This morning an interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is trending, not because of the wisdom and insight it reveals, but because it reminds us all that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes that place is a beer drinking frat-like office.
The video shows a young Zukerberg in 2005 drinking beer and explaining what Facebook is. It’s amazing to hear what his vision is for the website, and realize how it has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon since then.
Check out the video below for yourself, and spoiler alert, there is a keg in the office.
One thing that struck me is what the equivalent of this could be today. It is absolutely not going to be a website. Realistically, it is going to be an app. Even Facebook is basically an app now, in fact 47% of Facebook’s users ONLY login to Facebook using a mobile device. Also, Facebook’s mobile user base is consistently growing faster than online.
I certainly can’t imagine anyone creating a website in 2016 that is going to revolutionize anything, in fact it seems almost archaic. However the mobile app market still feels like it is in its infant stages. Who knows what new projects created by beer drinking frat boys will go on to revolutionize the way we use apps 10 years from now. And maybe, just maybe, that beer drinking frat boy will even be you.
If you have a mobile app it is imperative you assess the data of your users. This not only gives you valuable marketing information, but also alerts on possible roadblocks and bugs in your app. Google Analytics is free, and provides a central platform for gathering data, reports and offering analysis. If you are new to Analytics there is a lot to learn about the program, however some information is easy to assess and get started with.
First, you will need to set up an account, and once you connect your mobile app some information will be obvious and easy to digest. At first it will be amazing to see how users engage with your app, but as you get more adept with the program you will have a whole new world of data at your fingertips which, with time, will save you money and attract more users to your mobile app.
Below are just a few of the ways Google Analytics can improve the performance of your app, improve your marketing campaigns, and increase monetary gains:
Measuring New & Active User Metrics
Information such as location of your users and which device they use might not seem beneficial on the surface, but simple bits of information like this can benefit your business in many ways. The New and Active User metrics will be the easiest section for you to assess when you first look into Google Analytics.
Discovering which platform the majority of your users prefer can help you make a business decision about creating a native app for either Android or iPhone, and looking at geo-location data can help you learn about the best ways to market to your target audience. It is also possible to check the monetization from one device compared to another, and assess if a technical issue is possible with your app on a specific platform, causing revenue loss.
Choosing A Monetization Model
Data gathered from Google Analytics can help steer you towards the correct revenue stream for your mobile app. There are three main models to monetize apps:
Paid App Downloads & Subscription Based Models
In App Advertising
In App Purchases
Monitoring Your App Revenue Stream
In Google Analytics you can create a measurement plan to assess the success of your monetization model. In this plan you should define your key objectives in order to understand if your marketing goals are successful or not. You will be able to see what user actions are converting into the most money for your business, and where the user actions are costing you money. You can also monitor they type of payment used and time taken for transactions.
Finding App Bugs
Google Analytics creates a ‘Crashes and Exceptions’ report which gives you feedback on the performance of your app. Data on crashes is automatically created, but you can also define specific alerts to monitor issues or screens you might be focusing on. The data on these errors can then be broken down into groups in order for you to assess where the issue might be arising, and how much money it is costing you based on user conversions.
Measuring Effectiveness of Marketing
When you use Google AdWords or AdMob, a report is created in Google Analytics that can show you the success or failure of your campaign. By analyzing this data you can target your efforts more precisely, and save your business money by aiming your campaign on the correct market.
Attracting New Users To Your App
When you use a combination of AdWords and Analytics, you can use reports to identify high and low value users, meaning you will discover who is spending money in your app and who is not. With this information you can seek new high value users, who are the people likely to engage in and pay for your product.
Using reports such as ‘Screens’ in Google Analytics gives you the opportunity to watch where your users are exiting your app. It can help you assess a problem with the flow of your app, or an issue with a payment process. You are also able to see when most users who aren’t spending money are leaving the app, and with that information try to create a way to keep them engaged longer. You can use this data to entice them to make a purchase. For instance if users are often exiting a game at one level, possibly the level is too difficult and you need to adjust the complexity so they stay in app longer.
Once you get more familiar with Google Analytics you will be able to set goals for your business. Goals will most often lead to a monetary conversion by a user, and by tracking funnels you set, you can see where your user is getting confused or contrarily where their usage is most often turning into a sale. Goal setting requires some additional configuration, but the value you will get out of it is worth the extra effort.
As you can see assessing analytics is a powerful tool, and helps you find ways to assist your business in achieving its objectives. Whether it’s adapting your app’s performance, narrowing your target market for advertising, or focusing in or monetary conversions, Google Analytics can benefit every user. Even with minimal effort some data will be useful to the average person, but if taken seriously and given some extra effort, the data gathered can convert into a better user experience and higher revenue.
If you were born in the 80’s or earlier you probably remember going to the library and looking up information in actual books to do your research projects. The thought of your own children researching through google likely freaks the hell out of you, and why wouldn’t it? One search for something as innocent as ‘Justin Bieber’ could lead your kid to a full frontal picture of the pop star. And that’s on the tame end of what could easily be found through innocent seeming keywords.
This is precisely why Google has now launched Kiddle. It’s a safe search engine specifically targeted towards kids, and to ease the fears of their parents. It works by using a filter for explicit or deceptive content. It delivers search results in order of: specifically written for kids, safe content written in a simple way, and finally safe content and famous sites specifically written for adults.
I wanted to see what would happen if I typed in the word ‘nude’ to the Kiddle search engine, and I ended up getting an image of an angry robot telling me I was using bad words.
Another nice function of Kiddle is that it highlights image thumbnails in the search results, along with larger easy to read font, for a more visual experience (especially for younger children). Here is an example of what I saw when I searched ‘horse’:
Kiddle also allows parents to take control even further by allowing site and keyword blocking, so for instance if you really hated Justin Bieber and didn’t even want your child to know of his existence, you would have the ability to block everything to do with him.
