, developing countries offer much greater potential for growth on a per dollar basis than a market that is already saturated.  Saturation is a relative term when talking about number of apps available per “geographical area” or “language”.

The simple fact of having an international team makes it exponentially easier to go “international”.  An internationally diverse team is likely to be of greater interest to investors than a team where everyone is from the same city or state, or even country.   The more languages your team has full fluency in equates to exponentially greater ease in being able to do business in countries sharing those languages.

We’ve covered purchasing power parity at considerable length on this blog, too.   Functionally speaking, a $10,000 investment in a developing country will apply to much greater “potential effect” than the same $10,000 would in a developed country.   This is a huge point that is frequently missed on both sides of the equation.  This would require discussing the globalization process in greater detail, particularly the negative connotations which are only “negative” because there is little effort to really educate everyone about it.

Fundamentally, it is difficult to understand how a dollar, a ruble or a yuan, a peso or a lira, is not the same in value everywhere.  That’s a complex point, suffice that is something to build into a pitch to investors, too.


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If this article was relevant to you, you may also find the following articles helpful:

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There are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes in business. With effort, you can recover from just about anything, but there are three mistakes that should be avoided at virtually any cost.

Don’t Stop Profitable Revenue Streams

One of these simply reinforces earlier notes on “keep doing what works”. This should be a no-brainer, but I’ve observed it enough times to know these kinds of decisions are not driven by numbers or facts. Frequently, major changes like these are spur of the moment ideas usually at the highest levels of an organization – i.e. the owner or a new senior-level manager.

Sometimes that takes the form of, “We’re going to stop advertising through x, and do our advertising through y.” Ultimately, that could end being a very good thing to do, but it needs to be done incrementally with active A/B and multivariate testing of ads and landing pages or with mobile apps, your app description pages and screenshots. Not doing incremental changes, but sudden changes can leave a major shortfall in your cash on hand to cover your operating expenses and even salaries.

One point that is good all the way around through the incremental transition is that it can provide you leverage. It provides you the numbers to show the agencies with which you are advertising that you are getting a better ROI on your adspend elsewhere – and offers the agency a chance to keep your business, either to work with you to increase your performance, offer a temporary or long-term discount, or otherwise.

It is worth trying to KEEP working with existing advertisers if doing so has been profitable. Where advertising is concerned, you probably do not want all of your eggs in one basket – because everyone in your target market is probably not using the same basket. Diversification is an important component of investments and it applies equally to advertising and marketing.

 

Don’t Outsource Your SEO & PPC Management

This is not to preclude you from making use of a variety of SEO, PPC and advertising related services, only to keep the management of them under One Hat – a Hat that is Devoted 100% to You and Your Business. This is absolutely critical for any internet and mobile oriented business. This is a complex point suffice that the items to avoid are:

  • The vast majority of people or companies you outsource to do not have an intimate knowledge of your business, apps or what got you to where you are. Knowing where you have been helps define where you are or want to be going.
  • Anyone you outsource to in a non-exclusive capacity will not be working full-time on your projects; they will be prioritizing all of their efforts relative to all of their clients. Their highest paying clients will tend to get the most attention, but even then their degree of responsiveness is always subject to what is best and most urgent for their business.
  • Frequently, companies that manage PPC campaigns for you will have it in their terms and conditions that the statistical data they use is their own property. If you change companies, they are not obliged to provide that data to you.

A few important points here.

First, everything that serves to generate revenue for you is as much your “software” as Windows is to Microsoft. This includes your app, your web sites, your ads, your keywords, and the statistics behind all of them. It is your responsibility to manage this information, or at least keep it so that anyone who works with it in the future has context for improvement.

The problem with outsourcing is that it is frequently compounds a vicious cycle – one PPC team may not be performing “up to expectations”, so you fire them and hire another team only to see even worse results. As data is frequently lost in the process, and sometimes SEO/Keyword strategies are changed, even if you decide to return to the original PPC team, they will be in a position of effectively starting from scratch.

Do your absolute best to have someone “in-house” to manage any and all of your content, SEO, PPC and advertising activity. That is someone who works exclusively for you. You can outsource as you like, provided there is one person who has “eyes on”, a “hand in”, a “voice over” and complete access to all statistics looking out for your best interests.

Talk with that person on a regular basis, have active goals to work toward.

 

Statistics and Reports

This is your history and one would think it is a no brainer to maintain. Yet, there are companies where no one tracks their earnings history – where no one is following up on delinquent accounts, failed credit card payments, spikes in PPC costs, or anything else.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by statistics, if you don’t like numbers and charts it can be hard to find what you are looking for – if you don’t know what you’re trying to find and don’t really know what you are looking at.

Accountants, PPC specialists or someone with Six Sigma or other statistical/process improvement training and experience, can tear through a chart and find any “oddities” fairly fast. This is easier especially when they have historical data to compare against.

The more statistics you have, the better. You may not need to see them, but someone does.
But Reports – keep those simple. If you have someone to prepare reports, tell them exactly what you want to see in those reports. Leave it to their discretion to include any additional “KPI’s” they think are important.

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Keep Doing What Works

What should you do with your mobile app profits? This came up earlier while discussing issues on breaking even. Clearly, once you’ve actually made a profit, you’re all set, right? No. When you find things that work you need to keep doing them until you find something better.

Too frequently, people who do have a good thing going stop. Sometimes they think the money they made earlier will keep rolling in at the same rate. Other times, they stop their current advertising program to experiment with other programs. Experimentation is good, but it needs to be vetted before completely shutting down other revenue streams. Sometimes, it is simple burn-out. It could be any number of things.

With any business, however small, you want two things – a vision of where you want to take it, and an exit plan. We’ll leave exit plans for future discussion. Your vision is especially important as it will decide a lot of issues for you. It’s one thing if you intend for your mobile app development to be a sort of a “hobby with benefits”, another if you want it to be your primary source of income supporting a comfortable lifestyle, and something totally different if you aim for it become a multi-million dollar business.

Most of the processes are the same; it is only the intensity of effort that varies.

Three Focal Points –  Most mobile app developers don’t have to worry significantly about shipping and handling, product packaging, storage or physical inventory. This eliminates a large portion of operational considerations leaving you to focus on basically three things:

  1. Mobile App & Product (or Service) Development
  2. Mobile App Sales and Marketing
  3. Improving your Revenue and Business Model

Simply, if you are looking to make money in mobile app development on a sustained basis, you want to keep producing high quality apps, marketing them and finding more/new/better ways of monetizing them while reducing costs. These mostly speak for themselves.

Improving Business Model – The third is the most important of the three. This is the mechanism that will help take you from relying upon in-app advertisements for your free app revenue to a variety of potentially much more lucrative arrangements using your revenue to:

  • add in-app payment modules
  • build or improve upon your mobile friendly web site and storefront
  • spend time networking with other compatible businesses on sponsorships, joint marketing initiatives or simple cross promotions, or commissions on referrals
  • add a new member to your team who has strategic skill sets that you need
  • add development capabilities across more platforms or utilizing new technologies (training, software purchases, etc.)

Continue Advertising – These are just some of the ways of reinvesting into your business, but throughout the entire process, you want to keep advertising your apps for as long as doing so is profitable. If for every $1.00 you spend on advertising, you were guaranteed to make $1.10 every 30 days, there’s no reason to stop that. One would be hard pressed to find a bank paying 10% interest over a year, say nothing about monthly.

Remember the Law of 72. This is your doubling rate – 72 divided by your interest rate. If you are consistently getting $ 1.10 on every dollar of adspend, that is 10% – meaning you are doubling your money every 7.2 MONTHS (not years).

There will be fluctuations, but as long as you have your thumb on the pulse of your adspend, you will be able to take prompt corrective action when variances start creeping in. It is always said that, “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.” If you treat advertising like it is your lifeblood – always engaged, constantly testing, always seeking to get a 1% better return on any of your KPI’s, you will be kicking butt the majority of the time.

Continuing work in developing great apps is a given, of course. Releasing a bad app is bad for business, but by this stage you already know that.

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Quikr teams up with Idea and Opera as the first advertiser to lower the barriers for Indians to come online

Opera Software Official Press Release

Oslo, Norway and Mumbai, India – July 3, 2014

Idea Cellular, India’s 3rd-largest mobile operator and Opera Software have joined hands with Quikr, India’s largest online mobile classifieds portal to offer sponsored mobile data through Sponsored Web Passes for over 137 million Idea customers in India. The tri-partnership is aimed at enabling more Indians to get online and experience the power of the internet on their mobile phones, the first such initiative in South Asia.

opera-mini-idea-web-pass-quikrA web pass is a great alternative to monthly data plans for consumers who do not require full-time internet access. Opera partnered with Idea earlier this year to bring this innovative solution to Opera Mini users in India. This solution provides affordable internet packages, tailor-made to enable Idea subscribers to enjoy internet access for particular timelines or websites, such as Facebook access for a day or internet access for an hour at just Re. 1. Web passes allow transparent, self-explanatory transactions, along with affordable and controllable pay-as-you-go features.

With Sponsored Web Pass, Idea subscribers will enjoy internet on their mobile phones, sponsored by Quikr. To get sponsored web access, Idea users just need to open Opera Mini and click the “Idea Web Pass” Speed Dial entry, then select the “Free Internet by Quikr (10 MB)” web pass option. From there, users will be able to enjoy 10 MB of sponsored internet access on their mobile phones for an entire day.

Speaking about the association, Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, says, “Data is going to be the next big game changer in the Indian telecom industry. However, there are certain entry-level barriers that must be overcome for mass adoption. The web pass concept has helped us surpass the barrier of cost and convenience and has led to a spike in the number of data users on our network. Now, with Sponsored Web Pass, we are confident that even more non-data users will come on board and enjoy the amazing world of internet on their mobile phones, while also giving an opportunity to advertisers to gain instant connect with consumers using the mobile platform.”

Sunil Kamath, Vice President for South Asia at Opera Software, says, “At Opera, we are always looking for new ways to break the barriers for internet access and ensure that more and more people get connected to the web. In line with that, we are extremely happy to deploy our first-ever Sponsored Web Pass in South Asia, with Idea and Quikr.

Kamath adds, “This revolutionary tool helps operators expand the reach of mobile internet to many more new users, who might otherwise be wary of spending on data plans. It’s a great avenue for advertisers as well, who gain an extremely positive brand association with millions of consumers through Opera Mini. Consumers love sponsored internet access, which is increasingly becoming a necessity today. Sponsored Web Pass is a win-win for everyone.”

Pranay Chulet, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Quikr.com says, “We are very excited to partner with Opera and Idea for this groundbreaking solution. Today, Indian consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones to reach out to all kinds of products and services. Given Opera Mini’s massive popularity in India, this is a great opportunity for us to connect with new consumers and create mindshare through this new platform of advertising, which directly benefits consumers, as well.”

For more information on the Opera Web Pass solution for operators, visit http://www.operasoftware.com/products/web-pass/.

