Today Fortumo is launching its next country in the Middle-East: operator billing is now available to 6 million mobile phone owners in Jordan. Our coverage in the country is 100% with all three mobile operators (Orange, Umniah and Zain) supported.
Jordan has one of the youngest populations in the world (median age 21.8 years) and already half of the phones in the country are smartphones. Due to this reason, we expect Jordan to bring a higher than average revenue to merchants switching on operator billing in the country.
The unbanked Middle-Eastern region as a whole is a great opportunity for online merchants. In January, the average revenue per paying user (web & Android combined) in Turkey was 10.7 USD, United Arab Emirates at 9.7 USD and Saudi Arabia at 8.4 USD. Users from the Middle-East spend more than 1 billion USD on digital gaming in 2013 and Jordanians were responsible for approximately 10% of this spending.
Due to low credit card penetration, alternative online payment solutions are very popular in Jordan. For example, the mobile operator Orange lets people pay their electricity bill using their phone and the e-commerce service Cashbasha allows online shoppers to order items from eBay to be paid for in cash.
Want to take your share from the growing smartphone market in Jordan? Head over to your Fortumo Dashboard and enable Jordan for your payment services. Don’t have an account with Fortumo yet? Click here to sign up.
We have previously written about how reaching end-users is challenging for Android developers – Google Play is not the only channel for distribution and dozens of alternative app stores are growing in market share, especially in emerging markets. Google Play payments do not work in these alternative channels so while you are getting additional downloads, using the same payment solution does not work.
It is also important to note that a growing number of Android devices shipped are not running Google’s version of Android: 30% of Android phones shipped in Q3 2013 had a customized version of Android installed into them. These devices also do not support Google Play billing functionality and many device manufacturers are preloading their own app stores into these devices as there is no revenue to be made for them through Google Play.
The OpenIAB project aims to solve these problems by creating a unified billing library which can be used to collect payments from any app store. OpenIAB already works on Google Play, Amazon App Store, Samsung Apps, Appland and Yandex-Store. The billing library integrated into your app automatically detects which store the user is coming from and launches the appropriate payment flow.
Operator billing will further inrease the coverage of the OpenIAB library as our payments work on any app store for end-users in 80 countries. The 1-click payment flow has significantly higher conversion than credit card based payments, especially in countries where very few users have credit cards. Since Fortumo is also the official in-app payment partner for NOOK app store, it means you can easily collect revenue from NOOK apps as well.
Fortumo will start supporting OpenIAB in March 2014 – if you are interested in becoming a pilot merchant, let us know at email@example.com. More information about the OpenIAB project can be found on their homepage.
Where would you find a country in South-East Asia with 14 times more smartphones than credit cards and the biggest number of app downloads in the region? The correct answer is the Philippines. This country – made up of 7107 islands – is the latest addition to our direct carrier billing coverage thanks to a partnership with Smart Communications.
Over the past couple of months, South-East Asia has been a big focus for us as we have expanded to Indonesia and Singapore. The Philippines is another large country in a region with some of the highest average revenues per paying users (ARPPU) globally so we expect to see a jump in revenues for merchants who launch payments in the Philippines.
Filipinos are some of the most active consumers of mobile content (especially apps & games) in the region and there are already 40 million smartphone owners in the country. Meanwhile, there are less than 3 million credit cards in the country which makes operator billing the perfect solution to receive payments online.
In addition to providing a frictionless direct carrier billing solution, developers can also use our partnership to launch games in Smart’s GameX game store.
Want to be one of the first merchants to launch payments for your app, game or service in the Philippines? Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the press release here.
As usual, Mobile World Congress is the key event of the year for Fortumo’s carrier and OEM relations team. This year, we have 8 people going to Catalonia with over 100 meetings already booked. It’s going to be a fun 5 days in (hopefully) sunny Barcelona!
We’re excited to meet mobile operators from every corner of the world to talk about making their direct operator billing capabilities available to the growing number of Fortumo’s global merchants.
