In this Episode, Chris and David welcome Pietro Saccomani of Mobiloud to discuss acting on opportunities and following the market to success. Listen in as we discuss the genesis of Mobiloud, the future direction and how it can help you add a distribution channel for your blog, business or WordPress site:
- why a mobile app provides a huge new distribution channel for your business
- how mobile not only affect exposure but retention
- why behaviors on mobile are different than on the web
- and the types of clients that can get the very most from a Mobiloud partnership
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Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode
- Flurry – 80% of time on device spent inside apps
- iTunes 45m searches a month
- Sylvain from Apptamin
- Tyler Kessler from AppReviewMe
- Mobile Mixed
Chris: Hi, and welcome to another episode of the App Business Podcast. As always, joined by David Pfahler. Whats up David?
David: Hey everybody.
Chris: And we have, we’re gonna read some reviews, but I’m gonna introduce, we have another guest. We’re on fire with guests right now. And really interested in what Pietro’s got it going on, so we’ll dig in a little bit. Pietro Saccomani, welcome to the App Business Podcast.
Pietro: Thank you! Hi everyone and thank you for having me.
Chris: Yeah, we’re happy to have you. Christopher Sutton introduced us over email and he hadn’t met with you in person but he knew you from Mobiloud which is what we’re gonna talk about today. But he used Mobiloud for one of his apps, Easy Ear Training. He was a guest 10 episodes ago or so and we’re in a mastermind together David as well. So we got to know Christopher really well over the last 6 months. But he really thinks highly of Mobiloud and so we’d love to pick your brain on what you’re doing and you know different, like your ideal clients and your overall thoughts at mobile. But before we dig in to all that, did I miss anything or you wanna share anything. Introduce yourself a little.
Pietro: I think that’s about it, so if we have to give a brief introduction to what the product is, we started working, we started actually working a couple of years ago as a mobile app development consultancy and we were together doing a bit of web work as well on Ruby and Rails. And we have opportunity to work with a large blogging network to help them essentially build native apps for their content. And we saw an opportunity, we saw WordPress obviously expanding by rapidly and now about 30% of new websites are built on WordPress. So that’s about the definite equation they have on the market for new websites. And the figure is now that far, if you look at top 100 hundred websites total in terms of traffic, lets assume that the figure probably around 20-25% is WordPress. So we saw a big opportunity because of course this publishers are looking at mobile and most of them of course have at least a responsive website of some sort. So their website doesn’t look too aweful hopefully on mobile. But they’re seeing opportunity in terms of apps and they’ve seen obviously apps becoming increasingly popular. And we’ve all notice that, I’ve already read the statistics that support a notion that users tend to choose apps over websites on mobile time and time again. So if you think Flurry has recently released an update statistic on that and they find them more than 80% of the time that people spend on mobile devices is actually spent inside apps. Now a lot of that is Facebook but a part from that moves obviously a lot of opportunity there. It offer users a way to effectively spend their time with your content so you have to be their if you’re a publisher. In one way you have to had the, to be inside that 80% of the time. And so, that’s what we solve. And when we started building a product to effectively enable them to do this very simply and quickly.
Chris: Something like iTunes has 45 million searches a month, so I mean it’s a huge search engine as it is, right? So it’s a huge, if you don’t have a, you can have a website but you don’t show up in the mobile, in iTunes search. So having an app gives you exposure and distribution or syndication in that search engine. So yeah it’s a huge opportunity I would think. So it has to be a WordPress blog that you’re partner, or that you’re invest in your platform?
Pietro: Yeah, and they so. Yeah absolutely agree with you, it’s the distribution opportunity offered by the app store is one of the main reasons behind building an app of this sort. And the other side of this I think is retention. So effectively you can have a mobile site, and you should have a mobile site because people do use search on mobile and you want to be found and be found in the best possible way so you have to present yourself with a mobile site or responsive site at the minimum. But it’s really hard for, to build an audience on mobile through the web, I’d find and we find. What actually works well is apps because they give you a presence on the home screen effectively. Constant presence there and visual reminder of your existence if you wish and which helps a lot when you want to create headers in your users. And it also gives you an opportunity to essentially have a communication channel, a subscription channel with a user which is push notifications. And so of course I think our site is still alive as a technology but definitely used as much as it was and actually never managed to grow into a mass market kind of solution. And so a subscription mechanism actually really helps a publisher and developer relationship overtime with their user base and they obviously have an opportunity to keep pushing content to the user and they can do that for push notification which also allows users some more control over what they receive compared to say name of newsletter.