About IDEA Cellular

IDEA Cellular is India’s 3rd largest national mobile operator, with more than 137 million subscribers. With traffic in excess of 1.75 billion minutes a day, Idea ranks among the Top 10 country operators in the world. Using the latest in technology, Idea provides world-class service delivery through the most extensive network of customer touch points. Idea is listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in India.
IDEA Cellular is an Aditya Birla Group Company, India’s first truly multinational corporation. The Group ranks Number 4 globally and Number 1 in the Asia Pacific in the 2011 Top Companies for Leaders (TCFL) study conducted by Aon Hewitt, Fortune (the Global Business Magazine) and the RBL Group. It operates in 36 countries, and is anchored by more than 136,000 employees belonging to 42 nationalities. More information on Idea Cellular is available at www.ideacellular.com and on the Aditya Birla Group at www.adityabirla.com

About Quikr.com

Quikr India Private Limited operates as a community classifieds Website. The company enables people in the same city to meet, trade, share ideas, and help in various areas, such as household goods, cars and bikes, services, real estate, jobs, and matrimonial. The company was formerly known as Kijiji India Private Limited and changed its name to Quikr India Private Limited in June, 2008. The company was incorporated in 2005 and is based in Mumbai, India. Quikr India Private Limited is a former subsidiary of eBay Inc. More information on www.quikr.com

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com.

Opera, Opera Mini and O logo are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Official Opera Software Press Release

Oslo, Norway and Dhaka, Bangladesh – July 2, 2014

Opera Software today announced its partnership with Bangladesh’s second largest cellular operator – Banglalink for delivering a special co-branded mobile web browser to its more than 29 million subscribers.

The special co-branded Opera Mini mobile browser will enable Banglalink subscribers to access a rich, fast and data-efficient mobile browser ideally suited for low-cost mobile phones. The special co-branded Opera Mini browser will make it easier for Banglalink voice subscribers to try, activate and regularly use internet services on their handsets. Customers can customize their browsing experience and access favorite internet services such as Facebook or Google search with one click, directly from their home page. Customers will also be able to access the Banglalink online web portal for one-click internet-access purchases directly from Opera Mini’s Speed Dial page.

With this customized version, users will gain access to the football website http://wcc.sports.opera.com/ absolutely free. And, to make the season even more exciting, Opera has also launched a contest offering some of the latest smartphones as prizes to Banglalink users.

Opera Mini is the most popular mobile browser in Bangladesh. It works on mobile handsets of almost all operating systems, ranging from basic phones to the newest smartphones. It features advanced compression technology, which compresses internet usage by up to 90%, resulting in huge cost savings for users. This compression also leads to much faster page-loading times, even in bad network conditions, saving users valuable time.

Commenting on the same, Marketing Director of Banglalink Solaiman Alam says, “We have always endeavored to offer a rich and pleasant experience to our consumers. We are thrilled to bring Opera’s world-class technology to our consumers, which will provide a fast and powerful web experience.”

He further adds, “Bangladesh is in a complete football frenzy right now, so we are happy to offer this special edition of Opera Mini, which will further add to the delight of our users. Opera Mini offers a flexible platform that allows us to customize offers and services based on user interest.”

Sunil Kamath, Vice President for South Asia at Opera Software, says, “At Opera, we are always seeking opportunities to bring the internet closer to people across the globe. Bangladesh is a key market for us, and we are happy to expand our presence in the country through this partnership. We know how much Bangladeshi love football and want to help them make the most of this football season. They will now be able to enjoy their favorite sport online, without worrying about internet costs or the mobile device they are using.”

Banglalink subscribers can simply type “Opera” in an SMS message and send it to 9090 to get the Opera Mini download link via an SMS reply. No SMS charges will be applicable. Alternatively, they can visit m.opera.com to download this customized version of Opera Mini.

Banglalink subscribers will also have the opportunity to win smartphones by participating in the football quiz hosted on http://wcc.sports.opera.com/. This page can also be accessed directly from the Opera Mini Speed Dial.

About Banglalink

Banglalink is the 2nd largest mobile telecom operator in Bangladesh with over 29 million subscribers, and a subsidiary of Netherlands based Vimpelcom ltd. Learn more about Banglalink at http://www.banglalink.com.bd.

About Opera Software ASA

Opera Software crafts products and services that connect 350 million people to the internet. More than 130 operators around the world choose to work with us to give their customers the best web experience. Our mobile advertising platform enables publishers to monetize their content and allows brands to reach a global audience of more than 500 million consumers. Learn more about Opera at www.opera.com.

Opera and Opera Mini are trademarks of Opera Software ASA. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Xsolla — Billing + Payments designed for publishing games globallyOur partners Xsolla had a nice chat with representatives of Opera Mobile Store — one of the biggest independent app stores in the world. Opera Mobile Store manager Viacheslav Shybaiev and Mobile Store Front at Opera Mediaworks sales director Sandra Ilyina shared their insights on the advantages of advertising in alternative stores and shared some insights of the successful app-promotion through Opera Mobile Store.

What does Opera Mobile Store do and what platforms does this store support?

Sandra Ilyina, Sales Director, Mobile Store Front at Opera Mediaworks

Sandra Ilyina, Sales Director, Mobile Store Front at Opera Mediaworks

Sandra Ilyina: Opera Mobile Store is a cross-platform mobile store distributing apps and games for J2ME, Symbian, Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. It also offers access to online mobile games for the above mentioned OS. For app developers the Opera Mobile Store is an effective distribution platform and one of the marketing channels of Opera Mediaworks, the world’s leading mobile advertising platform.

What are the main sources of profit for Opera Mobile Store?

Viacheslav Shybaiev: Last year, we experimented with different distribution models for paid content — one-time purchases, day-passes, and subscriptions. Today, we distribute paid content by subscription — which has proven a very effective model. Of course, advertising is a much stronger source of monetization.  more

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“The Grow Your Mobile App Business Game”

If there was a game for mobile app developers, this is what it would look like.  Sort of.  Fortunately, we don’t need character customization, because the “character” is your mobile app development team. This could just be you, it could be a party, or an entire guild!

By MMORPG standards, we don’t really need any more than one class – that class is the Mobile App Developer, sort of like a wizard, but with a steam punk twist. Kinda. Odds are that you are a human. There may be some trolls to take issue with that.

So, grab whatever you want to wear, some rations, a beverage, and a keyboard, we’re going on an adventure!

Well, okay, okay, not really, but maybe we’ll come out of this seeing business and work a little bit differently.  Yes, it is a little silly, but sometimes that is what is needed to spice up your work.  Don’t take my word for word it, much the same has been covered by the Harvard Business Review.

Any game sort of needs points, or something to measure progress by…

  • The Facebook Quest – 1 point for every friend
  • The Twitter Quest – 1 point for every follower
  • Google Plus 1 – 1 point for every +1 you have on Google… and every other social network platform, except:
  • LinkedIn – 5 points for every connection
  • Publish or Perish – 25 points for every article you have published that is publicly available on the Internet
  • Being Talked About – 50 points for every blog or web site featuring a review or other promotion about your mobile app.
  • App Crafting – 1,000 points for each app you have published and available through at least one store.
  • Available in a Store Near You – 50 points per app for every mobile app store your apps are available through. (i.e. If you have 5 apps available on each of 5 stores, you have 25 x 50 = 1250 points!)

Obviously this could be fleshed out a lot more, associating points to levels, special abilities and things like that.

In your average level 1 quest, you’ll end up having to kill ten monsters or collect 10 tainted flowers.  Business is basically the same thing, where you might start just trying to get your first ten friends on Facebook.

In game culture and I know most developers are familiar with game culture, we talk about “the grind” – where playing a game is a lot like work or in this case, the other way around.   The more you do, the more you have to do.

With games, we have a sort of immediate reward.  Regardless how small it might be, in most games we can see each step, each little increment contributing to the overall goal… which is usually “reaching the end game”.  In real world terms, reaching the end game would be a lot like becoming a Fortune 500 company.

In the real world, the real points are usually measured in money and dollar signs.  For a small business though, every day is not a pay day.  With a small team perhaps with very limited operating capital, it can be hard to see how you can grow your business.   Sometimes it can be hard to see how your day to day doings contribute to your end of month and end of year results.

By defining all of the things that you can do, and weighting them according to the degree of impact they could have for your business – you’ll see that there’s always something that you could be doing now, that costs no more than the time you invest in it.   If you have ten minutes to spare, why not try to find a few more friends to like you on Facebook.  Have an extra hour or two?  Maybe write an article or blog post.

It all adds up.  In your MMO’s, your characters just didn’t suddenly reach level 90… they did it one goblin at a time.

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Bootstrapping is being able to do almost anything with virtually nothing.   It is the notion that you can be completely broke, with not a penny to your name, but with a goal, some creativity and a buttload of initiative, you can do anything. Money? It helps a lot, but money unto itself accomplishes nothing.

Philosophically speaking, the primary unit of currency is time. Regardless how much time you have, it is never enough and you never know how much of it you really have. Money may not buy you time, but it can buy other’s time. Thus, we are all in the business of trading our time for money, presumably on the basis that it enables us to spend more time with the things we enjoy most.  That’s the “grits” in Friday’s food for thought.

It would be difficult to condense all of the principles of bootstrapping into one article, but we can cover the most important things.

The Plan – Vision/Mission: Knowing what you intend to do is critical. Every decision you make after defining your plan either advances or hinders your plan. Your plan can always change, but that should be driven by additional data and a conscious decision to adjust your effort.

 Everything is in the process. Perfect the process and you get consistently good results. Focus on results will always yield results, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Mapping the process requires defining all of the things you will need to accomplish your plan, an approximate order of getting them, and research to validate that your plan is viable. Your research should also aim to define special hurdles and complications above and beyond just the things you will need to accomplish your objective.

Define your social network: Make a list of who you know and what you know they are good at and what they might be able to help you with. What do they have that you need? What can you or would you need to offer that would be of interest to them? The fundamental point is that just because you do not have something does not mean you do not have access to it.

Expand your social network: Find and interact with other people and organizations of people who have similar interests – online and offline, locally and internationally. This can be considered “integration” – becoming part of the community, focusing on people who are interested in doing things. This could be online forums with other developers, local clubs, conventions, trade shows, anywhere you are likely to bump into people who may share similar interests. That goes for LinkedIn and Facebook, too.

Build a team: A lot of people like doing things on their own. That’s fine, and sometimes you can get lucky as a single developer. Frequently though, building a product is accompanied with building a business. That usually requires money, so you want to set about getting the right people to help you generate money and share in the rewards of doing so, too. Having more people devoted to the success of one thing increases its probability of success.

Initially, your focus is on technical people and marketing people – to share in all of the other duties like customer support, social networking, content development, business or tax filings, etc. Later, as you grow, you might look at adding people for human resources, adding new business units/functions, operations managers, etc.

As a side note, building a team does not always require money, but usually does require the opportunity for it.  Many countries suffer from high unemployment.  What is unemployment?  Not having a job?  Not making money?  Are commission-based sales people who do not sell anything unemployed?  Are sole-proprietors who are not making money, or who are actually paying to get their business off the ground – unemployed, too?   However you define unemployment – doing nothing virtually guarantees making nothing.  Doing something comes with the possibility of making something.

If you have done the above, you have something already — A PLAN and a PROCESS of implementing it.  That’s more than a lot of people have.  If successful, you will end up with a Product (or a service).    That can be considered a “groundfloor opportunity” – and there are people out there who would happily forego a high paying job they hate for a groundfloor opportunity they would love.  The first five years of most business tends to be the most interesting, creative, challenging and stressful period of any business.  Some people LOVE that, that’s why you see many executives develop a company from scratch into multi-million dollar companies only to jump ship and move on to something new.

