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Mobile Apps Distribution – How Can I Get Noticed?

This is Part 2 of my blog following up on my attendance last week at the Mobile Monday Silicon Valley (www.mobilemonday.us) panel discussion with moderator Tom Tunguz from Redpoint Ventures and panelists Michael Bayle, VP Monetization & Marketing at Amobee; Daniel Cheng, Director of Business Development at Greystripe; Patrick Mork, VP Marketing at GetJar; and Ted Burns, VP Product Management at 4INFO.

Mobile application developers and companies are well aware of the proliferation of mobile applications on the market. Just last month it was announced that the Apple App Store now offers more than 100,000 applications. And therein lies the challenge — how can your application gain visibility with consumers when there are literally tens of thousands of applications vying for the market’s attention?

The Mobile Monday’s panelists brought this question to the forefront and each had unique insights and perspectives on how to tackle this challenge. To help mobile application developers get their apps noticed, some mobile ad networks have launched programs whereby the ad network is taking on the role of “distributor.” For example, Greystripes, a rich media advertising network, has launched a program where they help developers increase downloads of their apps with. Another example, 4INFO, a provider of free text message alerts, is reusing the old mechanism of sending SMS to friends with a link to the application.

With the ad networks taking front seat as “distributor” the panelists were asked the pressing question, “What happens to the carrier?” Michael Bayle of Amobee stressed that the carrier is still responsible for billing, as well as sharing data for targeted advertising, and so they will continue to play a vital role in App Store distribution efforts.

My research shows that carriers are also getting into developing mobile apps. For example, earlier this year, Vodafone announced they would make their App Store available across all its networks and subsidiaries, including Verizon. And Orange just announced that it is launching its new App Store. So globally the phenomenon of Apps Stores has clearly caught on.

So the question is: How can you optimize your application’s distribution? Patrick Mork from GetJar offered these 3 important criteria in assessing where developers should position their applications:

– Who has the easiest application submission process?
– What is the cost of deployment across all channels?
– What tools will the channel provide for promoting the application?

While the discussion about criteria for submitting apps to the App Stores was compelling, it was still agreed on that the quality and usability of any application will set it apart from others and get it noticed. With thousands of applications trying to “make it big,” the panelists suggested that those that have the most chance of succeeding are apps that take advantage of cross-selling platforms. For example, Patrick Mork of GetJar believes that opportunities exist for cross-selling applications through Nimbuzz, Mig 33, Gameloft and OperaMini, among others.

The panelists rounded out the discussion with their perspectives on distribution overall with these three key points:

– Expect to see a consolidation of App Stores.
– Some apps will have the opportunity to reach a mass market.
– 2010 will be the year of the handset. The handsets with the best brand, UI and content will be the winners.

One thing that is clear is that now there are more distribution opportunities for an application. But this also means that just like we have many different mobile OS platforms, we will have many different channels and certifications. From a developers standpoint, it gets quite expensive as you deal with channels , regions, and platforms.

Hence the best is to target and focus on a few distribution channels initially and then assess how one can work on increasing adoptions in these channels.

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