Chris: Yes, in fact now that I remember, that’s the real reason Christopher wanted us to connect to us because it is similar to what I was doing around. You know like a syndication tool for podcasters or other content marketers. There’s definitely some overlap there, but I think we share, we talk a little about that in email but yeah I agree with you, I obviously agree because I’m starting something similar to this, but like my own, I know I’m only a user group of one, there’s another way to say that but just because my behavior mirrors what you’re explaining but like all going Bleacher Report app, I never go the website. It’s like a whole different, it’s like there almost two different things to me. So my actions definitely speak to having things I visit on my app, my mobile device and then things I do on my computer. And yeah I think it’s a no brainer. Some curious in, I think David had this question as well were talking just a little bit before we rang you in. Who is your target client? Are they bloggers, or are they brands? Or who you’re working with primarily?
Pietro: Yeah, so it’s a, at the moment its mainly blogs and news sites. And that’s what the products sort of fits best at the moment. But of course the WordPress opportunity is much bigger and there’s a lot of interest were seeing from people that have used WordPress to build ecommerce websites, also social networks or other sorts of apps perhaps around aggregation. So we are working with some of these guys and were trying to sort of expand the platform to cover those use cases as well. Especially ecommerce, I find it so very interesting space too to be working on. And as you know similarly they have similar problems that are probably should me having to retain users and bring their back to their sites and say push offers out and develop a relationship and sort of feed the lies there, the users. So thats an interesting space. Perhaps they even social networks, so always there. Popular plugin for WordPress called BuddyPress that allows you to essentially build something like a Facebook clone and its actually a lot of you know nice interesting communities of people that really gather around a topic and obviously this publishers, this site owners, fill with any method to deserve them a mobile in the best possible way as well. So were gonna be looking at developing in that space as well.
Chris: Yeah imagine how powerful like a, let’s say you’ve abandoned or you’ve viewed a product four times whether via mobile or online on a website and then you receive a push that says , hey 20% off on the next 15 minutes or something like that. Its hugely powerful and you don’t get those, you don’t get push on email or when you’re on a website. That’s a huge thing that mobile has that you’re just not seeing retailer and ecommerce used yet. There’s no number around that yet coz I haven’t seen it yet but that could be a huge play for someone using your service and then leveraging data and push coz everyone opens their push messages or a lot of people do. So this could be interesting to see where you take this product. David do you have some questions on like what the product is, like what its using. We talked from time to time on the podcast about like native versus hybrid versus all this kind of stuff.
David: Yeah I did see on your blog Pietro that you have something about native versus you know web-based apps and I just would be interested in what way technically you are able to integrate with the WordPress blogs and whether that’s based on a native or a web kind of technology.
Pietro: Absolutely yeah. So when we started with it, there was no lack of app builders in the market. And so we questioned ourselves whether it made any sense to build another one essentially. Coz they all sort of at least accepted our assess and input to build an app. But were extremely dissatisfied with the quality of the apps that we could build with those and that’s because they were all essentially hybrid and at hybrid perhaps not even done in the best possible way. So what we have decided to build is effectively a native platform. So we have a native say core on iOS and a native core on Android and they’re all build in a standard Objective-C or Java for Android and essentially beyond the html bit that enters into an app is the article content itself. But there all sort of style specifically for the app in any case. So that’s the only web part that we have. Sooner it is hybrid but just because its obviously it’s an article content and that’s the thing that makes sense to have and you know, you notice in the experience once you load an app, not just on load times but specially in the way that you can interact with the app and it’s just so much faster and fluid and it does behave exactly as an app develop for the system which is not true with most of, of pretty much all of our competitors. So it also another big differences that of course we have an app designed in a similar way but it actually uses the design patents of each platform. So my iOS app will actually look like an iOS app and my Android app will look slightly different and exactly like a standard Android app.
David: Oh very interesting. So you actually used a different core like you used a different elements that come with Android so that it looks differently on Android compared to iOS right?
Pietro: Yeah precisely. Precisely yes.
David: Hey as we’re on the App Business Podcast, let me ask you a business related question and this is about pricing. So I actually asked basically the same question other guests that we had on recently and I think pricing is just a very interesting topic for all entrepreneurs. On your website, I can see that you have two options, you can either pay as you go for 1 year or you can get a lifetime license that you know is for your entire lifetime and as far as I can see, the lifetime license already gives you a saving compared to just running two years with the pay as you go license. So it seems to me that that’s a very very sweet deal. And my question is just like, how does that make sense for you and in a business kind of way.
