Opera Subscription Store – Marketing Strategy and Notes

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…

Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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