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Thursday, July 7, 2011

The changing face of app stores

Mark Bridge writes:

When applications first hit the headlines, there were many stories about developers making small fortunes just from selling applications. Now there’s much more focus on promoting the app.

To understand what’s changed - and to discover how developers get their apps noticed inside ever-expanding app stores - I spoke to Carsten Frien. He’s CEO & co-founder of mobile advertising marketplace madvertise, a company that’s based in Germany and has recently opened an office in the UK.

Carsten explained there was a very straightforward reason for this new focus on promotion.

“We believe that the focus has changed because the advertising-funded model is more sustainable and is generating higher revenues for the application developers, and so they have switched from a paid-for application model to the free-to-the-end-consumer ad-funded application model”.

But what about application stores themselves?  Will we see them change as well? 

Very probably, suggested Carsten.

“If we go back in time by about 12 to 24 months, the landscape looked significantly different - so I would assume over the next couple of years we’re seeing many changes how app distribution is working. There’s a number of companies who are already trying to cut out app stores and trying to distribute apps directly from their own web sites.”

madvertise brings together advertisers with mobile website owners and application developers. One of its services, KatAPPult, guarantees to get applications in the ‘top 25’ Apple App Store listing. Rather bluntly, I asked Carsten how consumers could trust app stores when the charts can be manipulated.

“If we draw a parallel to Google.com, you have two types of search results. You have the free listings which are driven by the Google index, and you have the paid search results at the top and on the right-hand corner. In the app store you don’t have this distinction between free links and paid-for links. There is no traditional paid-for search model in the app store yet, so the application developer who wants to be in the top 25 has to generate a large amount of downloads in a relatively short period of time. Whatever is popular and downloaded a lot makes it to the top 25 list. I wouldn’t say you can’t trust the top 25 listing; it’s a good reflection of what’s popular in general terms.”

My conversation with Carsten went on to cover the making of a ‘good app’ and the future of mobile advertising. Click here to listen using the built-in player on our website, find our podcasts via RSS or hear the show on iTunes.
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