The mobile world is extremely fragmented and is just waiting to be consolidated. This is true for the various app stores, it is true for platforms, it is true for handsets, and it is true for app monetization.
While there are hundreds if not thousands of companies trying to attack the challenge of effectively monetizing mobile apps, developers are facing increasing difficulty in doing so, especially on Android.
StartApp examined the possibilities out there including in-app purchases, mobile advertising, and virtual currency, then looked to mobile's older sibling, the Web, and replicated the search revenue model on mobile.
When a developer integrates the StartApp SDK into an app, any user who then downloads that app will find a new search icon on their desktop. When the user searches the Web via this new icon, the developer makes money. In fact, the developer gets paid each time the app is downloaded, between $10 to $50 for every 1,000 downloads.
It is a pretty simple concept that has been dominating the Web for years.
But does it work on mobile? Good question. According to StartApp's latest numbers, the company seems to be onto something and in the eight months since the company was launched, Android developers have already made more than $1 million in search revenue.
There are now more than 2,500 Android apps with StartApp integrated and they have been downloaded more than 100 million times by users. Impressive numbers by any standards.
Of course, StartApp has met some opposition -- including me when I first heard about the concept. Many people might have a problem with StartApp installing this search icon on your phone's home screen and thereby "hijacking" your search.
It is a legitimate concern but the truth is, as far as the user is concerned, it is the same experience as using the phone's integrated search. The only difference is the user is now helping the developer monetize the app they just downloaded for free. Seems like a win win to me.
In conclusion, the oversaturated space of app monetization clearly needs some out-of-the-box thinking, and StartApp definitely brings a unique angle here. If it works for developers and users, which is seems to be doing, then why not, right?