As for the reasoning behind the API platform’s launch, AT&T’s chief marketing officer David Christopher used the AT&T Developer Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to say that it was done to address fragmentation issues. App developers typically have the tedious task of rewriting native applications for Android devices, BlackBerrys, iPhones, and Windows Phones. By creating HTML5 apps, the process is simplified, as users of different devices can access them via browsers, all while maintaining the look and feel of native apps. Christopher’s stance was strengthened by a statistic provided by Strategy Analytics, which projects 85 percent of smartphones to have HTML5-capable browsers by 2016.
AT&T’s new platform also comes with other appealing features in addition to its set of APIs, including technology that will optimize an app’s performance and functionality based on a specific smartphone’s detected capabilities. Developers can also employ in-app purchases that will appear on a customer’s AT&T bill. Use of the APIs is available for a fee of $99, which covers registration. API hosting takes place on cloud services such as Microsoft’s Azure and Heroku.
To further its dedication to HTML5, AT&T announced plans to open an HTML5 app store later this year. Android and iPhone owners will have the first crack at the store, but the company said other devices would gain access to the store at a later date. The store is expected to carry a layout similar to a magazine, rather than the typical app store design that lists apps in categories.
Juniper Research, a firm that specializes in research and analysis for clients in the hi-tech communications sector worldwide, recently released a report offering details and projections on the mobile gaming market from 2011 to 2016. Highlighting the report’s findings is a projection of mobile in-game purchase revenue, hitting the $4.8 billion mark in 2016.
Mobile in-game purchase revenue amounted to $2.1 billion in 2011. While that is impressive, it pales in comparison to the $4.8 billion projection for 2016. Juniper feels the jump in revenue will be driven by a few different factors. First, the sharp increase in smartphone adoption by consumers is a major factor that should boost in-game sales. Smartphones offering increased performance, design, and functionality are hitting shelves at a rapid pace, and consumers are snatching them up equally as fast. The more smartphones you have in consumers’ hands, the more exposure, and opportunities for sales to occur.
Another major factor driving in-game purchase popularity is what is described as the “freemium” model. This model essentially offers a product, such as a game in this case, as a free download. If a user wishes to access any of the advanced features, they must pay a premium to do so.
The model is less risky for consumers and allows developers to offer a taste of their product at the same time. As more consumers gain a comfort level with the freemium model, downloads should increase, as should eventual in-game purchases. Juniper lists games in the Social and Casual genres as the ones that will account for the majority of mobile games downloads, since their audience will likely demand gameplay that is more immersive in nature.
The final factor behind the in-game purchase boom is developer adoption of the freemium model. Free games often garner more downloads than their pay-per-download counterparts, which provides developers with a wider audience. Piracy is also reduced with free games since they can be initially downloaded at no cost.
If a user wants to make an in-game purchase at a later date, it must be done through the developer’s server. Charlotte Miller, the author of the Juniper report, described the appeal of the freemium model to developers:
Juniper’s report also offered other projections for the mobile gaming market. It projects mobile games revenue on feature phones to be cut in half over the next five years. Juniper sees tablets as a major player in the realm of mobile gaming as well, with the devices accounting for at least a third of mobile games revenues by the time 2016 rolls around.