Mobile Gaming: The Next Frontier for Online Gambling Sites

From poker to blackjack, developers are taking to the mobile market

Last year, the International Data Corporation reported that growth in the worldwide mobile market grew 6% in the second quarter of 2013 (2Q13), with vendors shipping upwards of 432.1 million mobile phones to markets across the globe. Thanks to new vendors entering the market, smart phones and mobile computing have become more accessible to a wider audience.

 

There was also a 52.3% year-over-year growth in smart phone sales, with vendors shipping 237.9 million units in 2Q13, compared to the 156.2 million units shipped in 2Q12. Studies by Super Monitoring also show that 91% of the global population now own mobile phones, with 56% owning a smart phone. If the growth and prominence of the mobile market wasn’t apparent before, it sure is apparent now.

Mobile markets have allowed many new developers to begin offering gaming at all levels, from casual to hardcore. Research by MobiThinking revealed that games account for 145/300 of the top apps available on iTunes, and 116/300 of the top apps on Google Play. Revenues for apps and games are estimated at $25 billion in 2013 alone – a figure that’s set to triple by 2017.

 

Thanks to this, even companies and developers who had previously seen success in other industries have begun closing in on the mobile market. The online gambling industry recently made great strides when some companies were granted licenses to operate in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, but the expansion hasn’t ended yet. Online gambling companies have already released simple slot game simulations and other games that rely on luck, but the push for better quality mobile games is felt across all sectors. Some companies have been successful in this endeavor, while some have not.

 

Bwin.party, who released their partypoker iPhone app last year, says that one of the main points hopefuls needed to develop for any mobile app to be successful was ease-of-access. Connectivity remains to be one of the best features of mobile gaming, and with mobile games, players expect faster, smoother gameplay and results. To address this, bwin.party decked out a Fast Forward type of game specifically for their mobile users – a feature clearly lacking from the apps that had failed.

 

Could the mobile market be the next frontier for online gambling? Ness Software sure seems to think so, saying that as the number of mobile users go up, the only thing left for a smart company to do is join them and go mobile. Nowadays, consumers want something that lets them do their business – be it banking, emailing, or gaming – on the go, and lets them do it fast. And if online gambling companies want to stand a chance, they’d better take their business to the app stores.

 

Infographic 2013 Mobile Growth Statistics

Infographic 2013 Mobile Growth Statistics


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5 things I wish I knew when I released my first iPhone app

I’ve been writing mobile apps for roughly 4 years. I’ve seen dozens of apps come from concept to completion, and I’ve learned many lessons along the way. Here are the top 5 things I wish I knew when I first started out making iOS apps.

Ready? Let’s go!

1. Your icon and name will make or break your app.

You heard it here first. The most critical factor of your app’s success is not your beautiful algorithms, your revolutionary ideas, or even a great marketing campaign to drive initial customers. No, the most important factor is the icon, and the name. This is all most of your prospective customers see before making the decision to learn more. I’ve been able to measure this first hand by using two different icons and names for two otherwise identical apps, and I’ve repeated the experiment several times. I can say without a doubt that this is the most critical factor to getting downloads. In my last experiment, the app with a brighter and louder icon results in an average of 263 downloads per day, while an identical app with a softer and more toned down icon results in only 2 downloads per day. Wow.

2. Apple provides no way to keep in touch with customers.

So what happens after you get your first 10,000 downloads? What if you want to create a spin-off app leveraging your existing audience, or offer new products within your app? Well, you can always introduce an update, but who knows if your customers will actually download and run it. Furthermore, maybe they have already deleted your app? Previous behavior is the greatest indicator of future behavior, and the previous behavior of your customers is that they *bought something from you*. If you want to grow your audience and generate more revenue from your apps, it is critical that you offer a way to keep in touch with your customers. Set up a Mailchimp list, have them subscribe for push notifications, or have them make an account. Whatever route makes the most sense for your product, just make sure you have a way to keep in touch. You will be glad you did on your next app launch. Apple does none of this for you, they don’t even provide emails or names of the people who purchased your app, so this one is on you!

