App Ecosystem Opportunities

App Ecosystem Opportunities is the leading source of research and analysis on mobile application trends, developer attitude, and consumer usage. The service provides in-depth analysis on platform performance, content owner strategies, and operators attempts to thrive in the app economy.

November 1, 2013 13:12 AThorwart
After the latest product release maybe it stands for All Day I Dream About a Smart Run.

Adidas just made available its latest Health & Fitness product from the miCoach line – miCoach Smart Run Watch. This is Adidas’ first wearable watch, but it is not the first wearable health & Fitness product. Previous products include the X_Cell (clipped to a waist or chest), Speed_Cell (shoe insert), and the Heart Rate Monitor (strapped to the chest). All three products sync seamlessly with a mobile phone via the Adidas MiCoach Multi-Sport App or the miCoach Mobile App.

Both of the apps are valuable tools for capturing the user’s personal performances while working out or participating in a sporting event. The miCoach Multi-Sport App is designed to help users capture physical abilities based on what sport the user is participating in including vertical leaps, quickness, running speed, etc. The app requires a connection with the X_Cell or Speed_Cell and is only available to Apple users. The miCoach Mobile app is similar in functionality to the Multi-Sport app, but the major difference is the apps availability (available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows users) and it connects with the Speed_Cell and the Heart Rate Monitor.

The miCoach Smart Run is a complete all-in-one health & fitness tool – training guides, performance tracker, music player, etc. Unlike Adidas’ top competitor’s, Nike, product the Smart Run sports a colored touch screen for easy viewing pleasure and an intuitive swipe capability that allows users to quickly change displays or drag and drop song selections. Smart Run syncs via Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity headset for listening pleasures and operates on the Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1.

The device has a few set-backs and perhaps the most important is the need to be connected to a WLAN signal for setup and data transfer. Adidas’ price point for the Smart Run is the other – it is set at $400. Compared to alternative products like the new Nike+ FuelBand SE ($149) and FitBit’s Force ($130) the Adidas product is pricey to say the least, but the other products do not offer similar features to the Smart Run, especially the color touch screen.

It is unclear if Adidas will follow Nike’s lead and allow third party developers to utilize API’s like Nike is doing with Nike+ Fuel Lab and the Nike+ Accelerator Program. Opening up to outside developers would help promote the device and with such a high price point it would make sense to open the doors otherwise Adidas risks staying niche.

I am beginning to wonder - How many industries can be crossed with one product? Since wearable devices have become popular it seems like one product covers a large number of industries and it is increasing. Adidas is a great example of the aforementioned question. The X_Cell goes from being a product that can be clipped to a waist band and then it transforms into the Speed_Cell shoe insert.  If user demands are for a fully functional device that works all the time than it isn’t exactly fashionable for users to wear specifically designed sports equipment on the hip or in special shoes. Logically watches make sense, so now it impacts the fashion industry in addition to the smartphone industry, and the health & fitness industry.  All Adidas needs to do now is start its own music service, or partner with one, so it can directly impact the music industry. That might not be as crazy as it sounds – in the report A Vertical View of Health & Fitness Apps we found that most of the apps integrate with music, and having music integrated into a wearable device means the user doesn’t have to take a bulky smartphone with them on a run just to hear some motivating tunes. Don’t rule a move like this out!


October 10, 2013 13:58 AThorwart

Madden CoachGlass is a second screen solution for hardcore gamers.

Second screen applications were first becoming relevant as a way for television shows/networks to capture consumer excitement away from the TV by providing bonus materials (cast bios, interviews, etc.) available on tablets and mobile phones. These apps were developed to continue engagement and to cultivate excitement while a show may be on commercial or even when shows were out of season. The gaming industry did not want to be left behind and some of the classic console developers were also working on second screen applications.

EA, one of the classic console developers, was able to recognize the capabilities second screen apps can provide and the company has previously entered into the market, but it is now expanding it to the next generation of consoles. The Redwood City, California based company is now getting set to launch Madden CoachGlass – the exclusive second screen app for Madden on XBOX One.

The sole function of CoachGlass is as simple as a play calling tool that would help users call a defense. However, it is actually so much more than that and it shouldn’t be overshadowed. EA is collecting data from thousands of online games and each of the plays provided by the app are actually designed for a specific situation during the game based on the formation and tendencies of the opponent.

