Interview

GetJar: 'The fundamental business model around mobile content is broken'

GetJar: 'The fundamental business model around mobile content is broken'
Mobile apps site GetJar wants more game developers to use it to distribute their demos and older titles, with the aim of driving traffic to their own websites to buy new games.

New VP of marketing Patrick Mork (formerly of Glu Mobile's EMEA division) says the company is well-placed to benefit as more publishers look to off-portal revenue streams.

"The fundamental business model around mobile content is broken," he says.

"Everyone knows it, but nobody says it. The days of consumers paying £5 for premium content are over, especially in the light of the current financial crisis. GetJar's free model just reinforces it."

With that in mind, Mork is keen to tempt more established games firms to use the site as their shop window, promising that they can have their demos or games live "in days". 

Publishers can place these demos at no risk, whenever they like," he says. "Where they link this demo is also up to them. If they have D2C sites they can send consumers willing to purchase the full version to that site. If they want to send it to carriers that’s also their decision."

However, it seems that GetJar has more ambitious goals than driving traffic elsewhere in the future.

"Long term we will monetise directly for publishers, so if they get in short-term, they will understand how the channel operates, what kind of traffic it generates, and forecast accurately."

Mork says this will include some form of billing on the GetJar site itself, although the company isn't revealing its exact plans on this front yet.

In the short term, he's focused on convincing publishers that giving away their old games on the site will enable them to sell more copies of their new ones.

"We ran a two-week trial with a two-year-old A title from a well-known publisher," he says. "It did 15,000 downloads on only 20 handsets. Now imagine if they had a link to send consumers to their D2C site. Free traffic."

GetJar's users downloaded more than 170 million applications last year, and the site has distribution in 130 countries, so there's the scale to get publishers interested. Much of Mork's sales pitch is the contrast with operator decks, particularly when it comes to the control publishers have over their games.

Not that the two channels are necessarily competing. "Publishers can use game demos as a way to build consumer trust and awareness," says Mork.

"Then they can either upsell to full versions or new games through carrier deep links, deep links to their own D2C site, or some other partner. Plus they can use GetJar to create momentum for a game and then take it to a carrier to show why they should take it."

One way GetJar has been described in recent times is as the J2ME equivalent of Apple's App Store - a comparison the company presumably isn't playing down, given the excitement around mobile app stores right now.

However, Mork is keen to point out GetJar's advantage over the Apple model, at least in terms of developers.

"The iPhone isn't all wonders for developers," he says. "It's wonderful for consumers, because they get everything they could want at the lowest possible market price. But is this really that good for developers - are they really making money on it?"

He also points to the fact that when you analyse the distribution curve of iPhone game sales, the largest number are in the sub $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 and free categories.

"How does a publisher make money from that unless they have massive volumes? The theory was always that high end games would have higher price point. That hasn’t happened on iPhone so far."

Of course, GetJar's challenge is to prove that it can make developers more money - something that will only become clear as it develops its offering over the coming 12-18 months.

Even so, Mork is positive about the company's prospects, particularly given the trend he sees of operators keen to drive more consumer mobile data usage.

"They will be focused on traffic because it drives ad revenues. They will focus on traffic because they can monetise that in bulk. Eventually, when they have to incorporate data plans into voice plans - and they will - they will have to monetise the traffic itself," he says.

"Publishers won't generate enough traffic themselves but content aggregators like GetJar will. And the carriers will then look to sell traffic to those aggregators. The days of monetising individual pieces of content or having content teams managing this are numbered."

And if you thought those were strong words, there are more where they came from. "New business models have to prevail," he says.

"People who are strong on the back of the old models won’t survive the new world. They need to wake up. They need to take destiny into their own hands and stop talking about the same issues we’ve talked about for the past five Mobile Games Forums. They need new models and new distribution channels."

Contributing Editor

Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)

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