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State of the European Mobile App Nation - Part I

The United States tends to regard Europe as being on the cutting edge of technology trends. So it stands to reason that you might assume that the European Union (EU) would be ahead of the game when it comes to mobile app production. However, you’d be wrong about that. While the global app economy boasts a healthy 27% annual growth rate, app production in the EU lags behind, with an annual growth rate of merely 12%. A large contributor to this somewhat disappointing annual growth includes the more significant language and cultural barriers to accommodate than other regional markets. These barriers make local partnerships vital to developers in this area.

Despite this low annual growth, Apple has reportedly added more than 500,000 (629,000 to be exact) app-related jobs. This would account for 50% of all app-related jobs in the EU. It’s a bit confusing when you consider that iOS isn’t even the most widely used platform. Android currently dominates with approximately 70% of the market, with iOS coming in at only 51% worldwide. Some of this may be attributable to Apple’s more regulated process for joining their app store, which potentially makes a larger workforce of app developers a requirement.

Certainly, the EU can take action to accelerate its annual growth to match or surpass other regional markets. Tax rules and incentives need to be streamlined, labor laws must be amended to make hiring foreign talent easier, and incentives need to be created that would help alleviate high risk startup investment. In this regard they can follow the lead of countries like Germany and France, which have already made some progress with these types of solutions. With some smart policy changes and creative actions, the EU can forge ahead and join the ranks of regional leaders in mobile app growth and development.


Sharks in the Startup Acquisition Waters

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

Occupy Apple App Store & Google Play - Part II

We’ve already discussed the presence of a wealth gap in the mobile app industry. It has slowly become an industry bubble similar to the gold rush of the 1850’s or the .com madhouse of the 1990’s. History has shown that these bubbles eventually burst, but what does that mean for mobile developers? What can OTT providers do to stay relevant and profitable?

Occupy quote

1. Increasing monetization of apps, especially free ones. Increasing opportunities for revenue from apps with premium versions or paid upgrades would help boost revenues. This requires developers to embrace even more of the bootstrap mentality the industry already cultivates. Freemium is a popular model to give customers a taste (a really good taste) of what an app can do for them, before hitting them up to pay for a premium version.  A common mistake here is to make the free version so stripped-down that it becomes useless, and then there is no incentive to upgrade. The best freemium models create such value in the free version that customers will absolutely pay for more. Advertising-supported apps are great, but then an app developer is in the business of selling ads. But this does provide a secondary revenue stream of allowing customers to pay to remove the ads. Developers need to find the monetization strategy that works best for the kind of services they provide, and be sure that the model works with the customer base they are targeting.

2. App distributors working to increase developer revenue. If companies like Google and Apple, who control much of the opportunity app developers have to get in front of customers, worked towards increasing factors that directly contribute to money in the developer’s pocket, this would help to equalize the amount of revenue per download across industry-standard platforms. However, this would be dependent on giant companies working to help out the little guy, something not impossible, but unlikely.

3. Developers and Operators developing relationships. This is happening in the industry already, to some extent. Mobile App Company X makes friends with Operator Y and they will pay to use their service for the subscriber base. However, even if an OTT provider is lucky enough to land a deal with a carrier, the carrier often white labels services, removing the third party branding. There is an untapped opportunity, however, to work together to improve the entire value chain for the end user – the carriers’ subscribers.  There are benefits for both sides from working together to increase revenues and profits. Instead of staying in their silos, considering their one part of the industries, they can work together to increase value and revenue for all parties.

How can carriers take part in the revenue stream that OTT players are creating? How can OTT providers capitalize on industry opportunities by working with carriers without having to sacrifice brand recognition? These are the precise problems Shango is working to solve, and we will be exploring much more on this topic in future blogs.


The Haps with Mobile Apps

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

Occupy Apple App Store & Google Play - Part I

Making a profit from a painstakingly built app is a split game these days. The current market is reminiscent of the often-discussed wealth gap in America. According to a new report, a very small percentage of developers are making most of the profit, while others remain below the app profit poverty line or worse. Many people believe that the market can’t sustain much longer under this amount strain.

VisionMobile’s latest Developer Economics report notes that only 22% of app developers earn as much as $100-$1,000 per app per month. That means that almost a quarter of the entire app developer population is below the so-called poverty line. It is increasingly apparent that these conditions are unsustainable, especially considering salaries for an average group size of 3 developers in this revenue band. However, this group is still better off than some.

