Amazon follows MiKandi’s footsteps, launches virtual currency

Amazon CoinsAmazon announced today its own virtual currency system called Amazon Coins. In true Amazon fashion, the company is going big by giving away “tens of millions of dollars” when the virtual currency launches in May. Amazon Coins can be used to buy apps, on in-app purchases, and games on the Kindle Fire. The coins will be available in the US only at first and will not be available for subscriptions. Customers who do not wish to buy apps with Amazon Coins can still purchase outright with credit cards.

We love virtual currency

MiKandi is happy to welcome Amazon to the virtual currency world. When we were rebuilding our app store 2 years ago, we thought long and hard about how to tackle payments. Being a tech company that sells adult content, many services were restricted. From newsletters to payment options, our usual course of action was to build it ourselves. On top of that, at the time it was very hard for developers to make money in the Android Market compared to iTunes. Something wasn’t working and we were dead set of figuring out what that was.

We came to the conclusion that we had to think about this problem differently. The question we found ourselves asking, often, is: How do you build an app store that exceeds the current options and really resonates with consumers? We looked to the gaming industry for leadership and discovered that consumers understand and accept points-based systems with rewards and purchases. From an app store’s point of view, virtual currency makes it easy to provide customers with outstanding customer service. Download an app you really don’t like? We can simply refund your MiKandi Gold for you to spend on something you do. No hassle, no delay. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. That, coupled with our industry leading customer service, has led to our remarkable chargeback rates, something that has plagued the adult industry since the advent of online purchases. Our chargeback rates are so low, we’d hazard a guess that it would make non-virtual currency supported app stores raise their eyebrows and stroke their chins.

Imitation is the best form of flattery

We have to ask, “What took you so long, Amazon?” When MiKandi launched MiKandi Gold, our virtual currency system for paid apps back in 2010, we were the first virtual currency powered mobile app store. A few months later, we launched full support of KandiBilling to Android developers, our in-app billing API, 1 day before Google Android. There’s something to be said for small teams- we move fast. Our mommies taught us to share our software, Amazon. Next time, ask us and we’ll let you play with our toys.

Seriously.

Forecast: In-game purchases to surpass pay-per-download model

New-school methods of monetization

coinsJuniper Research recently released the 6th edition of their report Mobile Games.  In it they investigate various mobile game monetization models, particularly focusing on freemium content that features in-game purchases vs. the traditional pay-per-download model.
According to the report, Juniper Research forecasts that global mobile gaming revenues will double what they were in 2009, to over $11 billion by 2015.  The driving factor being freemium content which includes in-game purchases that upsell the player to either continue the game with more levels or better the experience with virtual goods, such as weapons.  The thought is that this will generate greater revenue because the player’s attention is piqued when the impulse to buy is strongest- during game play.

Paid vs Free

In other words, pay for all you can eat or go home.  The way we consume mobile entertainment is different now than it was just a handful of years ago, when pay-per-download was the standard model.   The convenience of anytime, instant-access to your content is a value that most consumers appreciate and are willing to pay for on mobile.  What’s interesting to us about the Juniper Research report is that it highlights the importance of demonstrating value first and offering flexible payment options to your customers.  The gaming industry has moved toward frictionless access to their products, engaging players first with free-to-play models then monetizing content over time.  We believe this is an especially important lesson to consider for the adult entertainment industry.  Typically we still find many adult companies demand users pay $20/30 month to gain access (maybe even a $1/day trial). Many of your fans will pay for the all you can eat monthly subscriptions, but a higher percentage of new users prefer to consume content as they go.  Understanding that this is the dynamic of the world today, we believe that designing your mobile content for snack-size consumption/purchases will result in attracting more customers and converting more fans to the premium services over time.  In other words, why turn away customers who are willing to pay for an appetizer even if they don’t want a full meal just yet. We say offer both.