One thing that is a bit of a turn off is the kid-centric advertisements on the search results page. I guess this opens up a conversation parents should have with their children about paid content and advertising in the digital world. But it does seem a bit shady to me considering kids are much more susceptible to clickbait.
I certainly am not diluted enough to think that Kiddle is going to solve all the problems parents face with their children online, but it is nice to know that advancements are being made to accommodate a more protected, safer way of searching and doing research.
Now if only Google could figure out how to encourage kids to go outside and play…
What Apple’s App Price Increase Means For Subscription Users
This past week Apple raised the price of all it’s apps in the Canadian App Store by 17% as a result of the declining dollar. Recently the Loonie closed below 70 cents for the first time in 13 years. But what is the reasoning behind this decision from the mega brand, and more importantly, what does it mean for users who agreed to a subscription based app?
Subscription Based App
A subscription based app is one of a few pricing models you can choose from when buying (or developing) an app. It basically means the user agrees to pay a fee for a specific time frame the service chooses. For newspapers and magazines this could be monthly or seasonally, and the subscription is most often auto-renewed.
Paid apps are simply that – the user pays outright to purchase the app from the get-go.
Free or Freemium apps make money with in-app advertising. They can lock certain aspects of the app unless the user pays to upgrade, or have the user pay to upgrade to an advertisement-free version. Freemium apps also can be free for only a specific time, and then ask the user to pay if they want to continue on using the app once the trial has ended.
In-app purchases has become a very popular pricing model (we’ve all heard the stories of kids getting a hold of their parent’s candy crush or flappy birds game, and unknowingly racking up the bill buying lives).
Subscription Users Screwed?
While I’m sure no one in Canada is too happy about Apple’s increase in pricing, the worst hit are going to be those that use subscription based apps. Apple addressed the subscription issue in a memo sent out to developers saying:
“Subscriptions will not be interrupted in Canada, New Zealand, Mexico and Singapore. Shortly before their existing subscription renews, subscribers in these territories will receive an email from us to let them know about the price increase with the option to turn off their subscription.”
– Leaked Apple memo sent to developers
Problem #1 – Do you ever read the emails Apple sends you? If you are like most people, when Apple sends anything, even updated terms, you blindly click ‘Agree’ and get on with the rest of your day. If you subscribed to your favourite monthly newspaper at one price, it’s going to be a pretty big shock to see that agreed upon charge go up by 17% on your next bill.
Problem #2 – Often subscription based apps require a lot of time invested on the user’s part. For example, the Ancestry.com app now charges either $14.99 or $29.99 a month depending on the subscription package chosen by the user. If you had opted in to this service, and invested time into inputting and gathering data about your family tree, would you really decline the rate increase? Likely not, as your time invested is worth more than the 17%.
Not Just Apps Raising Prices
It’s not just the App Store that announced a price increase in the past few days – Canada’s big 3 mobile carriers have also released new pricing guidelines. Telus will raise the price of new contracts and any renewals by $5, Bell is also increasing new customer plans by $5, and Rogers has upped rates on various plans across the board.
What About Google Play?
At the time of this publication there was no world if Google Play would follow Apple’s lead and raise app prices. If they don’t, it will certainly appeal to their client base, who access phones for a fraction of the cost of an iPhone.
It’s not only Canada that is affected by the price increase. Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore and South Africa are also getting rate hikes. Customers who purchased subscription based apps in Russia and Africa will be forced to resubscribe at the new price. This might be a better option at making customers aware of the rate change, but it’s yet to be seen how subscriptions will be affected.
The Canadian dollar has been steadily dropping, and hitting that -30cent point this past month was a clear sign things aren’t going to get any better any time soon. On top of this, the price of oil has dipped below $30/barrel for the first time since Jean Chretien was Prime Minister.
We would all be living in la-la land to think that Apple investors were going to just eat the cost resulting from all of these countries declining currencies.
We have been working with GM Vehicle development platform since Jan 2013. As one of their early program adopters, we got exclusive access to their backend as well as direct contact to their tech and support teams. We spent some time developing some beta apps and trying them out on their systems. This gave us a chance to access their features and put them to real world use and see what we could do with their vehicles.
The GM developers portal is now accepting application submissions.
GM has just launched their own app store, and finally going to be beginning to publish apps to their vehicles. This is great news, as we have been patiently waiting for them to publicly launch the program. As one of the newest markets for apps, I see this is going to be a exciting year and hopefully a profitable market segment int he next 2~3 years ahead. Keep an eye out for some new apps coming out in GM vehicles as we work on things over the next few months.
The most recent numbers as of September 2013 are in. With over 36% of users on Jelly Bean and 21% on Ice Cream Sandwich, you can see the move of the market over the past year. Most people are getting rid of their older devices and moving over to newer and more upgradeable devices. There is some new features in these newer versions, but the main thing you need to focus on it device hardware and your app performance. With the majority of the market in newer more powerful devices, we can push apps to do more and demand more from devices which still providing a very good user experience.
Typical app approval process over at Apple iTunes Connect runs 4-5 business days most of the time. However recently I have seen a huge increase in the delay for app approvals. This could either be due to a increase amount of developers re-releasing their app to support iOS 6 or the new screen dimensions of the iPhone 5.
The current approval time frame is: 8 days!
Currently the iOS app approval process is very delayed, so expect and plan on the extra time it will take you to get approved.
I submitted app on September 12, 2012 08:17 (Waiting For Review) and it was just approved on September 20, 2012 15:48 (Ready for Sale). I typically submit new apps every 48 hours, so I will keep you posted on these delays.