Archive for May, 2013

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Continuing to grow its suite of services aimed at
mobile app developers, Amazon today announced
App Engagement Reports, free app usage reports that
are now a part of the company’s Mobile App
Distribution Portal. The reports are designed for
Amazon Appstore developers in need of information about app performance and revenue. Specifically, the reports include daily and monthly
active devices, installs, sessions, average revenue
per device, and retention metrics, and they can be
filtered by marketplace, viewed in chart form, or
downloaded as a CSV, the company explains in this
afternoon’s official announcement. Developers will also be able to change the data range on the reports
in order to see historical trends. There are six Engagement Reports now being
provided: Overview: A summary of key usage data for your app or game Average Revenue: Daily and Monthly Average Revenue per Device (ARPD) and Average Revenue
per Paid User (ARPPU) for In-App Items Retention: Daily Retention for days 1-3-7 and Weekly Retention for weeks 1-2-3 Active Devices: Daily Active Devices (DAD), Monthly Active Devices (MAD), and Sticky Factor (DAD/MAD) Sessions: Total Daily Sessions and Average Sessions Per Device App Installs: Daily Installs and Uninstalls At launch, the reports are only available for those
apps that were submitted and published after October
25, 2012. For developers who haven’t updated their
apps since then, they’ll need to either republish the
app or submit an update in order to activate the
reporting feature. However, there’s no need to make any other changes to the app’s code or integrate any
additional software. The report will include data for apps running on
Amazon devices like the Kindle Fire and Fire HD, as
well as any other Android devices running the latest
version of the Amazon Appstore mobile app. App analytics and sales figures are crucial to making
Amazon’s Appstore a more complete service – these
things have long been standard features of competing
stores like Google Play or Apple’s iTunes, for
example. Though many developers still integrate
third-party SDKs to allow for increased capabilities and more detailed reporting beyond what comes out-
of-the-box, it’s expected for the Appstore itself to at
least provide some sort of basic insight into an app’s
traction and sales. Amazon says that reports have
been a “popular request from developers,” and that’s
likely an understatement. The addition of the new Engagement Reports comes
on the heels of several other changes Amazon has
introduced in recent months to beef up its Appstore
offerings for developers. Not only has it been
expanding its footprint globally, the company has also
added features like in-app payments, subscriptions, and even its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, in
order to give developers more revenue generation
possibilities. Now that developers have had a little time to
experiment with those new offerings, it only makes
sense that they should be able to track how well
those features are performing, and whether or not
they have an effect on key metrics like ARPU
(average revenue per user) and retention. Additional information about the various parts of the
reports and how to access them are explained here.
Meanwhile, an Engagement Reports FAQ offers the
answers to even more specific questions about the
new reports.

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Tumblr just can’t catch a break. Yeah, yeah, they’re
getting a billion dollars from Yahoo — but it’s been a torrent of criticism ever since. Angry users! Porn!
Poooooorn! Know what probably won’t help? Botching the key
detail of an email sent to many of your most tech-
savvy users. Tumblr just sent out a big ol’ mass email to all of the
users who host a Tumblr blog through their own,
independently owned domain. In other words, to the
folks who know enough about these bleepy-bloopy
electronic space typewriters we use to be able to get
a bit fancy with their Tumblr blogs. It warned users of an impending change they’d need
to make to their settings — a new IP address they
needed to point their domain at — unless they wanted
their blog to suddenly “no longer work“. The catch: they, uh, kinda forgot the most important
part. They’d put in a placeholder for the IP, and… it
never got replaced. “Please point your custom domain
to [IP Address],” it directed. Wherps. For many of these users, this was among the first
emails they’d received since the Yahoo acqusition.
Within about 30 seconds, the tweets lampooning the
email started going up. Moral of the story: If you work at a lil’ company and
manage to botch a mass email, don’t worry too much.
You’re in good company. Billion dollar company.

