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Raam Thakrar - Touchnote presentation for TheBigM


Presentation given on March 21st, 2011in Bath, UK …

Presentation given on March 21st, 2011in Bath, UK

App distribution and monetisation - the only things more important than lines of code

Raam is currently co-founder and CEO of Touchnote, an m-commerce start-up selling photo postcards cards. Touchnote recently announced a distribution deal with Sony Ericsson that will see the app embedded on multiple handsets and integrated into the camera and gallery.

Raam's previous varied experience is in strategy and management consulting – in London, Washington DC and Central America.

Published in Technology
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  • If there’s only one thing you remember, it should be this….
  • So, what am I going to talk about today? Let’s be clear, this isn’t about this stuff as a hobby. This is about making money. And you lot, self selecting audience that is here on a Monday morning to be at a mobile dev conference, are not interested in mediocrity. Rule the world of go home and let someone else do it.
  • Who are we? This is the 30 secs to give you an idea of who we are and what we do.
  • Take it back to basics – what are the fundamental drivers of this business. What are the different powerful players thinking about? Remember the value chain – ie who are the different players that build the products that go into people’s hands. What situation are they in, what are they worried about?
  • So, some opinions – this is how we at Touchnote see it. So for us developer types it’s really important to understand what these distributors are thinking about – and in part, I’m lumping together OEMs and Operators.
  • End of OEM & Operator sympathising and bashing. Now, let’s look at developers
  • I know that you’ll use examples such as Angry Birds to prove that it can be done right. Note – Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52 nd title. The company had been trying and trying to find a hit since 2003. Really, no disrespect to Rovio, but I’d much rather find my hit in less than 50 products. So – let’s think of you as individuals…
  • As Cheryl says, you’re worth it. You people are in demand. Much as I might not like it – err, we employ mobile devs – supply and demand means that you make an impressive amount of money. Note – these figures are from and assuming that you’re based out of Washington DC in the USA.
  • - for the distributors you can generate Revenue (ie both initial purchase of phone and contract and ongoing loyalty) - Directly generating for the distributors
  • And a few more points for you to factor in
  • There are too many people who just don’t think about distribution when coming up with the concept of their product
  • Some specific lessons for you guys


  • 1. App distribution and monetisation - theonly things more important than lines ofcodeRaam Thakrar@raamthakrar
  • 2. There is a massive opportunity in apps if you can combine thinking around product, proposition, and the problems that the “gatekeepers” are facing 1Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 3. How to make money as a (brand-less) developer 2Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 4. Touchnote: photo postcards from your mobile phone. 3Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 5. Back to basics • Key questions that we all should be thinking about: – “Why does a consumer buy a phone?” – “What part do I play in this decision?” – “How can I make a little more money?” OEM Operator OS Software Retailer 4Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 6. The view from where I’m standing • Handsets are increasingly the same • Operators are all pretty similar – ie I get signal • The OS across handsets is identical – eg Windows Phone 7 on multiple OEMs • Software is one of the best ways to differentiate Adopting a me-too strategy will not differentiate you 5Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 7. So, what are most of the “distributors” doing? • Not paying for content anymore • Pushing the ubiquitous apps that are now “hygiene factor” • Not making any money out of this • Not differentiating from competitors • Not communicating, clearly, what they –  want from developers –  are willing to give in return 6Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 8. Developers – it’s a hard world • App developers do not make an ROI on their time • Why not? – It’s very difficult to get distribution – Real monetisation models are very rare 7Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 9. Mobile developer deserve to be treated like rockstars… •  Application Systems Architect w/ 5 years experience 8Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 10. Well, at least as much as bankers do •  Private Banker w/ 5 years experience 9Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 11. So, if you’re a developer what are your options today? • Develop for a big brand • Develop your own stuff in your own time on the chance that you strike gold (by chance) • Err, that’s it 10Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 12. So developers, what would I do if I were you? Note – I am you. 11Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 13. Here’s what we do “We’ll give you the world… if you give us distribution” 12Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 14. Specifically, Touchnote gives… • Fanatically happy customers • A tangible and emotional way to show off the phone’s hardware • Money. We have a revenue model. Which means we have margin to share. 13Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 15. Our humble suggestions… 14Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 16. “There is a fundamental shift to a new software paradigm where apps and content have become more important for success in smart- phones and tablets, away from hardware alone” - Shaw Wu, industry analyst, Kaufman Brothers San Francisco 15Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 17. Developers – this smells like opportunity • If you can leverage this new paradigm – OEMs and operators should pay a lot of attention to you – There are a lot of phones to get pushed onto – You can impact revenue   indirectly   directly generating money 16Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 18. If you successfully identify big picture trends, it “only” comes down to timing and execution 17Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 19. In mobile, much more than on web, distribution is everything 18Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 20. "It has to look better than it works.”" - Russell Beattie, Strategic Technology Marketing Manager, Nokia" 19Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 21. Developers, think big! 1.  Develop an app that consumers love and thus influences consumer choice 2.  Get in the way of money - provide the big players with a revenue stream 3.  Develop apps that make phones look relevant (and incredible)   eg made-for-mobile (Layar, Shazam) 4.  Forget niche 20Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 22. Conclusion – apps can have a much bigger impact than “your little world” 21Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 23. Building a product that really sorts out other people’s problems could be highly lucrative 22Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 24. Making an ROI on apps is very difficult without the help of a distributor 23Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 25. Know your customer / customers. It’s probably not just the end user. 24Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 26. If you can’t smell money, go and find someone to help you that can 25Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 27. We’re recruiting – awesome devs of all shapes and sizes 26Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.
  • 28. Thank you @raamthakrar 27Confidential. Copyright Touchnote 2011.