Distimo, an app store analytics company founded just a little more than two years ago has since become a big player in the app store economy. I talked with analyst Gert Jan Spriensma about their new benchmarking tool and learned that the Amazon Appstore’s sales numbers are still snippy in comparison to what the Android Market has got going.
If you are a player in the app store game you almost certainly stumbled over one of Distimo’s monthly publications one time or another. Every few weeks they share some of their insights into the app store economy. Last time it was all about Mobile Gaming Trends: Popularity, Pricing and Monetization. These reports are quoted all over the internet, beginning at small blogs and ending at large News-Websites like the NYT or the Guardian.
But Distimo doesn’t only provide great reports they also have a very sophisticated analytics tool for app developers, Distimo Monitor. Following, a little excerpt from the interview I did with Gert for my upcoming book.
Do you think the iOS App Store for iPhone makes the biggest portion of your work?
The Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad is the most popular so it is the most interesting to watch. All our clients are interested in: What is Apple doing, what is happening in the Apple App Store, what is most popular, who are the big players? But for example Google Android Market is becoming increasingly important.
As a developer, what data do I get from you?
We have a web based tool called Distimo Monitor where you can track downloads, see what countries you’re popular in, how much money you earn and we are constantly expanding the features for Monitor. Currently we are a releasing a benchmark tool where you can compare your applications’ performance to that of a competitor app or a reference group. That way you can compare: In this country I’m doing better than this group and in this country I’m doing worse. Maybe I have to set the price a little bit higher if, say the average price in the social network category is higher than the price of my social networking app. Or you may even look at pricing strategies of top grossing apps in your category.
But you also provide paid reports?
In the reports we combine aggregated transactional data from the developers with publicly available information retrieved from the various app stores. The reports are customized for paying clients like large manufacturers and operators. They get in-depth information about the market, but on an aggregated level. To answer questions like: How is the Apple App Store doing vs. Google Android Market? Are games more popular on the iPhone or on Windows Phone 7?
Do you think there are developers who don’t need to have app analytics?
If you are a serious developer and you want to make money out of your app by releasing new ones, releasing updates, etc. I think you need a tool. Because the built-in reporting mechanisms of for example the iPhone Store or the Android Market are not that user-friendly. Most of the time they will only supply data via a csv or Excel-File, while we import this information automatically. This way you get an illustrated view like in a well-arranged bar chart or a world map. If you use the raw data supplied by an app store you have to convert the csv and have to create the charts yourself.
So yes, if you are serious about development you’re going to need a tool.
Did you notice a trend of developers coding for multiple app stores?
Not all platforms are that easy to develop for. They use different languages. For iPhone and iPad you need to program in Objective C for Android you need to develop in Java and Windows Phone 7 uses XDA or .net. So it’s not that I just develop for iPhone and then publish that same app in several app stores.
Still, there is a trend to publish cross store. Android increasingly gained market share, they already have 50% of the smartphone market in the US. So if you want to reach a large audience you have to publish cross platform. Obviously, most developers start at one platform.
Is it common that smaller independent developers publish in several app stores of the same platform, like Android Market and Amazon Appstore?
Amazon is an excellent example: We currently track data for the Google Android Market and the Amazon Appstore. So we have information about both stores. And so far we don’t see that the Amazon Appstore is getting much traction. At least not yet. But you know, Amazon is a large player so maybe it will end up with a significant market share. But for now if you compare the volumes, it’s very small.
Distimo has a focus on the app store economy as a whole but you are not really in contact with developers, right?
We are in contact with some Distimo Monitor users. Before they start using this tool we often have a call with the larger clients and talk about what new features they like to see in the Monitor. And we also keep regular contact to these developers.
It is not that we don’t want to talk to smaller developers. But the large ones do have special needs and might want to have things adjusted. Our customer service is of course open to everyone and we are happy to discuss their needs with all developers. As the majority of developers in all the app stores are small ones, the majority of our users are small developers.
Gert, thank you for your time.