This isn’t the first time Madden has gone beyond the television. Over a decade ago they added in a feature where users could connect a Gameboy Advance with a Gamecube that allowed the Advance to become a virtual scoreboard. 

EA is clearly embracing the second screen opportunities and it begs to question what is the next game the company develops will have this capability?

Battlefield 4 is already in beta testing and according to blog from Battlefield “With the Battlelog app (and on web as well), you can do a lot of things away from the game. You can view your stats, customize your Loadout, write in the forums, read the latest news, connect with friends, and more.” Battlelog appears to have been introduced in Battlefield 3, but the functionality was limited.

August 30, 2013 14:19 AThorwart

Xiaomi and Nokia hit app store download milestones.

Apple’s 50 billionth app download milestone was announced in May 2013, which was a few months before Google Play announced its 50 billionth in July during the Q2 2013 earnings conference call. Fast forwarding to August, Xiaomi’s MIUI app store and Nokia’s Ovi app store each announced its own app download milestones – 1 billion (globally) and 2 billion (in India), respectively.

Xiaomi is an OEM making noise in the Chinese market and have garnered press coverage in the last few weeks. The recent addition of Hugo Bara, a former Google VP, has been the biggest piece of news drawing attention to the company. However, the recent billion download milestone is quite impressive, especially considering the Android app store has only been operational for less than 400 day. Overall the company is still in the infancy stage as a player and needs to build upon its recent success if it wants to become a major player.

Nokia, on the other hand, knows a little bit more about the spotlight. Recently the Finnish based company has been in the news with the launch of its 41 megapixel Lumia 1020. The Ovi store has been around longer than the MIUI store and has over 10 billion apps downloaded.The Indian branch of the Ovi store contributed to 20% of the milestone – 2 billion app downloads. Nokia’s Ovi store is available in over 200 countries with over 170,000 available apps.

It is a bit refreshing to see other App stores begining to create buzz and become players in the space, even if they are nothing more than fringe players at best.

July 22, 2013 06:44 AThorwart

Gifts away paid apps to users

Apple who is notorious for paying out the most money to developers was once again in the giving mood, only this time iOS users were the beneficiaries. Upon turning 5, which feels 20 with the way trends change in the industry, Apple has selected 5 games – Infinity Blade II, Where’s My Water?, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, BADLAND, and Tiny Wings – as well as some other apps – Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, Over, and Traktor DJ.

With so many games available for free these days does a promotion like this even matter? The honest answer is, it depends. At the very least apps taking part in promos will see download numbers rise because it is app user’s nature to download free apps especially if it normally costs money.  However free/reduced price promos can also prove to be quite beneficial particularly for developers offering In-app Purchasing (IAP), which is the case for Disney’s Where’s My Water and Infinity Blade II.

Eric Johnson from AllthingsD reported that Infinity Blade II was a major beneficiary of Apple's promo receiving 1.7 million downloads alone last Monday. The boost in users to an app like Infinity Blade II has the potential to be very fruitful in terms of revenue because they offer In-App Purchases (IAP). For the last few years there has been a systematic shift towards freemium games where the game is offered as a free download and the developers capitalize on the users once they are in the game through the IAPs – in game currency, new levels, new gadgets, etc. IAPs are revenue generating machines

July 11, 2013 07:18 AThorwart

“Old guard” mobile games developers regain market share by embracing free to play

Since 2006, total consumer spend on mobile games has skyrocketed due in large part to the formation of App Stores (iTunes, GooglePlay, etc.) and more smartphones entering consumer’s pockets. However during that same time period, the more established mobile game developers (EA, Gameloft and others) which largely relied on carriers for distribution, lost the stranglehold on mobile gaming as the market opened up to many new companies. The big winners recently have been the new entrants like Rovio with its Angry Birds games.

Over the last year Capcom was the top performer in terms of growth in Strategy Analytics’ mobile gaming index. The latest installment - 2013 Q1 Mobile Gaming Index – shows that for the first time since the launch of Apple's App Store in 2007, the total market share of the mobile games publishers we track (EA, Capcom, Com2Us, G5, Gamevil, Gameloft and Glu) showed an annual increase from 16.7% in 2012 to 18.4% in 2013.

