SMS games prove popular as Snackable hits $170 million in 2009

Offers alternative to App Store model

SMS games prove popular as Snackable hits $170 million in 2009
Not necessarily a genre that typically makes many headlines, SMS games are a profitable enterprise - at least according to Snackable Media which revealed it sold $170 million worth of titles in 2009.

Though Snackable splits the revenue 50/50 with mobile networks, the figure represents a jump of almost 90 percent year-on-year, with CEO Eyal Yechezkell telling TechCrunch the company's revenue has grown every year since 2007.

SMS games don't rely on graphics or even flashy presentation to draw consumers in, instead delivering a series of questions via text messages, enabling those with even the most basic of handsets to play.

Snackable's most popular title, Predicto, sends a series of multiple-choice questions on celebrity news and pop culture to those signed up, with $50,000 in prize money up for grabs.

It has over a million monthly active users, all paying a $9.95 per month subscription.

Other family games also make up the company's portfolio, popular franchises such as quiz show Deal or No Deal giving Snackable a clear commercial edge. It's an advantage the company puts to good use, using aggressive online marketing to promote its titles; a reply to a corresponding text message being enough to sign a new user up.

Significantly, such subscriptions are added to the phone owner's monthly bill, not charged on an individual basis.

Such a model puts Snackable in a markedly different position to developers who sell their wares on digital download services like the App Store. Yechezkell claims Facebook integration will come before any smartphone development for the studio.

"Right now, these applications are just sitting in the App Store and not really advertised," Yechezkell told TechCrunch. "When you start advertising applications, 99 cents might not be a profitable model. At the end of the day there needs to be some margin."

Though he accepts the market is naturally heading towards smartphones, Yechezkell would prefer to take the App Store completely out of the equation. Snackable is more likely to rely on mobile web advertising and in-game promotion to deliver the downloads in the future.

[source: TechCrunch]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.