Pietro: Yeah, absolutely. So it is a good deal. The thinking behind that is that there’s a, specially now in the way people I think approach the idea of building an app is there’s sometimes an expectation to simply pay on a one-off cost. And we’ve heard that time and time again. And so once like you had people that don’t wanna risk too much straight away and they would like to go for something like a pay as you go plan. So like you know, recurring fees. And on the other side you have people will say, I know what I’m doing, I’m sure I want this app. So I just wanna you know spend the least that I can and know exactly what I’ll gonna be spending now and then you know overtime I’ll work out what I have to do in terms of monetization to occur to that cost.
Chris: Yeah and so you’d send them the code or you still own it?
Pietro: No, we don’t send them the code so we don’t, its actually, it is a service and yes the way we work is very very close to the customers. Its really support and service intensive. And I think despite the, it might seem like counter-intuitive, its gonna be even more fine because I’m really interested in having customers that are successful in what they’re doing. And I find parts of that is sort of talking to them. Understanding what they want to achieve and giving them them advice on how they can actually get their app out there and communicate about their app and optimize their presence on the app store. And that’s the sort of stuff that you know, probably intensive and in time on our side but we find that it works pretty well when in terms of having happy customers at the end. And so yeah more and more a lot of them say, super scalable, low-priced business. Were gonna keep, you know process sort of at a similar price when I was there right now which spoke slightly at average and trying get commit to customers and help them be successful on the app store and Google Play.
Chris: Do you guys do building apps outside of working within this framework?
Pietro: Ah so yeah as I mentioned we started out as a development agency. So we still do some consulting work around this. And sometimes actually the two things merge into a consulting project that is based on the platform.
Chris: Okay, yeah I would think that if I were a brand and I you know ran a marketing department or something and I got this app and I was working with you guys to get the brand and the syndication or distribution out there. Then when I had other mobile needs like maybe I wanted to build an app that did a very specific thing to highlight a new product. I’d go to you coz thats what I know in mobile. So I would think this would be a pretty good lead machine.
Pietro: Yeah indeed and when that happen more than once, you know a customer had a slightly different requirement and that’s we had to build an app for them and they asked us about helping them build or find someone to build their apps.
Chris: Okay, so its not a super comment but its happened a couple of times.
Chris: Do you, were you ever in the mobile space creating your own apps and distributing your own apps, your own portfolio?
Pietro: Well, I haven’t. And that’s something that obviously..its on my list and I definitely going to be experimenting around that and obviously I have this platform available and you know there’s a concept that I if I remember it well they call it something like dog-fooding so you know use your own product. Yea, if you end up with something like that, yes thats the idea. So that’s what I wanna do effectively, I wanna try and use the platform with some arousing content ideas that we have and you know obviously, use it , improve it and learn first hand what is needed to make it even better. Yeah thats another, I usually find thats a huge way to learn, right? Being your own customer, you know eat your own dogfood that, I think that’s how save this, that sounds ridiculous now that I say, now fine. It doesn’t sound right. So Pietro, is your background development, computer science or something like that?
Pietro: No, my background is actually in the business. So yeah when I start the company, my partner has a background in iOS and web development and so that’s how we started. We combine our skills.
Chris: Which is how the, an episode where we were talking about ways to take advantage of you know this mobile opportunity without building apps. And you know there’s lots of ways where you can offer services for publishers. We recently had on Sylvain from Apptamin who does app videos. We’ve had Tyler Kessler from AppReviewMe and he provides like a reviewing community. But yeah this is realy interesting. You’re not a developer and you have no apps. You have this really cool platform that has enough customers to, I have no idea what the size is, but enough customers to like, this is your job and this is your business and you get to really grow with it.
Pietro: Yeah, absolutely, were totally full time on this, yes.
Chris: So thats a good inspiration for any of the listeners that are like me and have no skills outside of understanding outside of understanding finance and accounting and marketing. Yeah thats really cool. How long have you been at this specific Mobiloud?
Pietro: Ah so Mobiloud would be running for a bit more than a year now.
Pietro: Although sort of, its a first test we had I think a few apps build even before that. Yeah as a product I think a bit more than a year now and obviously were looking at ways that we can expand and perhaps even expand outside of the WordPress niche but its working really well for us right now and since the platform keeps growing. It seems like a good bet.
David: And talking about expanding, I’ve seen a new website that you have a white label program so in case any agencies or you know developers selling to clients are listening. How would that work?