More than just an app store

When we launched MiKandi last year, we sought out to be more than an app store.  We view ourselves as your partner (sign up for a developer account today).  The launch of our virtual currency system, dubbed MiKandi Gold, is one of many steps we’re making to give our registered developers the platform they need to share, market, and monetize their adult apps without restriction.  There is great potential and value in in-app billing, a feature which our community can expect to see soon.  If you’re a developer and would like to share your apps with the over 300K MiKandi App Store consumers, register your developer account with us today at developer.mikandi.com.

Link Love: Diddle your Cliq, MiKandi updates Adult App Store, and more

WP7

Third-party tools opens WP7 to unapproved apps – PC World

Moto Backflip, Cliq get multi touch support – Android Central

$1000 bounty offered to first person to crack Google TV root – Phandroid

Android Market bans porn – XBiz

MiKandi overhauls app store, introduces paid apps - Phandroid

Android’s app store for porn, MiKandi, adds support for paid applications – Tech Crunch

MiKandi launches redesigned app store, virtual currency – AVN

MiKandi lets Android phone owners pay for porn – PC Mag

Android gains sex appeal with first virtual currency powered adult app store

MiKandi (www.mikandi.com), the world’s first app store for adults, is pleased to announce that it has launched a new version of its app store for Android along with its own virtual currency system and paid application support. Redesigned from the ground up, the new app store boasts faster performance, more intuitive navigation, better search capabilities and support for video. The new client will be rolled out to over 300,000 existing installations of the app store this week.

In conjunction with the release of the new app store, MiKandi has built its own virtual currency system, dubbed MiKandi Gold. Given the challenges that developers are running into selling apps through Android’s existing marketplace, the company has opted to create a virtual currency solution that is safe and secure for users and easy to implement for developers. Beginning today, developers are encouraged to submit their paid applications to the MiKandi team via email (developer@mikandi.com) or through the developer portal (http://developer.mikandi.com).

Liam Colins, Director of Special Projects for Pink Visual, weighed in on MiKandi’s announcement with his thoughts, “As one of the first companies working with MiKandi on monetizing mobile adult applications, we’ve been very pleased. The MiKandi difference is that they provide a highly targeted customer base of adult users who are interested in quality applications which, when combined with their simple and effective user interface, creates conversion ratios that exceed other mobile channels.”

Today’s announcement marks the first time that developers of apps for adults 18 and over have been encouraged to make money from their apps. Tim Adams, MiKandi’s Head of Developer Relations adds, “Since our initial launch a year ago, the number one question from developers has been: ‘When can I charge for my apps?’ Today we reward their patience with a solution that we’re proud of and a future payment roadmap that includes in-app purchases, subscription billing and rewards programs.”  He adds, “To celebrate, we released a music video to announce the launch and to showcase our newly discovered parody pop skills.”  The music video I Got MiKandi is a parody of the popular dance song Like a G6 by The Far East Movement.

Adults with Android devices can download the latest version of the MiKandi app store at http://m.mikandi.com. New developers who want to join the over 600 developers who have already signed up with MiKandi can visit http://developer.mikandi.com and can contact the Developer Relations team directly via email: developer@mikandi.com

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Mobile monetization, Android, virtual currency and the business of adult

Surprise! Mobile app developers care about making money

As we build our app store for adults, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to build a business for our developers. We really believe that our jobs include making sure that developers who work with MiKandi are maximizing their opportunity. To us, we haven’t been successful until we’ve made our developers successful (join our fast growing crew of developers here). Whether this means that they’re able to delight thousands of people with their elegant and fun free app or they’re able to sell their apps to crowds of adoring fans, it’s our job to really help make this occur.

We love Android, but it seems like it’s a tougher environment for app sales

Our quest to make our developers successful has us looking at the various existing app stores and thinking about what they’re doing that is important for developers. As this excellent piece on iSmashPhone discusses, it’s currently tougher to make money as a developer in the Android marketplace than it is in iTunes.

