Apkudo Wants To Handle Android Fragmentation So Carriers And Developers Don’t Have To

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Baltimore-based Apkudo is debuting its “Apkudo Approved” program this week, extending its existing work with making sure that Android apps and devices perform well for consumers. The company has positioned itself in a growth market, to act as a layer both between developers and devices, and between devices and carriers, to help both parties deal with the fractured and often maze-like landscape of the Android hardware market.

It’s normal for tier 1 carriers to run a gamut of tests on prospective devices before they bring them to market. Most recently, this was made quite public by BlackBerry, which has discussed the carrier testing process around its new BlackBerry 10 devices, but it happens for anything that hits a network. What Apkudo does is offer similar services for tier 2 and lower carriers, who might not necessarily have the engineering workforces or resources to devote to extensive testing.

Tests run by Apkudo include monitoring all types of performance while running around 25,000 apps from developer partners, using techniques like taking photos of screens with high framerate cameras to detect dropped frames, Apkudo CEO Josh Matthews explained in an interview. So far, they’ve tested and can provide results for over 1,700 devices, and while they’re not allowed to reveal the names of any specific OEMs they work with, Matthews says that if you can think of a modern smartphone, they’ve probably had it in their labs.

“There’s so much opportunity for the carriers given that an Android device can target budget and spec points on the full range of the spectrum, which is phenomenal,” Matthews explained. “The flip-side of that is that the variation in quality between devices in terms of performance under different app loads and in different circumstances is also phenomenal, and that can lead to very high return rates and customer dissatisfaction.”

Apkudo’s work can help carriers take some of the mystery out of the process by providing them with data on hardware before it gets released on their network. That has led to a variety of smaller carriers now insisting that devices are first “Apkudo Approved” before they’ll even consider them for sale. Which, obviously, is hugely beneficial to Apkudo. But the company also works closely with OEMs, and can provide them with crucial testing data that helps them upgrade their own devices, too.

Matthews says that his company is better-equipped to handle this task than most, simply because it’s their sole focus. And it does make sense that if the only thing you’re doing day in and day out is testing devices and software, you’d be in a better position than either a carrier or manufacturer to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Being a third party, with less personal stake in the products themselves, also helps.

So far, Apkudo is making around $5 million a year in revenue, but it has just signed on a number of strong customers, including Cricket, Cincinnati Bell and the Associated Carrier Group, which includes C Spire, Alltel and a number of other smaller regional carriers. Its developer product is free, since it uses that to help build the library it uses to help with its lucrative carrier partnerships, so if you’re an Android dev trying to test across a range of devices, it might work better than trying to amass your own collection of Android hardware.