The groundfloor is the front line.

The difference between your company and those getting $10 million in start-up financing is that you are scaling to growth at your own pace; while they are trying to achieve economy of scale from the get go.

Most countries have provisions for forming a variety of business “entities” – partnerships, public and non-public corporations, limited liability corporations, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, etc. Frequently, the basis for doing so is to attract some upfront start-up capital. Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are also good ways to others to invest their time or money in your effort, but everyone will want to see a good plan for a worthy project.

Additional focus on process:

Once you have a clear idea of what you intend to do, it is worthwhile to spend more time refining your idea for your market and marketability before you start development. You might decide to go with a Free App with in-app advertising revenue model, but look at other revenue-generating possibilities that you can include.

Look at business to business opportunities, cross-marketing options, commissions on referrals and everything else that can be a revenue stream.

If you are going to have a free app, you should have a mobile friendly web site, an opt-in mailing list, an online store, and something like a newsletter – for starters. Implement them one by one as your resources allow, but know and intend to implement them from the start. While you are building these things for “everyone”, pragmatically, they will be of primary interest to the top 20% of your customers, and especially to your top 4% super user segment.

The same applies to virtually every business model.

Bootstrapping is a fun process. If you had some grits you could have grits and eggs if you had some eggs.

What the heck is grits? Find out here.

Sometimes what you are looking for isn’t labeled the same way, sometimes it even looks completely different. While grits are usually white and are served for breakfast in the southern United States; they come in yellow and are served for dinner in Moldova (mamalega).

Grits and eggs is not just a breakfast, it’s a business philosophy!


Apps on Opera Mobile Store are downloaded in 230 countries and territories. Make your app available to millions of customers around the world – Free, Fast and Easy, Sign-up here!

If you are needing to bootstrap your mobile apps, the following articles can provide you additional tips and perspectives to help you maximize your efforts:

 

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This follows on the breakeven discussion continuing from last Friday and Monday. The interest today is to provide some rough examples to help mobile app developers better gauge their breakeven points not only on the product development side, but the marketing and advertising side, too.

The examples aren’t necessarily drawn out of thin air, but are greatly simplified for easy math. Either way, you will need to research and plug in your own numbers to get a better reading on your requirements.   For ease of reference, we will use the figures from Monday – basically that the physical production of your mobile app comes to $10,000, and involving 3 months of development time.

Your breakeven point on your mobile app development is the easiest part of the equation to define. Marketing and advertising are not free, so you need to budget for the promotion of your app on top of everything else.   Running with the $10,000 breakeven point for developing an app over 3 months of development does not typically include a marketing or advertising budget.

Also, as previously addressed, whether you factor your time and labor in your calculations is likely to have a major impact. That applies not only to the time you spent developing your app, but in marketing it, too.   Even if you are not making par value for your labor, it is worthwhile to keep track of.   Track your actual expenses, your time on development, your time on the marketing and advertising for future reference and comparison.

How much should you budget for marketing your mobile app?

As you probably guessed, “that depends” – on a lot of things, including:

  • size and freshness of your current mailing list
  • size and quality of your social network
  • how readily you are able to connect with media (blogs, ezines, podcasts, radio, television, print, etc.)
  • your pay cycle/s
  • your revenue model

Other components may apply, too – whether you are very much in bootstrapper mode (working with a near $0 operating budget), or you have a job, plenty of savings, whether your app development is done under your name or under the aegis of a business. You need to look at your total financial situation.

Example 1. Free App with CPM based advertising. Using “easy numbers”:

  • You have an arrangement for $5 per CPM on ads you deliver to end users.
  • You estimate your average user will use your app an average of 8.5 hours at 2 ads per minute (1:1 ratio)
  • Your average cost of advertising to get end users runs $2.50 each
  • You end up with a $2.50 gross profit per customer.

Important: The downside to this revenue model is that the full $5 per end user is spread over the lifetime of their use of your app and is further adjusted by the pay cycle of your advertising agent. You can probably expect the bulk of end user time to occur in the first month, tapering off substantially in the second and trickling in the third – maybe a 65%/25%/10% – but the projections and research are on you to perform.  

Knowing your breakeven point, in our example, $10,000 – you divide that by $2.50 to determine that you will need at least 4,000 end users to break even.   Depending upon how cautious or optimistic you are, it is good to provide a cushion as 85% of projects do go over budget. That is a separate topic though.

Using the Free App with CPM based revenue model, in this example, you would ultimately need to invest another $10,000 into advertising – but you won’t need to do it all at once. Provided your numbers stand up to reality,

Cycle 1: Start with $1000 for a theoretical return of $2000 (-$9k from breakeven)

Cycle 2: Apply that $2000 for a theoretical return of $4000 (-$7k from breakeven)

Cycle 3: Apply that $4000 for a theoretical return of $8000 (-$3k from breakeven)

Cycle 4: Apply that $8000 for a theoretical return of $16,000 (+$5k)

 By the end of your fourth cycle, you will have theoretically achieved your breakeven point on physical production, get your initial $1,000 advertising seed money returned, and have an extra $5,000 profit to show for it.

Nothing is ever that simple, nor are the returns always that reliable, suffice that you have to continuously track your app’s metrics and performance – and engage to improve performance wherever possible.  The basic idea is that as long as you are getting back more than you are spending on advertising, you are getting closer to breaking even and closer to making a profit.

To improve your campaign’s performance, you would be looking at possibilities to increase your download/install rate; increase the average time users spend with your app; look at possibilities to increase your advertising CPM revenue; look at possibilities to decrease your advertising costs while retaining the same or better performance.

The most important factor under this model is likely to be shorten your cycle time. If you get paid monthly, you will be looking at this campaign running 4 – 6 months before you can pocket any money as actual profit.

 

Example 2. Straight Premium Mobile App Sales

We’ll use the same numbers as used in the first example. Your breakeven point for your app’s physical development amounts to $10,000. On the vast majority of mobile app stores, the store takes a 30% cut on premium app sales. That’s industry standard and comparable to brick-n-mortar retail, too.

If you are looking to make $5 per app, then you would need to price it on the store at roughly $7.00 (for revenues of $4.90).

In this example, we will consider the advertising rate at $2.00 CPD (cost per download), so you would be looking at roughly $2.90 gross profit. Your breakeven point of $10,000 divided by your gross profit, would require reaching 3,448 end users, or close to $7,0000 in advertising for this example.

Again though, that $7,000 in advertising is not needed all at once. Starting with just $1,000 and reinvesting everything you generate into more advertising would theoretically allow you to breakeven roughly by the end of your third pay cycle.

The main advantage of this revenue model is that you are not dependent upon customer’s usage over time, sales revenues are received faster.

All revenue models can benefit by having multiple components, adding in-app purchases and upgrades, commissions on referrals, and otherwise.

All apps can benefit through continued efforts to improve on conversion rates.

Third-party Premium Subscription Plans can dramatically help you to develop marketing campaigns on a more targeted, heavily localized basis (on a per language, per country, per mobile carrier basis) which is excellent for developing social networking.

It’s a rare product that can be put on a store shelf and sell itself.

The majority of mobile app developers are not breaking even.  That can be attributed to many different things.  Nevertheless, there are strong indications that most developers who are not breaking even are also spending little to no time or money on marketing/advertising.

What this article functionally asserts is that you do not need a lot of money to start with when it comes to advertising, only to do so consistently.


Apps on Opera Mobile Store are downloaded in 230 countries and territories. Make your app available to millions of customers around the world – Free, Fast and Easy, Sign-up here!

If you are needing to bootstrap your mobile apps, the following articles can provide you additional tips and perspectives to help you maximize your efforts:

 

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As we’ve looked at many of the different expenses associated with app development, we should be able to define a pretty good breakeven point. As long as you are breaking even, you can do whatever you want to do for as long as you want. Unfortunately, defining our costs is only half of the equation. It is the easiest half, but is frequently ignored for the second half, i.e. actually trying to break even.   If you don’t know your breakeven point, in most cases you won’t really know if you are making a profit.  [Editor:  About 60% of mobile developers are not breaking even – see this PCMag article and app-promo.com infographic.]

If you have a day job that more than meets your cost of living requirements, you have far more latitude in defining your breakeven point than if you are completely reliant upon your app development for your livelihood. A good day job offsets the need to include your labor, your computer and mobile devices that you already have, probably your utilities, rent and insurance, too. However, if you are looking to switch to mobile app development on a fulltime basis, you will want to track your relative performance on a reliable basis (say 3 to 6 months of your app-based income) before making a transition. That is, you may have a day job but develop apps in the evenings as a sort of second job.

Several surveys indicate that the cost of developing a relatively basic app runs up to $10,000 over 3 months. As mentioned previously, you don’t want to be in a position of relying upon a single idea for a mobile app. You want several apps to evaluate – examining each relative to your means (programming skills, graphics, marketing capabilities, time, possible difficulties, etc.) and the app’s potential (what others think of the idea, compatibility, target market demographics, etc.).

Revenue Model

Before we get into defining your marketing budget, you need to define your revenue model/s. Will your app be free to play and rely upon in-app advertising? Maybe freemium with in-app purchases and upgrades? Premium? Subscription model?   Do you have any B2B components or sponsors? Will your app have other possibilities for monetization (i.e. survey capabilities, promotion of other apps, prominently focus on email and newsletter marketing)?

Target Market

We also want to take exceptional care in defining your target market. There are two parts to your target market. The first part is the largest and includes your end users, the people who will play your game, use your utility, etc. The second part considers what businesses, products and services your end-users will be interested in – thereby opening doors for business to business possibilities, as referenced above. If you are able to reach people specifically interested in one thing, your app will be of interest to others trying to reach those end users, too.

App Pricing

This deserves an entire article (or five) unto itself. Your app pricing ties into both your target market/s and your revenue model/s. Of particular interest on defining price for your target market, if you are marketing on an international basis, you will want to include price segmentation for end users in different countries with widely varying incomes.

  1. Free with CPM Advertising – If you are going with a free app wherein all of your revenue is derived from advertising directed to your end users, you have the complex job of determining the average value of that advertising relative to the average lifespan of your app. How many hours will your end users play? How many ads will they see per hour?   What do you receive on a CPM basis?
  2. Free with Commission Advertising – Alternatively, if you can set up with an affiliate system to get paid on a commission basis for all referrals your app generates who make an order – you need to get an idea of your conversion rate, their average order, your commission rate, duration of any cookies and potential for subsequent orders. Many affiliate programs offer bonuses on volume using a tier system, so this is another factor to evaluate.
  3. Freemium – If selling in-app upgrades, vanity items, or other in-app purchases, you have the hard task of defining the lifetime value of your app. If your app is like many MMO-style games, you may have to factor that 80% of your users will spend little to no money and rely upon your 20% super user group (which includes about a 4% hardcore user group). Each app is different, which is to say that there is likely way for the same app to be structured in several different ways depending upon your programming ability.
  4. Premium – Just because you go with a premium app does not preclude you from offering in-app upgrades and other in-app purchasable items. An app needs to be quite distinctive to compete in the premium market, suffice that it does provide some greater ease in calculating your advertising budget requirements as you are mainly looking at conversion rates.
  5. Service-based Subscription – For those licensing an app on a periodic (monthly) basis, you need to know your conversion rates and average subscription lifetime.
  6. Third-party Premium Subscription Plans – This includes models like the Opera Mobile Store Subscription Service which is offered to end users via participating mobile carriers. This requires some time participating in a program to assess, suffice that conversion rates are typically higher while revenue per download is lower than a premium offering.  Three advantages apply –
    • Economy of Scale with
    • built-in localized price segmentation and
    • essentially free (if basic) advertising.

