Yesterday 30th November was the kickoff of the first Apps World Conference in Olympia, London. The first snow in the year welcomed a good number of developers, operators and marketeers that wanted to discover more about the latest of apps under a main theme: multi-platform apps. It was a great pleasure to exchange views about working with iOS with other peers, however, the degree of interest in other platforms was noticeable. Both Nokia and SonyEricsson had the biggest stands and showcased their latest hardware with the latter delivering an interesting presentation about 3D user interfaces. While we all know that Apple doesn't attend trade shows anymore, the biggest disappointment (for Blackberry fans) had to be RIM missing in combat. That empty stand didn't look good!
While there was some emphasis on TV formats, I was especially interested in the mobile world. One of the most recurring ideas was the concept of DIY app tools. I was convinced that it can be a flexible solution for some companies and can reduce costs and headaches dramatically. I bet that with some work on the graphic side (outsource design?) they can be an option for those businesses desperate to get on the AppStore quickly. I liked M Venture, AppShed and especially RunRev, with some of the most affordable options at Apps World.
Getting your app compiled is one thing, but submitting it and marketing it is a different story. Peter Swain, who stepped in as speaker for Always On Message, raised one of the most reasonable points of the day: start with user experience and build with your content. He mentioned the Gorillaz and Glee apps as innovative ways to use "music brands" in mobile, allowing users to explore and discover for themselves rather that rehashing the same content on an app. Mubaloo, Imano and We are apps were some of the most credible examples of full agency services. It was very impressive to meet the people behind some well known apps (remember TVGuide?) and big clients.
The highlight of Apps World was Rovio's CEO Peter Vesterbacka session today unveiling some amazing facts about Angry Birds. Since its launch, it has moved from being a casual game to an icon of mobile platforms and an entertainment franchise. The Android version (despite the difficulties with the different handsets available) is doing really well with $1 million apps sold and 200 million minutes a day played. The best lesson from their success has to be transparency and a proactive attitude towards customer service, trying to answer every query and understand feedback. The big announcement was the release of the Christmas version of Angry Birds (free for Halloween edition owners) today and the arrival of the Mighty Eagle, a paid-for cheat option that will clear a stage and will allow you to progress through the game faster.
Overall, I saw a lot of good ideas and top people on the floor. The truth is that companies are keen to jump on mobile platforms in meaningful ways, ability to analyse and monetise their efforts. Someone made the point that the only multi-patform app is a website. I agree and it is a great idea to start tuning those mobile websites now. I heard references to the music industry, about buying habits, customer loyalty and the importance of lists. Surely rankings give you exposure, but quality apps are the ones people talk and write about. And let me add: popular platforms. Everyone cheering at the success of Angry Birds, but it was a bunch of early adopters that installed it on their iPhones, gave thumbs up and rocketed it to the number one spot… for now!