Additionally, we’re excited to meet with device manufacturers – regardless of platform – to talk about how we can help you with providing billing-enabled apps from Fortumo’s top merchants for preloading to your devices to drive additional revenues.
If you are a mobile operator or device manufacturer interested in adding more content for your end-users, drop by our pavilion in the App Planet hall at stand 8.1K31. You can also send us a meeting request at email@example.com.
Together with the leading mobile operator SingTel, payments using direct carrier billing will become available to an additional 3.2 million mobile phone users.
While the population of Singapore is small (5.4 million inhabitants) it ranks as one of the world’s richest countries by GDP per capita. Therefore we expect to see significant additional revenue for merchants as it has been the case in other countries of South-East Asia.
Singapore is the fifth country in South-East Asia where users without credit cards can use Fortumo to make payments online – previously we have already launched billing in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
One additional interesting aspect about Singapore is its large population of Indians, the 3rd largest ethnic group in the country. We have already seen strong interest from merchants in India who want to take advantage of our easy integration, allowing them to bill users in India and Indians living in other countries as well.
If you want to read the full announcement with more information about direct carrier billing and mobile payments in South-East Asia, click here.
Next week Casual Connect takes place in Amsterdam and will bring together game developers from all over Europe. If you are interested in expanding your payment reach globally and making sure any mobile phone owner can make payments to you, drop by Table 701 during Casual Connect.
Because Casual Connect is one of the first bigger gaming industry events taking place in Europe this year, it’s a good opportunity to look ahead into what mobile game developers should consider when building their apps in 2014.
The latest data from ABI Research shows an important trend about the dominating Android platform. Approximately 30% of Android phones shipped are not running Google’s official version of the Android operating system but a custom version built using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
AOSP versions of Android often do not have support for Google’s services – including Google Play. This means uploading your app only to Google Play will cause you to miss out on up to 30% of potential users – and even more in markets like China where alternative app stores dominate.
Unlike Google Play’s payment solution, our Android in-app payment SDK works on any Android device, even those running AOSP. We also help developers reach owners of such devices through our free app distribution service.
Another important thing to note from the data is that Windows Phone has doubled its market share in a year and is slowly but steadily becoming the third player in the mobile ecosystem – especially in emerging markets. If you have already ported your games to Windows Phone, we can help you with payments on this platform as well.
If you want to set up a meeting during the event, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in Amsterdam!
Article originally appeared on VentureBeat.
By the end of 2013, Android had captured an impressive 81 percent of the global smartphone market share.
But in terms of developer mindshare, Android still ranks slightly behind iOS — and for a good reason. An average Android app makes 5 times less money per download than an iOS app. Even though Android has by far passed iOS in terms of global market share, the picture is not so clear-cut in terms of revenue. Despite Android’s dominant market share, for many app developers, iOS is still the biggest platform.
The most popular reason often repeated as the cause is related to user demographics. In every country of the world, iPhone is the top-end device, only affordable to the relatively well-off. Android, on the other hand, is available on a whole spectrum of devices from high to low end forms. It would be logical to assume that the owner of a $600 high-end Android smartphone would spend more on apps than the owner of a $40 low-end device on average.
This notion seems to be backed up by data. According to App Annie, India already takes third place in all app downloads for Google Play, but it is nowhere to be found in the corresponding revenue chart. The same story for Brazil and Russia — lots of downloads, but almost no revenue for developers. It sure seems that users in these countries either can’t afford or just do not want to pay for app content the same way that users in the US and Western Europe do.
But looking beyond the basic charts, we discover that the situation is a bit more complex.
Looking at our own transaction data at Fortumo for paying users across different apps and territories on Android, we see that the monthly average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) is not as different across countries as one might expect:
- USA – $7.76 monthly ARPPU
- Brazil – $4.7 monthly ARPPU
- India – $2.1 monthly ARPPU
- Russia – $10.5 monthly ARPPU
So, while an average paying user in Brazil might spend half of what an average paying user in the U.S. does, the difference in average income in these countries is almost five times in favor of the U.S. In India, an average paying user spends 3.5 times less than an average paying user in the U.S., but the difference in average income is a staggering 30 times. And in Russia, where income is four times less than in the U.S., our data even seems to suggest that an average user pays more than the one in the U.S.
