The InMobi developer community is thousands of developers strong and represents billions and billions of ad impressions on our network. Over the past year and half I have met hundreds of mobile app developers from organizations of all sizes. This includes the one-man garage start-up, all the way up to 50 person companies, spanningmultiple geographies. In building this programI experimentedwith many different tactics. Based on this success, Huawei asked me to present at a thought leadership forum they conducted at their R&D center in Santa Clara, California. My talk focused on strategies and tactics, based on our experience,that device manufacturers shouldadopt to attract Android developers. Here are ten different tactics I recommended:
Scale matters.Developers need access to device platforms that are at the scale where they can make a profit. A one million plus market, of the same device is a very attractive offering for developers. With anything less, it's hard for the developer to see how they can achieve any ROI.
Different screen sizes (not at the same aspect ratio), different sound chips, different bus speeds, etc. Device manufacturers have contributed significantly to fragmentation. Android developers not only have to deal with all the OS versions, but the hardware fragmentation makes testing and debugging a significant drain on resources. Device manufacturer should set minimum hardware standards internally and limit fragmentation in a logical way.
Android device manufacturers can easily differentiate by offering peripherals and other features that are not available on iOS. HTC's Facebook buttonis a great example and support for SD cards is another. This gets exciting when you open up the APIs of that device peripheral and allow developers to build applications on top of it. It provides the opportunity for an entirely new app / hardware market to emerge.
Offering device pre-install opportunities is an obvious way to both build relationships with app developers and differentiate your devices. Developing a store solution is costly and difficult, but partnering with a third party app store like GetJar is great way to access a large selection of apps.
InMobi has been very successful with this strategy. We created a 2 Million dollar World Developer Fund to help small indie developers.Through that program we gave app developers 100% of the ad revenue (normally developers take 60%)generated from advertising in their apps.The program ran until the fund was gone. Device manufacturers can easily do something similar, by providing small amounts of seed capital to app developers and making them compete for more capital, based on a specific set of success metrics.
Device manufacturers, who give hardware to developers, ensure that those developers are now optimizing their apps to run on their devices. One simple way to set up the program is to give a device to any app developer who has an Android Marketplace ID and over 50,000 downloads.
Rather than emulate other successful eco-system like iOS and pay developers to port their apps over, why not encourage developers to make new apps? Apps that are different and exciting from what is available on other platforms, give people a good reason to switch. I personally don't see the value in switching,only to use an app I already love and potentially have an inferior experience with it, from a poorly done port.
There are a host of services that developers need access to, but monetization partners, such as ad networks and payment partners are a top priority for developers. By having relationships with preferred partners,you can help negotiate better terms for developers, on their behalf and even pass these savings on to developers who work with you.
Device manufacturers are well positioned to help developers access global markets. Developers need partners and services that help them efficiently localize their apps. Apple's iTunes store and Nokia's OVI store are obvious examples of this.
The key to succeeding with Android is to accept it for what it is, and not haveiOS envy. Device manufacturers should help developers focus on the strengths of Android, explore new opportunities and embrace creative ideas, rather than simply imitating a competing system that has very different fundamentals. Gregory Kennedy Director, Global Marketing @InMobi