The open market approach: Q&A with GetJar, the No1 independent app store

This is the first in our series of five app-related articles, interviews and guides. See also:
• It’s all about the design. Top tips from user experience gurus
• What is a mobile Web app? Expert opinion from the W3C
• Native v Web apps – what are the pros and cons?
• Do mobile apps deliver ROI?

The more you learn about independent app stores like GetJar, the harder it is too understand why Apple’s App Store receives all the media attention. While Apple’s – for obvious reasons – restricts the target market to Apple handsets (i.e. about 2-3 percent of mobile handsets), GetJar features downloads for all sorts of feature phones – the majority of handsets – and smartphones. All the top performing apps work on multiple types of handsets.

GetJar is also mobile-Web friendly – some of the most popular downloads are not native apps, but mobile Website launchers i.e. short-cuts direct to Facebook (74 million downloads), YouTube, MTV, ESPN, CNN or Yahoo! mobile site or Web-based app. GetJar does not charge a sign-up fee or take a cut of revenues, though apps can be promoted by pay-per-download. Also GetJar distributes apps through third-party app stores such as Vodafone, Sprint and Blackberry.
It is this open market approach that helped GetJar pick up three industry awards in 2009, at the Meffy Awards, Tiecon50 and Mobile Excellence Awards and led to venture capitalist Accel Partners investing US $11 million in GetJar in June 2010.

mobiThinking Q&A with Patrick Mork, chief marketing officer, GetJar

Q1) How many applications are available on GetJar?
73,000 (July 2010).
Q2) How many downloads to date?
1.05 billion (July 2010). Downloads have just surpassed 3 million per day.
Q3) What categories of apps are most popular?
Globally the top categories are social and messaging, productivity (utility), entertainment and lifestyle. However popularity varies around the world. Indian consumers download more productivity applications that enhance their phones, while Americans and English consumers download more entertainment apps. Religious apps are popular in the Middle East.
Q4) What proportion of downloads are mobile games?
Games are about 25 percent of traffic on GetJar. Warships – Sea on Fire and Racing Mania are current favorites.
Q5) What are the top performing apps on GetJar? Do you keep the number of downloads a secret as the Apple App Store does?
You can kind find the top apps in each category, with daily and weekly download figures here. Click on any application in the store and to see the total number of downloads for each.

Top 15 most popular applications downloaded from GetJar, July 2010
Mobile application  Category of
to date
Facebook Mobile  Social & Messaging   Free  232,717  1,629,018  73,940,684
eBuddy Messenger  Social & Messaging  Free  106,727  747,087  57,234,515 
Opera Mini Browser  Productivity: Browser   Free  79,171  554,196  35,261,578
Nimbuzz  Social & Messaging  Free  78,318  548,229  39,107,722
Yahoo! Mobile  Search  Free  64,646  452,522  6,891,342
mig33  Social & Messaging  Free  50,450  353,148  29,904,593
Yahoo! Mail  Social & Messaging  Free  45,332  317,324  2,111,468
Google  Search  Free  44,429  311,005  12,668,100
iPlayer  Music: Music Players  Free  42,811  299,680  419,426
Bitstream BOLT  Productivity: Browser  Free  34,773  243,410  4,270,066
GetJar Apps  Search  Free  26,931  188,517  6,931,453
YouTube Web  Entertainment: Video  Free  22,184  155,286  4,948,304
Quran V1.01  Religion  Free  20,970  146,791  919,992
Google Maps & Latitude  Maps  Free  17,823  124,763  12,263,839
WaveSecure  Productivity: Security  Demo  17,781  124,469  713,119
Data from: GetJar, July 2010 Via: mobiThinking

