News and Resources

Google planning hybrid Android/Chrome OS tablets

Welcome to DeveloperEconomics’ weekly news roundup. In this edition Google is reportedly planning hybrid devices that run both Android and Chrome, game developers boycott Oculus due to its founder’s support for Donald Trump and Google takes its Daydream SDK out of beta. Read on for the full news rundown.


Google planning hybrid Android/Chrome OS tablets

Google is reportedly planning hybrid devices that run both Android and Chrome, according to 9to5Google. The Andromeda project bakes Chrome OS features into Android and is reportedly being released on a Nexus-branded tablet and a convertible laptop. Rumours suggests the laptop device will launch in Q3 2017.


IBM releases IBM Bluemix Runtime for Swift

IBM has introduced a production-ready Swift runtime on the IBM Cloud. The release allows enterprises to take advantage of the server-side capabilities in Apple’s programming language, for building microservice APIs on its cloud platform. IBM says by unlocking Swift for enterprises it’s “reached another milestone” in its “shared journey with Apple.”


Microsoft announces 400m Windows 10 users

Microsoft says Windows 10 now has over 400 million active users. The last update on user growth was in July, when the OS hit 350, just before it ended its free upgrade period. Microsoft’s original goal was to have one billion devices running Windows 10 by 2018, but the company has since backtracked and is not specifying when it will hit the one billion milestone.


Oracle announces new products for cloud platform

Oracle unveiled 20 new products and services for its Oracle Cloud Platform at the annual OpenWorld conference last week. New products include the cloud-based Oracle Database 12c Release 2, along with an SaaS offering, which combines third party data with real-time analytics for “adaptive” app development. During the announcements, Oracle’s CTO Larry Ellison said Amazon now has “serious competition going forward.”


SoundCloud devs must submit application for API access

SoundCloud has announced changes to its API policy, requiring devs to apply for access. The application form asks devs what categories their app falls under, how it makes money and whether the app plays content from the SoundCloud API. SoundCloud says the changes were made to stop apps from using content without the permission of creators.


Mopub modular ad SDK reduces app sizes

Twitter’s MoPub ad network has announced a new SDK that lets devs cut out the ad formats they don’t use. The modular SDK means devs can save up to 60% on disk space for Android apps and up to 35% for iOS apps, without losing any functionality. MoPub says the space savings will be particularly useful for Asia-Pacific devs, where expensive data plans can impact bigger apps.


Google takes Daydream VR tools out of beta

Google has released a new VR SDK, allowing devs to build VR experiences for Daydream-ready phones and headsets. The Daydream VR SDK 1.0 supports “integrated asynchronous reprojection, high fidelity spatialized audio and interactions using the Daydream controller.” The release also supports native integration in both Unity and Unreal Engine 4.


Facebook rolls-out Profile Expression Kit SDK

Developers can now integrate Facebook’s Profile Expression media into the apps. The Profile Expression Kit lets users turn media – such as Vine videos, Bommerang GIFs and Lollicam stickers – into profile pictures. Facebook says profiles are the second most visited surface on Facebook, allowing Expression Kit apps to generate a lot of exposure.


Onsen UI 2.0 now available

The Onsen UI team has released version 2.0 of its UI framework, which helps developers create native mobile apps with HTML5. While Onsen 1.x was based on Angular JS, the new version has no library dependencies, as well as new Material Design components. The team has also released new and improved documentation to make it easier for devs to get to grips with the framework.


Developers boycott Oculus over Trump-supporting founder

A number of Oculus developers are boycotting the VR platform due to the political views of its founder, Palmer Luckey. According to a Daily Beast report, Luckey funded a pro-Trump activist group, which posted anti-Hilary Clinton ads. Developer Scruta Games said it will “cancel Oculus support” unless Luckey steps down from his position at Oculus.

News and Resources

Angular team announces final release of version 2.0

Welcome to DeveloperEconomics’ weekly news roundup. In this edition, Google announces the release of Android Studio 2.2, Oracle confirms rumours of a Java EE 8 delay and Microsoft has been crowned the new king when it comes to open source contributors. Read on for the full news rundown.

Google app ads beat Facebook with 3 billion installs

Google says its ad products are now responsible for more than three billion app install ads. The announcement follows Facebook’s claim in April that its ads have generated over two billion installs. Google says it’s also experiencing a decline in average ad prices, down 9% year-on-year, due to the continuing growth of YouTube ads.

