Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Beta Testers Required for iPhone Geo App

We are currently developing a Geo app for the iPhone called GeoPeep. As part of the development process we would like to invite Beta users who are interested in Geo aware apps and live in US, Brazil, Germany or Australia.

GeoPeep is a personal location broadcaster for social mobile users.
It integrates with multiple social networks like Twitter and Brightkite. The location will be determined via the location services on the phone Cell tower, Skyhook or GPS.  We then turn the geo code into a human readable address which can be sent to various websites. Broadcasting a location via twitter and brightkite is not always what a user wants to do. Sometimes sending an Email or  Text/SMS with the location is more appropriate. Email will be included from day one. TXT/SMS capability will come later.

The long-term goal is to build a tool for sharing and updating  a location from anywhere to any social network or web site from the iPhone or an Android phone. 

A user should be able to quickly add context information around the location that is specific for the social network site (e.g. when the location is tweeted the user wants to add a note what they are doing at that location). 

We are currently focusing on usability tests to make it very easy and efficient for the user to update a location on the go. 

If you want to take part in the Beta for GeoPeep just leave a comment of email support [at] firepin.com

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tools for iPhone Campaigns

This week I really, really appreciated some of the tools we developed in the last 2 month to support our iPhone apps. These server-side tools helped me so much with this week's mission:

This Week's Mission:
The bushfires in Victoria / Australia made me think what we could do to help. We decided to donated all money made with the sales of our iPhone apps to charity

This was a great non-commercial driver to convince people to buy our apps . I have to say I am much more motivated to use marketing tactics when it is for a good cause.

What I wanted 
We have in average 500 daily users using our paid app GeoUpdater for iPhone and 1000 daily users using our free app Firepin Trip Tracker. It would be great to tell all these users about our mission.

Here are some key functions I used for marketing of the iPhone app
  1. Sending push messages to users via our paid apps to let them know that they can donate money to the red cross in Australia.
  2. Sending messages to user via our free apps to ask them to buy our paid app.
  3. Tracking in realtime how many people have actually bought the app so I can donate every night the right amount.
  4. Tracking in realtime how many people are actually using the app.
How can I get what I want?
Unfortunately, Apple does not provide realtime download data or even usage analytics, not to mention push messages. The trend reports are 10 hrs delayed. Not very useful for a short-term campaign. 

Fortunately, jTribe did build a server-side infrastructure that we already use for all our iPhone and Android apps. These services can send information from the apps to a central server and vice versa. All these tools and services will soon be available to other iPhone, Android and S60 developers via ShoutMob 

So, how did the Campaign go?
Actually, the campaign is still going and it is going OK.  So far we raised around $400 in 4 days from one app.

The Tools I used
They key tool was our push message tool. 

The Firepin and GeoUpdater iPhone apps display a message to the users each time they are using the app. The message comes directly from our server and is displayed in a very subtle and non-intrusive manner. The push message mechanism gives us all analytical information about number of unique users and usage. This is similar to what the ad networks like admob are doing but with the difference that we are in complete control of what gets displayed to the users.

The push messages can be controlled from a web page and each app can have a different message. Actually, we can send different messages based on device type, app version or language. 

So I have configured a message for the Firepin app (our free GPS tracker) to tell users about our campaign and our other iPhone app (Latitude) that raises money for charity.

Then I configured a message for Latitude (paid app that raises money) to tell people that they can donate money at the red cross website

I can now check in realtime how the campaign is going. Let me do it right now... nice, just raised another $10 since I started writing this blog. 

Other Thing to consider in a Mini-Campaign
  1. I updated the text in the AppStore to let "new" buyers know that we will donate the money. 
  2. I updated the picture with a slogan that about our mission. Honestly, I think that did not attract more people. I even think it might have turned some people off. Not sure whether I would do that again. 
  3. I twittered and blogged about it
So, did it work?
Yes, yes, yes. We did make it to #4 of paid apps in the Navigation category in Australia and #16 in US. I cannot describe how happy I am to have the shoutmob tools available to use. Currently, the shoutmob tools are still in private beta (actually, we use it only internally at jTribe) but we work hard to make them available to the public soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Raising Money for Bushfire Victims with iPhone app

US iphone users please help us to raise money for the Australian bushfire victims. Go and download our iPhone app to raise $2000 by end of week. Get http://tinyurl.com/dn49gj for $0.99 and we will donate the money straight to the Red Cross

Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Latitude and Geo Social Mobile App getting Traction

This week was really interesting for jTribe. The biggest impact on us was:

Google has released Latitude 
which lets you see your friends on a map

Google's Latitude shows your friends an a map and allows you to share your current location with friends. 

Not a completely new idea. There are many similar tools out there which want to achieve exactly that. In the US there is Loopt using basic mobile phones to determine a user's location and to share it. With the iPhone and Android device these apps popped up like mushrooms. jTribe alpha-tested a program on Android that allowed you to invite friends and show them on a map (pretty similar to Google Latitude). The app was based on some ideas wrote earlier about (becoming micro-social). We abandoned the app 2 month ago. The feedback from our Android users was not encouraging so we removed the app again. Maybe we should give the app another go now that Google is creating awareness. 

Thanks Google!
The Google Latitude announcement created some good hype around mobile Geo apps. We did notice a huge surge in the sales of our iPhone based applications. We moved from rank 200 into the top 20 paid apps category. Thanks Google! 

Growing Market for Mobile Geo Social Apps
I am very excited about what is coming next. Now that Google has created awareness for mobile geo social apps and people start to get more interested in those apps the market will grow. Analyst have predicted huge growth in this segment since years but I thinks it needed a leader like Google to kick-off that growth. (again, thanks Google!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

ShoutMob Beta now open for iPhone and Android developers

We have been busy creating a new service for iPhone developers and Android developers. The Beta of ShoutMob has launched yesterday. iPhone and Android app developers can sign up now and receive a $20 early sign-up credit. The Beta is limited and will be closing as soon as we got enough beta developers - so be quick. 

We tried to think about a way to reward early adopters who sign up now. As a result developers signing up for ShoutMob Beta will receive two things:
1. $20 a credit so they can get started as soon as shoutmob goes public
2. $5 referral credit, so they get rewarded for spreading the word

We hope that early adopters will get enough credits to be able to use ShoutMob for free for a long, long time.