App Search Startup Xyo Scores A Deal With Nokia To Land On Lumia Phones

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Xyo, an app search engine based in Germany, scored a partnership with Nokia to help Lumia users find the best Windows Phone apps. If you enter the name of an iOS or Android app you like, you’ll get a list of recommended Windows Phone counterparts on special desktop or mobile web pages that come with certain Lumia phones. You can take a look at their search engine here.

Microsoft and Nokia face an uphill battle in convincing consumers and developers alike that they are a viable third smartphone OS after Google Android and iOS. It’s a bit of a catch-22. To attract consumers, the Windows Phone ecosystem needs lots of apps. But to attract developers, the platform needs a large consumer footprint. You really can’t have one without the other, and both Google and Apple have years of lead time on the Microsoft-Nokia partnership.

Microsoft has tried to jumpstart this cycle by helping certain developers with financial incentives for creating apps on the platform. Back in October, Microsoft Windows Phone Program Manager Joe Belfiore said that 46 of the top 50 most-used mobile apps were already available for Windows Phone 8.

The Xyo partnership can help Nokia prove to phone buyers that the Windows Phone platform does have the apps that they’re looking for. Nokia will be promoting Xyo’s app search pages by bookmarking them on specific Nokia Lumia devices and marketing them in retail stores in 14 languages. Xyo will also be the app search provider for the special ‘Welcome Home’ app that helps new Lumia owners migrate to their new devices.

As for Xyo itself, it recently raised funding from Signia Venture Partners, the investment vehicle led by Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson; Klaas Kersting of Gameforge, and Soundcloud founder Eric Wahlforss. The company never publicly disclosed the amount.

It faces off against other companies like Quixey, which has raised more than $24 million in venture backing, and Chomp, which Apple acquired last year to beef up its app store search.

The company’s touting results from millions of queries it has run since August, where it says it was able to see a 22 percent “Install Click Rate.” That means that a little more than one-fifth of visitors to its search engine clicked an “Install” button for an app. There is some larger drop-off between users who click the button and actually install an app but the company says the majority of them do.

Xyo’s app search has extra features. It estimates the total number of downloads for apps overall and for the most recent month. It also scrapes reviews to bubble up keywords from users who write about whether an app is useful or crashes.

The company also says that their app search engine better serves the long-tail of developers. Xyo says that 10 percent of the top apps usually get 90 percent of the downloads in the iOS store and Google Play. Another research firm Canalys backed up that theory this week, when it released a report saying that the top 25 developers account for 50 percent of the revenue in both Apple’s and Google’s stores.

Xyo says its search engine enables a wider swath of apps to attract downloads. The company says that 75 percent of apps in its search engine get 90 percent of the downloads. This is because its app search engine is far less leaderboard-driven than the iOS and Google Play stores. For a long time, both Apple and Google have put ‘top free,’ ‘top paid,’ and ‘top grossing’ charts front and center in the design of the stores, creating more of a winner-take-all effect for the top apps. In contrast, a more search-centric approach favors a broader range of apps.