Microsoft has most open source contributors, says GitHub

Microsoft has beat Facebook to become the organisation with the most open source contributors on GitHub. Microsoft racked-up 16,419 contributors, beating Facebook’s 15,682 and Docker’s 14,059. GitHub’s report also found that JavaScript is the most popular language, Font Awesome is the repository with the most open source contributors and Homebrew is the repository with the most users reviewing code.

Java EE 8 not ready until end of 2017

Oracle says the release of Java EE 8 will be delayed until the end of next year. The delay, which was rumoured for some time, was announced at the JavaOne conference last week, where a new roadmap was proposed. Oracle now plans to release Java EE 8 with basic microservice and cloud capabilities, before releasing EE 9 sometime in 2018 with more features.

Affectiva emotional analytics platform now free for indie devs

Start-up Affectiva is allowing any company that earns less than a million dollars a year to use its SDK and API. The Affectiva platform uses “emotional analytics” to analyse user sentiment via chatbots or surveys. The company also announced a partnership with Giphy, which will see Affectiva encode Giphy gifs for sentiment analysis.

Angular team announces final release of version 2.0

The Angular team has announced the final release version of Angular 2.0. The new version of the JavaScript framework features better support for modern browsers, modular functionality that makes it easier to use third-party libraries, and is recommended for use with Microsoft’s TypeScript. Google also says it will provide devs with more guides to learn Angular 2.0 faster.

Android Studio 2.2 released

Android Studio 2.2 is now available to download. The update brings a significant number of new features, including an improved layout editor, an activity recorder that generates Espresso code for automated testing, and an emulator that can simulate data from different sensors. The new IDE also boasts an APK analyser, GPU debugger and much more.

GitHub announces project management tools and support for formal reviews

GitHub has announced the “biggest update yet” to its platform, bringing project management features to the table. The built in Trello-like project management tool lets users move cards with pull requests and switch cards between columns such as “in progress” and “done.” GitHub also now lets devs formally approve all pull requests and leave review summaries.

Kochava releases free version of app analytics tool

Kochava has launched Free App Analytics, a tool to measure and optimise app ad campaigns. The free tool lets devs optimise campaigns across big networks such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and Snapchat. The tool also includes a global index of integrated ad networks. However, features such as scaling are only available in Kochava’s paid Enterprise offering.

Microsoft opens Desktop Bridge for Win32 app conversion

Microsoft’s Destktop Bridge is now ready to use, allowing devs to repackage desktop apps, including Win32 apps, for the Window Store. The Desktop Bridge also converts apps to the Universal Windows Platform, allowing Win32 apps to run on any device running Windows 10. Microsoft says the bridge has already been used by the likes of Evernote, Arduino IDE and doubleTwist to bring full featured apps to Windows Store.

Oracle announces ‘drag and drop’ chatbot platform

Oracle has unveiled a new platform for building and running chatbots. The tool doesn’t require any coding experience – featuring a drag and drop graphical interface – and is positioned an easy-to-use bot builder for enterprises. According to Oracle, its bots will work with all modern messaging platforms, such as Facebook, Slack and Kik.

Google acquires API.AI bot building start-up

Google has bought API.AI, a start-up that provides dev tools for building conversational bots. According to Google, over 60,000 developers are using API.AI’s tools to build conversational experiences for environments such as Slack, Facebook Messenger and Kiki. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

News and Resources

News round up – Razer launches new fund for VR & gaming start-ups

Welcome to DeveloperEconomics’ weekly news roundup. In this edition, Blackstorm raises $33.5m for a ‘post-app store”, Razer launches a new fund for VR and gaming start-ups and Kony releases a new survey on the challenges of wearable development. Read on for the full news rundown.

Blackstorm raises $33.5m for ‘post-app store’ platform

Blackstorm has raised $33.5 million for what it calls a “post app store” solution, letting developers share apps outside of typical store fronts. Blackstorm offers a universal IDE designed to create apps that are shared across different distribution channels, such as messaging apps and mobile browsers. The company says its goal is to power “the infrastructure to trade and distribute software to all the post app-store platforms.”

Aruba announces platform to accelerate enterprise IoT adoption

HP’s Aruba has released the Aruba Mobile First platform, which aims to build a dev eco-system around its ArubaOS operating system. Aruba says the platform, which incorporates ArubaOS 8, lets third party devs quickly improve apps or create new ones based on its wireless networking technologies. The platform also collects data from IoT and mobile devices and customises networking functions dynamically in real time.