3. Apps that are too simple will be rejected.

Apple has a lot of rules concerning what is “fit” for the App Store, and what isn’t. One of the most difficult to resolve is an app being “too simple” by Apple’s standards. They are very directly telling you to go spend more money and bloat up your app with features you didn’t think were necessary. So what do you do? Well, my advice is to make sure you are not making an app that only does one simple thing. This is something that needs to be resolved before any development begins, or else you may be faced with a product that you simply can’t release.

4. The app store is not the gold rush it’s touted to be.

There is certainly money to be made on the app store, but don’t expect to publish your first app and rake in millions of dollars in free money. Making a successful app takes a lot of time, money, and great intuition about what people are going to like. Be reasonable with your approach in producing apps, and don’t bet the farm on a single strategy. Even if you are working with only a single app, you should make sure you have other distribution mechanisms outside of simply being on the app store.

5. Analytics are crucial.

Without some basic analytics, you will quickly find yourself wishing you knew some things about your users. This will probably hit you immediately after publishing your app. How many users are using the app? If you don’t implement analytics, all you will get are your daily iTunes sales figures, and I know we’re all more OCD about what’s going on than that. This is your baby after all. Take the time to invest in integrating a good analytics platform. There are some decent free options out there such as Flurry or Google Analytics for iOS.

In the spirit of keeping this post short, I’ll continue with the rest of my list in a later post. To get it delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe for free.

Continue to Part 2

Related article: Top 10 Lessons learned from launching iPhone Apps


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Making apps that spread

I hear tons of app ideas that seem like really great ideas, but lack one critical feature: virality. It’s not just marketing speak, creating virality is something you should be responsible for if you are making an app without a huge budget. I’ve done a lot of research on users of my apps, of my client’s apps, and listened to tons of advice from other software entrepreneurs, and I’ve learned one important fact about making viral apps that I think is the key factor in determining viral success.

User’s share for selfish reasons.

Let me elaborate.
I’m not saying everyone is only self-centered, but sharing content has to be personal in some way. Simply sharing someone elses content is the result of it being highly interesting content. A great photo, an important message, or maybe an event you want others to attend. But that’s not why most sharing happens. Most sharing on social media is a form of self-promotion. Whether for business or personal reasons, people like to share things that make them feel good about themselves.

Some of the most viral marketing campaigns I’ve been involved in have involved a personalization feature of some sort. That’s why PhotoGoo has been so successful. PhotoGoo is all about creating something cool, and showing your friends. The same goes for all the apps in the genre. The ever-popular FatBooth is just another way to create something cool that other people will enjoy. It’s about user’s sharing content that they feel they had a hand in creating.

I think this is why photo sharing is such a big deal. When Facebook bought Instagram lots of people had questions about why. Well, think about it. Do you still have a photo album, or is it mostly digital these days? Is there a cutoff time where physical photos stopped existing and everything went digital? What did you do with those photos? The good ones get shared on Facebook. A flattering photo become the profile photo. Something showing off how cool, successful, or interesting a person is becomes a post. Everyone is a champion for themselves in some way or another.

No one is going to share your app just because it’s cool

People don’t care about being the person to have shared your app (unless it’s super cool.)  What they care about is exposing the favorable portions of their life or personality with their circle. This is why personality tests and “see who viewed my facebook” apps are so common. People are self-oriented, they want acceptance and feedback on the things they do from their circle of friends.

So if no one cares about your app, and only about themselves, how can we properly motivate growth of our user base?

Twitter is extremely selfish

Twitter’s growth since it’s inception has been phenomenal. Is it because posts of 140 characters are just that interesting? I think Twitter’s growth is the result of self-promotion. You tweet, it’s easy, it’s creation, why wouldn’t you recruit others to hear your great insights? Facebook is the de facto selfishness platform. It’s all about the individual.

What are you doing to make users feel proud of what they’re doing on your app? Do they have a voice? Do they feel personally connected to the content they make and consume? If you can combine the practical with a self-promotion strategy you will have users recruiting other users, and that’s what is needed for real growth.

How?

