Fiksu Releases Service to Make Paid Mobile Apps Free for Consumers

12/13/11Follow @xconomy

Boston-based Fiksu, a startup focused on mobile app marketing, is introducing a new service today that it says will get consumers paid mobile apps for free, while still bringing mobile app developers revenue and traffic.

The service, FreeMyApps, allows consumers to rack up credits by trying free, mostly advertising-supported apps from select sponsors, and then redeem those credits for paid, premium-content mobile apps. The developers of the free mobile applications bid to promote their apps to consumers in the FreeMyApps system, similar to the way they would bid in other online advertising platforms. Paid app developers, meanwhile, also bid to get their content in front of consumers who are ready to cash in their app credits. The hope is that the FreeMyApps platform will drive a great enough volume of users and downloads that the price paid for the bids and the iTunes store cut will be worth it.

The consumer doesn’t have to put in cash for premium content apps, just their time testing out other free apps. “What’s so unbelievably exciting about the process is that the consumer wins big,” says Fiksu vice president of business development Craig Palli.

Fiksu got its start in 2008 under the name Fluent Mobile, as a developer of a news aggregator mobile app. The startup pivoted its business to mobile app customer acquisition after realizing how much effort and money it had put toward getting users to download the news application, CEO Micah Adler told me in an interview this past spring. Since 2010 Fiksu has offered an algorithm-based platform called Fiksu for Mobile Apps for helping mobile publishers more cheaply and efficiently find loyal users of their apps.

FreeMyApps relies on the same algorithms as the Fiksu for Mobile Apps, and both services tap into existing mobile traffic sources and real-timing bidding exchanges to determine which sources will likely yield loyal customers The high volume of bidders is supposed to keep costs down for developers. The services are complementary to one another, says Palli, but FreeMyApps offers additional insight on which bids lead directly to app downloads. The company said that it has about 15 to 20 mobile app developers enlisted on both the paid and free side of the FreeMyApps service for today’s launch.

FreeMyApps requires consumers to complete quite a few steps to score a roughly $1 mobile app for free. But Palli said the FreeMyApps team has been testing the service among consumers for a few months, and “the response from consumers has been fantastic.”

Whether FreeMyApps’ strategy for recruiting engaged app users is effective may depend on the quality of apps that plug into its ecosystem. We’ll have to keep an eye on which apps developers choose to promote, and how much consumers are willing to work for their “free” bonus.

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