This morning Pokki, a product of Sweet Labs, announced that it will expand its application recommendation engine to Android devices, and enhance its app store for what the company calls “multi mode” devices – those built to non-traditional hardware specifications.
Pokki grew its install base greatly in 2013, tallying more than 50 million downloads by partnering with two large OEMs: Acer, and Lenovo. Those deals brought Pokki onto new systems in new locations (the company has also grown its language support base, to allow it to land in more markets), but the company’s product is still very much a Windows-facing service.
That Pokki saw much of its early growth by replacing the lost Windows Start button on Microsoft’s newest Windows build is therefore no surprise.
Now, Pokki wants to grow its footprint not though adding new OEMs as partners — it declined to tell TechCrunch who it is speaking with and when those deals could come to fruition — but by expanding to Android, and by tweaking its core offering to better suit computers that are not built the old-fashioned way made popular by desktops and laptops.
Pokki is both application store and app recommendation service on Windows. Computers sold by its OEM partners come with Pokki preloaded, serving apps to new computer owners. Revenue derived is shared between Pokki, and the OEM. This matters for hardware companies given their micro-margins on new devices.
Especially with the release of Windows 8, PCs have changed shape. Computers that are simply large touchscreens sans keyboards can now be purchased, as can detachable machines that convert, and tablets that flip this way and that. This leads to a PC reality in which an app best suited for a laptop might not be as good on a machine of different form.
Pokki is working to adapt its technology to recommend different applications based on the type of computer it is installed on. The technology isn’t live yet, but will land in the first half of the year according to the company.
I tested the results, looking at Pokki across device classes, and liked what I saw. What I use on my set of computers in terms of software certainly varies based on their form, and so having different apps presented is something that I think users will like. Also, the Pokki team pointed out, if it can improve application recommendations, it can improve the end user’s experience, device returns and other costs to OEMs themselves could be reduced.
Essentially, Pokki is working to tune its system to support a changing PC market.
The second half of what Pokki announced during what you could call the CES round of news is the unsurprising fact that it is taking its system to Android. However, unlike with Pokki for Windows where the company shows off a combination of traditional desktop apps and apps built for its platform, on Android Pokki will instead operate as an app sorting system, guiding users to Google Play to execute their downloads.
Pokki for Android will land in the second half of the year.
OEMs are increasingly building Android-based computers where Windows machines reigned before. Android all-in-ones, and even Android laptops could become normal. And given Intel’s push to unite Windows and Android in the same system, the trend could become all the more pedestrian.
The simple gist of the above is that Pokki is working to improve end user experiences on new computers, while generating revenue from those newly sold systems. By sharing that top line with OEM partners, Pokki can translate application advertising budgets into meaningful income for itself, and partner hardware firms that have long struggled to generate real profit from high revenue, but slim margin new PCs.
What Pokki has done during CES is detail where it wants to go next, but it hasn’t yet released the products to market, nor proven that the new tech will resonate with consumers. The company does power around 1 million app downloads per day at the moment, a figure that could rise if it lands new OEM deals in the year ahead. That combined with improved recommendations could see it better convert its install base.
For now, Pokki has strong install channels to power its growth. What it can do with that momentum is the next question.
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