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A full 24% of all app developers earn nothing at all for their apps each month, while 23% earn less than $100 a month per app. Variations in revenue for these app developers also vary according to favored platform: those that prioritize iOS development are 14% more likely to exceed the $100 per app per month threshold. While this statistical group tends to be comprised of hobbyists and explorers, more than half of them indicate they still would like to make revenue from their ventures.

The “one percent” of the app developer industry taking home the lion’s share of the profits is actually 12%, with this portion making more than $10k per app per month. Again, the issue of a platform bias appears, with 17% of this group being iOS-focused and only 9% being Android-focused. So what does this mean for the current state of app development? Clearly, changes need to happen for the industry to continue its growth, or most of these poverty-stricken developers will seek more promising opportunities. How can the telecom industry as a whole transform to better accommodate app developers and help small ventures to gain subscribers and revenue? Look for these answers and more in part 2 of this blog series on August 12th.


Telephone Number Trivia

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

Wherefore the Wearable Apps?

The first generation of wearable technology is slowly making its move from fantasy to reality. On the way home the other day I saw a guy on a bike wearing Google Glass, and was reminded that they are now ubiquitous enough that a local movie theater in Austin has already famously banned wearing them once the lights dim. Android watches are already available in two varieties: the LG G watch and Samsung Gear Live. As the number of these devices grows, so does the functionality of their technology.

With your Andriod watch, you already have the ability to swipe through notifications on your wrist and access Google search with voice commands, which is amazing on its own. But an even more transformational capability is on the rise: app integration. Now, there aren’t yet a ton of apps available, but the number is growing quickly as existing apps slowly integrate wearable functionality. Some apps are further along functionally than others. For example, on your Android watch you can favorite a tweet, but you’d better be ready to grab your phone to compose one. So, if you own an Android watch, what are some of the apps you should be downloading right now? I’m glad you asked. Here is just a small selection of some of the great apps already available:

  • Evernote Wear/Google Keep: Dictate notes from your wrist, compose to-do lists and check off completed tasks. While Evernote Wear has deeper functionality, Google Keep is a great alternative for people who aren’t Evernote users.
  • Lyft: Look at your watch and say, “OK, Google, call me a car.” Boom, ride summoned to your exact location using GPS. Just look out for the Delorean with all this futuristic action happening.
  • Eat24: Order food. From your wrist. That’s right, you just read that.
  • RunKeeper/Runtastic: Start tracking your run with a simple voice command and see detailed results afterwards. Just don’t leave your phone at home quite yet, keep it on you for full app functionality.
  • DuoLingo: There’s no sweet voice action attached to this app, but you can create language flash cards and kill time learning how to say, “Trust me baby” in 12 different languages.
  • Fly Delta: Board your flight with the flick of a wrist; this app will load your boarding pass onto your watch once you’ve checked in for your flight.
  • Hue Control: If you own a set of Philips Hue lights, there’s an app that will let you control them from your phone. Never walk into a dark house again. Or buy a set for your neighbor and freak them out by turning them on and off from the comfort of your front porch.
  • 1Weather: Get detailed weather forecasts on your watch, see multi day forecasts and notifications without ever having to touch your phone.
  • Level Money: This will show you your last transaction in a connected account, as well as how much is remaining of your budgeted spending cash.

So keep talking to your wrist America, and I promise one day it won’t automatically make me think of this. And keep waiting for the day when the technology will be completely embedded, and we can speak to our actual wrist, instead of a device we wear on top of it. I’m betting that day is not as far off as you might think!

Germany's Telecom Market

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

The Life and Death of the Analog Telephone

Phones seem so simple these day; mine even unlocks with just a simple scan of my fingerprint. But I promise you they are far more complicated than they appear. Behind that thing attached to your phone (you know, your phone number) is some form of communication service. There are two main types of phone communication services: analog and digital. Over the past several decades, the industry has slowly been shifting towards digital, making the analog service an endangered species of sorts. Our friends over at Software Advice have made a fantastic infographic detailing the rise and fall of analog phone service.

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Artist credit: Craig Borowski and the team at Software Advice.

View original, full-size image here.

American Cell Phone Use

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