Your earnings are based on the number of downloads your apps receive compared to total number of downloads relative to total subscription revenue per pay period.

This is the one model where you don’t need to budget any advertising costs unless you want to reinforce this program, probably focusing on social networking methods.

With this, I will cut it short and aim to provide some specific examples on Wednesday drawing upon the points here.   It seems worthwhile to go through the full breakeven analysis process, too – so we may do that on Friday.   The most important components here are delineating approaches to doing the critical thinking on your own to apply to your own apps.

adv_subscribe

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About 60-65% of developers are not breaking even with their mobile apps. Congratulations if you are!  [Editor:  About 60% of mobile developers are not breaking even – see this PCMag article and app-promo.com infographic. ]

What is “breaking even”? That depends upon whether you are expecting to see money for your time, or not. You might be a first time app developer not expecting to make money. You might be donating your time for a cause, or engaging a particular app as a “labor of love”. In these cases, it’s reasonable to not expect money for your time.

Otherwise, you are likely expecting to at least meet the costs of developing an app. Understand, too, that as a business, depending upon your countries and laws, your business expenses are deducted from your earnings. Properly managing your expenses can save on your taxes. Even if you are not engaging app development as a business, it probably does have an impact upon your cost of living.

All of the following are expenses:

  • Cost of your computers and smart phones
  • Cost of Internet Service Provider and mobile subscription plans
  • Office Rent and if you work from home, you may be able to assign proportionate use.
  • Office materials not part of products or services sold
  • Utilities (electricity, water, garbage disposal, etc.)
  • Insurance (apartment/home/office/health/business vehicles)
  • Administrative fees and registrations required to do business
  • Possible to include educational expenses
  • Business travel and entertainment
  • Advertising and marketing costs

If you goal is to make a profit on your mobile app, these items and probably more (minus your time) can be used to help define your breakeven point.

If you do plan to make a profit, you do want to include your time. That is especially the case if you have no other form of revenue.  The same applies to any employees. Cost of labor is likely to be your #1 expense when it comes to mobile app development.

Wages and salary are significantly influenced by the country, sometimes the state/province, and even the city or neighborhood, in which you live. A programmer in New York City might be earning $100 an hour while the same developer in Ukraine might make $8-10 an hour.

As your own boss, you get to set your own wage/salary expectations. The only question is meeting them. Monthly wage is probably easiest to start with, as you know your monthly expenses – you want to recover those expenses and get ahead some.

The idea is that as long as you make $x per month, you can do what you want to do, indefinitely, for as long as you want. That’s an awesome position to be in. It beats having to do a job you detest, forever. It passes the “Hot Fudge Sundae or Hot Poker in the Eye” test, hands down.

Any extra money you make should stay in your business account or remain allocated to your business. Handling your extra “business” money is a completely separate topic.

Adding your real business expenses with your expected (reasonable) salary provides you a real breakeven point to work with. It provides you the basis of comparing and analyzing your prospects for success with a specific app.

There are a few points to conclude with:

  1. You should try to never be in a position to where you are reliant upon one idea for a mobile app. You want to have many possible projects on the drawing board. You want to evaluate all of them and assess which of them has the greatest potential to offer a return on your investment.
  2. Your app is an investment; the only question is how well it will perform.
  3. The value for your time considers what you would likely make in a comparable job as an employee in another company. The difference between how much you would have made as an employee and how much revenue your app pulls in is one standard for evaluating the return on your investment.

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There’s a new version of Opera for Android, and it’s ready for you to download free now!

Tap and swipe to manage your tabs
With the new Opera for Android, managing your tabs is only a tap away. Now, you can close tabs with a simple gesture – from the tab manager, just swipe up tabs you don’t need. Made a mistake and closed a tab you weren’t supposed to? Don’t worry – now you can also reopen recently-closed tabs by pressing the menu button in the tab UI.

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(click for expanded view)

As you can see in the screenshots above, the menu is at the bottom of the screen. This is more convenient when you use the phone with one hand and is something you can configure yourself by going into settings and set App layout to Classic.

Remember that with Opera for Android, you can choose how your browser looks:

screen1

Resume your downloads
Now, it’s possible to do proper resuming when a download fails or being paused. Have you had problems with downloading large files? We’ve now fixed a recent issue so big downloads no longer fail when using Off-Road mode.

Browse faster by swiping
In this new Opera for Android, you also get a better-looking and better-working overview mode in the Discover feature. We’ve made your Discover experience breezier. After clicking a Discover article, you can just swipe to the right to move on to the next article in that story category.

Security fix
One mobile-specific security issue was fixed in this release. In some cases, Opera could end up showing the wrong URL in the address bar, which would allow spoofing. This issue has now been fixed, and we would like to thank moonflow for reporting the issue to us.

Once you’ve taken the new Opera on your Android phone for a spin, join the discussion and let us know what you think! Download it now for free from Opera Mobile Store.
If you don’t have Google Play on your device, you can download an apk file here.

 

This might also be called how to schmooze without schmoozing. Schmooze is a slang term meaning, “To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection.”   Shmoozing has a slight negative connotation insomuch as the effort is to “gain an advantage”, but that’s exactly what most people are doing (or trying to do) at business conferences, trade shows, golf courses, and dinner parties. It is part of marketing, but it need not be duplicitous or a negative, at all. Stick to who you are and what you do, but choosing your words carefully – and well in advance.

Business Environment.   Conventions can be rushed, crowded, loud places. A dinner party is likely to be a cozier, quieter affair. Adjust what you say to fit the occasion. Your goal, however, is to spend less time talking about what you do as getting others to talk about what they do. That’s the best way of discovering possible overlapping business interests.

Research.  If you know who is going to be at a business event and you are likely to have face to face time with them, spend 10-15 minutes catching up on the latest news relevant to them or their company. Try to have some meaningful questions prepared in advance.

Thirty Seconds or Less.  You can find a lot around the web on the Elevator Pitch. Simply, it is meant to be a fast, memorable introduction to others who you meet – wherever you meet them. This could be a business convention, trade show, dinner party, or just about anyone with whom you strike up a conversation. Normally, it is about 30 seconds, but even that can be too long.

The ONE THING. You likely have the best idea of what your business needs most, now. That’s your ONE THING. If possible and appropriate, fitting this ONE THING into your Elevator Pitch gives your introduction an “actionable” component, above and beyond whatever other interest might exist. You may have a list of several things, suffice that you should fit the “ONE THING” to the person in front of you. An executive might be able to get you a discount on advertising; a recruiter might be able to refer a qualified programmer; etc.

Business Cards. Always have several of your own cards available to distribute; always try to get business cards from those you meet. Follow up with, “It was a pleasure to meet you at…” style letter, 2-3 days following the event. If you saw any overlapping business interests, bring them up as topics for further discussion.

Social Environments – All of the above, but spending 10 seconds or less introducing yourself or your ONE THING. Customize your one thing to your audience here, too. If you are running a crowdfunding project, you could focus on that.

People do like being in a position to help others, but they don’t like wasting their time or risking their reputation or credibility. A veteran investor or businessman can readily tell within 1-2 minutes if someone is serious and/or realistic about a project or not.

The world is not static. It moves, people move, talk, interact, reach agreements, do business. The goal within all of this is to create opportunities and possibilities for things to move in your direction. Standing in the corner minding your own business has a high likelihood of leaving you standing there all alone. The more you mingle, the more people will be interested in mingling with you.

Don’t expect to impress or make a hit with everyone, nor do you need to. Expect to make some mistakes, but move past them. The worst anyone can do is say no.

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Crowdfunding has garnered incredibly attention over the past few years, with the rise of KickStarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub and literally hundreds of others. Crowdfunding picked up steam in 2007-2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis, by providing an alternative to traditional small business financing through banks, loans and high interest credit card payments. I spent a year investigating crowdfunding, interviewing platform founders and project owners, and another year managing a CFP-capable platform.  There are some points that I’d like to share that you may not find elsewhere – useful if you have contemplated a crowdfunding project or are seeking to finance your business.

Crowdfunding is a social networking method for raising finances for a particular purpose. The purpose could be to produce a book, a movie, start a business, do a concert tour, create an app, etc. The social networking component starts with the people closest to you – your family, friends, colleagues, alumni, etc. The hope is that your project will go viral – reach thousands and thousands of people you don’t know, that they will like your idea and contribute money toward it. In its simplest context, crowdfunding is a pre-order marketing mechanism.

There are two sides to crowdfunding – equity and non-equity. Equity-based crowdfunding means that people who contribute to your project have a financial stake, or share, in your project. It is considered an investment and is typically more heavily regulated (and should be) than non-equity crowdfunding. The non-equity side essentially promises a product or service in exchange for someone’s financial contribution.

I won’t get into equity crowdfunding here. It is more complex and in some countries, like the United States, the rules for it are still being written (by the Federal Trade Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.) Equity-based crowdfunding is making much more headway internationally, but it requires a country by country and platform by platform breakdown.

Conventional crowdfunding campaigns are not very efficient – they direct everyone you know to a middleman’s web site, where your customers pay them to pre-order your product.

In some cases, going through a crowdfunding platform is your best option. This is particularly so if you are:

  • working with a start-up,
  • if you don’t have a web site,
  • if you have believe you can get more exposure leveraging the CFP’s brand name than your own, and/or
  • if you are not certain about the success of your project so you apply to an “All or Nothing” campaign which serves as a trustfund.

In most other cases, you should seriously consider running the crowdfunding campaign on your own web site, running pre-orders utilizing the same kind of crowdfunding prize options as you would on a middleman’s platform. Before doing this, you will need to look at the terms and conditions of your credit card processing service as some do have limitations on pre-order arrangements. Leastwise, you should be able to find a way to satisfy your credit card processor’s conditions. Membership and subscriptions options are great ways to augment your business operations.

The core issue is to develop relationships with your customers.  With your own site, you are not limited in space, content or links that you can place on your own site. You are also free to promote multiple products, multiple projects.

Cost is another consideration. Virtually all Crowdfunding Platforms have their own credit card transaction fees, typically in the 3 to 5% range. Most also charge a nominal administrative fee. Administrative fees vary widely – sometimes free, but some run up to 10% of the funding you receive.

It can be easy to dismiss the impact of these funds. For projects under roughly $10,000, running with a 3% transaction fee and a 5% administrative fee, you are missing $800. That becomes $8,000 if the project was for $100,000.

Two other points run with this. Your crowdfunding projects on a middleman’s platform are typically for fixed terms – from 30 days to 18 months. Once the project is finished, the value of that page diminishes rapidly. By focusing your crowdfunding on your own web site, the value and duration of your pages are of value for as long as the site exists.