Q6) How many downloads does the average app get in (i) the top 10? (ii) the top 50?
That’s confidential.
Q7) How long do popular apps stay popular?
This varies – it could be weeks to months. Evergreens (as we call apps with a longer than usual life-span) can be popular for 6-12 months.
Q8) How long are apps used for on average once downloaded?
We don’t have access to this information.
Q9) How much does it cost to list a free app on GetJar?
Zero. No cost.
Q10) How much does it cost to list a paid-for app on GetJar? Do you take a share of revenues?
Zero. No cost. You can’t sell apps directly to the consumer on GetJar, but you can through our partner app stores – GetJar distributes apps to app stores including Vodafone, Virgin, Optimus, Sprint, Reliance, Sony Ericsson and BlackBerry – developers get 100 percent of the revenue.
Q11) It costs on Apple’s App Store doesn’t it?
Yes. Apple requires a fee to open a developer account and to download the software development kit (SDK). It also takes 30 percent of developer revenues.
Editors note: Apple says “It is $99 annually to join the iPhone Developer Program. That includes the SDK, app review, etc. The revenue split is 70-30. 70 percent goes to the app developer.”
Q12) So what is the GetJar business model? Is it profitable?
The majority of revenues come from sponsored apps, where developers pay to have their applications prioritized in special section. The developer bids for downloads on GetJar. Depending on region, category and platform, bids vary from US $0.01 to $1 per download. GetJar also has fixed placement advertising, but this is a very small part of the business. And yes, GetJar is profitable.
Q13) What is the average cost of developing an app?
This depends on the platform. US $50,000 is normal, but can go north of $200,000 for custom apps on smartphone platforms.
Q14) How many apps are single platform e.g. iPhone-only or multiplatform? Which are more successful?
We don’t have the exact data on that, but all the top apps in the list above are cross-platform – designed for four or more platforms. Cross platform applications win hands down on the number of downloads.
Q15) Are cross-platform apps usually written in Java?
Yes. However we’re also seeing more and more publishers introduce mobile Website launchers, which are shortcuts direct to the mobile site. These allow publishers to reach a very broad audience as they are written in Java so work with any phone with a Web browser. On GetJar, Facebook; MTV; ESPN; CNN and Yahoo! all use launchers and have been very successful with it – especially Facebook with 73,940,684 downloads to date.
Q16) What platforms are the most popular?
50 percent of downloads are Java (J2ME) applications (which will work with any Java enabled phone), followed by Symbian, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone and Flash. The Android platform is growing fast both in the number of applications submitted by developers – it is now the second most popular – and the number of downloads – where it is growing 50 percent month on month.
Q17) What proportion of apps are (i) paid for; (ii) freemium (part free/premium upgrade); (iii) free; (iv) ad-funded?
That’s confidential.
Q18) What channels tend to work best for publicizing new apps? Do developers use traditional media, Web or mobile?
Most developers don’t have marketing budgets. The best channels to promote apps are pay-per-download (paid visibility within the app store in our case), in-app advertising (ads within other apps) and mobile ad networks (AdMob etc.)
Q19) Does GetJar have relationships with ad networks?
No. We allow publishers to work with whomever they like.
Q20) In app-advertisers tend to be…?
Other developers and media savvy brands such as Yahoo!, Google. Some brands in fast-moving consumer goods have also started using in-app advertising, Pepsi was one of the first, but has now been joined by Pizza Hut and others.
Q21) For ad-funded apps, how much revenue should be expected per download?
This varies enormously from app to app based on the type of application. Cost-per-thousand varies considerably as well. Some developers like Snaptu or Dictionary make most of their revenue from ads. Cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) are still high (US $15-20 or so) but you need lots of traffic and downloads.
Q22) What is the expected fill rate for ad-funded apps?
Again varies from app to app. Popular apps can command 50 percent or more, sometimes as high as 75 percent or so.
Q23) What are the pros and cons of app publishing?
The pros: a personalized way to engage consumers that is much more powerful then passive advertising. It provides a deep and engaging experience.
The cons: cost, complexity of cross-platform development, complexity of distribution and also difficulty in monetizing the app.

Please comment below or email: editor (at)

Further reading on mobile apps:
• It’s all about the design. Top tips from user experience gurus
• What is a mobile Web app? Expert opinion from the W3C
• Native v Web apps – what are the pros and cons?
• Do mobile apps deliver ROI?

And don’t miss:
• Guide to mobile agencies
• Guide to mobile industry awards
• Guide to mobile ad networks
• Compendium of global mobile stats
• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest markets
• Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
• The big page of essential links

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