So, is this because in Russia, Brazil, and India, only the rich can afford to pay for apps and content? Or is there a more prosaic reason — namely that users in those countries are just unable to pay with a credit card (the only payment option accepted by major app store such as Google Play in their country) because they don’t have one?
If we look at the number of credit card owners (and compare it to the number of smartphone owners) in these countries, the data might provide part of the explanation:
- India: 19 million credit cards (1.5 percent of the population — source) compared to 60 million smartphones
- Brazil: 66.6 million credit cards (33 percent of the population — source) compared to 97 million smartphones
- Russia: 28 million credit cards (19 percent of the population — source) compared to 95 million smartphones
If more local payment options were supported by the store, would more users pay? Very likely.
For many users in the emerging markets, mobile is often the most accessible, if not the only form of digital entertainment. It’s only logical that it could consume a relatively bigger portion of their income.
So, should developers just wait until their favorite global app store tackles the “emerging market problem” and adds more local payment options? Last year, the answer might as well have been “yes,” but now this is becoming an increasingly weak strategy. Why? For one, Western app markets are becoming increasingly saturated.
Flurry indicates that during the 2013 holiday period, app download growth was just 11 percent compared to 90 percent for the same period in 2012. Over 60 percent of Americans already have a smartphone, and new user growth is slowing, whereas India has less than 10 percent smartphone penetration, but shipments are increasing at a huge rate.
But what’s the alternative? Luckily, there are many. While Google Play is the main distribution channel for Android apps in North America and Europe, in many places elsewhere, there are strong alternatives, including:
- Independent app stores such as SlideME, Mobile9, Mobango, Opera, AppsLib, PandaApp, CNet, GetJar, Soc.io Mall, Appia, AndAppOnline, Appland, Aptoide, Insydemarket, Apptown, Amazon, Yandex Store, etc.
- Mobile operator app stores: Smart games portal, Mundio, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Maxis M-Planet, Dtac Gameroom, Turkcell T-Market, Telkomsel Dunia, Kyivstar App Club and many others.
- OEM app stores: Samsung Apps, NOOK, LG Smartworld, ZTE, Lenovo, etc.
There is very limited data available on most of these stores, as analytics companies like Distimo, App Annie and Flurry do not track them — yet. That’s also part of the reason why alternative app-stores are flying below the radar. However, developers my company works with who are effectively using these alternatives are reporting that as much as 30-35 percent of their revenues are now coming from these channels, most of that from the emerging markets.
While fragmentation of distribution channels makes the lives of Android developers somewhat difficult, the good news is that alternative Android app stores are hungry for quality content and thus pretty forthcoming in promotion opportunities. Looking at crude data about the number of available apps and featured spots, it’s 20 times more likely for a high-quality app to get featured on an alternative store than on Google Play.
As making money from Western markets is getting increasingly tough due to the sheer number of apps, more developers are turning to emerging markets. A one-shoe-fits-all strategy has worked for them well in relatively homogenous Western markets (one distribution channel, high-end phones, a lot of credit card users), but catching up in revenue to downloads in emerging markets is a different challenge altogether.
Which nations are the most hungry for consuming digital entertainment on their phones? China, Russia and Brazil, claims a recent mobile music study by Citrix looking into mobile music streaming. Paradoxically, these are also some of the biggest markets for piracy. One reason for this is 80% of people in these markets have no legal way to pay for music as they do not own a credit card:
Smartphone ownership grew in double-digit numbers in all three markets last year while credit card penetration remains largely the same. Even when new users are getting access to digital entertainment, most of them are still unable to access premium content. We have already seen this happening in the app industry – emerging markets have reached leading positions in terms of app downloads (India, Brazil, Russia for Google Play) but not in revenue. So how can music merchants overcome the lack of paying users in such markets?