Most ecommerce enabled web site platforms can cover all of the functions needed by small businesses, even medium-sized businesses, for less than $100 a month including the base credit card payment servicing fee. Odds are you will be looking at something like a 3.2% per transaction fee, in all cases.

Some mobile developers do not have web sites of their own. I can’t think of a reason why one would not have a business web site, mobile friendly or not, just for the potential that a web site can have in the long-term. One reason might be that you don’t want to make money.

This is in no way to say that running with a middleman crowdfunding platform is in any way wrong. It is situation dependent, suffice that most developers and business people seeking funding don’t look at “DIY – Do It Yourself Crowdfunding” as an option at all.

There’s much, much more to add on crowdfunding. I hope that these points will help you evaluate how to get optimal results from your funding efforts.

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One complaint frequently heard by mobile app developers is that their apps don’t get as many downloads on stores outside of Google Play and the App Store. At the same time, a majority of developers engage in little to no marketing, so their placement on Google Play and the App Store aims only for the low hanging fruit. To some extent this is understandable. To press further requires some understanding not just of marketing, but logistics – and with logistics, extra administrative efforts. So, let’s jump in.

When a store has hundreds of thousands of products – what product is it going to promote? Getting a top placement in various app store charts is not easy – it either requires an inherently popular app with a high volume of downloads, paying for the position, or comes through developing a relationship with the store. Stores promote what is advantageous to them. This is the case whether we are talking about Google Play, Amazon or Walmart.

If you are seeking special treatment from a store, it is worth working out arrangements that are interesting for the store. It’s a two way street. But we aren’t really talking about the store… we are talking about your app. However it is sliced, it is the developer’s responsibility to do their best to market their app. This is especially the case for free and freemium apps.

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Early last week, we had an inside look at Looksery.com – an upcoming app that provides real-time facial transformation for social video. Victor Shaburov, CEO of Looksery (founder of Handster which went on to become Opera Mobile Store) called me on Skype to let me know he launched a crowdfunding project for Looksery on Kickstarter.

looksery-1

Looksery app brings face tracking and transformation technology for video chat, video selfies and photos to mobile devices.

You will be able to download Looksery from Opera Mobile Store  when it is released (anticipating late July, 2014).   We will be the first to carry it – at least 24 hours before it becomes available on Google Play.

By contributing to Looksery’s campaign on Kickstarter, you will be able to get it earlier along with a variety of other cool prizes including free storage, premium filters, hoodies and more – relative to your contribution level.

This lends to a perfect opportunity to help promote his new project while at the same time elaborating further on crowdfunding campaigns as a funding option for mobile app developers. You get to see the real thing – in progress, now!

Crowdfunding

Non-equity Crowdfunding Projects enable anyone with an idea to approach people to help them launch it. In its most simple context, crowdfunding is a pre-order marketing mechanism. Most of the projects launched on a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub, etc., are in the early to mid development stages. Crowdfunding is an option to running up high interest credit card bills and an option to traditional funding sources (i.e. banks and small business loans).

Equity crowdfunding is a different ballgame altogether, more tightly regulated, more formal and correlates to contributors receiving some kind of “share” or equity in your endeavor.

Not so with non-equity projects – where the incentive to the customer is a “prize” – of some sort. Typically, the “prize” is the product that you are developing, often with other marketing components.

Looksery Crowdfunding Prizes

With Looksery, the prizes are well-defined and perfectly proportional to the funding level to which they are associated.  The prize packages run from $5 to $1500, though anyone can make a $1.00 contribution, too.

Prize Options?

  • The app itself, for one or two platforms
  • Online storage
  • Paid/Premium Filters
  • 5 minute, 10 minute and longer video capacities
  • T-Shirts Black or White (Unisex)
  • Hoodies (Male or Female)
  • White Caps
  • Glow-in-the-Dark Frisbees
  • Pen – USB drive 8GB
  • Hall of Fame Listing
  • Early Beta Test
  • An exclusive video filter

The majority of the prizes are directly associated with the Looksery app. The accessories are all in the purview of useful marketing tools, the kinds of things you want to have on hand for a product launch. In short, Looksery provides a good example of the kinds of prizes you would want to look at for your crowdfunding project.

Getting the Word Out

Anyone going into a Crowdfunding Project, especially an All or Nothing style Kickstarter Project, needs to go all-out – just like you would and should do when formally launching your app. What applies to crowdfunding applies to product launches and vice versa.

Crowdfunding is an excellent approach to ramp up pre-launch buzz by getting more people interested and vested in your project. Your crowdfunding backers are all potential evangelists for your product.

Media – Since my last post, Looksery has been featured on Tech Crunch, Business Insider, C-net, Kickstarter, Marketwatch, among others.  It is clear that the Looksery team has focused heavily on getting exceptional media exposure. That is very important. You want to do your best to get the same kind of coverage when launching your app. Don’t be disappointed if you are not quite as successful as Victor is a high-profile tech personality with some very successful start-ups backing him.

End-Users – Media’s not everything though – it is a building block. The more you can get, the better. Ultimately, you need to reach end-users. That will rely much more upon e-mail campaigns. Most crowdfunding projects realize the majority of contributions from people who know the project owner or people who are on the project’s crowdfunding team.

Crowdfunding is not easy.   Most people do not go to Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms to do window shopping for products that are not available “now”.   They go there because they know someone who encouraged them to take a look at something they might have an interest — or to support someone they want to succeed.  That is a large part of the crowdfunding paradigm.  Really good products with mass appeal can and do go viral.

Email marketing is a huge component of any successful crowdfunding campaign.

For now though, I will wrap this up as I find the more I talk about crowdfunding, the more there is to talk about.   We will continue to follow the Looksery Project.

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The last article focused on what to do when your app is not performing up to your financial expectations. That extends equally and completely to your business – whether as a single developer, sole proprietor, owner of any-sized company. It’s something you never stop doing – building, developing your business, even if your business. The same applies to your career.  There’s one other thing that deserves 1% of your effort, 15 minutes a day just about every day – research of future business possibilities and opportunities.

This research requires knowing where your present business strengths and development plans for up to 5 years. You might be strong in Java, PHP, Android, Graphics and Video now while your development plans may aim to expand your capabilities to iOS and pick up 2-3 additional languages (i.e. Portuguese, Chinese, etc.)   Or you might be good at making games, but want to move toward producing services and utilities. You need to know your capabilities for your research to be effective – defining the Who, What, Where of your place in the market. The How, Why and When… comes separately in most cases.

There are several ways you can approach this kind of business research, but a methodical approach to each is prudent.   It is strongly recommended to keep a record or diary of your research and preferably in electronic format for ease of future searching and topical organization. Copy and paste notes from web sites as you come across them as this is all for your own use.

Methods:

Specific Location – Focus on one area, whether a city or district, state or country, possibly several countries sharing the same language. Basically, you want to keep your thumb on the pulse of its business, especially as it relates to what you do. This can extend to socially and to the government. You want to know who else does the same kind of work as you do, you want to be informed of upcoming projects. Location based research is frequently best tied with local social networking and attendance of business conferences. Concurrent with your research, you want people to learn who you are – which means participating in local business forums.

Specific Industry – While you may be a programmer or app developer, you may also have experience in a specific field – medicine, logistics, investment services, gaming, etc. With these, you are aiming to be well ahead of the bell-curve on how the systems work and the new systems and technologies your field is moving toward. Developing relationships on this level can lead to free beta testing, subcontracted training and consulting, and ultimately becoming a “go-to specialist”. One of the first programmers I worked with focused specifically on high-end health care communications software and for a time was one of four programmers in the United States able to tender bids on projects with the Center for Disease Control.

Specialized Technology – Your focus is specializing in one type of technology, or perhaps a few. This could be video, security, payment systems, government communication and reporting systems, facial recognition, GPS, or anything else. What you are likely to be specifically looking for are opportunities to “merge technologies” – convergence related projects of which I see many coming to the fore in the near future with recent developments in voice and video technology for starters, combined with facial recognition, GPS, security and privacy. Look at who is doing what and where technologies can intersect. Can you tie the knot for them? To some extent this ties in with

Academic and Philosophical Solutions – The philosophy of computer science is another route of research and the object of much fascinating discussion in philosophical organizations and think tanks. This is frequently more in the realm of the abstract and boundless theory, ranging from personal privacy and copyright issues to human augmentation (even with Google Glass – banned in some stores) and computer driven vehicles. Tying in with the academic side lends to getting involved with projects backed by grants, as just one fringe benefit.

All of these methods can, do and to varying degrees should overlap. It depends entirely upon the focus of your career and business, especially the direction you want to take it.

Research is boring. It is not something from which you can expect immediate results. It is worth consistent, prolonged effort for the long-term. Many will find 15 minutes a day focused on 1-2 news items or leads sufficient. If you are at a total stand-still, it is something worth investing a full 8-12 hours a day into. The point is that a little bit of effort today will help guarantee that you always have something to do tomorrow.

This provides four different angles to work from, so you might choose the angle you like most.

Fifteen minutes a day, just Monday – Friday, equates to 65 hours over the course of a year. That’s exponentially better than 65 hours concentrated in 1-2 weeks, as the world is in constant motion.

Other aspects of what has been covered in this blog also apply. It is not always a matter of needing to be able to do everything yourself, so long as you know someone else who can.

We might define ourselves by our career field… I am a programmer or an app developer. That’s not all we do, nor is that the limit of our business potential any more than being a “coffee drinker” means the only thing you ever do is drink coffee.


For maximum exposure, make sure your mobile apps are available on Opera Mobile Store. Fast, Free and Easy – sign up here!

If this article was relevant to you, you may also find the following articles helpful:

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Or… enough money.  Let’s take an honest look. You have the advantage of seeing your statistics, so you will need to use them to help you define why. The reason why is probably easier to define than we might like to think, if we are being honest. The vast majority of the reasons for not making money on your work relates to one of the three following root causes:

1.  It doesn’t compete with other similar apps

  • Poor graphics
  • Poor interface
  • Poor game design
  • Poor game dynamics
  • Poor payment interface
  • Too large for many to download

2.  You are not marketing your app “enough”

  • Not on every store that you could be
  • Little or no advertising
  • No web site
  • No social networking
  • No media engagement
  • No newsletter
  • No business relationships

3.  Your app has too narrow of a market

  • It is designed specifically for people who make quilts while skydiving… or scuba diving It is too localized – serving a specific town of say 5,000 people.
  • It is too complicated
  • Limited payment options

If we are honest with ourselves, we  have a very good idea why our app is not performing to expectations. At the very least, we can narrow the root cause down to the most likely root cause candidates.

I would clarify that this effort is not necessarily to define “exactly why” we are not competing with the #1 best app ever. Going into that involves much of the same kind of analysis, only exponentially more detailed and probably with a nice budget to start with.

For the average developer looking to make a livelihood from their app development, you know what you do best. You know what the people on your team do best. And odds are pretty good you know where the gaps are on both sides of your marketing and development operations.

There are two things that you need to do:

One – study and make time for what you do not already know OR find someone who already knows it, for the purpose of assessing…

Two – bringing on someone willing and able to do it OR at least enthusiastically willing to commit to doing it.

You probably already know someone or can network to find someone who can help you evaluate prospective candidates. You don’t necessarily need to hire them outright, provided you can broker a commission of your future sales based upon their work. If your graphics are “okay” – extra effort by someone who can make them “great” will show in every screenshot of your product. If you aren’t spending time marketing your app, find someone who will.