We think that some of this is rooted in Google’s approach to the mobile market (they want to be here because it drives ad impressions and sales). Some of this is a side effect of being very open – with more app delivery channels comes consumer confusion, especially in the early stages. In the long run, we believe that this will play out better for developers, or we wouldn’t be as committed to Android as we are. But in the near term, app developers are feeling the pinch and looking for solutions.

Developing an App Store means that you have to make it easy for consumers to spend

At MiKandi, we’ve come to the conclusion that we have to think about this problem differently. The question we find ourselves asking, often, is: How do you build an app store that exceeds the current options and really resonates with consumers?

Looking at the app stores that are out there today, the existing models are pretty straightforward – they apply standard credit card purchasing processes to being able to pay for the app.  Each app store is highly dependent on having customers’ credit cards on file. Apple’s iTunes store benefits from the requirement that every iPhone and iPad purchase includes a valid credit card. Due to the iPod Touch, they don’t have 100% coverage, but they’re pretty close. That’s a huge advantage for mobile monetization.

As an operator of an app store, then, it behooves us to focus on giving our consumers a compelling and trustworthy experience. If we do our jobs well, a high proportion of our consumers will have a financial relationship with us because they see a significant benefit. In a very real sense, our consumers vote with their wallets.

On the web, consumers are voting for virtual currency

We’ve been observing the landscape of mobile monetization and appreciating what’s happening in the gaming space in particular. What we’ve learned in the past year is that consumers understand and accept points-based systems with rewards and purchases. Virtual currency’s benefits are myriad and we’re excited to release the first mobile app store powered by a virtual currency system.

Our latest release of our app store (get it at http://m.mikandi.com on your Android device) is built around a virtual currency that we call MiKandi Gold. For the reasons we shared above, we believe that in lieu of credit card registration requirements, it’s much tougher to get consumers involved in app purchasing on a regular basis. Our MiKandi Gold system provides consumers with a way to purchase apps, yes, but it also gives us a foundation for future activities in the marketplace that are related to rewards and activity. In this way, our virtual currency will be key to our efforts to impress and please our consumers.

Giving things away for free isn’t always best

In an environment where the standard for most consumers is “free”, we believe that setting value expectations early on will be helpful for developers looking to make a living from their work. When an app developer thinks about what we’re building here at MiKandi (sign up as a developer today), they should be thinking about the fact that we’re working on ways for the developer to demonstrate value to consumers, right out of the gate. Today’s app store environment is very binary – either the app is free or it’s not. In our view, the future holds limited time trials, Gold rewards for repeat purchasers, social Gold for recommendations and a whole host of other potential options. We know that it’ll take a while to sort out the kinks and get these solutions in place, but we’re excited about taking a chance to change the experience for consumers and developers alike.

The right solution at the right time: our niche is facing the most price and value pressure

As the only app store focused on the 18 and over consumer, we’ve really resonated the most with the adult industry. This industry is facing a massive set of challenges, all leading to a decline in revenues in aggregate. As the new set of players in the space focus most of their efforts on making content free and monetizing through the combination of volume and affiliate advertising, the traditional brands are struggling with how to make up the shortfall.

This infographic for the adult industry that we found at: http://www.dutchcowboys.nl/online/19071 is an excellent overview of some of the challenges the companies in the space are facing.

porn_vs_therestinfographic

These datapoints are pretty clear on two things:

  1. Traditional revenue streams for the adult industry are shrinking
  2. There’s a huge opportunity in mobile for the adult industry.

We believe that the existing companies have a lot of opportunity to address their challenges by getting ahead of the mobile adoption on the part of consumers and designing products and services that are tailored to an “always on” mobile environment. With our combination of a welcoming marketplace and a monetization model that is built to be flexible and consumer-friendly, we believe that we’re doing a lot to help companies catering to the 18 and over consumer. As a partner to many of the biggest names in the industry, we believe that they can utilize their strong brand names and our approach to the mobile consumer to build new revenue streams.