One solution is working together with local mobile operators to collect payments with the help of mobile operator billing. Since revenue of operators’ traditional services (calls, messaging) is declining, they are usually very interested in running special promotions for digital good merchants – for example demographically segmented SMS campaigns.
Not only do operators enable payments for users who do not have credit cards, but they have strong insights into the local market and are closely connected to their customers.
Fortumo has been working together with mobile operators and merchants like BoxTV and Cubie, helping them earn revenue from markets where other payment methods do not work. This week we will be attending Midem – one of the largest music industry events in the world – and are looking forward to hearing how music service providers plan to tackle the issue of payments in emerging markets.
If you are interested in meeting up with us during Midem to discuss the potential of carrier billing for music services, let us know at email@example.com.
Today we are launching version 9.1 of our Android in-app purchasing SDK.
Now you can monetize your applications even when the users are offline with the use of carrier billing. With the previous SDK versions, internet connection was necessary for making the very first payment. This limitation no longer applies – users can have a full offline payment experience.
Full payment data can be added to the application archive as one big XML file and when the connection is not available, all necessary info will be taken from this local data – including prices, shortcode and keywords for the background SMS billing. When the device is online, payment data is synchronized with Fortumo servers to ensure that it’s always up-to-date.
What else is there new in the new and shiny SDK? These areas that have undergone major upgrades:
High-definition resolution support: Android is not just for smartphones – phablets, tablets and smart TV-s are also increasingly becoming popular. To make sure the payment window will match the quality of your app – even if it’s running on a 50-inch screen – we have upgraded the graphics of our payment dialogues for bigger resolutions.
Better tablet optimization: We have improved tablet device detection which takes into account both screen sizes and SIM-card presence on the device. For tablets without SIM cards, we have improved the payment flow to make sure it works as seamlessly as possible.
Performance improvements: We have optimized the way purchased items and credits are delivered to the user and this has allowed us to make payment dialogues faster, while reducing performance impact to the end-user device.
Smaller SDK: Our Android SDK is now at 500KB in size, down from 850KB which it was previously. The smaller your app, the more likely that a user will download it, so every little bit helps.
Revised translations: We went over all the texts and made sure they are always as clear for a user as possible – in all 34 languages.
But are you taking full advantage of the existing features? Here are two cool tips & tricks to take full advantage of our payment SDK.
Custom product icon: you can set a custom image (like the one on the right) to be displayed in the payment window. This makes payment flow look even more native for your application, and has proven a significant effect on conversion rates.
- Non-consumable items: if you’re selling products that can be only purchased once, such as new level packs or full game versions, Fortumo will take care of managing these items for you. You only need to set a unique name for each unique item when starting the payment – afterwards, a user will not be allowed to make a payment for the same item twice. The purchase data is saved both locally on the device and on the Fortumo servers, and you can retrieve the purchase status for a non-consumable item, or the full user purchase history, at any moment when you need it.
You can download the latest version of the SDK from your Fortumo Dashboard. Full technical documentation can be found in our Developer’s Portal and an overview of the previous major update can be found here.
Talking daily with dozens of developers building apps for Android, we hear a common concern raised by most of them. While they have a lot of downloads in countries like Brazil and India, they are not getting much revenue from there. There are many different reasons for underperforming in these markets and we have highlighted the most common of them in a recent blog post.
Earning revenue in emerging markets is difficult as it’s something most developers have not had to deal with before. However, with Western markets becoming saturated it makes sense to start seeking for additional revenue opportunities elsewhere.
This is why we are excited to announce a partner webinar together with cross-platform development tool provider Marmalade on January 22nd. Jacob from our US team will be giving talking in depth about fine-tuning your revenue on Android. Additionally, you can learn about saving development time and effort with Marmalade SDK by using a single code base to reach more platforms.
Want to participate in the webinar? Click here to register and reserve your spot.