Monday 4 July 2011

MomoLondon: Developer Economics Report 2011

This week’s Mobile Monday was focussed around the Vision Mobile Developer Economics Report 2011. It’s a great report — just like last year. A brilliant idea from BlueVia to open up their research and very well executed by Vision Mobile.

It was a good panel too — with Simon Walker providing the stats on the past and a balance of present and future from the three others.

Summary of the Developer Economics Report 2011

Presented by Eli Camillieri @visionmobile

  • interviewed over 900 developers worldwide
  • also interviewed brands as to what they wanted
  • mobile web accelerating into third position after Android then iOS
    • overtaken JavaME, Symbian and Blackberry since last year
  • Windows Phone 7 not in second place but people want to develop on it
  • Symbian & JavaME now completely out of the equation
  • Talking about addressable market: put the app in front of people who will use it and continue using it
  • iOS still leads for monetisation, but mobile web has the least broken expectations
  • Over 20% of JavaME and Blackberry developers building over 10 versions of each app
  • Brands journey through mobile from iOS, through Android to mobile web (then eventually to all mobile)
    • but most organisations are still on the first step and just about taking the second…


Chaired by Eli Camillieri of Vision Mobile.

  • Simon Davies, ex-Snaptu @simonmd
    • taking smart-ish apps to developing markets
    • Snaptu sold to Facebook in April
  • Simon Walker, ComScore @comscoreEMEA
    • 48.5 million used a mobile phone to do something
    • 23 million people downloaded an app
  • Chad Cribbins, Sapient Nitro @chadcribbins
  • Tom Hume, Future Platforms @twhume
    • 100K downloads for Orange Glastonbury app
    • work across pretty much any platform that’s out there (and quite a few that aren’t yet)

Native vs web

  • CC: lots of work to start across all platforms
    • if there’s something that you can do that accesses the device itself, then go for native, otherwise go for mobile web
  • TH: there’s an awful lot of wishful thinking in the industry
    • expectations of performance are being driven by native
    • the web doesn’t offer that yet
    • in fact, native will always be better
    • so web technologies will always be slightly behind what the user expects
  • SW: bank usage:
    • only 500K browsed Lloyds site on mobile web last year and raised only slightly this year
    • NatWest mobile web 250K last year, 495K this year; 470K app usage this year catching up fast

Commercials: which are the most successful models?

  • SD: last thing to arrive in a marketplace is revenue
    • setting out to build a business at the immature stage: either have a very clear idea of business model, or else aim for selling the business
  • TH: Orange (Glasto) & BBC apps about marketing and exposure, not about making a return
  • CC: banks going after a more connected service — trying to avoid churn
    • cf. autotrader app about capturing number plates and going straight to sales
  • SW: in Europe 72% of mobile users don’t use an app at all
  • EC: unless some fail, we won’t see innovation

Localisation — are developers looking at a local level?

  • SD: at this stage of the marketplace you really do need to be as global as you can
  • TH: most localisation-driven apps at FP have been OEM ones — wanting to launch worldwide
  • TH: UK is well ahead of rest of Europe in smartphone Europe
    • so deal with UK first since you will get best returns and then attack rest of Europe

Importance of the social curve

  • SW: Facebook April 2011: 3.6 billion minutes on mobile
    • May 2010 8.2 million browser / 2.4 million app
    • May 2011 10 million browser / 9 million app
  • TH: can’t remember the last time we got a briefing that didn’t include sharing with Facebook or Twitter — it’s just a standard part of apps these days

Are app stores declining? How do people find apps?

  • EC: traffic to and from app stores will continue to increase, BUT brands are now driving the apps themselves directly (rather than people just browsing the app stores themselves)
  • SD: app stores are just a place to discover apps — in the beginning the only place
  • SW: most people accessing app stores from device rather than PC
    • data is more expensive in Europe
  • EC: Current app stores could be supermarkets

Economics: earning an income from apps

  • EC: How do you bring an app to market?
    • How come there aren’t that many marketing people in app companies?
    • App stores give you no idea who’s buying your app…
    • Need to marry technical with marketing & commercial
    • North America doing better at that than Europe
    • Techies understanding who they need to partner with
  • TH: difficult to find good people, especially speculatively
  • SD: met his technical partner at a barbecue :-)

Are people leaving the market if it’s such a tough gig?

  • EC: just because you’re not making enough money, doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop
    • e.g I’m sure many musicians are unsatisfied with the amount of money they are making
  • TH: we’ve just been on the Apprentice — in the public perception, this is a really hot space to be
  • SD: Dragon’s Den — should just create an app to give advice to entrepreneurs

How do I find an app?

  • SD: usual channels — community, press, word of mouth
    • that process has just started
  • SW: most people now just expect an app for something
    • adverts focussing on 13-25 year old audience just don’t have mobile presence

What aspects make you prick your ears of app ideas?

  • Liz Myers thinks 3 main needs of the user: microtasking, bored, local (from Tapworthy)

Correlation between marketing spend and success?

  • CC: over a long haul it’s the user experience

Mobile cannibalising a lot of other channels — where is it going?

  • SW: big shake up coming in the next year to 18 months
    • “it’s all going to the cloud”
    • should start taking points from 3-5 years ago from web to our advantage
  • SD: lots of things happening with mobile experience happening in parallel (e.g. lots of people watching a TV programme and doing something on their mobile at the same time)
    • Indonesia — more mobiles than TVs
    • Google, Facebook have the users and will pay for content
    • TV programming for mobile
  • TH: the ad-contrarian debunking idea that people have stopped watching TV
    • mobile will be the primary way of going online

Best and worst bits of the report?

  • TH: surprised at commercial performance of JavaME
    • better than Symbian and Android
    • very low value on pre-loading applications
    • would have expected to have seen many more pre-installed apps
  • SD: Qt — although Nokia sinking, it will have such a huge oil-tanker like effect…
    • Windows Phone 7 “interesting” but not being used
    • Very difficult to hire Android developers at the moment
  • EC: surprised how many developer were working on multiple platforms
    • if Android in such demand would expect to see people focussing on it
  • SW: Microsoft grew by 93% but still only 3%…

Is enthusiasm for Windows Phone 7 just for another platform to port to?

  • EC: actually talking about B2B opportunities
  • CC: heard similar
  • TH: Windows Phone 7 will be hard to do in HTML5
    • Nokia know a thing or two about getting hardware out there

Papaya mobile: JavaME money being made by people who did fragmentation solutions

HTML5 vs apps again…

  • CC: Google have done Lego Star Wars in HTML5 — it’s powerful enough!
  • SW: As a user, I don’t care where it comes from
  • SD: remove the URL bar and you’re on your way
    • excited by Android on MTK devices
    • common denominator will be Android
    • will therefore be HTML5 compatible

Concluding remarks

  • SD: do not drop your iPhone in a lock near St Ives!
  • SW: 90% Apple devices use apps vs much lower Symbian
    • cf market coverage: 3.9% Apple; 15% Symbian
  • TH: discovery is not a new problem
    • in 1st century AD, Seneca complained that “the abundance of books is a distraction”…
  • EC: when my mum, on her own, tells my dad which app to download, then we’ve hit the mass market!


  • Next momolo probably in September
  • Over The Air 2011: 30th September & 1st October at Bletchley Park
    • looking for sessions, speakers, sponsors

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