One of the best things about not being in the spotlight, is being able to do good work behind the scenes and then sneak up on people. While it is true we had a few hints that Yahoo was putting their focus on mobile (by way of acquisition last year, bringing Flurry Analystics under their umbrella), nobody was really talking about how lucrative that partnership could be. Yahoo Mobile Development Suite was launched at their first mobile developer conference this past week, showing some much-appreciated and needed love for the people who create the apps driving the growth of the mobile marketplace.
Apple loves telling developers how easy it is to use their new this or that, Google is all about features and functions and potential, Microsoft is desperately trying to convince developers their platform is relevant (so please don’t forget about them, please) –so Yahoo decided to bring a whole new focus to the mix by trying to help developers make MONEY!
In the words of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer:
Today is about building innovative, game-changing applications. Now, rather than just make them itself, Yahoo is providing the tools for developers to build, grow, and earn money on their own apps.
There is no question that all of the key players want to attract developers and ultimately hope they are successful, but Yahoo finally made something abundantly clear: developers want to be rewarded for their efforts and see a return on their investments (time included).
During the presentation, Flurry CEO Simon Khalaf offered his observations regarding the current mobile trends (noting three key considerations): there has been a dramatic increase in mobile shopping, users are looking for added features and functionality in their favourite apps (offering Snapchat’s addition of Snapcash as an example), and phablets (larger format smartphones) are becoming the device of choice.
Having been a software developer myself for nearly two decades, I would ask that you allow me to paraphrase Khalaf’s remarks: if you sell something using your app (be it virtual currency or physical merchandise) people will want to buy it, users are loyal but expectations are high (meaning you can create life-long customers if you support your app, and update it regularly to offer the features and functionality your users demand), and larger devices mean more screen real estate to play with (but not as much as tablets can offer, and you don’t want to alienate users still stuck in a sub-5-inch-screened world).
Okay, so what is Yahoo now offering developers that can help? Ultimately it boils down to two things (that are not mutually exclusive): information and advertising.
The Yahoo Mobile Developer Suite includes:
- Flurry Analytics – Boasting over 200,000 app developers on their platform that are responsible for 630,000 apps being used on 1.6 billion devices, Flurry Analystics can tell you a thing or two about the state of the marketplace during any given period. How many people do you currently have at your disposal able and willing to provide you with that kind of behavioural feedback?
- Yahoo App Publishing – Due to Yahoo’s acquisition of BrightRoll, developers can now pipe BrightRoll ads into their apps.
- Yahoo App Marketing – Perhaps the most interesting module in the suite, Yahoo ties together their three mobile advertising options (Gemini native ads on Yahoo’s properties, video ads on third parties, and Sponsored Post social ads on Tumblr), letting developers harness Yahoo’s identity data to deliver targeted ads based on what people browse.
- Flurry Pulse – Provides an analytics tool for ad hoc query analysis that allows you to “ask complex questions of your data and get the answer in seconds.” The Flurry Pulse also lets developers share data with their partners and easily send their mobile audience data to comScore.
- Yahoo Search in Apps – Keeping users inside your app is often key to establishing trust and loyalty, bouncing between apps is frustrating (and sometimes confusing for less experienced users). Yahoo is providing an integratable search tool for mobile apps (it doesn’t hurt that keeping a user inside your app following a search means your ads are the ones in play ready to earn actual money). If you want to see it in action, check out the Yahoo main app or Yahoo News Digest.
Don’t worry about platform either: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and mobile web are all supported.
Did I forget to mention it’s also free at any scale? But how? But why? Basically it is a symbiotic relationship between Yahoo and developers when they use these tools: Yahoo becomes increasingly more relevant in the mobile marketplace, Yahoo makes money off ads from their network (not to mention more developers on board, means more ad displays, means it is easier to attract would-be advertisers), and ultimately Yahoo gets to do a little reputation-building (which will prove useful in their future projects).
Now be warned: Yahoo isn’t saying they can guarantee you profits and wealth. What Yahoo provides is the information developers need to make informed decisions regarding their mobile apps (current and future).
Being first to market with any app used to be enough; unfortunately this is no longer the case with app stores bursting at the seams with options. It may go without saying that the key to success is being better than your competition, but the mobile world is a different beast: everybody loves a free app but there is also this understanding (that has grown over the past several years) that you often get what you pay for. Most of us don’t hesitate to throw a dollar or two at an app that (actually) makes our lives easier; now consider there may be (tens of, hundreds of) thousands of people willing to throw you a dollar. Interested in a little recon now? Thought so.
Have I persuaded you to take a closer look? Check out the Yahoo’s Mobile Development Suite website and let me know what you think.