Once the root cause is defined, the means of addressing it is usually fairly straight-forward.   I will likely expand upon this with Ishikawa (fishbone) diagrams in the near future.

The Big Secret that is Not A Big Secret.

This resides outside of the three common root causes as it is probably the Single Greatest Root Cause of Business Failure – Not engaging to Develop your Business.

Often times we are focused on one project at the exclusion of virtually everything else. When one app – and your vision of it, consumes the entirety of what your business or team is doing, you will take a hit. You might do well this quarter, but what you are doing now won’t matter a year from now.

It is necessary to see your app in a true business context.

  • Is it a one-off project or will it serve as the basis for future projects? How many?
  • Are you and your apps specific to mobile?
  • How much of what you do can be allocated to brick-n-mortar or internet-based activity? In example, if you develop travel based apps, do you work with local travel based companies?
  • What cross-promotion opportunities are readily available?
  • Can you offer specialized services to your app customers?

Just because your business may focus on mobile apps does not mean its revenue must come exclusively from mobile apps.   Take a look at your local coffee shop – does it only sell coffee?  Odds are it probably sells some pastries, probably some sandwiches, too.  Find the areas of compatibility and products with a sympathetic relationship to what you do and add them to what you.

Wednesday, we will take a look at one more thing you should spend 1% of your day doing every day – 1% being 15 minutes.

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legend-of-william-tell

Combine a rugged mountain climber and an expert crossbowman living in the Swiss Alps and you get William Tell. This mobile app is about the Legend of William Tell, a prominent patriot in Swiss history whose accomplishments helped spark an uprising against the famed Habsburg Empire. It’s an incredible story and it is (mostly) all true!

edelweissIn this Swiss App, you get to play William Tell along a long-winding series of more than two dozen adventures across the Swiss Alps. This means you will be taking in beautifully rendered comic-style scenery while dashing along your quest avoiding the Habsburg guards. While running along, you also get to partake in a lot of authentic Swiss activities – like collecting Edelweiss, eating Swiss Cheese to replenish energy, and eating Swiss Chocolate to make you run faster.

You have a simple set of controls:

  • Left Arrow and Right Arrows to move left and right,
  • an Up Arrow to jump,
  • and a crosshair button to shoot your crossbow.

Avoiding the guards is easy enough starting out.  If you want, you can just jump over them. Or, you can make use of your crossbow. You can jump on other things, too – sheep, barrels, cows, Shooting hidden apples gives you a bonus. Eventually, you will fight tougher creatures – wolves and bears.  Each adventure builds on the last in things to do and level of difficulty.

legend1

Every adventure is timed and scored, so you will find ample replay value if you like beating your old scores.

Sound effects are funny. They’re good. Starry-sounds, schwing sounds, bling sounds, and a yodel. Jumping on the heads of the Habsburg guards also makes a funny noise. Like all sound effects, the amusement will wear off after a while, but the fact that they are amusing and not a nuisance deserves kudos.

Each adventure fits in as part of the real Legend of William Tell. The cut scenes between adventures are short, entertaining and educational. No history of Europe would be complete without looking at the Habsburg Empire and I think you will find the story intriguing enough that you will examine the history a bit more.

The Legend of William Tell  is a premium app in the Opera Mobile Store for $2.49 and well worth it for the ease of play and entertainment it will bring you.  It is produced by Pixcube and Moby Dick Games, both Swiss mobile development and gaming companies.

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The world is changing daily, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot. As technology moves forward, the rate of change is accelerating. The rate of change is staggering, the implications equally so, and frequently enough it feels like we… humans, can’t keep pace.   It is useful, however, to look around, to philosophize and speculate a bit. That’s my agenda for today, but with a focus on language.

While a permanent resident of Ukraine, I barely know the most basics for conversing in Russian or Ukrainian. Ukraine has plenty of people fully fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. So, I focus on English. My wife speaks English, Ukrainian and Russian, as do most of my friends. In the United States, the same issues apply to several regions with regards to English and Spanish.

Heated debates have focused on official national languages.  Today, I came across some of the new tools under development by Skype and Microsoft – real time speech translation. That’s practically like something out of Star Trek. Early on, we can expect flaws, but projected a few years forward and it will be put to increasingly common, eventually mainstream use.

The implications if this were to work? A rapidly diminishing need for translators and interpreters – an entire “job field” effectively rendered obsolete by software. At the same time that speech recognition and translation is forging ahead, as text already has – text translations will only continue to get better, too.

That takes us back to the Internet.org initiative. That concerns Mark Zuckerberg’s vision on how the Internet can be made more accessible to another 5 Billion people – most of whom are not fluent or even minimally capable of conversing in English or German or Chinese. In a few years, we simply won’t need to be.

Mobile devices will take on the role of translator. This postulates a world where everyone despite speaking different languages can communicate with one another on a progressively easier and better basis. Technology will have the capacity of superseding policies.

I am skeptical of translation technology knowing well that a lot can be lost in the translation. We can commonly find definite and indefinite articles being dropped; inconsistency of past, present and future tenses; or simply the wrong prepositions. It’s too early (still) to expect perfection – especially when the people graduating aren’t all getting straight A’s.

But I also imagine, like Victor Shaburov is doing with Looksery, that as these new technologies are perfected, they will enable more applications and innovations. If we can visually transform our appearance on video, so also will we be able to change our voice…

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Today, we get a special treat – a look into a new Top Secret Project that has Victor Shaburov at the helm. Word of his project, was leaked by CNet on Friday. Shortly afterwards, I received an unexpected call from Victor to “run with the story”.  If you follow us on Facebook, you may already be expecting this.

Victor, as you may know, founded Handster.com which went on to become Opera Mobile Store. He concluded his contract with Opera in April, he had a new start-up, Looksery, waiting for him. (Check out our interview with Victor, you will see he is not new to start-ups.)

The old argument of “Picture or it didn’t happen” is very 20th Century.  Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it is not there. Likewise, just because we do see something, doesn’t mean it really is there.  What we are about to look at has the potential to fundamentally alter our perceptions of reality.

Looksery.com

Looksery is an app that enables mobile users to adjust, enhance and transform your appearance in video chat, photographs and more. Rather than describe how it works, let’s show you:

Impressive? I’d say so, especially considering Victor’s team is still working on their first release.   Real-time special effects – to make you look better, mesmerize your friends with that cool cascading eye-glow, get rid of blemishes faster than oxypads, or give conspiracy theorists a scare with the shocking ‘alien shark morph’.

Imagine this technology a few years down the road!

It sounds like Looksery will be made available on a freemium model with some special effects available as in app purchases for $1 or $2 each. According to CNet, Looksery will also be running a Kickstarter project to raise additional funding.

Victor promised that Looksery will be available on Opera Mobile Store first  (!!!) – one day ahead of its availability on Google Play.

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more – what it can do and when it will be available.

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(Please share this with anyone you feel may be interested!  Thank you!  — Mark)

This is for aspiring mobile app development teams who know they have a good product but may be lacking the finances or marketing team to get it out there.   You have the product, you don’t have the sales. How do you remedy that? By bringing on sales and marketing people. As you don’t have the sales, you can’t afford that. This is a classical West Virginian, “If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you have the ham!

There are three options when it comes to life and money.

  1. You can make money – having a job or successful business.
  2. You can make no money – unemployment.
  3. You can pay to make no money – having an unsuccessful business.

Risk and reward go hand in hand, but for many small business owners, they go through periods of making no money or even losing money before their business starts getting out of the red. Having your own business is not easy, but if that is your aim, in the vast majority of cases, you need to look beyond what you do or find someone else who can.

There are a lot of sales jobs “out there” that are based on commission sales only. The sales people don’t make any money unless they sell. For some, unemployment is the other option. Perhaps simplistic, but we can boil everything down to “having something sell” and “not having something to sell.” As I’ve gotten off the beaten path many times, I’ve seen markets where an old lady sitting on a box selling a “fish head” and a jar of radishes. She’s trying – someone will buy them, because someone bought them before.

If you have a product, you need to find people who don’t have a product and work out a suitable arrangement with them to help you in the sales and marketing of what you have. You will want to provide them an orientation to what you do, your product, your market, and have some marketing and sales training resources to get them started. Marketing and sales training materials are readily available across the web, even if they just start with Wikipedia.

The core point is that to get your business off the ground requires more than an investment in money, but an investment of time in people. I constantly see statistics that indicate that most developers are not breaking even while at the same time they spend little or no time or money in marketing efforts.

One other very important component that goes hand in hand with this is to examine your own business model and detail everything that you and your apps are capable of doing. Where are your possible revenue streams? Direct premium app sales? Freemium in app purchases? Free app advertising? Any Business to Business options? Newsletter? Web Site? Press Releases? Local Media contacts?

In your earliest stages of developing your sales and marketing, if you are not making money you can afford to give a salesperson a 30% commission on all sales. Later, you might break commissions down on a per channel basis – who manages the account on Opera Mobile Store, who manages the Google Play, who manages secondary product sales via newsletters, etc.


Apps on Opera Mobile Store are downloaded in 230 countries and territories. Make your app available to millions of customers around the world – Free, Fast and Easy, Sign-up here!

If you are needing to bootstrap your mobile apps, the following articles can provide you additional tips and perspectives to help you maximize your efforts:

 

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I’ve covered this before, but this last weekend I was shocked into looking at it again… a little bit closer. Virtual Vanity Items:

  • Path of Exile – $12,500 for a Founder’s Pack or $1,000 for a virtual pet.  The game is free to play and I don’t see any serious “pay to win” components in their store, so they deserve a lot of credit.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online – About $50 for a +5 stat tome.  Also free to play, plus ample opportunities to acquire Turbine Points to purchase cosmetics, consumables, expansion packs, extra character classes and more.
  • See five more big ticket vanity items at Cracked.com.

One can take a number of different positions on the pricing of vanity items.   Most of the scrutiny can be easily absolved in consideration of 1) free market principles, 2) segregating “vanity” from “pay to win”, and 3) providing alternative paths to a variety of vanity items.   The latter includes rewarding app users with “prized possessions” according to their level of participation.

The usefulness of Virtual Vanity Items is clearly an incentive in Crowdfunding.  Path of Exile noted they had over 240 people willing to pay a thousand dollars each for a customized piece of equipment.   That’s exceptional marketing on their behalf going hand in hand with creating a quality game as an alternative to Pay to Play competitors.   Thanks to those who do purchase vanity products, others are able to enjoy good games for free.  Developers need to remember that every player has a part in the success of their app.  An MMO without people is not an MMO.

I can’t help but feel that Virtual Vanity Items can be taken much further – and not necessarily focusing solely upon end-users.

Both fiction and non-fiction authors, movie directors, most businesses and mobile app (and software) developers are open to collaborating on content – in joint efforts or in an advertising or commission-based referral capacity.  Having virtual items that are important objects in books, movies, businesses, etc. enable both parties to expand their market and brand name awareness.   There is no preclusion to adding a URL or coupon code into the details of a virtual item, or sending in app mails, and otherwise.