Google issues Nougat security update

Google has released a security update for Android Nougat. The update fixed a vulnerability that could enable remote code execution on an affected device. However, Google added that it’s had no reports of active customer exploitation or abuse of the fixed issues.

Korean firms consider legal action over Apple’s API policy

A group of Korean financial tech firms are reportedly launching a complaint to state regulators against Apple’s closed API policy around NFC functions. The companies complain that Apple is blocking providers such as Samsung Card and BC Card from accessing the NFC features. A similar complaint was previously lodged by Australian banks with regulators in the country.

PerfectlySoft releases Perfect 2.0 framework for Swift 3.0

PerfectlySoft has released the latest version of its server-side development framework for Swift 3.0. Perfect 2.0 features support for additional datasources, such as Redis and Filemaker, as well as “significant” performance and scalability enhancements. The company says Swift is “evolving extremely rapidly” and its framework helps developers keep up with the changes.

AWS SDK for C++ now available for production use

Amazon has released version 1.0 of its AWS SDK for C++. The SDK has received a number of improvements following developer feedback, including an improved Transfer Manager and symmetric cryptography support. The SDK also now follows semantic versioning so devs can upgrade within the 1.x series without breaking their build.

InfluxDB version 1.0 releases

InfluxData has released version 1.0 of its InfluxDB open-source time-series database. Influx DB was written in the Go programming language and is already being used by companies to monitor network infrastructure, security, container infrastructure, solar panels, and more. InfluxData says the database has been in development for nearly three years.

Box releases updates to attract more developers

Storage platform Box has released a series of updates aimed at developers. The platform now supports annotations, watermarking and new content types. Devs using the JavaScript SDK can now benefit from HD video, 3D models, VR files and 360-degree content. Box is also releasing a UI Kit that makes it easier to integrate elements into their web apps.

MySQL 8.0.0 Milestone Release is available

MySQL have announced that their 8.0.0 milestone release is now available for download. In their blog post, the engineers have outlined the most significant changes, some of which address problems that have plagued MySQL. The source code is available at GitHub.

Razer launches $30m fund for VR, IoT and gaming start-ups

Gaming hardware company Razer has launched zVentures, a new fund for investing in start-ups focused on gaming, VR, robotics and IoT. Razer is looking to fund early-stage start-ups with investments ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. The fund is based out of San Francisco and Singapore.

Survey highlights top challenges around wearables development

Kony has released a new survey looking at the challenges around developing apps for wearables. According to the survey, wearables will be “commonplace” in the enterprise by 2020 and 78% of devs surveyed said they are working on 2 wearable apps or more. Forty percent said the lack of communication between designers, stakeholders and developers is the biggest challenge for wearable development.


Platforms Tools

Top 5 Tools for Augmented Reality in Mobile Apps

Augmented Reality (AR) is about overlaying pieces of a virtual world over the real world (in contrast to Virtual Reality (VR) that is about replacing the real world with a virtual one). On mobile devices, this simply means enhancing what you can see through the device’s camera with multimedia content (e.g. you can point your camera at a movie poster and watch its trailer, or you can point it at a star in the sky and learn its name). So, basically [tweetable]AR comes down to the following three fundamental questions: where to display what and how[/tweetable].


But first: which are YOUR favourite tools? Take the Developer Economics Survey and you could win new, amazing gear.

The where might involve areas like 2-D image matching and tracking, 3-D object matching and tracking, face detection and tracking, SLAM tracking, and location tracking (using GPS, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope). Sometimes the where is nothing more than some predefined point locations, often referred to as Points of Interest (POIs).

On the other hand, the what and the how might leverage 3-D model rendering, animations and gesture detection. In general, the what can be any piece of digital information (e.g. text, image, video) that the user might also have the ability to interact with (e.g. rotate or move it).

Top 5 Tools for Augmented Reality

Let us now present five of the numerous AR tools that exist at the moment and that can be used to develop apps for smart-phones, tablets or even smart-glasses. The following table contains information about the license(s), under which each one of these tools is distributed, and the platforms that it supports.