How have they reversed the downward trend? Certainly it took a while for those companies to transition from carrier distribution to embrace app stores fully, but the best performers are re-establishing dominance by giving away games for free. The basic principle is attract users with a free game and monetize that game later with in-app purchasing, and that seems to resonate with consumers.



June 21, 2013 07:29 AThorwart

Invites 3rd party developers to build apps for FuelBand

2006 marked the launch of the Nike+ platform and ever since then the company has been trying to motivate end users to achieve fitness goals via electronically enables devices.  Now that the wearable device market is beginning to heat up (thanks in part to the Google Glass announcement a while back) Nike is at the forefront with the FuelBand. Behind the scenes, the sportswear giant hosted the Nike+ Accelerator developer program for several startups. Over the last few days, each of the startups got the chance to present an app in front of investors at Nike WHQ in San Francisco.

The recent Press Release from Nike shed some light on the company’s Nike+ Accelerator program. The basis behind the program was to provide 10 start-ups $20,000 and three months to create the best app that utilizes the Nike+ platform. During those three months Nike opened up its API (aptly title Nike+ API) allowing the startups the ability to access and gather activity Nike+ Running app and the Nike+ FuelBand.

The Nike+ FuelBand is a wearable wristband that measures a user’s everyday activity towards achieving a fitness goal.  Nike is primarily a sportswear manufacturer, but they are beginning to realize the potential revenue burst that smartphone applications can provide.

The Health & Fitness space as a whole is less than attractive in popularity, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an app won’t be successful.  Applications Ecosystem Opportunities’ (AEO)recent  vertical report installment, A Vertical View of Health & Fitness Apps, explains the landscape of the app space  and what Nike (and others) has to overcome– Challenges, Competitors, and whether or not anyone can capitalize on the wearable market.

Other fitness manufacturers are also in the space and thus far it is apparent that the iPhone is the main target. However, this move to open up the FuelBand to third party developers will benefit other operating systems who currently don’t have Nike+ FuelBand apps.

May 1, 2013 08:29 dmacqueen

Our developer survey gives us an unique perspective into the apps ecosystem, and sometimes throws up a few surprising results. While Android was the runaway leader in terms of the sheer number of developers creating apps for the platform, it wasn't ranked as the most important platform. In fact, it only came third in that race. The most developers creating apps for the platform, yet Android was only third place in terms of importance... can you guess the leaders?

Perhaps not surprising, the honor of "most important" went to Apple. No prizes for guessing that! But Android was pushed into third place by HTML5. Treat yourself to a pat on the back if you guessed this surprising result. Yet it's an understandable result if you consider that HTML5 is supported by all the platforms. Perhaps the result is a reflection more on the uncertainty surrounding which platforms will be the long term winners, rather than on the prospects of HTML5 itself.

Clients can read the full results and analysis in the research note, Developer Insight: Platform Loyalty.

April 29, 2013 06:35 dmacqueen

Launched with some fanfare only 10 days ago, and with over half a million installs already, Facebook Home is the company’s attempt to enforce itself in the mobile space. We wrote about it on the launch day – clients can read the report here.

With 1 billion active users, 680 million are using Facebook on mobile. Half a million installs is a pretty low percentage of those users – even lower than Facebook’s mobile revenues which are a remarkably low 23% of total, given that 68% of usage is on mobile devices. Can Home help raise the bar? Ten days’ worth of reviews on the Google Play store don’t seem to give much cause for cheer.

With an average rating of only 2.2, and a remarkable 53% of users giving the app only a 1 star rating, it’s becoming clear that Facebook Home isn’t resonating with users. Why is that? I took a look at the 100 most recent reviews and found the following top concerns:

  • 50% of all reviews mentioned increased difficulty using other apps and widgets (even some of the positive reviews)
  • 14% of reviewers used the word “uninstall”
  • 7% mentioned battery life concerns

Other opinions were generally quite mixed; concerns included privacy, problems installing or running on specific devices, increased data traffic, but none of these were mentioned by more than 3% of the reviews examined. Overall nothing compared to the feeling that most users had – Facebook Home takes over your phone. All widgets disappeared and were unusable, other apps were harder to find and use, and in some cases basic phone functionality became harder to access.

People use Facebook a lot on their phone, that’s for sure, but they don’t want it to become their phone. The phone is an intensely personal device and while Facebook may be a popular app, it's not the only app users want. The design philosophy of Home is thus flawed, in my opinion - it doesnt offer anything to enhance the user's experience of Facebook and hamstrings the other functionality of the device.

