In the earlier post, i had written about the evolution of application stores. 1st Gen and 2nd Gen Apps stores were great in as far as apps in principle were concerned.But the real test of Apps stores is in the MONETIZATION bit. Millions of Apps and Billions of Downloads are great stats to convince USER ENGAGEMENT, but “it aint mean nothing” if it makes no money and Monetization is the key.
To provide an analogy, a radio station with great broadcast content and listener-ship is great from a user engagement perspective, but the station does-not make money unless there are sponsors. And then the monies can be used for better content, more broadcast rights, bettering the quality of the programmes etc. Sponsors use the radio station as another media channel to reach out to the listeners to create awareness and engage their consumers better. Majority of the listeners will not possibly not want to pay for the programmes directly, but don’t mind being part of the channel. The same applies for Apps as well.
Apps Stores Evolution
3rd and 4th Gen Apps stores
The key addition here is “sponsors”. Sponsors would use the apps as another media channel to reach to consumers and engage them more effectively. “More Effectively” reflects the ability of applications to profile its users better and thus a greater match between target audience and the sponsor message. On a very initial level, this could be ads and we all know how iAds, inmobi or Admob are able to advertise better to the consumer through ads in apps. Thats just the beginning.
Where’s the money honey?
Globally app stores are monetizing traffic through in-app and in-store subscriptions/payments.However, there is a larger picture that many of us are missing in terms of media capabilities of apps stores & how brands could use apps as a channel to engage consumers. Apps with their unique push capabilities and API sensitiveness can be a very efficient medium for reaching and engaging out to Brand users/consumers.
Under the constraints of consumer freetard-onomics, the answer to monetization problem lies in getting a key stakeholder who has yet not been a part of the eco-system: Brands. To me, Brands today and tomorrow will try establishing apps as a key channel to establish an engagement with consumers. This according to me will establish what i call the third evolution of Apps stores which would centre around Channel and User Centricity. Thus apps will increasingly go from just an app to enable branded life-style experiences around focussed groups of users. That to me is where Applications and Platforms will monetize.
The construct that i build hereis actually close in principle to the search legacy in Google.The difference here is that while search delivers ad-sense relevant advertising/message for monetization, Mobile App stores will have brand deliver experiences which are far more customized to the user. What would brands pay to have these experiences delivered to the user? You can start the calculations basis the broadcast media numbers
We would need APIs enabling the portfolio of services such as LBS. LAYAR, Search and Profiling engines, Shopping Carts, NFC and Analytics is more than adept at taking this Brands concept to fruition. To me this rivulet is the mother lode of monetization going forward.
Guardian’s experiment with open source data has proven one thing quite clear that Public data is a growth media for an ecosystem to form. Public data on open source is a nutrient of a whole new eco-system and allow new things to happen. The key to monetization of the open systems in this case is building user centric apps which have a business model.
The applications build on the Guardian Open source platform is divided into three categories mainly differentiated by span of Guardian’s control and the revenue/revenue share model.
So then where is the money?
Guardian’s open platform gives API and Content Developers 3 tiers of access and 3 separate revenue models to choose from:
BESPOKE: Taking, Reformatting, and content augmentation with same access as that of Guardian. Allows custom access for licensing content and integrating rich applications. The revenue is a combination of sponsorship, media, fees, revenue share and downloads.
APPROVED: This involves taking the full Guardian article content, with an advert. Out of this Guardian keeps the ad revenue and the API developer keeps the rest of the page revenue.
KEYLESS: The API developer takes Guardian’s content and keeps part of the associated revenues. Thus there is free access to headlines,data,tags and meta data. There is no key required and partner keeps associated revenue from the page.
What this means for Guardian is that developers are able to access full content APIs on demand from Guardian with keys approved thus making the platform a place to do business with Guardian and engage its scale. Rapid scalability, reliability and performance are the core requirements.
To assist the developers, Guardian has the Microapps which is a third framework for integrating 3rd party apps into the Guardian platform. The Microapps helps developers integrate their solutions more easily and readily into the Guardian core and evolve the Guardian open platform to be the commercial future of the partners/developers.
Thus the open source platform would be instrumental for Guardian in terms of
• Moving away from content broadcast, and yet keep the growth engines running
• Partner engagement and open source contributions on journalism, data, software, applications, revenue and ads
• It would also support the developers and partners with data and APIs, scalability, reliability and speed.
Guardians enterprising effort build on open source is pretty much on its way to re-define media and thought behind media.