Product Company License Supported Platforms
ARPA SDKs Arpa Solutions Commercial* Android, iOS (ARPA SDKs), Google Glass (ARPA GLASS SDK), Android, iOS, Windows PC (ARPA Unity Plugin)
ARLab SDKs ARLab Commercial Android, iOS
DroidAR Free and Commercial Android
Metaio SDK Metaio Free and Commercial Android, iOS, Windows PC, Google Glass, Epson Moverio BT-200, Vuzix M-100, Unity
Vuforia SDK Qualcomm Free and Commercial Android, iOS, Unity
Wikitude SDK Wikitude GmbH Commercial* Android, iOS, Google Glass, Epson Moverio, Vuzix M-100, Optinvent ORA1, PhoneGap, Titanium, Xamarin

* There is also a free trial available.


Image (multi-)detection and (multi-)tracking, 3-D object rendering in real time, as well as user interaction with 3-D objects (e.g. selection, rotation, scaling) are some of the features that ARPA SDK offers for building AR apps on iOS and Android. ARPA GPS SDK complements ARPA SDK with geolocation-based AR functionality: it allows you to define your own POIs that, when detected, the user can select them and get more information about them or even perform actions on them (e.g. the “take-me-there” action that displays a map with directions to the selected POI). ARPA GLASS SDK and ARPA Unity Plugin offer similar functionality with ARPA SDK for Google Glass and the Unity game engine, respectively. It is worth noting that Arpa Solutions, the company behind these SDKs, have over the years developed their own AR platform, some of the features of which (e.g. face recognition and virtual buttons) might at some point be transferred also to the SDKs.

Update Oct 7, 2015: ARPA website has gone offline – their domain name, i.e. seems to have expired.


With AR Browser SDK you can add and remove POIs independently from the scene in real time, interact with them (e.g. touch them or point the camera to them) and perform actions on them (e.g. send SMS or share on Facebook). Image Matching SDK allows you to create your own local matching pool with thousands of images (loaded both from local resources and remote URLs), and use it to match any image without any connection to the internet, while it also supports QR code and barcode recognition. Except for these two SDKs, ARLab will soon launch Object Tracking, Image Tracking and Virtual Button SDKs. All SDKs are available for both Android and iOS.


DroidAR is an open-source framework that adds location-based AR functionality to Android apps. Gesture (e.g. full turn) detection, support for static and animated 3-D objects (using the model loaders from the libGDX game development framework) that the user can interact with (e.g. click on them), and marker detection are part of the functionality that DroidAR offers and that is only shaded by the poor documentation that exists for the project. There is a section on the project README file on GitHub that gives an overview of a closed-source version of DroidAR, DroidAR 2, which seems to have some interesting enhancements compared to its open-source counterpart (e.g. SLAM tracking and a jMonkeyEngine plugin).

Metaio SDK

Metaio SDK supports among others 2-D image, 3-D object, face, SLAM and location tracking, barcode and QR code scanning, continuous visual search (both offline and online through Metaio CVS), and gesture detection. Metaio has also designed their own AR scripting language, AREL (Augmented Reality Experience Language) that allows you to develop your AR apps using common web technologies (HTML5, XML, Javascript) and deploy them everywhere. Metaio SDK can be used to develop AR apps for Android, iOS, Windows PC, Google Glass, Epson Moverio BT-200 and Vuzix M-100 or using Unity.


Multi-target detection, target tracking, virtual buttons, Smart TerrainTM, and Extended Tracking are some of the features of Vuforia SDK. Vuforia supports the detection of several kinds of targets (e.g. objects, images, English text). Especially for image recognition purposes Vuforia allows apps to use databases that are either local on the device or in the Cloud, The platform is available for Android, iOS and Unity. There is also a version of the SDK for smart glasses (namely Epson Moverio BT-200, Samsung GearVR, and ODG R-6 and R-7) that is currently moving to its beta phase and is open for early access applications from qualified developers.

Wikitude AR SDK

Wikitude AR SDK supports image recognition and tracking, 3-D model rendering and animations (supports only the Wikitude 3-D format), video overlays, location-based tracking and image, text, button, video and HTML augmentations. Wikitude AR SDK is available for Android, iOS, Google Glass, Epson Moverio, Vuzix M-100 and Optinvent ORA1, and as a plugin for PhoneGap, a module for Titanium and a component for Xamarin.

