Interview

Android desperately needs more flexible selling opportunities says Accumulate MD

Android desperately needs more flexible selling opportunities says Accumulate MD
As the mobile OS and apps markets continue to fragment, developers, publishers, aggregators and operators are having to think much more carefully about the difference between discovery, fulfillment and purchasing options.

One company that cuts across many of these issues is UK/Swedish outfit Accumulate.

It's just announced a global in-app billing solution across 60 countries, so we caught up with Jens Lauritzson, MD of Accumulate UK, to get his opinion on the opportunities in this fast developing ecosystem.

Pocket Gamer: Why are methods aside from straight app purchase or a free Lite version important for mobile games?

Jens Lauritzson: Firstly, we do not believe in free Lite versions as they do not help conversion. Full versions which can be unlocked on device is the method that should be used to increase adoption and conversion rates.

Lite versions actually have the opposite effect since they often become a game in itself and people do not bother to upgrade as it requires a new download. Other pricing options such as pay-per-play and rentals are important since they lower the entry barrier and increase conversion.

If you give a customer more than one pricing option, the likelihood that the customer will purchase the game increases significantly. It is pretty basic retailing and you just have to look at any supermarket shelf to see the choice they give customers in terms of size of packaging. The same applies for games.

Are you surprised the main app stores haven't implemented more flexible purchasing options yet?

Yes, I think the focus has simply been on getting a store up and running and many have forgotten some of the essentials such as operator billing and ease of purchase. Normal operator stores are usually way ahead in terms of user experience and ease of purchase.

However app stores have one advantage, which is to be pre-installed on the device, making discovery easier.

The next challenge for stores such as BlackBerry App World, Ovi and others will be to get customers to buy and not only come for free content. Our solution could help them do that by using the free download model to maximise downloads and then let purchases be made on the device once the content has been installed and tested.

How do you think technology such as Flexion could help, especially in terms of paid Android games?

Android desperately lacks opportunities for developers to make money from premium content. The only proper store with traffic is the Android Market and that does not offer good billing coverage using Checkout as the main option.

Operators have been pretty slow in implementing Android offerings as they gave up the battle for this market straight away and it is only now when Android Market is failing that they are getting back into the game with operator portals for Android content.

It has been the same with preloads but OEMs are now realising that preloaded Android content is the way forward.

Flexion can help Android developers make money from preloads and also to create their own store solution using Flexion Discovery, which allows them to offer more games to their customers.

Where app stores allow developers to use their own billing, Flexion can help them do this: I am thinking of the likes of GetJar and Mobango. The best solution would have been if Android Market focused on distribution and provided developers with tools or let them use their own.

Why should the industry be excited by your new global in-app billing options?

This is a great opportunity for small as well as big developers to control their own sales by using retailing tools that give them all the essentials and can monetise existing distribution channels.

Up to this point they have only been able to rely on advertising funding.

Are there any regions of the world where you think they will work especially well?

Markets with the highest number of pre-pay customers today suffer most from low credit and failed pay per download purchases.

We already know that Asia has been using usage-based models for a while. If you look at the biggest downloading markets on GetJar you will find India and Indonesia. We believe these markets could be very attractive for Flexion.

Thanks to Jens for his time.

You can find out more about Flexion via the Accumulate website.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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