Is advertisement the only business model for mobile?

I recently attended a conference where the main theme was how to grow the audience for mobile apps. The landscape was pretty broad from games to social apps, e-commerce and so on. There were two main themes that kept being repeated at the conference: advertisement and attribution.

For those like me that aren’t familiar with attribution it’s essentially a set of tools to monitor where clicks come from. This is useful in two ways: to track which of your marketing campaigns are working and to limit fraud.

A talk I really enjoyed and that was full of data points was from Chris Calderon @ Gamejam. He offered a lot of detail around user acquisition strategies and costs when developing hyper casual games. An interesting aspect of hyper casual is that as a developer you should acquire users at the lowest possible cost (true for everyone) so that your users will see the most ads. This to me sounds like a numbers game, <ads I show> – <ads to acquire user> = <profit made>.

A related topic that came up more than once is the relationship with the Play Store and App Store. It’s key to have a relationship with the staff there, but even when developers have a relationship, irrespective of the app category, they have no control over their own fate. Getting featured on the opening page of the store makes any app an instant success, but get below the top 10 of your category and nobody will ever find you.
As a developer you are left advertising your apps on Facebook while you hold your breath and hope to get noticed and given a shot at the opening page of an app store. It’s not an exciting perspective, especially if you are a small or even medium development company.

To make the situation more complex users aren’t really keen to pay a premium. Top games on consoles cost tens of dollars and often come with monthly subscriptions, but in the mobile world apps are at most 99 cent or a few dollars. Hyper casual games are quintessential of this landscape: maximize ad revenue versus cost of (user) acquisition.

So this left me with more questions than answers. In a time when more and more people are wondering how to find the right balance between meaningful ads without giving up (completely) privacy why are developers cornered with only 1 viable business model?

Mobile phones seem to have opened a million opportunities, but aren’t there better ways to earn a decent profit from creating apps (utility, games or other) that is not showing as many ads as possible?

OTA Firmware upgrade

I have always loved to have the most recent software version of everything.
I always check for updates and install the very latest betas. Sometimes is good, sometimes is not, if they are Beta there must be a reason!

I have to say that as a mobile phone fan I have always been a bit upset about the inability to update my phone or actually change the firmware version. For testing it is sometimes useful to be able to jump to a different firmware version.

I remember when Siemens first provided firmware upgrade softwares from their sites. It was the series 45 and a number of sites appeared with hacked upload softwares that let you change the firmware version and sometimes enable some debug features. It was a great time! I remember testing different versions, browsing sites to know the changelog and so on.

Siemens has been the only one to offer that service for quite some time and they actually removed it in subsequent families of devices.
Siemens was probably the only one that let you upgrade your firmware without wiping all your software. Nokia is famous for deleting all your contacts and calendars and settings when upgrading the firmware. Once it was not possible or very hard to keep the contacts syncronized with your computer and losing all of them would mean wasting a few hours to copy on paper and then insert in the new software version (not to mention possible mistakes!).

A few days ago I was browsing the Benq-Siemens site and discovered that they are supporting what they call S.O.A., an acronym for Software Over the Air.
On their website there’s a flash, you pick your phone and then you can download the software on your PC or directly on your phone, depends on the model.
This is GREAT! I WANT one.

Special thanks to Erik for a nice gift he sent me these days. In fact I just received a shiny new SE W810i!
To my surprise I discovered, while playing with it, that SonyEricsson offers the firmware upgrade too. You need to specify a connection profile, of course, it checks the central server and notifies you that a new firmware version is available. You are then allowed to download and install or postpone. In my case it was 1.4MB!
I decided to do with a USB cable actually, because I wanted to force the update for Italy instead of Norway. I still need to work on it, but I’m going to make it work. 😀

I wonder when will Nokia make it.