I hear you saying, how do I make an app that allows for selfish behavior if my app is not about creation or sharing? Well, the easiest thing is to integrate sharing in to the basic functionality of the app. Is it possible to use the app without sharing? It may seem like a benefit to not require interaction in an app, but in the end it’s the co-dependent relationship between users that drive real growth. Think about Word, does it have sharing as a key feature? It doesn’t seem like it, I can’t share my content on any social networks. However, the first time someone sees a .docx file from me, they know they need Word to open it. This kind of word of mouth is unique. The same effect occurs on file sharing services like Dropbox. This is the golden ticket to growth, but I think you can implement the same kind of sharing functionality in any app, you just have to be creative about it.

When I released Finch, a Mac OS app that makes it easy to track your billable time, I had a very hard time thinking of ways to make the app spread. I put Facebook like buttons and Twitter share buttons on the app screens, but that didn’t lead to much sharing. But when I shared my usage data with reddit, showing 18 hours (WOW!) of usage on reddit.com and 2 hours of “work”, the reddit community found this relatable. This was an example of content that allowed users to take pride in how they spend their days. So, after the success of this post I made it easy to share some pretty time reports for Finch, and soon after downloads rose. The number of users we gained from that concept was over 900% of the total userbase, all within a few weeks.

Sometimes it’s just something silly that leads to the great sharing concept. What can you encourage users to share within your app?

 


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8 Great Open Source Projects to use in your next iPhone App

I’ve scoured the internet looking for great open source iOS apps, and what I determined is that what is really more interesting is the open source iOS components and frameworks. So here’s my list of the most useful open source iOS components.

8. PSCollectionView
PSCollectionView is a custom collection view that allows for the easy creation of Pinterest-style image collections in your iOS apps. Source on Github

 

7. GMGridView
This little grid view library allows for the simple creation of highly interaction view sets. You can see a nice video of an example result hereSource on Github

 

6. PRTween

PRTween is an extension of the core animation framework. It is an effort to take the power of core animation, and make it easier to use. The commands available may remind some of the stupid-simple jQuery animation commands like fade, hide, or show. Source on Github

 

 

5. iHasApp
I recently was asked by a client if we could detect their other apps installed on the device, and if the user didn’t own them if we could have the app present cross-promotional ads. I wasn’t sure what the answer to their question was, it seemed like something that might fall under the dreaded “private api” category. But here this project is an App Store friendly library to detect other apps installed on the user’s phone. Source on Github

 

4. NUI
NUI is a very interesting project that aims to make styling of iOS apps as easy as styling in CSS. Take a look at the syntax on the project’s github page and you’ll see what makes this such an interesting project. Source on Github

 

3. grabKit
If you are writing an iPhone app that involves the user’s photos, one thing that’s always a bit tricky is adding support for all the various social networks that the user might prefer to host their photos on. grabKit makes this easier with this drop-in library that let’s the user import photos from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Picasa, or the iOS device itself. Source on Github

 

2. MultistrokeGestureRecognizer
This library is great for anyone creating a very touch-centric game, or any app that uses lots of complex gestures. The library is based on the N Multistroke Recognizer which is a great algorithm for detecting very complex touch gestures. If you remember the gestures in the game Black & White, it’s kind of like that. Source on Github

 

1. Filepicker
Similar to grabKit, Filepicker allows for the importing of files from various social networks, but also includes many more services such as Dropbox, Gmail, and even Github. The library is also not limited to only photos but can be used for a range of content types. Source on Github

 

Honorable mention: cupertino
Cupertino is not an iOS library, but rather a ruby gem that allows for administration of your Apple Developer Account. This has been a missing piece of the formula for automating iOS development work for years, so I’m glad to see some hackers have decided to take up the challenge of making a CLI for the Apple Developer Account system.


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iPhone review process

I think twitter has spoiled me in to thinking I can write a one-sentence statement and actually be contributing something to the internet. Maybe it’s time to start writing in my blog more, it’s been 4 months. All I have to say right now though is that I have been incredibly busy for the past 4 months with my clients, and on the side I wrote an iPhone game. The game is sort of a joint project with a friend of mine, and we really probably only spent 3 or 4 working days time to build it. I submitted it to the app store about a week ago, but we are still in the App Review queue. I will report back here any further details on how it goes… It seems like I should be more excited about my first actual product, but somehow I guess I’m not feeling it. Probably because we made it so quickly I don’t even have any attachment to the project. I guess this is more of an experiment with the App Store, and a test of my 2D engine. Well, wish me luck!


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