I recently interviewd Antti Lammi, Founder and Owner of RaceChrono. This is an exciting interview as Antti shares his experinces developing the application and future product roadmap.
1. First, tell me a bit about your company. How long have you been in business? How did you get started in it?
I started writing the RaceChrono software in early 2007. This was just for hobby without much ambition. After some months me and my friend realized there could be business potential, so we founded RaceChrono Oy in early 2008. RaceChrono Oy is currently a small start-up owned and financed by its founders.
2. Talk about RaceChrono and what does it exactly do?
RaceChrono is a GPS based lap timing software. The software gives the user immediate feedback of laps and to provide a way to analyze the laps without transferring any data to a computer. The software is particularly aimed towards recording and analyzing laps in motor sports, but it has also a lot of users for example in down hill skiing, bicycling and horse racing.
RaceChrono is currently available for Symbian (S60 2nd, 3rd and 5th editions) and Windows Mobile phones. We have also plan on doing Windows CE version very soon. Currently we are thinking of Android and Maemo platforms too, but not considering iPhone platform right now as it does not support connections to standard Bluetooth GPS receivers. The internal GPS’s tend not to be sufficient for motorsports use.
The download count from Ovi Store is currently 54,000, and this is even though the application was removed over two weeks as there was some QA confusion over the new version. Last 7 days shows 14,000 downloads, so it seems Ovi Store user base is growing. The total overall download count for RaceChrono is somewhere close to 200 thousand right now.
3. What technology did you use to create your app and why?
RaceChrono is written in C++, and compiles to both Windows and Symbian from same source tree. All the cross platform stuff are written by me, and we are not using any cross platform frameworks. The C++ was chosen only because of personal reasons. I’m not sure if the decision would be different if it was made because of commercial reasons.
4. Are you expected to make additional apps available to the Ovi store?
With this company, RaceChrono Oy, probably not very soon, but we will probably go to Microsoft Marketplace and other application stores.
5. What are some of the things that you would like to see improved in the Ovi store?
Well, what I really would like to see improved is the DRM for the applications distributed trough Ovi Store. I guess the complete solution would require changes to the platform as well, but that cannot be easy to achieve as Ovi Store supports platforms that date to 2005. Also the ‘quality feel’ of the native Ovi Store app needs improving, and the web site search seem not to work for all applications.
6. Since your app is free to download, what is your monetization and marketing strategy?
Good question. For now we have only been focusing on getting a large user base. We will always have free version of RaceChrono like we do now, to keep our users happy, get free publicity and grow our user base. Maybe this could translate to advertising revenue later. Also with the Ovi Store and other application stores appearing, and providing us quite easy route to monetization, we must consider ‘RaceChrono Professional’ with some extra features compared to the current offering.
7. Must have Symbian apps?
RaceChrono, Gravity, PuTTY for S60 Touch and Google Maps.
8. Any tips for other developers that are just starting out on the Ovi platform?
Just go for it. Ovi platform is absolutely the best way to get publicity for your S60 application. Just write a quality app and you will have no big problems having in Ovi Store. Also make sure you support at least all of the following: N95, N97, 5800 and E71!
Mobile Advertising industry has always been of great interest to me and I’ve followed the trend closely. According to a recent report by Juniper Research, Mobile Advertising will reach $5.7bn by 2014. It is obvious that many advertisers are starting to use this medium to reach consumers but there have been questions as whether application developers can make significant revenue from displaying ads within their apps. To find out more about the state of the industry and learn about avilable programs to Symbian Developers, I interviewed Asif Ali President and Co-Founder of ZestADZ, a leading performance based mobile marketing platform.
- First, tell me a bit about your company? How long you’ve been in the business? Private or VC funded?
Mobile-worx is a leading mobile marketing firm. We run ZestADZ – A Leading Performance based mobile ad network with strong presence globally. We currently serve more than 500m ads per month. We’re a privately funded company and in business for more about 3 years now and of that about 2 years in the Ad network business.
- Explain what has changed recently with mobile advertising and how has iphone helped turbocharge the industry?
In most key markets that we work on iPhone growth is slow [comparatively] but has picked up but what we have seen is that mobile Internet services consumption has gone up with the iPhone. The device being highly usable makes it easy for the users to browse the Internet, download apps etc. This in turn has lead to a lot of innovation in the applications space.
