Kickfolio, a company offering tools that allow iOS applications to run in the browser using HTML5 technology, is today announcing both a name change, just over $1 million in seed funding and Facebook integration. The startup will now go by “App.io” — a name that CEO Edward Dowling says better matches what the company is doing now and where it’s headed.
The new round was led by Quest Venture Partners, with follow-on investment by 500 Startups and PALgenesis, and saw participation from a number of angels, including Ankur Pansari (formerly with Facebook), Maneesh Arora (Zynga, Google, MightyText) and others. Maarten ‘t Hooft, who previously worked on Android under Andy Rubin, has joined the board.
As that board appointment indicates, App.io is preparing to support Android, in addition to other platforms, in the near future. The funding will also be used to increase headcount, says Dowling. Since the round’s close, the team has grown from the three co-founders (Dowling, Chris Nolet and Diesel Laws) to six. CTO Nolet will be the first to be based out of App.io’s new San Francisco offices, while other team members will continue to work out of the startup’s HQ in Melbourne.
App.io, then Kickfolio, first opened up its service this past December to all interested developers who can now use the platform to upload builds of their mobile applications, then allow others to interact with those apps on the web. The service is reminiscent of the Facebook acquisition Pieceable, which offered a similar solution for running apps in the browser, but one that had relied on rendering apps using Flash.
“Their solution was great, but it was not terribly performant,” Dowling explained at the time of launch. “In wanting to build a full-featured platform, we recognized that we needed to get the dependency away from Flash.”
By moving native mobile apps to the web, the idea is not to replace the app store versions, but instead offer playable demos to a broader audience. In short, it’s a marketing tool.
And now, that tool is making its way to Facebook, where App.io is offering new functionality that lets developers embed apps directly inside the Facebook News Feed. Facebook users can then instantly try the apps right there, with no need to first visit the app store and download them. The move comes at a time when Facebook’s own app install ads – which simply point users to the appropriate app stores – are starting to show “real revenue,” with 3,800 developers last quarter driving more than 25 million installs, and 40 percent of the top iOS and Android developers on board.
Dowling says that of App.io’s customers who use the service as a marketing tool, 12 percent of all demos lead directly to the App Store. And this is ahead of the Facebook integration. “It is far more engaging and effective than a video or just static screenshots,” he explains. “The audiences for the demos are hugely engaged, spending an average of 1 minute, 19 seconds actively playing with each demo.”
The Facebook integration is the first of several integrations with not only social networks, but also ad networks and other distribution platforms, Dowling adds. The company is also preparing to launch tracking and analytics.
Today, App.io’s client base, which includes over 3,000 developers who have served 135,00 installs combined, is mixed. Although some developers are using the service for marketing purposes, it also has a growing number of enterprise customers who are using it as a sales and customer service tool, as well as a testing platform for internal use. The company has previously offered integrations with other services, too, including app building, testing and deployment solution cisimple, and app-promotion service AppLaunch.us, with more in the works.
Below is an example of how the product looks in the browser:
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