Your main goal is to achieve compatibility, symmetry and sameness.  If you have a game where “food” plays a role, why not “brand it”?  It could be a burger, a pizza, a burrito, a bag of chips, a loaf of bread… whatever.  Not only could you brand it, you could offer coupons for it – all in the way of a B2B networking agreement.

One principle of metaphysics that applies directly to the Internet is that everything is interconnected.  A LINK IS A LINK – whether physical or virtual.  Consider that most companies add their company web site URL to most of their stationery, invoices, customer and business correspondence.  That’s as much a link as any other.

The critical barrier for any business to overcome is to have “something to sell” – a product of some sort.  That product does not necessarily need to be your own.  Consider that most companies hire their own marketing and sales teams – and frequently pay them commissions.   That’s the principle involved.

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I’m looking for one volunteer for an informal marketing project. Candidates need to meet a few basic requirements:

  • Are you a mobile developer with at least one app available through Opera Mobile Store?
  • Are you willing to talk about your current marketing efforts, even if none?
  • Would you be willing to share the results the results from this project?

Any information shared will be kept between you, me and Opera Mobile Store. I am looking for one developer with a worthy app “now”, but anticipate needing three developers over the next few months. The first developer will be selected May 26, 2014, from all who express an interest. You will be notified of your acceptance for this project, either way.

The Mobile App Marketing Audit and Incubation Project

This is intended as a completely informal effort on my part on a free, no-commission basis, to apply the advice from this blog to your app. The project consists of two phases likely to run over 60 days with a brief follow-up after 90 and 180 days. The first phase involves an “audit” of all of your current marketing activities, comparing everything that you are doing with everything that you could do. Are you advertising? Where? What stores are you on? Do you have a web site? How actively do you network? What kind of results are you getting and what kind of results are you expecting? These and more will be examined.

The second phase is purely optional on a line item basis, and entails my helping you (for free) with implementing items detailed above. Consider this part consultation, part training, part design or content development and/or networking. I have a heavy orientation to bootstrapping, which aims to keep costs to near-zero. However, if one of the recommendations you like is to set up a web site, that you don’t have already, then you will take on the cost of doing so.

My interest is to see how these things impact your core objectives – whether based upon revenue, number of end-users, or other objectives you may have.

I won’t be trying to sell you anything. That’s a promise.

Much of this involves getting to see better the specific challenges developers have in all aspects of marketing, not just advertising.

If this sounds of interest to you, please contact me (Mark) via our contact form. Please include the URL of your app on Opera Mobile Store, best method of contacting you (Email, phone, skype) and what time zone you are in.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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To conclude this week on wargames, I would like to unveil a project that has consumed my spare time for the past seven years. It does not involve mobile, but there are parallels both to the mobile app marketing side and it includes many of the same kind of design decisions that go into all kinds of different games regardless of platform. I have no financial stake in this project, it has been a “labor of love”.

The project makes use of Norm Koger’s “The Operational Art of War”, (TOAW) formerly produced by Talonsoft, now available through Matrix Games with continued development by Ralph Trickey. TOAW is a wargame platform driven in large part by end-user created content (scenarios). TOAW was released in 1998 and retains a core of dedicated users. It has received numerous improvements and continues to be developed. My project has not been published yet pending further adjustment so the TOAW platform. However, it is effectively complete.

Entitled “Into Darkness: Europe 1939-1945″ – it uses this map at a 15 kilometer per hex scale. There is more to the map, it’s been cropped to show the main operational areas. It was designed from scratch, one hex at a time. The red box highlights Sicily which is shown in greater detail on the right, below. Total operational area spans over 400 x 400 hexes – 160,000 hexes where “World in Flames” spans 300 x 300, or 90,000 hexes. Printed, the map would be over 12 square feet.

bigmap2 Sicily

The game includes approximately 3,000 Axis and nearly 5,000 Allied units from all of the countries that participated in World War II’s European Theater. Units are predominantly division level, but also includes corps level units of the Soviet Union, brigades, regiments, air groups, naval squadrons, merchant convoys, and the like. All units include a composite of their historical “tables of organization and equipment” (TO&E’s) down to the individual squad, vehicle and heavy weapon with historical production rates of each.

It is worth pointing out that ALL of this information was acquired through sources available on the Internet.

UnitDetailThis is of special interest in consideration that virtually all of the wargames up through the late 1990’s tended to represent units in a very abstract fashion. An infantry division might be represented as a simple “3-3″ applying to a movement, attack and defense strength of “3”. In those games, an infantry division was either at full strength or it was destroyed. In this game, the detail is greater by two orders of magnitude (literally) – as a unit will take casualties and receive replacements on a line item basis.

The last major component to designing this game or scenario, involved defining “events” – declarations of war, when countries surrender, exceptional weather conditions, effects of strategic warfare, etc. Originally, only 500 instructions could be defined. This was increased to 1,000 and now indications are that up to 10,000 instructions can be defined. About 3,500 lines have been used in this project. The instructions do not involve a programming language per se, but a detailed set of what equates to IF/THEN statements.

The Target Audience? This is the kind of game that only appeals to hardcore wargamers, some historians and academics. It plays out over 300 Turns — where each Turn is likely to average a full 90 minutes. The full game is expected to involve about 500 HOURS of play – likely over about 2 years for the average player through play by email.

This is not the largest wargame, but it should easily find its place in the Top 5 ever produced. Another team of developers is working on a project spanning the Eastern Front of World War II on a Regimental Scale.

The main factor though, is that I didn’t design this game with the intention of commercially distributing it, so much as I wanted to make the game “I always wanted to play” – and that other hardcore wargamers have expressed an interest in.

The Original Intention was to include the entirety of World War II, to include Burma, China and the Pacific Theaters. It became clear, however, that would involve an excessive investment of time and resources. As it stands, this project is the culmination of about 4,000 hours of research, development and testing. That can be pursued as an expansion at a later date.

Design Note: This is a consideration that many developers are likely to run into at some point. Your idea for a project may be overly ambitious – you might want to present everything all at once, but is that necessarily wise? What if, when some popular MMO’s came out they released everything at once? Well, in the case of World of Warcraft, as just one example, that would have precluded sales on several expansions — the original level cap was at 40, then went to 60, 70, 80, 85 and 90. I stopped tracking WOW after 90.

Similar considerations apply in all areas of app development, business development and even funding. Aim to do what you know you can achieve – and gradually build on it.

What makes it unique? Sheer size, detail, complexity coupled with ease of play, with a sandbox component allowing for about 40 historical variations.

There are numerous games which model World War II in Europe at larger scales — Corps or Army level and 25, 50 or 100 kilometers per hex. Many games tend to focus on one theater of operations – the Eastern Front, the Western Front, the Mediterranean. The level of complexity becomes far greater when “everything” is represented.

Making Complex Things Simple. This is the main task of a designer. Before the computer, players had rule sets and they had to calculate everything in the game according to those rules. That can take huge amounts of time. Figure an “encounter” in Diablo might take seconds to resolve – the same battle using pen and paper play could take hours.

Most players don’t want to spend time on tutorials or instructions. If you don’t believe, watch the Help Chat Channel on any MMO out there. But the same extends to other types of games. People want to pick up a game and intuitively understand what they need to do to play – learning details as they go.

Simplify, simplify and simplify some more. If you can keep the vast majority of the game play easy for the player, they won’t mind one or two components that are somewhat more complex. This is also important for playtesting. If you have lots of situations that require multivariate testing, your test time increases dramatically. Sticking to A or B, and sometimes C, is a lot easier to test.

End User Generated Content. I’ve noted on several occasions that there is a growing trend by game developers to want to actively tap into the unbound design potential of their end users — i.e. customers. I know of numerous people who design simply because they enjoy it, but there are limitations to that. Some excellent designers stopped designing because they were provided no incentive to do so.

If I had applied the 4,000 hours I’ve spent on this project on anything else, I could buy a house. I enjoy the game THAT MUCH. While that’s what I am willing to do “for free”, I can’t imagine committing another 2,000 hours expanding the project for a simple “fuzzy-feel-good feeling”.

If you go the route of accepting end-user content, provide some incentives. A little bit goes a long way.

There is more to design than just being able to monetize it. Getting published is an achievement unto itself. It is not always possible to monetize everything, but that does not preclude you from using it as a “foot in the door” for other projects; use it as the basis for networking; or as a “loss leader” for something similar that you do intend to market.

What I have to say about this project is that it has been hugely educational. It spawned lots of very interesting and bizarre questions.

  • Why was Baku the primary objective of the Axis in Case Blue? How much oil was there? Could Germany have made use of it if they got there? — What octane levels were used to fuel WWII vehicles? What was the drill depth for reaching oil? How difficult is it to refine Oil?
  • How many ships were sunk by u-boats? How much could one ship carry? How many ships were there? How long did it take them to transit from North America to Europe? What protection did they have? etc.
  • Russia move a lot of their factories from Western Russia to the Urals — so how many freight cars does it take to move a factory? How many cars did they have? If a factory was lost, what was the impact? How much did movement of a factory impact production?

That’s the short list — and I have to reiterate again that ALL of this information is available online. The amount of detail available for just about anything is enough to formulate the basis for “simple equations” that you can model fairly easily.

Perfectionism. A lot of projects are started but never get finished because of the tendency of some developers to be perfectionists. My game is not perfect, but it is finished. I would like for it to be perfect, but that would require a lifetime. The whole intention of making it was to be able to play it, in this lifetime. Be pragmatic.

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Picking up from Monday, the practical fact for game designers is that there is a vast history of ideas and designs to draw upon.  With Wargames, every era of warfare is amply covered and span easy to play games to games with over 600 pages of rules.  These are all ideas and components that you can use when creating your games.

Panzer_GeneralPanzer General, produced by SSI in 1994, can be regarded as one of, possible THE most successful computer wargame to date.  It went on to spawn Allied General, Fantasy General, Star General, Panzer General II, and more.  It was easy to play, intuitive, had a decent “computer opponent” – suited perfectly for the mass market.   Twenty years later, it still has a loyal fan base along with a number of Open Source projects of a similar nature.  Slitherine’s Panzer Corps has been touted as the spiritual successor of Panzer General, adding enhancements from later versions, better graphics, and has been made available for the iPad.

Dozens of other games deserve mention like Campaign Series with East Front, Decisive Battles, Gary Grigsby’s War in the East, etc.  There are the various Real Time Simulators such as Dune II, Command and Conquer, Age of Empires with Hearts of Iron 1-3 and Europa Universalis (among others) as hybrids of a sort.  Add to this the First Person Shooters like Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, Medal of Honor, World of Tanks, etc.  Add tactical operations games like X-Com, Jagged Alliance, the Tom Clancy series, and others.  There are games for every scale – from the individual soldier up to all of the units in an entire war.

This is a quick fast forward of almost two decades of computer wargames leading us into the era of mobile wargames.  Not all of the PC-based wargames created are made to fit mobile.   Screen size is a major obstacle to overcome.  One day screen-size will be solved – and our definitions of Mobile vs. PC will change dramatically as a consequence.

AmericasArmyRealism is increasing – from near real-life graphics to modeling physics, better modeling of weapons, better handling of command and control, line of sight, supply and logistical components.   The difference between “war games” and “real war” is decreasing steadily in every regard except lethality.