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Truecaller, the Sweden-based creater of a crowdsourced phone directory app and online white
pages service, has opened its API to a select group
of “handpicked” developers. Truecaller said its
directory now contains some 960 million phone
numbers, either contributed by individuals or
harvested through partnerships with other directory services. The API covers only the numbers
Truecaller has in its own datacase, i.e. not partner
numbers, meaning it covers around 600 million digits. Truecaller’s numbers are global in scope, and include landline, mobile and pre-pay digits — the latter category
giving it an edge over other directory services, it argues. Being as phone numbers amount to highly sensitive
data in the wrong hands, Truecaller is being careful about who is getting access to its API — hence no open
API. Telemarketing companies are specifically barred from getting their wires in. Being the company that
helped spammers is clearly not the kind of publicity Truecaller is hoping for here. One scenario where it envisages its API being a benefit to others but also without causing irritation to phone
number owners is for call centres to identify who is calling before starting a call. Truecaller’s API allows for
reverse number lookup, meaning developers can attach a name to a known number. It also returns a ‘Spam
score’ to indicate if a number is a likely spammer (e.g. telesales or robocalls) and — at the other end of the
spectrum — a ‘True score’ to indicate how important the number is. This score is “the measurement of how
popular a phone number is with our users over time”. Name search is not included in the API but remains solely a feature of Truecaller’s mobile app. Truecaller is
charging developers to use some of the features of its API, so this is clearly part of its monetisation strategy.
Its free API includes only how popular a phone number is. Pricing for the more fully featured APIs starts at $299 per month, rising to $4,999. Truecaller said cloud e-signing company Scrive has been trying its API — as a way to validate the identity behind a phone number. Asked about the types of customers it is envisaging for the API, Truecaller CEO Alan Mamedi told
TechCrunch: “We’ve had more than a thousand applicants till now even as the API was unannounced.
However, we evaluate all of them internally and in all cases test their application before given access. For the
time being, the developers and companies that have been given access to our API are developing for B2B
services. “I believe the Truecaller API will benefit various companies such as major airlines like Delta Airlines to
improve their customer support and experience (greeting by name, decrease waiting times by connecting
incoming name to ticket information), but also identify well networked and loyalty members based on their
True score.” Last September Truecaller raised a $1.3 million Series A from Open Ocean, with the aim of expanding its footprint in its key markets of North America, Asia and the Middle East.

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Artkive, an app designed to eliminate the overwhelming guilt you get tossing your children’s
brilliant artwork into the garbage, now has another
purpose, too: you can order printed out books of
their creations. Instead of just hiding the child’s
crumpled up drawings and precious finger-paint
covered handprints that school sends home – what is now, like every day? – under cereal boxes and empty bags of chips, you can assure yourself that
you’ve found a more efficient means of saving these
items instead. You snapped a photo of them. The sense of relief is overwhelming, I tell you. OK, I kid…a little. But as any parent will tell you, kids’ art output is overwhelming, forcing you to curate with a heavy hand.
That’s why so many moms (and some dads, too) have begun snapping photos of the art before it hits the
trash. Explains CEO Jedd Gold, who has extensive experience working in kids’ entertainment, including with the
relaunch of nostalgic 80′s brands like Strawberry Shortcake and Trolls, he was inspired to build Artkive after
witnessing this very behavior at home. “I was watching my wife take pictures of our kids’ artwork on her camera, that she would upload to her
computer, and then she would upload from her computer to one of these photo sites. But by then she wouldn’t
remember who created what piece, or when they were created, and they’d be out of order,” he says. “I thought,
‘there’s gotta be an app for that.’ But there really wasn’t.” So he launched one. The Kive Company raised $500,000 late last year for its mobile application that helps you to not just take the photos, but also annotate them with things like the child’s name, date of creation, and other comments. Although the original goal was to make the art archiving process easier – as you can tell by the name – the
app’s small but growing customer base of 105,000 (almost all moms) have already found other uses for it.
They’re documenting everything that you would save for a kids’ scrapbook, including report cards, photos,
other items from events and school activities, and more. One woman even used the app to document the last
seven months of her pregnancy.

