Our latest Distimo Report focused on the most popular mobile content in the seven largest device app stores during the Q3 2010 period. What always interests us is looking at the developers and companies behind the content. Who are the people that are creating the cool stuff that every consumer wants on their phone? If you look at the top listings, familiar names appear; gaming giants like Gameloft and Electronic Arts are heavily present across platforms. However, next to the names of bigger gaming houses and other parties that have been in the mobile content market for many years, we see something else starting to appear more and more often – the emergence of the little guy.

Meet Samo Login from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Samo is a computer programmer by origin, and in October 2009 decided to found his company, Outfit7. With a team of just three Android and two iOS developers, they started to create fun games. One of their big hits is Talking Tom Cat, a ‘talking app’ where an animated cat repeats everything you say in a funny way. This free app ranked among the 10 most popular apps during Q3 2010 in the Apple App Store, and is very successful on Android Market as well. Since its release at the end of June, the Talking Tom Cat game has been downloaded on more than 16 million iPhones, iPads, and Android phones worldwide. Next to this free app, the company has several paid app offerings priced between US$0.99 and US$4.99 that have cumulatively seen over 750,000 paid downloads.

Sure, there are plenty of examples of publishers who can also show these kinds of successful download numbers, but parties like Outfit7 are coming out of nowhere. Within one year a company with just five in-house developers is creating mobile content that reaches millions of consumers, and is ranked side-by-side next to applications from Gameloft,  Apple and Electronic Arts.

Outfit7 is not just a single case; we constantly find new and unknown publishers entering the market with success. Who knew Rovio Mobile, the company behind the now famous Angry Birds, one year ago? Or who would have expected that iPhone game developer Ngmoco could enter the market only to achieve a US$400 million exit within two years of their launch date? A comparable story holds true for Tapulous, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company, two and a half years after being founded.

The rise of mobile app stores has made it easier for smaller parties to enter the market and reach consumers globally. One might ask the question whether some of these new publishers are simply producing one-hit-wonders, or actually creating a sustainable business and portfolio of successful content?  There are more than a few examples, however, that prove the latter is definitely possible.

The app stores provide a small threshold to enter the market, resulting in new players quickly gaining market share. In such markets, these players can have a high impact on what content consumers put on their phones. All the more reason for the continuing need to look beyond the familiar names, and to keep your eye on the little guy.

Vincent Hoogsteder

Vincent is CEO of Distimo, an app store analytics company built to solve the challenges created by a widely fragmented app store marketplace filled with equally fragmented information and statistics.