Brand Name Content Continues to Emerge on Firefox OS

Scott DeVaney

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Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

As 2014 draws to a close, Firefox OS devices are now sold in 28 countries (with more to come next year). As the reach of Firefox OS grows, so does the breadth of its content ecosystem. I wanted to share some exciting news around a few recent additions to Firefox Marketplace

A trove of Microsoft content is now available, including Outlook, Bing Maps & Search, and MSN.

One of the world’s foremost publishing platforms, WordPress, has developed a version tailored for Firefox OS.

For old-school gaming fans, we’re thrilled to welcome Namco’s Pac-Man into the fold. It’s crazy to recall the very first arcade version of this classic debuted in the U.S. way back in 1980!

While we’re on the topic of entertainment, it’s awesome to see Firefox OS users enjoying millions of free songs on Rdio. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new band and get tickets to their next tour through the Ticketmaster app. You can use Nokia’s HERE Maps to find the venue. And be sure to take pics and videos of the concert to share with friends via Telegram, a fabulous, free open source messaging app that puts tremendous emphasis on the security of your personal content.

The massively popular video portal Dailymotion now has a Firefox OS app, too. This is important, because there are times when we all need videos of kittens falling asleep.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Beyond the obvious desire to reach broader audiences, why are major content players producing apps for Firefox OS? “Our hope for open source platforms is the continuation of a quality, flexible, customizable platform embraced by a vibrant developer community, which continues to provide a viable option to users of iOS, Android, and Windows in the mobile space,” says Scott Kepron of Kobo, a leader in eReading that published their own Firefox OS app.

“The low price of a Firefox OS device makes it appealing to a variety of countries where other smart phones and devices are out of reach,” says Brian R. Bondy of Khan Academy, a revolutionary education app available in six languages. “

Liam Petraska, Director of Mobile Content for the wildly popular MyTones ringtone app, echoed this sentiment, “Being an open source platform, Firefox OS offers a new level of personalization to the user, which was a natural fit for our MyTones application… As [open source platforms] grow, we hope they will gain traction and market share as they continue to be adopted in more and more countries across the globe. Offering Firefox OS as an additional choice to the consumer is positive for the mobile industry as a whole.”

November Contributor of the Month: Rigin Oommen

Amy Tsay

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Rigin OommenCongratulations to Rigin Oommen, our Marketplace Contributor of the Month for November! Rigin is an engineering student, author of 10 apps on Firefox Marketplace, and a member of the Community App Curation Board.

In addition to Marketplace, Rigin also contributes to Webmaker, Location Services, Localization, SUMO, and MDN. He is involved with organizing Mozilla Events in his local communities as well.

In November, Rigin helped to complete App Regression Testing for Firefox OS v2.1 and also contributed to localizing FxStumbler for Malayalam.

Here are all the accomplishments from November—thank you to everyone who made a difference last month! A special shout-out goes to Santosh and Hossain, who were runners-up for Contributor of the Month.

A new wiki for December is now available. Be sure to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section. Happy last month of the year!

Got a Favorite App on Firefox Marketplace? Let’s Feature It!

Scott DeVaney

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Have you become addicted to a fantastic game you recently found on Firefox Marketplace? (Perhaps a game about an astronaut alpaca on a quest to eat space lettuce?)… Or maybe you just created a masterful work of art with AntPaint?

Regardless, if you find any kind of app that you feel deserves to be featured on Marketplace, please let us know about it at editor@mozilla.com. We’ll check out the app and try to find the best way to give it exposure.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Mozilla community helps curate featured content on Marketplace, here’s info on our App Curation Board.

October Contributor of the Month: rctgamer3

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to rctgamer3, October’s Contributor of the Month! Rctgamer3 is an AMO Reviewer and complete theme developer, and maintains the Firefox 2 theme.

In October, rctgamer3 helped the add-ons team file many blocklist bugs and provide all the required information to deal with them quickly. This is difficult and painstaking, but essential for keeping Firefox users safe.

We’d also like to give special thanks to Jaipradeesh Janarthanan, who single-handedly cleared the Tarako app review queue of 80+ apps, and on-boarded two new Tarako app reviewers, Kailas Patil and Trishul Goel—welcome aboard!

There is a new wiki to kick off November, with some new featured projects and a few carried over from last month. There is a new guided project for contributing to Firetext, so please check it out, and don’t forget to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section.

We look forward to collaborating with you!

