Ronnie05's Blog

A Developer Manifesto on Pricing

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on April 16, 2011

A day after Illja Laurs, CEO GetJar issued a statement on how operators are being marginalized by their customers when it comes to mobile apps and how there’s little hope of getting them back, another post by GetJar CMO Patrick Mork deserves mention. Patrick Mork has outlined four guiding principles he thinks app stores should use to help developers make money. Except that if you read between the lines it states how operators gag the “development” and “discovery”. The blog by Patrick measures up the gag tactics at Amazon’s Android store for instance. It also underlines how developer friendly policies at GetJar have helped them catapult themselves into No.2 Apps store by downloads (when in fact they are are an “independent” and “others” app store).

Here’s quoting Patrick.

1. Let developers set their own price. Developers are big boys and girls. They know how important price is and they know it can only be used so often to be effective. Unlike app stores, they also only generally have a few apps to use this on so when they use it they need to make it count. It’s fine to suggest pricing to developers but ultimately only they know what they need to make a living and they could / should study consumer behavior enough to understand what the most effective price point is.

2. Let developers choose their billing partner. We compete in an open economy. In particular, Android is supposed to be open (though the door is closing more quickly with each passing day). Billing is no different. There are better and worse suppliers. Developers should be allowed to work with multiple partners to ensure a) they have the partner that converts best and b) they have the partner that monetizes best. If an app store has its own billing that’s fine. Give developers options and ultimately they and consumers will pick what solution works best for them. Otherwise it’s like going to the movies and always having to pay with Diners Club (who even uses that anymore?)

3. Don’t tie down developers’ ability to promote across store fronts: In an ideal world, Android distribution is supposed to be open (thank you AT&T for helping us get closer to that reality). App stores shouldn’t hamper developers’ ability to leverage promotions or placement in other stores through rigid pricing policies. App stores should realize that developers will look to different app stores for different promotional opportunities. If I can’t get app store A to feature their game but App Store B will feature it if they discount it then why not be able to this? Android is supposed to benefit developers through open distribution, if stores abuse pricing to reduce this distribution it defeats the whole purpose behind open distribution and ultimately makes it harder to pay the rent.

4. Show developers some respect for the product they create and communicate that: If app stores set pricing it should be in conjunction with developers. At the very least, App stores should provide multiple price points to choose from as well as case studies, best practices and advice to developers on when / how to manage the price life cycle to optimize revenues. Back in the much criticized carrier days as a developer I would often work with carriers to agree on pricing and we would jointly agree on how to manage this. App stores should and do have an opinion on pricing of apps given their wider view of the market and they should communicate this. However, to build goodwill they should work with developers and not independently of them.

The app space is an amorphous, rapidly shifting landscape. The technology, distribution and pricing are ever changing and make it difficult for developers to build great products and successful monetize them. What the app stores need to do is give developers flexibility, tools, support and advice on how to this and not dictate to them. As app stores we need to keep in mind that ultimately content is what consumers come to us for. It’s a bit tough to meet that demand if you ignore developers or worse, impose restrictive commercial policies on them. We can do better than that.

In effect Patrick has asked operators and App store makers to accord the correct status to developers, which they deserve, that of an equal. I wonder how many people would be listening to that piece of advice

Guardian’s Open Platform (Part 2): Where’s the money?

Posted in Revenues and Monetization, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on June 16, 2010

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.

The technology back end running the open source

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.


Guardian’s Open Platform (Part 1): Coming of Age (Driving Innovation to stay relevant in Media)

Posted in Revenues and Monetization, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2010

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?

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