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With this expanded focus, the printed book option begins to make more sense. Because as much as I love
my own daughter’s art, I’m not sure how often I’d really revisit it in hardcover book format. But a scrapbook of
her pre-kindergarten years? That I could get on board with. Gold initially tested the concept with an alpha product launched in December. He added a “print” button to the
app, without offering an explanation or any details as to what the final product would be. Despite this lack of
information, a couple hundred Artkive users ordered books. With the app’s recent update, the book purchasing feature has been overhauled. Users can now review and
edit their books, changing things like the title, text on the page, the pictures it includes, and more. Books can
either be 8×8″ or 8×11″, and start at $25 for 20 pages. Each additional page is $1.00 more. Before the holidays, the plan is to expand into gifts, like calendars and mugs, for example. Also new in the recent update is social sharing – something Gold had originally limited, thinking that the last
thing anyone would want to see on Facebook was other people’s kids’ drawings. But Artkive’s user base
disagreed. In addition, Artkive has also recently come to Android, however it’s not yet feature-complete with the iOS
version due to the company’s limited resources. I love the idea behind Artkive, but the app itself needs to streamline things a bit. There are too many manual
steps involved on almost all screens, from sign-up to upload. These are mainly minor inconveniences, but
anything that takes more time that it should – or could – is something that will eventually find itself dropped in
favor of quicker, smoother alternatives…like Shutterfly’s automatic upload on its mobile app, perhaps.

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Gifs, man! They’re trending harder than Jennifer Lawrence right now, but that doesn’t mean that
finding them is the easiest thing in the world. That’s
why Giphy, a startup that launched out of betaworks last month, is rolling out new tools to build out its library of awesome, high-quality gifs. See, Giphy is a gif search engine. It lets you search
by keyword for any gif you could possibly want, and
then saves load time and keeps things snappy by
only playing the gif once you hover over one of the
results. But sourcing the gifs you want is just the
first step in organizing the community, which is the true goal behind Giphy. That said, the startup is today rolling out private artist accounts, which will bake attribution right into the gifs
they create. The team has been looking for some of the most prominent gif creators and artists out there, and
has chosen twelve to give private artists accounts. As it stands now, there are hundreds of thousands of gifs floating around the internet. Most of them end up on
a tumblr somewhere, while others are created and shared through dozens of other platforms. But when you
come upon a great gif, perhaps on #Whatshouldwecallme, do you ever think about the dude that created said gif? Probably not, but you should. It would be like not thinking of Rhianna every time you heard the song “Umbrella.” “What we’re seeing in the beginning of organizing the community,” said founder Jace Cooke. “We want to give
these folks a home and connect them to publishers and brands. This will give them a following in a way that
will help them monetize their work.” But artists profiles are only the first step in organizing the gif community. Giphy is also building out an API,
which will be open in the next couple weeks. This lays the groundwork for Giphy to be used in other interesting
applications as the gif craze heats up. According to betaworks, the Giphy API has received much more
demand than the company has decided yet to meet, as they’re figuring out the best way to roll out access to
the platform. The third and final goal at the moment is for Giphy to create stronger relationships with publishers who are
using gifs for their content. Giphy has an automatic embed code for each gif, which publishers can use on
their own sites. It’s simple, but these relationships are crucial in elevating gif artists on a pedestal where they
can reach brands and monetize their work. As it stands now, private artists accounts are being rationed out at Giphy’s discretion. But what about the competition? Well, Giphy doesn’t have much competition outside of the wide world of
tumblr gifs. But even with the newfound focus on creation (re: artists accounts), Giphy doesn’t see much of a
threat in Vine or Cinemagram or any of the other user-generated gif makers. “There’s a nice social component to services like Vine and Instagram, but the validity of image on Instagram
is pretty limited outside of a circle of friends,” said Cooke. It’s pretty rare for a Vine or Cinemagram to surpass
being valid to friends and be an interesting piece of media in their own right.” That said, Giphy will continue to focus on high-level gif creation that provides content that’s accessible to a
large majority of people on the internet, as opposed to needing social context. Expect big things from this one, guys. Gifs aren’t going anywhere soon, and Giphy has made itself the portal.