Mobile World Congress reveals what many already knew: France is killing it in the App Discovery space!

Feb 28, 2013
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One of the areas where France is showing some muscle this year is in mobile app discovery.  We’ve covered this fast growing sector quite regularly on Rude Baguette, mainly because the myriad of innovative startups in this area always have an impressive story to tell. If MWC is anything to go by, this is clearly an area where France has and continues to excel.

Driven by a pertinent consumer need to cut through all the clutter on app stores and get to apps that they most need and/or want, the market for mobile app discovery services is going through a mini-boom as of late.  As has been said many times before, where there is a problem there is also an opportunity.  This has ushered in a number of competitors in this sector including Tapjoy (mobile apps and game discovery), Fiksu’s FreeMyApps, Swiss startup Appbrain, Appcircle, as well as several increasingly successful French leaders (more on that later),  One of the most intriguing aspects of the sector is that these companies really don’t have a choice as to whether they go global or not;  if they don’t, they quickly get left behind. The name of the game is really multi-market business development; in other words, bringing as many consumers and fast-growing, popular apps from around the world to your platform as quickly as possible.

France is really making a name for itself in this sector with (at least) four fast growing startups in this area.  Of course, one would question whether all of these will survive. The future is obviously never certain, but If their massive growth is anything to go by, the answer in the short to medium term is a strong ‘yes’. Sure some will ultimately end up larger than others, but three advantages they all have on their side is that 1. they all got in fairly early so have established credibility in this space, 2. the number of apps created and distributed on app stores continues to grow, creating even more confusion for users and 3. as their reach is truly global, there’s lots of untapped opportunity still out there for them to capitalize on.  Perhaps the big challenge for them will come in the long-term where the rise of HTML5 could herald in a big shake up in the app store model, requiring them to evolve in order to continue to add-value in an changed app ecosystem.

We’ve written quite a bit about up-and-coming, fast-growing AllMyApps (who are expanding in the States and elsewhere) and widely covered and celebrated Appsfire.  However, here’s a couple more French success stories present at the MWC13 this year (dedicated booth and all):

AppGratis

AppGratis, which was apparently was started as a blog by founder Simon Dawlat in 2010, has experienced breakneck growth and geographic expansion since its founding less than three years ago.  Their primary focus is high-quality app downloads driven through they’re 1 free app a day promotion.  They now can boast of having achieved 100 million installs in 2012 and now 1 million installs a day, 10 million users, and a presence in 30+ countries (with more to come soon).  They’re also working with super-hot, rising Russian mobile gaming giant GameInsight, which is given the quality of GameInsight’s games and their increasingly global reach, will be a wining partnership for AppGratis.  The biggest news from them recently is that they raised a $13.5 million Series A from Iris Capital and the Orange Publicis fund. A long-time advocate of bootstrapping (rather than letting too many investors into the party), their CEO Dawlat explained in their company blog why this was the right thing for them to do at this point in time. Basically to sum up, rapid international growth and app market growth are big drivers of their need for more funding.  In addition, they need to expand their team beyond its current size of 30 to support their big jump in demand and be able to support more active outreach to developers around the globe.

AppTurbo

AppTurbo is a bit of  newer entrant having started in 2011, but have grown quite substantially since then. They’re now have a roster of notable clients including Gameloft and the Fancy.  They are also in 30+ markets, including Japan, Turkey, Brazil, Scandinavia,etc and are expanding very rapidly, adding a new market every couple of months. They have a highly international focus, deciding in fact to bypass the French market in the beginning to focus abroad (they’ll actually be officially launching in France very shortly).  They now have 12 million users around the world which they’ve been able to attract due to their focus on direct outreach with developers and quick speed to market in launching localized versions (local language) of their app. They haven’t gotten as much press as some of the aforementioned competitors, but I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more from them soon.