- What kind of user interaction and engagement do you currently see with mobile ads?
Mobile ads have higher interaction rates when compared to the online medium. We have measured a CTR of about 0.7% in most markets upto 3% or more in fast growing developing markets. Users are willing to “buy” the solicited services if it has value and a superior ad network that is able to lead the advertiser to the targeted user, delivers great results.
How do click thru rates on mobile devices compare to those online advertising?
Online advertising CTR is lower when compared to mobile advertising CTR simply because mobile is a much more targeted and efficient medium. Though the medium is not as powerful, mobile advertising in general delivers better CTRs as long as several important factors are addressed –placement, creatives, device / carrier / region wise targeting and so on.
- Is there specific demographics that ZestADZ targets?
ZestADZ is a mobile ad network that gets mobile traffic from different channels. These channels represent in turn a particular demographic segment. Advertisers have the choice of choosing channels which include social networks, chat apps, forums, entertainment, downloads etc. We have a wide variety of publishers catering to different demographics.
- What are some of the key features of ZestADZ for developers and advertisers?
· Device manufacturer, country, carrier, channel for highly targeted ad campaigns.
· Self services or completely managed campaigns – advertisers can leverage our experienced campaign management team to extract better ROI for their campaigns. We block non performing publishers, review acquisition costs, tune the campaign creatives etc to generate a better ROI for advertisers.
· Access to Global Inventory – ZestADZ provides access to key global markets
- How many Ovi publishers do you have on your platform and can you share some stat and results?
We are in early stages in being a part of the Ovi community and have about a dozen publishers who use Ovi to sell their apps and monetize it through us. In terms of the numbers the total traffic that they send it us is small at this moment of time. In general, such publishers do see higher CTR’s and significantly higher eCPM when compared to mobile web developers.
- Do you hear any criticism from consumers about having ads on their cell phones?
Since we’re only involved with advertisers and publishers and never with consumers directly, we have not come across any criticism from consumers. Yes the media is generally vary of advertising.
- Any marketing advice for developers that you would like to share?
As the Ovi marketplace gets crowded, it becomes important to have a clear advertising strategy. Having said that, I think that mobile advertising is clearly the most effective way to promote the apps on Ovi.
I would like to add – our ad network has a large segment of its traffic from Nokia / Symbian / Java handsets we can be an important partner to help promote it and subsequently, to monetize it.
Last week, I wrote about Mobile Video Streaming industry and the fact that many start-ups are after this niche and revolutionizing the way mobile media has traditionally worked. One of these companies is Bambuser based out of Sweden. The company was announced as one of the most innovative Internet companies in Sweden and Mans Adler, Founder has been named as 2008 top Internet entrepreneur in the country by the “Internet World” magazine. The company is also nominated for Tech Crunch’s Best Mobile Start up award in Europe. Mans was kind enough to provide oviapplications with firm and well-focused answers to questions I posed to him recently. He can be reached at via email adler [at] bambuser.com or on Twitter.com/Manster.
First, tell me a bit about your company. How long have you been in business? How did you get started in it?
Bambuser was funded back in early 2007, November the same year we launched our service bambuser.com and was first to bring live video from mobile phone to flash on the web.
It all started out as an mission on trying to democratize a technology that earlier only been available for a lucky few, namely the broadcasting buses owned by big broadcasting companies. The possibility stream live video from wherever to whomever gives people an enormous opportunity to share experiences. A long the road we realized that bambuser were much more than simply a broadcasting tool it was a great communication tool that could be used to increase decision-making based on the greater information that video brings than only voice.
Talk about Bambuser and how is it different from other broadcasting services?
The main thing about live mobile video streaming is the LIVE part, which many of our competitors are not so very good at. When something is live you get the opportunity to interact with the person holding the camera, and that is the real magic of live. Going over a couple of seconds in delay you loose that interaction and your technology cannot work a two way communication tool, which has proven essential in many scenarios such as for the rescue service where bambuser is playing a role today.
The difficult part here is that 3G network varies a great deal in bit rate from second to second, bambuser flexible adapts to these fluctuations not by buffering the data but by leaving it behind and in that sense jumping into real time. The data left behind is then upload afterwards and puzzled in at its right place on the time line.
What other apps are you working on and are you expected to make additional apps available to the Ovi store?