In times to come, media will need to evolve into a two way communication path and Guardian will be referred as a case study, as a pioneer of new media.
RIP, Print Media!
The proliferation of Digital and Social Media and Google have had an adverse impact on the print media by means of replacement.Communication is two way, immediate and Twitter has now added a dash of “conversation streams” to the news and print.
In this context, Guardian’s effort to move from being just a broadcast publisher to a platform and use content , search and open source to build a new business model around news and media is noteworthy. The transition from news and journalism to news, data, video, audio, content partnerships, innovation, conversation, comments, keywords, podcasts, recommendations, hashtags and live blogs is a case study.The bottomline is about Guardian’s evolution to a platform and not just a publisher.
This platform approach is about changing the perspective from “bringing the data and apps from the internet” to “enabling partners to build applications using proprietary content and services for all digital platforms”. The idea is “experimenting in combining the experience and knowledge of a large media network with experience, opinions and expertise of people who want to participate rather than passively receive content and news”.
Guardian’s open platform is thus its suite of services enabling its partners to build applications with Guardian. The platform has three parts to it:
Content API: A service for collecting and selecting content from the Guardian for re-use
Data store: A directory of useful data curated by Guardian editors.The developers can take this content of the newspaper as the raw material for building new businesses. This raw data is useful in profiling demographics and trends and data catalogues,
Politics API: Database of candidates, voting records, constituencies, election results and live data on election day. The data here is again freely available for use and analysis. Developers innovate on this data and develop interesting tools such as the voter power index for the recent British elections which lets the user know his vote’s woth basis his marginality and constituency size.
Thus Guardian has been making interesting use of Public data to make its own media eco-system and allow “open ssource” innovation to take over.The emerging trends point to change in public participation space aroud public data. Public data can create new economies, improve procurement processes and through evolutionary pressure in the marketplace increase the usability and user centricity of applications that access Government services. Guardian is stepping as a facilitator for consumers of these services to provide an environment where Consumers can get better and access to newer things, mediated by the ingenuity of the developers
Part 2: How the open source makes money?
Your Q seems to have generated a healthy round of discussion and here is my take adding to the muddle
I come from a Marketing related view guided by two basic tenets
1. Supply and Demand
Music, H/Bollywood, Games, Ringtones, Singtones, Cricket is what most of the VAS revenue is based up on (Currently). There is a healthy demand for this but supply is manifold leading to commoditization. Hence the need for innovation in VAS! (Think Medicine, Think Train Ticketing/ Think Fitness/ keep thinking..)
2. The Age old Construct of the 4Ps.
We have a Product/Service and currently we are trying to push mass usage through Tariff discounting (Pricing Strategy). A few Opinions beforehand have already mentioned Retail Push (Place) and Cross Selling/Up selling and Consumer Education(Promotions). Even more, we have spoken about Profile and Behavioural based Targetting (a very high order mechanism)
My take on the VAS markets in India :
1. We need more stakeholders in the ecosystem. Currently it is only the VAS provider and the Operator. Hence the scope in VAS development and deployment remains limited.
2. The Indian Consumer is averse to Credit Card and Mobile Payments. I am not surprised about VAS ARPU of Rs.25 (as cited by Rahul).
3. We are limited in content.Games + Music + Entertainment form 36% of VAS applications in US. The next 36% is Books, Utilities, Education, Lifestyle, Productivity, Travel, Fitness, Sports etc. Social Networking as VAS content has also been less exploited.
Point 1,2,3 (More Stakeholders, Wider content, Paying Mechanisms) lead me to the end of my argument, which i will elucidate with an example:
How about partnering with VLCC for beauty tips, reserving apointments, reminders etc etc?
How about partnering with Apollo hospitals to provide a range of services on a VAS platform?
Tie ups with Local Gyms to disburse mobile services to its members?
Taxi services and Train/Flight Booking via VAS….
The possibilities are endless if you take the unconventional route to VAS and application monetization.The business model would be a win win win design for the consumer – Telco + VAS – Solution provider.
Would consumers pay? They already do… and a minor addition in terms of taking services mobile will not hurt them if they are hung up on VLCC, Apollo and the likes…
1. Dont invent new needs and delivery mediums, instead tap the consumer needs at the right places and occasions
2. There is a fundamental need to move away from Telco VAS provider (Duopoly mindset) to a tag along/second fiddle mindset with the solution provider.
Hope this is somewhat leading to the right direction.