The United States Army created its own game, America’s Army, as a recruiting and training tool.  From discussions I’ve had with others in both civilian and military education programs on LinkedIn, there is an interest for apps/games/utilities that can be useful for military training, instruction, decision-making tools, etc.  Military, military academies, potentially even paintball and laser tag parks represent another market beyond regular gamers.

Wargame Design Tips for Mobile:

  1. Computer Opponent – Call it the AI or an “programmed opponent”, a poor computer opponent is most often the #1 reason why people stop playing what is otherwise a great game.  “Empire of the Fading Suns” is one case in point, well ahead of its time in concept, complexity and sandbox-ness, this true futuristic, strategic space-land wargame had all of the design elements of the day to make it “totally awesome”.  The computer opponent was practically a pacifist and games would play out for potentially hundreds of turns making play by email impractical.  That’s by no means the only game with a bad AI, it just goes to show how perfect a game could be, but fail on this one thing… and be a total disappointment.  The more time you spend developing a solid AI, the more you and your players will be rewarded.
  2. Simplify the Interface.   Some wargames are notorious for having too many buttons to try to account for the whole “rule set”.  Simplify, simply and simplify some more.  The common denominator for almost all wargames involve movement and attacking – that’s likely to be the majority of the game play.  By keeping that very easy, you can introduce additional complexity in other portions of the game – where players can select their load out, production orders, upgrade paths, and other options.
  3. World_of_TanksBreak-up the Monotony.   Almost every wargame leads to a measure of monotony… move and attack, move and shoot some more.   Periodically, but with fair frequency, you want to let players make more important decisions – as noted above, with load outs, production orders, upgrades.  MMORPG’s and World of Tanks do a really good job of this.   It can apply to any game scale – FPS, Tactical, Operational or Strategic.  By breaking up monotony, you increase replay value.
  4. Lots of Equipment Upgrades.  Again, MMO’s have this down as an art and science – with upgrades coming from a variety of different sources — warbooty directly from the battlefield, crafting, special rewards from factions, items that can only be purchased, hybrid crafting from the likes of Star Wars the Old Republic, Diablo, Path of Exile, Torchlight, etc.   The idea is for there to always be something “better” – even if it situation specific.
  5. Economy.    Perhaps the hardest to implement and properly balance – there needs to be a limit, and a few special ways of being able to exceed the limit.  However you define it — by points, by number of units, by command ratings, or even by supply, players should never feel as if they have unlimited resources.   Emphasis is placed on the particular combination of resources, a matter of quality, quantity and specialized functions.  Keeping the feeling of “always wanting, but not necessarily really needing more”  alive in your game is critical to keeping it a challenge.

These are all relative to your game concept.  People stopped playing Space Invaders a few years ago because of the monotony.  Other games offered less monotony.

If you can achieve these five things, I’d really like to see it and I imagine many other players would, too.  This is not all specific to wargames, functionally the same extends equally to Monopoly or Mario Brothers, Angry Birds and many, many other games.   The aim is to look at what makes all of the games that we really like, “FUN”.

On Friday, I’ll present the mammoth World War II Project that I’ve been working on for the past seven years that is now in its final stages of playtesting.

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ArmyMenVictory in Europe Day just past by a few days ago.   I am also closing in on completing the 2nd phase of testing on a World War II project that has consumed over 4,000 hours of work since 2007.   This week, we’ll spend some time looking at how this segment of games has developed over the years, to what it is  today, and what might go into defining it for tomorrow?   A lot of what goes into wargames goes into a lot of other types of games, too – as we will see soon.

Army Men – These guys simply never go away.  They didn’t do anything until they were placed under the command of the the imagination of 8-year old generals.   In my neighborhood, we would set them up mainly because they “looked cool” and then proceed to knock them down – by throwing things at them.  Dirt, rocks… furniture, while providing our own sound effects, “Boom– datta-datta-shew-bang…”  The rules were…  Well, I don’t remember any… 

Army Men live on in their own PC games now – with much improved special effects.

Greek SpearmenTable Top Miniatures – An important part in the evolution of wargaming, this is “Army Men with Rules!”   Whether medieval or fantasy, modern or futuristic, you will find the “Art of Table Top Wargaming” alive and well today – and with multiple spin-offs.   The original medieval rules for tabletop medieval wargaming led to the formation of the Chainmail rule set for fantasy wargaming leading further under Gary Gygax to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons.Space_Marine_Army

This can be a very expensive hobby as the figurines are usually made of metal and come unpainted.  When I talk about the Art of Table Top Wargaming – it is that, and more.   Tabletop Wargamers take great pride in the intricacy of their paint jobs whether they are painting Leopard III tanks, Greek Spearmen, Goliath Mechs or Skaven Plaguebringers.  All versions have their own rule sets and game play takes place with the use of a ruler – to determine movement, and dice – to decide combat.   While many scenarios are based upon historical battles, there is always the option to pit one “army build vs. another” using point buy systems.

WarhammerWarhammer on the fantasy side and Warhammer 40k on the futuristic-fantasy side are both table top games that have resulted in a string of PC games, and the late Warhammer Online MMORPG.  If not for the Warhammer Universe, we would not have had World of Warcraft – at least not as we know it.

Leastwise, most of what we know of wargaming today extends from Table Top wargaming — from unit attributes such as Attack and Defense Strengths, to unit upgrades, Heroes and personal attributes.   All of today’s computer and most mobile games take these into consideration.  Lately, some games are getting into the artwork side of it by letting players “dye” their own armor, in addition to having different sets of armor.   The art itself is awesome.   For many fantasy and medieval wargames , developers still have ample room to expand upon the customization of uniforms and flags.

100px-World_In_FlamesBoard Games - Back in the 1970’s, Avalon Hill was one of the big publishers of boxed set wargames including Squad Leader, Panzer Blitz, Tobruk, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich, and countless others.  Their take on wargames simplified the set up of games so that you could play them on your kitchen table.  They included cardboard maps, dice and unit counters in place of miniatures — generally using NATO unit symbols to identify infantry, armor, cavalry and artillery units.    Axis and Allies is a very popular “beer and pretzels” type game emerging from this form.  Many of these games did make their way to a computerized version, albeit with varying degrees of success.

The PROBLEM with most of the above types of games was that — they did take up the kitchen table, or in the case of Australian Design Group’s “World in Flames” – the entire room.   Ideally, many of these games would be played by at least 2 and as many as 6 players.  Simply finding other players was not easy.  Plus, many of these games would involve weeks, months and in some cases, years to finish – as people could meet over the weekends or holidays.

The following video goes to show just how much space a game like this could take up.  For those still playing “old school” (as this fellow from Norway is doing), this video shows a solution to the “Earthquake of Doom”.

Meanwhile, and though it took 10 years to do, World in Flames has been made into a computer game itself, produced by MatrixGames.com.  Unfortunately, it does not have a “playable opponent” or “AI” – you can either play solo, hotseat, or play by email.

As I am about to wrap up this first segment (more on Wednesday), this all goes to point out to mobile app developers, particularly of strategy games that they have all kinds of examples, resources and themes to serve as creative inspiration.   I can’t say that I’ve played every game – not nearly, but I’ve played a lot of them and in just about every format.

Computer and mobile games solve a lot of the difficulties we had just a few decades ago.   Games take up a lot less space, they are faster to play, and it is easier to find opponents online.  There are still problems to solve, lots of creative depth yet to explore.   Wednesday or perhaps Friday, I will unveil a project that has consumed over 4,000 hours of development over the past 7 years.  We’ll see…

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Crowdfunding is one good alternative for developers to help fund a new app.   We covered crowdfunding for mobile apps briefly, but I’d like to focus on crowdfunding prizes.   There are a lot of truly lame prizes out there.  In example, “If you contribute $20 to this app project, you will get the app for free when it is released!”  Really?   That doesn’t sound free to me!

A crowdfunding project is a major endeavor – if you approach it as anything less than an all-out effort to secure the funding you need, you will come up short.  The first thing to understand about crowdfunding projects is that the funds contributed to the majority of projects come from the people closest to you – friends and family, people you know and people who know you.  Truly successful projects reach well beyond your first social circle and offer “prizes” with more than sentimental value.

Your goals in selecting prizes to award to your contributors are:

  1. Offer something of tangible value
  2. Reach all funding tiers (low $1 – 25, medium $50 – 250, and high $251+)
  3. Reach and appeal to as many people as possible
  4. Be cost effective
  5. Require minimal administrative overhead
  6. Relevant to your project

With these objectives in mind, consider the following five prizes for your next crowdfunding project:

1.  $1.00 – Beta Tester (Limit 100) – Releasing a high quality app free of bugs will depend upon your ability to have your app tested across a variety of platforms and/or devices.   Beta testers can help not just in the testing, but in raising publicity for your app.  The more people you have talking about your app, the more likely it is to succeed.  Early on, getting more people interested in your project is probably even more important than money.

Beta Testers feel a sense of pride and ownership in contributing to the success of an app.   Get as many beta testers as you can support – perhaps limit this to the first 100 contributors.  This helps increase your contributor count and instills a sense of urgency in getting in early.   If Beta Testers like what they see, they are likely to upgrade their contribution.  If you are feeling generous, you might provide your $1.00 beta testers a copy of the final product, too.

2.  $5.00 or $10.00 – Beta Plus –   This is really your “first tier” contribution objective.   Where the first $1.00 aims at getting people interested in your project, this starts aiming at raising the revenue you will need.  It is still in the “low tier” of affordability, this helps you attract even more people and possibly upgrades from your $1.00 contributor group.  Your goal is still getting more people interested in your project.  People’s interest trumps everything else when seeking funding.

3. $25.00  - Beta Plus Gift Copies - The contributor gets everything above, but also gets two gift codes that they can give to their friends or family, letting them get copies of your apps when it is officially released.  Again, you are expanding your user base while increasing your funding potential.   You can increase the number of gift codes and increase or decrease the contribution level as you see fit.

4.  $50 – Name an Item - Pure vanity coupled with some creative input, though probably most suitable for games where you can allow for “fluff” – like “Billy-Bob’s Rawhide Gloves” or “LuLu’s Luv Potion #9″.     Obviously, this goes hand in hand with giving the contributor beta access and a copy of the final release.   You can also set a limit on the number of slots allowed for this prize package.

5.  $250 – App Promoter (Limit 10) – The aim of this contribution level is to attract businesses, organizations or groups to help promote your app to their employees, members or subscribers.   The associated prizes would include 10 to 25 free gift codes plus the ability to offer unlimited 25% discounts to your app on specific stores where your app will be available for regular purchase.   Add to this package a small graphic that they can place on their site designating them as a special contributor of your app.

It is one thing to have people talking about you, it is another for the owners and leaders of businesses and groups to promote your app to their employees, group members, subscribers, etc.   Concurrently, the ability of an organization to provide a free app or even a discount adds to the value of their organization.

The recurring theme is to get as many people involved with and talking about your app as possible.  Your crowdfunding project should aim, at a minimum, of helping you break even, potentially make a profit on your app development.

A crowdfunding project is a major undertaking, suffice that you have numerous options on platforms, terms of the project and what you can offer your contributors.   Why not use your project to reach as many people as you can right off the bat?

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The infographic above illustrates that while subscription-based revenue for mobile apps is in the minority, it is better than 2.5x more effective than ad-based revenue models.   Forbes Digital Commerce enables mobile app developers to