Have different thoughts on mobile monetization, app stores and Android? Please leave us comments and engage us in a discussion

Help- Will downloads show on my phone bill?

Inquiring minds want to know:  Will the apps I download from MiKandi show up on my phone bill?

Trying to keep your spending habits hidden from the eyes of a nosey girlfriend, eh?  S’all good, we understand.  To answer the burning (you might wanna get that checked out) question, no you will not see any bills from MiKandi on your phone bill.  In fact, if you live in the US, you will never see porn charges on your phone bill because carrier billing is not available for any adult companies here.

All of the apps on MiKandi are free to download and install. (*11/29/2010 Update: You can now purchase Premium Applications on MiKandi. Read more about MiKandi Gold.) Some apps may ask for your credit card information to access more content once you’ve already downloaded an app. It’s important to know that these are not endorsed or sponsored by MiKandi.  If you choose to give your credit card information, make sure you trust the source, as you will be dealing with that developer with any future disputes.

At the same time, we understand that while you may want to access premium content, you aren’t too keen on giving your credit card info to multiple sources.  So we’re building our own payment platform and will be serving as your virtual wallet for shopping in our market.

MiKandi is adopting the virtual currency model, or the token-model.  If you have ever played a Zynga or Playdom game on Facebook, WoW, IMVU, or any social MMO, you’re likely familiar with virtual currency.  The way it works on MiKandi is like this:

You will have your MiWallet, which you can access at anytime in the MiKandi App Store.  In your wallet, you can purchase bundles of MiKandi gold.  The more you spend, the better deal you get on your gold.  From there, you can browse the app store for premium apps, and purchase by using your gold.  Even further, some apps will have in-app content that you can purchase or unlock by spending gold.  So you will even be able to access your MiWallet from within an installed and opened app.  You can view your transaction history in MiWallet also (not your phone bill), well hidden from the eyes of your girlfriend.

Have we piqued your interest?  MiWallet has not yet been released in the app store, but stay tuned for more announcements coming soon.

Understanding the mobile consumer

Over the past few months, we’ve been engaging in a good deal of customer discovery.  In order to monetize mobile consumers, it’s essential to know their online behaviors.  To begin, we’ve found the most important behavior to recognize outright is their browsing behavior.  Seattle-based Big Door Media (who help developers apply gaming mechanics to their sites or apps) divides the way users browse online into two modes: Commerce Mode and Entertainment Mode.

In Commerce Mode, users are actively pursuing information or something commerce related therefore monetization is likely.  In Entertainment Mode, users are browsing for entertainment and monetizing the user is difficult.  Think of how you behave on Google.com vs. AddictingGames.com, for example.

Explains Big Door:

“When they [users] go to Google they are generally in commerce mode and are specifically looking for something commerce related. Google asks them what they are looking for and does a stellar job of pointing them in the right direction and collects a few pennies for its trouble. But when a consumer is sitting on a game website playing the latest version of Diner Dash, they aren’t likely to stop playing that game and go book their next vacation simply because an annoying banner ad for travel showed up next to their game window.”

For example tube sites, which generate an enormous amount of traffic, are predicated on a fractional percentage of users funding their operation.  Tens of millions of users, only thousands of clicks.  This is how the majority of today’s entertainment sites monetize their traffic.  As we set out to build our payment platform, we knew a different business model that is better adapted for consumers that are in Entertainment Mode needed to be developed.  In our search we realized that the casual gaming industry has already pioneered new strategies that unlock greater revenue potential from entertainment-focused consumers.

Primarily, the virtual currency model used in so many successful casual and social games effectively creates a loyal economy that incites user engagement, rewards users with badges, points, or coins, and leverages social media to encourage virality.  It’s our hypothesis that by applying these new strategies, entertainment apps will no longer have to solely rely on passive eCPM revenue, but instead achieve direct user monetization.

