Week that was

PG.biz week that was: Tapjoy tames for Apple, Nokia to serve up 'next iPhone', the real value behind GREE's OpenFeint buyout, and AppNation chatter aplenty

PG.biz week that was: Tapjoy tames for Apple, Nokia to serve up 'next iPhone', the real value behind GREE's OpenFeint buyout, and AppNation chatter aplenty
It has been another busy week in the world of PocketGamer.biz; the world of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

With two extended weekends in a row, we can't have been the only ones suffering from something of a hangover this week.

That said, the heavy feeling that cast its shadow over PocketGamer.biz stemmed not from one too many nights out (how rare they are these days) but, rather, the continued focus on Apple's restrictions on app incentivisation.

The ramifications of the firm's fresh stance resulted in Tapjoy - the biggest exponent of incentivisation schemes – claiming it had imposed a cap on its use, restricting the impact it can have on a game's ranking.

"We only win if Apple wins," president and CEO Mihir Shah said of the firm's decision. "Apple is the king of the App Store. We need to find a sustainable way to work with them."

Platform power

It's Apple's very domination of its platform that worries some – and you can read our untethered view on the consequences of that here – though not everyone believes the firm has made the wrong move in this case.

"App developers have been way to focused on incentivised installs versus other marketing options," Howie Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of web affiliate network OfferMobi, told us.

"This obsession with incentivisation distracts developers who may have otherwise focused on building more quality into their apps so they could stand on their own in the marketplace."

Of course, not everyone was so impressed with Apple this week. Amazon finally responded to the firm's legal action against its use of the 'app store' name in its marketplace for Android. Filing a countersuit, the online retailer called on the courts to throw out Apple's claim to the handle, branding it "generic" and "unprotectable".

Apple's adversaries

One of Apple's biggest rivals, Nokia, also had to endure a negative headline or two following the news it is to shed a total of 7,000 jobs as it moves away from Symbian to Windows Phone 7.

Control of Symbian itself is to be handed to management consultants firm Accenture, helping the Finnish firm cut €1 billion ($1.46 billion) from its costs.

Nokia's partnership with Microsoft also benefited from warm words from Babaroga CEO Andreja Djokovic, who predicted the two companies combined could serve up the next big thing.

"Remember what happened to Motorola when they were asked a few years back about what will come after RAZR, and their answer was 'more RAZR' - how did that work out for them?" he said. "By the same token, what's after iPhone?"

Indeed, across the course of the week developers spoke openly about the activities of platform holders. Google, in Bionic Panda Games co-founder Charles Hudson's view, should be compensating developers who lure consumers towards Google Checkout via in-app purchases on Android.

"A small bounty of $5 to $10 per activated account would be interesting for most developers and would give the community a stronger incentive to push it more aggressively to users," he said.

Money matters

Funds of an altogether meatier size were at hand when GREE acquired games network OpenFeint, though the revelation that the platform made just $282,500 in net sales last year means its purchase price of $104 million came it at 368 times revenue.

The suggestion is, of course, that GREE's move was motivated more by a desire to strengthen its hand in the mobile social market in the west rather than to turn a quick profit.

The buyout of ad network Greystripe by online marketing specialist ValueClick for $70 million was somewhat smaller fish in comparison, but the company's strength on iOS is nothing to be sniffed at.

Equally important was the $18 million PapayaMobile picked up in a fresh funding round this week – an investment that will be used both to grow its already extensive social platform on Android, and launch a new 'portfolio of products' in the future.

Capital ventures

OpenFeint's first move post GREE buyout was to link up with former investor and partner The9 to launch a new social games network for the lucrative Chinese market.

Days later, rival Scoreloop would serve up a white label social platform for Hong Kong operator CSL – both moves unmistakable signs of the increasing role the Asian market is having in the operations of mobile giants in the west.

If launching in fresh territories isn't your bag, then moving into a new area of business altogether might be more up your street. Appia, which had previously worked on white label app stores, announced that it is moving into the world of mobile advertising, offering up a pay-per-download platform.

Sibblingz's Spaceport – the firm's cloud-based cross-platform social gaming platform – also represents something new for the company, attempting to allow developers work on code once before launching across multiple platforms in one go; from iOS and Android to BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7.

However, as every start-up studio knows, it's not only the tools at hand that can be an issue, but the actual funding (or lack of) behind a game's development.

According to Bravado Waffle's Stephen Dick, crowd funding – or calling on potential players to offer up cash to aid a game's development – is a more than adequate solution, also handing developers the potential to engage with their audiences before their titles even hit the digital shelves.

Apps away

If Bravado Waffle's first game, RoboArena, enjoys even a fraction of the success amassed by Angry Birds – which passed 140 million downloads this week – then it'll be onto a very good thing.

Also stealing the headlines was Talking Friends developer Outfit7, which claimed to have outpaced Rovio to become the fastest mobile developer to hit 100 million downloads.

Of course, games rely on app stores to push their wares, making the launch of Barnes & Noble's official marketplace for Nook Color – itself just upgraded to Android 2.3 – a notable move.

If Namco Bandai is to be believed, developers with any sense will get on board sharpish, with the publisher branding the eReader as a great opportunity for the industry to reach a whole new brand of gamer. Taking its own advice, the firm itself had four games on board on day one.

More advice aplenty was on offer in San Francisco at AppNation 2011 throughout the course of the week, with PocketGamer.biz's handy collation of who said what a must read for those seeking guidance.

Until next week...

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

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