Week that was

PG.biz week that was: Zynga IPOs, Rovio thinks about it, Samsung sells 300m phones, Fiksu launches FreeMyApps, and Tiny Tower's ARPU is $2

PG.biz week that was: Zynga IPOs, Rovio thinks about it, Samsung sells 300m phones, Fiksu launches FreeMyApps, and Tiny Tower's ARPU is $2
Despite the distractions of a two-day editorial conference in Amsterdam, it was another busy week at PG.biz: the home of news and views on the business of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

Our week started with one-time Facebook game producer Tami Baribeau continuing her argument that the platform had peaked, with iOS offering more opportunity in terms of the games business.

And, ironically, the week ended with Facebook's #1 games publisher Zynga floating on the NASDAQ exchange, selling 100 million shares for $10, raising a cool $1 billion, excluding costs. Shame then that ZNGA shares ended their first day underwater at $9.50.

Maybe Rovio should take notice as the Angry Birds developer continued to talk up its future business with a Hong Kong IPO in 2013 now being mooted. However, with FY11 turnover revealed at around $100 million - less than some commentators had suggested - it will certainly have to demonstrate continued strong growth in FY12.

Part of that desire saw a deal announced with playground maker Lappset for branded items. In their often cynical way, the PocketGamer.biz Mavens also had a go, giving Rovio some advice about what it should do next.

Build the next

Microsoft is looking to attract the Rovios of the future. It's extended its indie game making competition Dream.Build.Play to Windows Phone, while social mobile platform Papaya has launched its own accelerator program - The Games Academy - which offers 100,000 downloads to the winning title.

Perhaps the most coherent program currently in play, however, is YetiZen's three month accelerator scheme. Admissions for its March program are now open and we caught up with CEO Sana Choudary to find out more.

There was also M&A activity during the week with UK studio Team17 acquiring staff and some assets from UK team Iguana as it looks to expand into social and mobile development. In Australia, an ex-Visceral Games team set up new Melbourne-based mobile studio PlaySide.

Incentivised exchange

When it comes to platform plays, there was plenty of activity this week. The most interesting came from user acquisition outfit Fiksu, which launched its consumer-facing exchange FreeMyApps.

This get users to download pre-selected free iOS apps in order to earn credits in this system with which to buy pre-selected paid iOS games - although only in the US at present. We spoke to CEO Micah Adler who argued this incentivised download model is good for free apps and paid games.

Data was another focus of the news, with behavioural specialist Apsalar highlighting the power of information with the release of its new mobile user tracking and analysis tools. We spoke to CEO Michael Oiknine about the causal link between in-game behaviour and revenue.

Orange standardised its global pre-loaded games business using Flexion's wrapper platform, DeNA partnered with Alibaba to take Mobage to its cloud-based OS Aliyun in China, and mobile MMO Pocket Legends joined the Heyzap social gaming network.

Meanwhile, Tapjoy hired head of analytics to highlight market trends, while Distimo revealed the download volume required to break into different countries' App Store free charts.

And proving that not everyone worries about this sort of thing, Tiny Tower developer NimbleBits said it didn't actively track ARPUs but the game - which has been downloaded 8 million times - roughly has a 5 percent conversion rate at $10 a payer.

(That works out as $4 million of gross revenue.)

Big green ogre

Continuing with games, despite it being the end of the year, there were new announcements.

Beeline is teaming up with DreamWorks to develop freemium mobile title Shrek's Fairytale Kingdom, EA's bringing freemium MMOG Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances to web, mobile and tablets, while Big Fish Games has extended its partnership with Anuman to bring the Syberia adventure games to iOS.

Film company Paramount is working with crowdfunding investment platform appbackr to fund Naked Gun and The Untouchables mobile games, and Finnish Facebook developer Supercell also revealed it's moving to mobile with its asynchronous line drawing game Battle Buddies

There still seems to be some widespread uncertainly about which platforms to support, however, with Flurry claiming its research showed that developers were backing iOS this Christmas with three times more projects than Android.

Conversely, TinyCo's Jennifer Lu argued strongly concerning the advantages of launching social mobile games simultaneously on iOS and Android.

On the up

But let's end the roundup with some rapidfire numbers.

Things are up at Samsung, which expects to sell over 300 million handsets in 2011.

Things are up at Apple, which has seen 100 million app downloads through its Mac App Store, has gained a government licence for the release of iPhone 4S in China and is rumoured to be releasing iPad 3 in April 2012.

And things are up at Amazon, which revealed Kindle Fire has been its best selling product for 11 weeks.

Things are not so up at Intel, which has merged its notebook, tablet, mobility and communications divisions to gain mobile momentum, or Microsoft, where Windows Phone president Andy Lees has been given a critical Windows Phone-Window 8 task by Steve Ballmer.

And things are certainly not up at RIM, which announced FY12 Q3 income down 19% to $265 million, and a delay to its BB 10 smartphones until the end of 2012.

Still, longtime BlackBerry platform supporter Magmic hasn't given up the ghost. Its director of portfolio management Troy Johnson argued that BlackBerry's market share is growing, not shrinking.
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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