To sum up

There are apps that allow a museum exhibit to tell its own story, that help you decide which furniture looks better in your living room, that bring an elephant you just drew on a piece of paper into life, or that warn you about all the signs you ignored while you were driving. These are examples of already available apps that provide some sort of AR functionality. So, pick one of the AR tools we described above (or one we didn’t, e.g. AndAR, ARmedia SDK, BeyondAR, mixare) and use it to integrate AR in your own apps.

Read more about the differences between AR and VR!

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Permissions in Mobile Ad SDKs

If you’ve ever tried to integrate a mobile ad SDK into your application, then you’ve definitely had to declare a few permission for it to work. Permissions in mobile platforms such as Android and iOS have been baked in from day one as a mean to control what applications could do or access on your phone, preventing despicable people getting access to your most personal and sensitive data. In this article, we will review what permissions are required to integrate 10 of the most popular mobile ad SDKs out there.


For the sake of clarity and consistency, we will use the Android SDK permissions. Since most of these mobile ad networks mirror their Android and iOS SDKs this is an acceptable simplification, so without further ado, let’s jump right in.


The Internet Permission

This is a no-brainer really. If any ad SDK is going to be able to serve real-time ads, then it has to be able to communicate with an adserver over the internet. It’s no surprise then that all 10/10 SDKs require this permission.

The Network State Permission

Accessing the network state simply means identifying if the device is connected to the internet. If the answer to this question is yes, then this permission can also be used to identify if the connection is through a WiFi or a Cellular connection. This is the second most common permission across our sample with 7/10 SDKs requiring this permission and another 2 listing it as optional.

Access WiFi State Permissions

Using this permission is another way to check if a user is connected to WiFi or not but is clearly not the most popular method as only 2 SDK mark this as required with another 3 making it optional.

Read Phone State Permission

A less popular permission as only 3 SDKs require this but nevertheless all three make this a requirement.

Access Coarse/Fine Location Permissions

This is a very important set of permissions. Traditionally location has played a key role in advertising but has an especially increasing importance in digital mobile advertising. It comes then as no surprise that 7/10 SDKs are interested in this permission. There is a clear trend here that these permissions are mainly optional permissions because they can be considered as more “intrusive” by users so developers tend to avoid them if not using them already. On the other side, including location info with an ad request can usually boost potential by a great deal so this situation can present a great dilemma.

Other Permissions

While the permissions mentioned above are the most popular ones, you may encounter some less frequent ones like write to external storage or even record audio. Throughout the 10 SDKs mentioned in this article, we measure 12 distinct permissions which is not a very big number considering that the Android OS has more than 100 available to declare.

Most SDKs that we have reviewed for this article have very reasonable permission requirements. Ultimately, it’s up to the app developers to find the sweet spot on what they will allow these SDKs to collect and if they are willing to introduce new permissions in their apps just for this. On the other hand, by doing so, app developers can realise a substantial boost in earnings due to more targeted and relevant ads, which can be a great thing for the end-users as well!


Rise of the Mega SDK Vendors in Mobile


Many would argue that the mobile platform consolidation in the form of today’s Apple / Google duopoly is a good thing for developers; less choice, but two mature platforms and a billion-smartphones addressable market. Despite the platform consolidation, developers face real challenges not just in developing, but also in prototyping, designing, marketing, selling and supporting apps.

The quality bar for apps is increasing; apps need to incorporate more functionality in a slicker UI, a sexier package (graphical assets and messaging), as well as through the right marketing channels and at the right price, which is usually free-to-try. App consumers are demanding, expecting utility, convenience and easy of use – all at a low or free price point with monetization shifting from paid downloads to advertising and in-app purchases. Enterprise apps have to talk to legacy systems, be an effective part of a company’s business strategy, enhance brand image, while being secure, reliable and cost efficient to develop and maintain.

To support the community of 500,000+ mobile developers globally, a new “SDK economy” has emerged to cater to the needs of mobile developers. A storm of over 500 SDK startups and Enterprise IT incumbents, have emerged since 2009 to help developers in everything from app prototyping and debugging, to user analytics, planning tools, and customer support. These days developers can choose from a gazillion tools to monetize their apps, test, monitor app performance, manage security, study user behaviour, cross-promote apps to attract & engage users, and manage API use and simplify use of cloud services.

Today most of the supporting infrastructure for app developers resides, within 3rd party developer tools, rather than within the platform itself. This SDK economy has become the critical infrastructure underneath the app economy.

Growth and consolidation in the SDK economy

The SDK economy has seen an impressive amount of growth and consolidation in the last 4 years. It’s also an economy that’s intensely suffering in terms of monetisation.