Pietro: Yeah, actually so were very interested in experimenting around this and building strong collaborations with free announcers or agencies. And I’ve found a lot of my competitors actually have simply in volume discounts. And I’m not to show the best way to go. In this sense yes there might be some people that have an existing large business, not just want to sell apps to their existing customers. I’m using that opportunity but in the kind of request that I’ve been getting, its really about this people which are tend to be sort of one or two people companies that have built their WordPress sites with their, for their customers and sort of want to you know experiment with the app business and understand how it works. And so obviously those starts small, so again I think here, were enforcing on the idea of providing great support and service and were still building partnerships and helping this guys sort of build a business in mobile as well for the platform. And obviously in understanding as well what their requirements are which they tend to be different from say what the average blog or new site has. Obviously I think about 30% of WordPress users have actually build a blog that the rest is something else where I’d guess at least this 30% is company sites. So a lot of this freelancers actually have worked on websites like that. Perhaps blogging is a pat of it but its not the whole so its companies that are offering their services online for their website. And so were learning with them at the moment how we can best sort of help them build their apps for their customers and which should generate companies.
Pietro: Yup so it feel like they have an opportunity in offering their services for an app as well.
Chris: Yeah, I think that’s a huge opportunity is companies that have been traditionally like web com interactive or like web big agencies that build websites. They monitor social media, they have a bunch of services and they might do a mobile app a month or you know here and there but they’re not focused on the latest greatest ASO tools or whatever or analytics tools or whatever.
Chris: Sorry my dog saying, hi. And yes, so enabling this web agencies that already have a huge customer base or a significant customer base, it doesn’t have to be huge and giving them the tools so then extend and help their customers being more successful. I think that’s, theres a big opportunity there and you see that with the bunch of people in the marketplace like I think Greg Hickman and MobileMix thats his whole deal its he like enables web agencies to build mobile competencies. So yeah I think this is gonna be, that’ll be a great business for you going forward. All this things are so great, coz you can invest in them. They’re not something that you need to make money on the next 6 months because its gonna be here for the next decade, you know.
David: Yeah man interesting.
Chris: David, do you wanna give him the standard, what’s he think about the mobile industry thing?
David: Yes it kinda became our standard question, yeah. So Chris, yeah we were asking this every guest so Chris why did you take it away?
Chris: Yes, so outside of your like specific solution here. What do you see as the most interesting, exciting things that you’re kind of following and monitoring across the mobile industry over the next near term or 6, 12 months? Everytime I ask that question, I feel like shoot, I didn’t give you any warning, I just dropped it on you.
Pietro: Yeah thats a quite broad question. Now I think, I think theres a huge opportunity. And I sense were perhaps close to a slight shift towards new platforms and of course everyones talking about wearables and but I sense that there’s going to be a huge opportunity soon to, you know go back to what were the early days and the gold rush of apps that we had seen and now a few years ago. So obviously now the scene on mobile apps for smartphones, tablets is getting quite private and you guys surely know that. But I think this new platforms will offer a great opportunity for even new comers to you know perhaps get a bit lucky and you know get something out there before anyone else and find some fortune in that.
Chris: Okay so given that are you, do you have any plans to then make a lets say content syndication, you know Mobiloud for the wearable market?
Pietro: Yeah were obviously thinking about that and so we’ve been playing around with the Google wearable or ascent and we are indeed thinking about opportunities there of course the space physically is very much reduced but it is a great opportunity I think for even for publishers to get some sort of content out there. And perhaps obviously the content you want consume in its entirety on a watch. You might want to get newsletters for example.
Pietro: So part of that is for example in a Google Glass its built in the sense that push is effectively mirrored on the device that there are opportunities to do something more around that so were looking into that.
Chris: I would say 50% of the people we asked say wearables. Everyone got their eyes on wearables.
Pietro: I thought its original
Chris: Well you’ll be original if you can find the solution for it. That will be the cool thing.
Chris: So Pietro, we really appreiate you coming on the show, we’ll link up to all your stuff in the shownotes and yeah for a new one listening its Mobiloud, mobiloud.com and I would say this is a really great feat as you heard Christopher was really happy with what he got out of Mobiloud and its a nice way to ease into the mobile space. We talked about that a lot, what’s the best way to kind of ease in, well you’ll learn the basics of getting an app published and ASO and some of the marketing around that by utilizing Mobiloud. So really cool service Pietro, thanks again for coming on the show. Listeners thank you and we will talk to you soon.