Developing For Android Is Much Easier Now, Animoca Claims

Software quality assurance testing on Android devices is far easier than it was just a year ago, at least according to one of Asia’s largest mobile app developers, Animoca.

The Hong Kong company has produced over 300 apps since it started two years ago, and just shot past 150 million downloads collectively. It produces mainly Android apps.

Last year, Animoca’s testing process for its apps covered a whopping 400 Android devices. Today, this number has been slashed to just a quarter of that, largely because of standardization in the Android handset industry.

According to Yat Siu, CEO of Animoca’s parent company Outblaze, most phones have become standardized on Samsung’s base hardware, thanks to the Korean manufacturer’s cornering of the component market.

Besides making its own branded devices, Samsung provides parts for a huge array of other devices. In 2012, Samsung was the world’s biggest manufacturer of NAND Flash (31 percent), DRAM (38 percent), and display components (25 percent).

The evolution of Android’s platform over the years has also made it a lot more flexible for app developers on the software side of things, with fewer variants of Jelly Bean than Gingerbread, he added. Together with hardware standardization, this has really eased the amount of testing that Animoca has to do today.

“Japan is the outlier in all of this—they have the strangest phones, and each one is a little different from the other. The rest of the world is mainly quite similar, based on Samsung hardware,” said Yat.

Phones are also getting better. He said that the 400 testing devices from 2012 were mainly made up of low-end handsets. “You have to cater to low-end devices because otherwise, you cancel out your biggest audience. But all the new hardware is pretty kickass, and more and more devices are getting very capable,” he said.

Animoca employs about 100 people working just on its apps, and has operations in Korea, the Philippines, the US and China. Its strategy is to flood the market with apps hitting different niche markets, rather than try to create a “Supercell-style or Angry Birds blockbuster” hit, said Yat.

Some of its titles, Star Girl and Pretty Pet Salon have pretty much reached hit status, but the company is focused on churning out a higher volume of app varieties, in the hopes of casting a wider net for loyal fans. “Those become paying audiences,” he said.

While Star Girl is enjoying millions of downloads, it’s still a niche app. “It targets girls, you share clothes and virtually flirt with guys. It’s not a Candy Crush,” said Yat.

The company has grown about four times in the past 12 months, although he wouldn’t say how much revenue it brings in now. “Frankly, we grew because Android grew as well,” he said, referring to Android’s growing market share. “That’s why Korea and Japan are big markets for us, because they are strong Android bases,” he said.

Animoca produces iOS versions of some of its games, but remains focused on Android, where ARPU is “very comparable” to iOS. Users in Japan and Korea tend to spend most on apps, said Yat.