The very first SDKs or tools for mobile developers were App store analytics (tracking sales & downloads) from the likes of Distimo and App Annie. Then came ad networks (mobile-centric like AdMob, acquired by Google), later followed by web ad networks expanding to in-app advertising, with ad networks and servers now in abundant supply. Cross platform tools followed soon after, helping develop apps for more platforms, from a single code base. Led by PhoneGap and Appcelerator, the supply of CPTs has exceeded 50 vendors, practically making this area of the tools economy a red ocean.

Looking for investment opportunities, VCs began investing in the companies that support Enterprise and Consumer mobile app development. The VC capital created value but it also changed developer perceptions of value, by forcing tool vendors to offer base products for free. It also led to a string of acquisitions (see below), as covered in VisionMobile’s Developer Economics Q1 2013 report.

Table: Mergers and Acquisitions in Mobile Developer Tools

Company Product & type Acquired by Date
Aptana Development environment Appcelerator Jan-11
Metismo Bedrock Java-to-native source code translator Software AG May-11
TapJS Game hosting platform and API AppMobi Jun-11
TapLynx App factory Push IO Jun-11
RhoMobile Rhodes enterprise apps framework Motorola Solutions Jul-11
Particle Code HTML development tools Appcelerator Oct-11
Nitobi Makers of PhoneGap Adobe Oct-11
Strobe Web app framework and app management platform Facebook Nov-11
Usergrid Backend-as-a-Service Apigee Jan-12
Cocoafish Post-download app services Appcelerator Feb-12
Worklight Enterprise app platform IBM Feb-12
Chomp App store search and discovery Apple Feb-12
TestFlight Beta testing Burstly Mar-12
Trestle Back-end-as-a-service Flurry Jul-12
Appstatics App performance trackingservice Appsfire Jul-12
Instaops User analytics Apigee Aug-12
Cabana A tool to turn Facebook pages to mobile apps Twitter Oct-12
Nodeable Big data processing Appcelerator Nov-12
Crashlytics Mobile crash reporting Twitter Jan-13
Wavii Natural Language Processing Google April-13
Parse Mobile Backend as a Service Facebook April-13
Handmark/ OneLouder App Store & Mobile app advertising platform Sprint Nextel May-13
Proxomo Software Mobile backend technology Lucent Mobile May-13
Appshed Cross platform tool & App Factory IDG Group May-13
IrisCouch Mobile Backend as a Service Nodejitsu May-13
Aepona API exposure and monetization platform Intel May-13
Mashery API management and monetization Intel May-13
Staq Game management platform PlayHaven May-13

There are three reasons behind the consolidation of the SDK economy:

  1. Capital changing the perception of value. VC capital allowed tool vendors to offer developer products for free to accelerate user acquisition.
  2. The need to subsidise developer onboarding. Developers are always the side of a mobile platform that Apple, Google, Microsoft or BlackBerry will need to subsidise. As a result platform-provided tools will be usually free and 3rd party tools will be prime acquisition targets for platforms themselves.
  3. Catering to adjacent developer needs. There are substantial benefits to developers by integrating functionality across tools (e.g. ad networks with user analytics or crash reporting with performance management), which inevitably leads to acquisitions on tools that are adjacent in the developer journey. Catering to adjacent developer needs also helps tool vendors attract and, most importantly, retain their user base.

Who stands to survive and win in this ongoing consolidation of the SDK economy? As is already evident from the earlier M&A list, consolidation will become clustered around where developer money is flowing into: App Marketing Services & Enterprise Mobile Services.

App Marketing Services

Mobile Advertising is expected to be a 20B market by 2015. Traditional ad networks have already ported their existing products – banner advertising – over to mobile in the form of in-app advertising. This model doesn’t work well yet in mobile and is a factor in why traditional ad networks are not yet profitable.

One VC backed company, Flurry, followed a completely different path to capture app marketing revenue. Flurry recognized developers would first worry about the challenges of developing their app(s) and then worry about monetization. Flurry offered developers a host of tools (many of them free) to develop and track their app usage, built a relationship of trust with their developers, emerged as a leader in the mobile services market, and then launched a range of products that will help developers monetize their apps.