At the moment bambuser is our main focus and it is more on bringing the bambuser app to more mobile OS´s. However we are planinng making a viewing app where you can watch other live-streams on your phone.
In what ways do you think Nokia can improve the store?
First of all I think they are doing a great job. It is a natural step for Nokia since we today more and more choose our phones based on which applications it can run.
Since your app is free to download, what is your monetization and marketing strategy? what is going to take to win in this crowded space (mobile applications)?
As I mentioned earlier we are in example working with the rescue service we charge them for using our service. Also a lot of media companies also use our service. We could view this as some sort of robin hood business model, but it works due t the fact that both the rescue service as well as the media companies see the great potential when everyone is ready to broadcast live from the accident scene or the big news scenery.
What other apps do you have on your phone?
Skyfire, best browser especially for watching live bambuser broadcasts.
Google´s app (Search, Maps etc all in one)
Salling Clicker for controlling my mac wirelessly
Mail for Exchange, doing all my syncing with my google apps
Any tips for other developers that are just starting out on the Ovi platform?
Well basically focus on developing application that actually fill an already existing need at people.
SMSpreview is a useful SMS tool that improves the way you view messages in your inbox and was featured as one of our the top 10 free apps when the Ovi store initially launched . The company behind this free app, Mobile Nordic AS just won the 2009 GSMSA Mobile Innovation Award for Best Mobile Consumer Application with 118 Mobile, a real world directory look up service. For this interview, I corresponded with Brian Mac, Marketing Campaign Manager at Mobile Nordic.
1. First, tell me a bit about your company. How many apps do you have for Symbian devices? How long have you been in business?
So I joined Mobile Nordic AS about 7 months ago but they have been around for about 2 years now with their first Symbian application 118 Mobile. It all started when Rudi Rørstad one of the founders was laying in bed asleep when he got a call at 4am in the morning from an unknown number. He tried to call them back but no answer then spent the rest of the night frustrated and restless trying to figure out who it could have been. The next day he called Inge Andre Sandvik, a friend of a friend in the mobile industry, and was said there has to be a way to See who is calling with one single click?? From there 118 Mobile and Mobile Nordic was born, now the application is available in 5 countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Germany. We are looking to have it up on the Nokia Ovi Store soon and launch in a few more markets this year. SMS Preview is the company’s second application and was decided to be given away for free to help users get more out of their mobile experience. The company is all about helping the world say “Hallo” (Hello in Norwegian) in anyway it can.
2. Talk about SMSPreview and how it benefits users?
Well SMS Preview is all about convenience and communicating with those who matter. We all love to talk and text, so when you hear that little text sound or vibrate it is hard not to go in and see what the message was. Also it isn’t always appropriate to check your message, say in a meeting, and sometimes the message might not even be important. With SMS Preview people can quickly glance at their phone and decide how they want to respond, right away, maybe later, maybe not at all, at least they have the choice.
3. What other apps are you working on and are you expected to make additional apps available to the Ovi store?
we are working on getting 118 Mobile on the Ovi Store as we are putting final touches on the application and looking at some cool marketing ideas around it. We are also hoping to launch a beta version of an application that essentially will keep your contacts updated, available, and backed up anywhere you go. More on that later!
4.There has been a lot of negative press in regards to the current state of the Ovi store. What is your first impression about it? In what ways do you think Nokia can improve the store?
I think Nokia has done a great job with the Ovi Store in aggregating a lot of applications for users in one location. It also has a very good developer back-end with a very through Q/A process so the applications on the Store are great. Just like any App store it takes time to work out the kinks and for the crème to rise to the top. Nokia could add a cool social component to it, where users can showoff their device configuration and share it with others. Hey Blank, check out what I have on my phone I think you will like Cough* SMS Preview. Just an idea.
5. Since your app is free to download, what is your monetization and marketing strategy? what is going to take to win in this crowded space (mobile applications)?
SMS Preview is free as our way of giving back and discovering better insights into which market to go next with our other application 118 Mobile. What it will take to win in this crowded space is the same thing in any market, deliver and add value to a great experience, listen to your customers, like really listen to what they are saying.
