App Annie Delivers Tailored Analysis of the App Marketplace

10/17/13Follow @xconomy

[Corrected 10/18/13, see below] As the online universe has expanded and apps have taken over—and digital content of all kinds, from e-books to movies, has exploded—simple Web analytics just don’t tell companies everything they need to know about their products and the marketplace. While app stores share basics like the number of times an app has been downloaded, they don’t give developers a more comprehensive look at how apps are doing in comparison to their competitors, how their metrics have changed over time, and what to expect in the overall marketplace.

Enter App Annie. Founded in 2010, the company’s mission is to serve the needs of app developers. CEO Bertrand Schmitt says they weren’t getting much helpful information from the app stores, which he believed were “more focused on consumers’ needs and developer tools” than analytics. “Personally, I wanted to better understand the market and was frustrated not to find any reliable information about how much money and downloads successful apps were doing,” he says. [Correction: In a previous version of this story, Schmitt's surname was misspelled. We regret the error--Eds.]

So the company set out to pull data from the marketplace—Apple, Google and Amazon’s app stores—to build services that could really give developers a sense of how their apps were performing, both immediately and over long periods of time.

Now App Annie has three main products. The first, App Annie Store Stats, ranks over 3 million apps on the market. It’s free and available to anyone who cares to check it out. Though Google, for example, provides developers with current stats, it doesn’t track them over time and break down overall trends; instead, developers have to download and save the information themselves. Store Stats lets them skip that step, and tracks app rankings for free.

App Annie CEO Bertrand Schmidt

App Annie CEO Bertrand Schmitt

App Annie Analytics is a free dashboard aimed specifically at app developers, which displays both downloads and revenue earned from individual apps. To build it, the company needed more than just the data they could pull from app stores. So App Annie tapped into their clients’ own data; they provide the company with their app store credentials, and App Annie goes into their accounts to grab the information. But, given concerns about privacy and competition, the startup ensures that it is not shared with any other company.

App Annie Intelligence, finally, is a much more tailored, subscription product that uses statistical modeling to provide detailed estimates for how apps are performing in the marketplace. Instead of aiming just at product managers and developers, Intelligence’s data is also useful for venture capitalists and analysts as they consider which companies to invest in and what’s going on in the overall app landscape.

Intelligence can provide a detailed analysis of the entire marketplace, or clients can choose to break the data down by app, country and category. “Intelligence is not one solution fits all,” Schmitt says. “We let people define how much data they want.” Users can limit their data to say, the Japanese marketplace, or a specific number of apps—anywhere from 1 to 10,0000. Then they can download and manipulate the raw data themselves, view it through an interface like Analytics, or by using data visualization tools from Seattle-based Tableau Software.

The product is subscription-based, and clients pay based on the amount of data they need.

App data and projections might seem like an easy target for start-ups to chase, but so far, Schmitt says, the company hasn’t faced a lot of competitors in the space. “We are by far the biggest player,” he says. “Of course some companies are trying to compete, but we are very ahead.”

But that doesn’t mean App Annie is without major challenges. App stores change frequently, and keeping up with technological changes has been a big obstacle—one the company has no control over. “We had to build a specific infrastructure and organize the team to specifically care for all and any change at any time,” Schmitt says.

Scaling has also been a big issue. The company needed to grow quickly from the five-person team that started the company in mid-2011, both to build up products and to keep up with its hundreds of thousands of users from countries around the world. Over the past couple of years, App Annie has brought on 110 employees to keep up with the growth, and they’re based all around the world—the company has offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, and Seoul. Even though their biggest market is in the U.S., “It’s important to have a diverse team to scale to other countries,” Schmitt says.

The company plans to open its next offices in New York, which will be its second U.S. office, and Moscow.

So far, App Annie has raised $22 million from investors including IDG Capital Partners, Sequoia Capital, Greycroft Partners, and Infinity Venture Partners.

This month, the company also announced a new piece of media to track: e-books. Now, the company includes e-book analytics in both its Store Stats and Analytics products, pulling information from both the Amazon and Apple e-book stores.

“We have tried to listen to our user base and give them a really good solution,” Schmitt says. “We help them become more successful. That’s our mission.”

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