Flurry considered the developer journey and built a spectrum of solutions to engage developers from the beginning to the end of that journey:

  • Analytics: a free service to measure actual use of the application
  • AppCloud (free): a back-end as a service
  • AppSpot: helping developers monetise, once an app has achieved traction
  • AppCircle: where developers can re-engage, promote and reach out to more users

Flurry is capturing the lucrative app monetization dollars because VC funding gave them a head start. With strategic acquisitions like TrestleApp (a backend service startup that helps developers minimise backend coding) and giving away their analytics for free, Flurry is building the first true mobile, data driven (Big Data) ad network.

Other companies are understanding this formula and making a play for App Marketing Services. acquired TestFlight earlier this year in a bid to become the vertical solution that covers all developers’ needs. Similarly, Facebook wanted to reinforce its relationship with developers and did so by acquiring Parse, a BaaS service. This acquisition reflects a growing trend where non-mobile companies see developers as platforms rather than customers, and developer tools as routes for customer acquisition, rather than feature enhancement.

Enterprise Mobile Services

Enterprise IT needs are different from consumer app needs. In enterprise apps, companies are less concerned with advertising or virtual good purchases and care more about security, stability, predictability and scaling down costs of mobile development and maintenance. Enterprise apps take performance, security and systems integration much more seriously than virality, direct monetization and high engagement.

So which mobile tools do enterprises need? User analytics, app performance analytics, crash reporting, integration with existing business logic (connectors with SAP, Oracle, IBM), identity management, data security, and own app store distribution, to name a few.

In enterprise IT, the incumbent back-end systems players like SAP, IBM and Oracle have been in the space for years and are very well positioned to ride the enterprise mobility wave. They stand as a formidable wall, deterring smaller vendors from entering the enterprise mobility market because they “own” the back-end and related ecosystems (including solution providers and integrators) within the largest companies. Mobilising those “owned” back-ends by 3rd parties is expensive because of the licensing schemes imposed by the incumbent back-end vendors.

At the same time, a wave of smaller, more nimble vendors is making a play at enterprise mobility. Appcelerator, after failing to effectively monetize their cross-platform tools, is now making a vertical stack play, much like Amazon AWS, for mobile. They help developers of any platform access traditional services, such as user management, object persistence, push notifications and analytics via API calls to their cloud services or on-premise installations of their suite. Apigee announced a new product aiming at Mobile, offering user analytics, performance management, crash reporting and network analytics. All of these players clearly want to offer much more than a product that focuses on a tiny vertical or niche market. On the server side, there are tools like Splunk, which give insights into how an app is performing, identify bottlenecks and discover patterns. These tools don’t exist yet in Mobile, and big players, like New Relic, just entered this space. At the same time, the back-end incumbents are strengthening their mobile play. IBM has laid out a mobile strategy that wants to bring in Mobile as part of a more traditional IT strategy. The recent acquisition of Tealeaf aims at helping traditional business better understand and analyze their mobile audiences.

Consolidation is already playing out within enterprise mobile services.

As the mobile market heats up, we agree that consolidation will likely result, as larger vendors look to shore up their mobile service offerings. Operational tools, especially those that deliver critical capabilities for monitoring the performance of mobile platforms and the web infrastructures upon which they rely, will become a strategic area of focus in this process. At the end of the day, any vendor who wishes to emerge as a key player in this arena must effectively monitor the whole application environment – transactions, mobile devices, network response, real user experiences, application servers, database connections and more.
— Jim Gochee, SVP Products, New Relic

Tool vendors who stick to single functionality – be it prototyping or internationalisation or customer support – will become either niche players with a small but profitable market segment or zombie companies, surviving with minimal profitability and, given the Series A crunch, they will drive consolidation to new heights in 2013.

The rise of the Mega SDKs

The consolidation of the SDK economy will continue to accelerate leading to the rise of the Mega SDKs, along the two clusters:

  1. App Marketing Services
    Winners will be those who build developer trust with end-to-end app development support, monetizing all channels that can maximise revenues or reach (e.g. ad networks, cross-promo networks, user analytics).
  2. Enterprise Mobile Services
    Winners will be those helping developers write across more screens, manage more users, and better understand users (e.g. cross-platform tools, BaaS, app performance management, API management).

Competition in the marketing tools will force companies to offer more and more for free, making it difficult for smaller startups to compete with the breadth of tools and the scale of companies like Flurry and Facebook. In the enterprise IT world, we should expect new titans to emerge or incumbents like IBM to enter and become the Amazon Web Services of mobile.