6. What apps do you have on your phone?
118 Mobile , SMS Preview, Facebook , Opera
7. Any tips for other Ovi developers that are just starting out on the platform?
Just get going. Taking from Stoic philosophy here a little, but it is all perspective, look at every hurdle, costs, time, bump, bug, negative feedback, etc. as the next challenge to overcome. Nokia is the largest manufacture and the Ovi store opens up a truly global opportunity, so find local problems or global ones to solve the best way you can, and the rest will follow.
Oviapplications caught up this morning with Tom Ojala, Founder and Chairman of JoikuSoft, developers of popular JoikuSpot Symbian application.
Can you talk about JoikuSoft, your target market and how do mobile users benefit from your various products?
Joikusoft is a small Mobile Software company, founded in Finland 2007 and financed by its Founders. We focus 100% on developing innovative mobile software products and solutions for the S60 Smartphone platform.
Users benefit of our products as they do add rich new value-adding capabilities for the phone use. Our main product is called JOIKUSPOT which transforms a mobile phone into a 3G WiFi Router. People can connect their laptops or other WiFi devices to internet using their mobile phone’s 3G internet over WiFi. This practically replaces the need for carry-on USB dongles or Bluetooth/cable connectivity or costly WiFi access points of e.g. hotels/airports, and users also save money as they do not need additional subscriptions with their carriers. Their mobile phones SIM and data plan with their carrier is enough, and the only device they need is their Nokia phone for a “1 click internet access anywhere”.
The nice thing with our solution is also that people can share their 3G internet connection over WiFi with multiple users in parallel, and also take or make phone calls while having internet connection active. The connection is not limited to laptops, but most any WiFi device (like Apple iPod/iTouch, Nokia Internet Tablet, or a WiFi Camera) can connect to web via JoikuSpot.
JoikuSpot won 4 different innovation awards during 2008. The biggest recognition in my view was the winning of the Navteq LBS Challenge, as the jury comprised of OPERATORS and DEVICE MANUFACTURER experts assessing the business case of the solution.
What is your first impression about the Ovi platform? Was it easy to set up and get up to speed with SDK?
OVI is a very important sales channel to us. It was easy to get up to speed with this new channel, and our app is already nicely listed in the Store! We see that OVI will likely offer the volumes the other channels cant meet.
Tell us about the experience of submitting your first app to the Ovi Store and how long it took to gain approval.
It was very straightforward and worked smoothly!
Are there any other apps besides Joikuspot that your are currently working on for the Symbian devices?
Yes. We will soon be launching new innovations for the S60 platform. Stay tuned
In addition to JoikuSpot we today also have a product called Joiku-Server. Joiku-Server measures the usage and user profile of JoikuSpot in any operator network. This is a product that we sell to operators. Operators can gain precise data of how much mobile data their JoikuSpot users bring to their network and calculate the data ARPUs based on this data, and also get a split of usage between different phone models, countries, networks etc..
What has been the biggest challenge about desiging apps for Ovi?
Our products are designed for Symbian OS, and they all go through a very thorough Symbian Signing process for QA assurance. Symbian Signed is also a requirement in OVI channel, which makes a whole lot sense to ensure that only verified apps get in. So OVI simply accepts well behaving, quality assured and value adding apps on their storefront, and this is a pretty standard process overall. I don’t see OVI has posed any special challenges to us. As we meet Symbian criterion, we also meet OVI criterion.
What are your monetization and market strategy plans?
We take a small unit fee of our JoikuSpot Premium Edition from users, and try to maximize the channel exposure to our product to hit the volumes. We sell through own channel, external channels like OVI, and whitelabeled via Operators, and the broad reach is a key to us for gaining downloads and ultimately, revenues. We pursue to add value to our customers, e.g. operators gain more mobile data revenues when offering JoikuSpot to their subscribers.
We also have a free Light edition of JoikuSpot product, that offers an upgrade path to Premium (voluntary for Free ed users). You can download the free Light edition at www.joiku.com. Light edition supports only HTTP, whereas Premium supports the FULL internet protocol and VPN for secured corporate intraweb access. Light version is a very good alternative to “trials” as users don’t need to pay for anything and it spreads very fast in the web community, and those who consider the product good have an easy upgrade path to Premium Edition.
Any tips for other Ovi developers that are just starting out on the platform?
Make sure your application is well tested and meets the criterion prior to submitting at the portal. This speeds up publishing!
You can download this app directly from the OVI store for $ 14.99.