Sydney app house scores Brazilian telco deal

52 million users gain access to novelty apps, but downloads still low

Australian app developer RingRing Studios has signed a deal with Brazilian carrier Vivo that will see the developer providing apps to the telco’s 52 million users.

In an ASX statement from RingRing Studios’ parent company, MobileActive (ASX:MBA), the company said Vivo had become the 63rd telco to sign on, following launches in Switzerland and the Middle East over the past two years. A further 33 carriers are currently in negotiations for the company’s branded applications, expanding its distribution network to more than 100 countries

RingRing Studios has so far developed approximately 20 apps in multiple languages and largely focuses on novelties such as an X-Ray scanner and soundboard entertainment apps for mobile devices, including iOS, Android, Symbian, J2ME and Samsung’s Bada mobile system.

MobileActive managing director, Neil Wiles, told Computerworld Australia that the J2ME platform had proved the most lucrative for the company’s growth, but it planned to focus more heavily on Android in the future.

“With iPhone, it’s a drop in the ocean to a large extent,” he said. “The long tail is very big in the [Java] market.”

Despite garnering dozens of contracts and announcing continued growth in a market predicted to be worth $US16.6 billion by 2013, the app developer is yet to reach the million download mark, with approximately 900,000 paid downloads so far.

By comparison, Apple’s popular App Store recently reached ten billion downloads, with the mobile version of social networking site Facebook identified as being downloaded most by users.

“We don’t have an Angry Birds but there are very, very few of them,” he said. “We want to build diversity in the catalogue, because different carriers want different things... obviously that gives us a better long tail, long term.

“It would be great to have one of those mega apps but overall we want a good catalogue that suits across the board; if we have a super hit amongst it, fantastic, but we don’t want to have a one-hit wonder either.”

In a 2009 statement, Wiles said he expected exponential growth in the sector for the next five years.

Mobile Active also has established distribution contracts with major Australian telcos including Telstra, but Wiles said the company planned to expand further locally by opening its retail arm to independent resellers.

“In this country we’re the dominant retail marketer of mobile content off-portal,” he said. “Up until just recently we’ve held all of those exclusively for this territory so they could be marketed under our retail division.

"Now we are looking at a couple of other partners for this territory.”

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags software developmentNeil WilesMobile ActiveRingRing StudiosVivo

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