So how do you apply these new strategies to your apps?  Stay tuned for our next installment to find out!

Next week
Using virtual currency to achieve direct user monetization.

Got feedback?
As a young company, we’re often working out the kinks and testing lots of small changes to our site and services. Often times, we find these issues before anyone notices, but if you should run into any problems or have concerns, be sure to contact us ASAP at developer@mikandi.com.

Why virtual currency?

In the previous installment of our latest series to developers, we explain what virtual currency is.  This week, we’ll dive in to why we chose the virtual currency model.

First, over the past few months, we’ve come across major obstacles in traditional ecommerce payment solutions that simply don’t work with what we do.  Consumers are paying less and aggregating around “snack-sized” free content and media-as-a-service that offer greater personalization and interactivity.

We also see the rapid shift toward mobile becoming the dominant platform for adults to stay connected with the world.  This fundamental shift in consumer behavior is poorly supported by majority of the payment solutions available today and the ones who do are not adult-friendly.

We needed a monetization model that actually understands that this is the dynamic of the world today.

To unlock the revenue potential in our global virtual economy, we set out to build a flexible billing solution that allows you to blend several revenue streams (including micro-transactions and subscriptions) and supports multiple (and increasing) payment options.  The MiKandi Gold Virtual Currency platform allows you to do just that.

New feature: MiWallet
Once billing support goes live, consumers will find a new feature in the MiKandi Mobile Market called MiWallet.  In MiWallet, consumers can link a credit card to their account, purchase packages of MiKandi Gold, and view their transaction history.  The purchase process in our market will enable one-click, frictionless payments.

Consumers will also be able to earn MiKandi Gold by completing qualified advertisement offers. For example, a user can earn MiKandi Gold by purchasing a sex toy or signing up for your affiliate website. These types of advertisements have a higher conversion rate than standard click-ads because they give the customer more of what they actually want. When a customer downloads your app, they have done so because they want what you have to offer. The last thing they want to do is click on an ad and get pulled away from your app.  Our offer-based ad program puts the incentive on your content instead -  “complete this offer, and get more out of your favorite app “.

The benefit of giving consumers one account in which they can manage their mobile purchases is that it makes MiKandi the single point of accountability.   This is important because customers expect to make one call to handle all their billing questions.  We recognize that technology can be complex, but we work to make sure the shopping experience is easy for the customer.

Next week
Understanding the mobile consumer and how to apply virtual currency to your app.

Got feedback?
As a young company, we’re often working out the kinks and testing lots of small changes to our site and services. Often times, we find these issues before anyone notices, but if you should run into any problems or have concerns, be sure to contact us ASAP at developer@mikandi.com.

WTH is virtual currency?

A few months back, MiKandi announced to our registered developers that we are adopting the virtual currency model.  Most of you were already familiar with virtual currency, but some of you went, “Say whaaa’?”

Therefore, we’ll be dedicating our next blog series to explaining the ins and outs of virtual currency, why MiKandi is adopting it, and how it affects you.

Vir-tu-al cur-ren-cy [vur-choo-uhl kur-uhn-see]
So what the hell is virtual currency?  Well, in short it’s:

  1. Symbolic currency with no legal tender
  2. Earned through activity, or converted from cash by purchasing bundles or packages of virtual coins or points
  3. Virtual coins or points that are used in a virtual market to purchase virtual goods
  4. A wicked awesome way to allow micro transactions without getting charged an arm and a leg in transaction fees

Or check out this interview of IMVU CEO Cary Rosenzweig.

Next week
Why is MiKandi adopting the virtual currency model?

Got feedback?
As a young company, we’re often working out the kinks and testing lots of small changes to our site and services. Often times, we find these issues before anyone notices, but if you should run into any problems or have concerns, be sure to contact us ASAP at developer@mikandi.com.