Vincent Hoogsteder is CEO and co-founder of Distimo
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing app developers today?
Moving from testing different business models and platforms towards a long term distribution and monetisation strategy. The past years have opened great doors for app developers, with several successful platforms having emerged and new ones like TV around the corner. The most difficult thing for a developer is to decide where to place his bets and why, since taking every opportunity out there is not viable for the majority.
Is the total number of apps available still an important metric for stores?
Yes, the number of available applications is an indicator for both consumer choice and developer interest. Content is instrumental in selling phones these days, therefore I think it is important to track this metric. However, this does not say anything about the quality of apps and consumer adoption. Therefore we think measuring actual download and sales volumes is a crucial metric to determine a store's performance.
Do you think HTML5 will have a major disruptive effect in terms of app distribution?
No. The past three years have taught us that the app store model, a centralised location where a large group of content developers can reach a consumer audience for content distribution and billing, is the way forward. HTML5 will not change that. Great HTML5 content still needs to be discovered and distributed. A logical choice will be an app store like model. You also see this happening already with web content in the Google Chrome Web Store for example. However, HTML5 will lower the threshold for accessing content significantly, for example by having a big impact on content download times.
Is the growth of freemium apps effectively killing-off paid-for downloads as a business model?
No, there is no silver bullet when it comes to a business model for apps. The success of a certain model greatly depends on the type of app, device and location. The freemium model has shown a great uptake in gaming and several other categories, but the one-off paid model still works very well for navigation apps for example. Additionally, we see great differences in the performance of freemium versus one-off paid on a country by country basis. Consumer behavior in content payment differs per country and device.
Is advertising a viable monetisation option for apps?
Yes, since it correlates to app usage instead of just purchase. Developers that built a great app can leverage on the time consumers spend with their content.
Where do you see the operator fitting into the app ecosystem?
Making content billing easier for consumers and leveraging their retail footprint to educate consumers and promote good content.
What do you think will be the most important app industry trends in 2012?
A true cross device experience, enabled by mobile content. Apps have brought the mobile internet experience to consumers over the past three years. The next years, we will see a push from mobile content to other devices. After the tablet, the app store model is now showing the first success on desktop, which will get a big push from Windows 8. The next step is TV. The most successful content will be the ones that work seamlessly cross device and adapt heavily utilising the hardware capabilities and best monetisation options of each device.