If it's to become a success, Facebook Home has to offer some novel services to lock-in power users and provide value in giving Facebook control of their most personal thing, i.e. their phone. Chat heads won’t cut it.

April 17, 2013 12:22 dmacqueen

Put on your Google Glass. What can you see? No advertising, at least not from anyone except Google. Probably precious few apps, either, I’d imagine, since Google has announced some “interesting” rules for developers – you can’t charge for Glass apps, and you can’t include advertising. So at the moment (and admittedly this is beta launch) there’s no way for anyone (except Google of course) to make money. So there’s no incentive for developers to create anything for a device which, with this set of rules, becomes a de facto closed garden. Quite the opposite of Google’s usual open philosophy.

Since this is still a beta there is of course scope for those rules to change in future. If/when it does change, then developers may receive a return on their investment, and at that point we may see a good selection of quality apps emerge. Until that point, there will emerge some apps, but they are going to be little more than case studies, interesting but underdeveloped ideas. Glass also links up with the smartphone, a platform on which developers can charge for apps. So in all likelihood the best apps for Glass are going to be extensions of smartphone apps; putting in front of your eyes information you would otherwise have to glance down at your smartphone to see. While this gives imaginative developers a chance at differentiation, the lack of any financial returns is likely to see the focus remain on the phone and not on the Glass.

Will a few underdeveloped ideas and smartphone app extensions be enough to drive a market for an entirely new product category? The device is already causing enough controversy, can it achieve success without a bunch of killer apps as well?


February 21, 2013 08:44 jmartin


Amazon launched its app store in the US amidst fanfare and hope in March 2011. The catalog quickly grew as the company expanded internationally (starting in the US in early 2011 then expanding to UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain in mid-2012 and Japan in late 2012) , extended its apps from Android phones to Kindles, and offered innovative new business models such as in-app purchasing of physical goods.

Despite this, Amazon’s store has suffered the same growing pains as other third party app stores. In order to better understand the current and long term prospects of Amazon we asked developers about their distribution of apps in our recent Developer Survey. The data herein focuses on developers that stated they were primarily supporting Android this year.  Of those respondents 25% currently distribute through Amazon’s store compared to 97% which distribute through Google Play.




According to the survey much of Amazon’s growing pains have been self-inflicted and can provide a lesson for Amazon and other third party stores on how to succeed.

1.       Freely share penetration information. The most cited reason (17%) why developers are not distributing through Amazon is the lack of insight into the reach of the store. Amazon has not shared download figures or the number of Kindles sold. The lack of clarity on market potential has clearly dampened enthusiasm for the store. Despite the ease of re-deploying existing Android apps via Amazon developers are still shying away from doing so because they need to understand the upside.

2.       Developer relations are critical to success.  While Nokia and BlackBerry have worked hard to build a global developer relations team, Amazon has been comparatively quiet.  In fact, 16% of respondents didn’t even know Amazon distributed apps while another 14% didn’t know how to distribute apps via Amazon. Couple the 30% of respondents cited above with the 9% of that felt Amazon did not have strong enough developer outreach and suddenly the pool of interested developers could quickly grow with improved marketing of the store.  

3.       Being global matters. In order to be a viable platform developers are seeking a broad audience. More than 20% of developers cited lack of a specific country’s availability or limited audience scope of the store as reasons they were not currently distributing via Amazon. Perhaps Amazon’s slow and steady global expansion could yield long term dividends but seems to be a short term detriment.

4.       Deliver Revenue. When developers were asked to cite from which store they were generating the most revenue, Amazon performed woefully. More than 61% of developers (again – those developers that said they primarily support Android today) stated that they generated most of their revenue from Google Play. Amazon earned just over 5% of respondents. Amazon is not offering enough financial upside to offset the time necessary to port apps and support updates.

However all is not lost. Of the developers not currently distributing via Amazon, a full 42% said they plan to support the store in the future. However after nearly two years in the market, a wealth of discovery expertise and e-commerce success Amazon should be a bigger player by now. Amazon’s  ramp up goes to show that a big brand name is a good start but clarity, developer relations and a broad audience that buys apps are critical to win developer support. As developers continue to strive to find ways to make money there’s hope for Amazon and there is hope for other channels but in order to win customers they first must win developers.