September Contributor of the Month: Daniele Scasciafratte

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to Daniele Scasciafratte, our first-ever Marketplace Contributor of the Month! Daniele is a developer, mentor, and evangelist who first discovered Firefox in 2009, and became an active contributor after a Firefox OS App Day in Rome last year. In September, Daniele contributed translations and apps, gave a talk about developing on FirefoxOS, and blogged about the experience. He has this to say about the Mozilla community:

“Thanks to Mozilla for supporting the volunteers, its openness to ideas and suggestions that allow you to feel a true global community. New initiatives such as the online Marketplace Day and the support material for the events are things that amaze people, then after evangelization, become volunteers for these little details that make the difference. Not all communities have these opportunities to enhance their knowledge and to learn to work internationally. Go Mozilla Italia go!”

We’d also like to congratulate Rabimba Karanjai for being awarded a Loft Video Game Innovation Fellowship from the Entertainment Software Association, for his Firefox OS game Math Racer. Best wishes to him for his trip to Washington DC on October 1-3 to present his game to White House and Congressional representatives interested in games in STEM education.

Here are all the accomplishments from September—thank you to everyone who made a difference last month. All of your efforts count.

There is a new wiki to kick off October, with some new featured projects and a few carried over from last month. There should be new ones added in the next week or two, and of course suggestions are always appreciated. Lastly, please be sure to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section.

We look forward to collaborating with you!

Hey, Firefox Marketplace Looks Different!

Scott DeVaney

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marketplace-feed-screenshot-1Last week, you may have noticed something different about Firefox Marketplace (okay, everything appears different). We’re very excited to unveil a complete Marketplace redesign we’re calling the “Feed.” We’re still experimenting with new features and functionality, so you can expect frequent updates and tweaks in the coming months.

What makes the Feed such a big deal?
There are three primary ways the Feed represents a revolutionary approach to app discovery…

First, the Feed will serve up new featured content on a near-daily basis (whereas most app stores refresh on a weekly—or longer—publishing cycle). This will give Marketplace users more ways to engage with compelling content; and it will help highlight even more great content from deserving app developers.

marketplace-feed-screenshot-2Second, each Feed is customized per region. This means we can now serve up the most locally relevant content to users, whether they be auto racing fans in Brazil or cricket fans in India, for instance.

Third—and most importantly—the Feed is a baby step toward introducing more ways we’re empowering the broader Mozilla community to curate content. For now, we encourage you to nominate your favorite Firefox Marketplace apps. Based on results, we’ll refresh this collection of “Top Community Picks” each week.

We’ll have more news to share very soon about the community curation program. Until then, go play this game!

Social Media Marketing for App Developers

Sakina Groth

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No matter where you are in your app development journey – from ideation to having an existing app in the marketplace – you can immediately benefit from real-time social media interactions. In a perfect world, social media marketing (as with building your app website & most other elements of a strong marketing plan) is best leveraged when you first start concepting your app. This seeds fan followings and enables you to gather and implement feedback early on in the process. For instance, Clear sold 350,000 copies of its app within nine days of its launch, thanks to marketing tactics fired well in advance. But don’t worry if you’re much further along on your roadmap – by thinking about marketing at all, you’re already ahead of most app developers.

Naturally, if you’re not already on Facebook and Twitter, you need to start here. Your personal accounts aren’t enough – create unique accounts for your app! Depending on the nature of your app, you might also consider niche social strategies using platforms like Reddit, Vine, and Instagram.

Build a following. If you already have large followings on your personal accounts, absolutely use them to promote your new app pages. Otherwise, find friends and people in your network with large followings and kindly request a shout out – or post directly to their page if you have to. Follow/like people and brands you share a target audience with, and comment in discussions where you can offer an perspective. More importantly, be sure to interact with your own followers!

Use hashtags – thoughtfully: Post content with appropriate hashtags so relevant people can discover you. As a general rule, hashtags should be general enough for people to search for them, but not so general that you’re buried under a thousand posts a minute. #dog is too general, #grumpyonetoothedbulldog is too narrow, and #spotteddog is just right.

Slingshot uses its Facebook page to excite users about new updates. User comments offer valuable information about user sentiment, plus the opportunity to directly respond in real time.

Slingshot uses its Facebook page to excite users about new updates. User comments offer valuable information about user sentiment, plus the opportunity to directly respond in real time.

Have a content strategy: Create a regular content cadence and tell your followers how often you post – daily, weekly, etc – and stick to it. Your posts should include interesting, relevant updates – not sales messages. Don’t post the same content on each channel. Some overlap is okay, but give users unique reasons to follow you on different platforms.  When you don’t have updates of your own, offer an insightful comment or link related to something else related to your industry that is relevant and valuable to your users. Consider services like Outbrain to accelerate your content distribution strategy. Startup Moon also offers a great content marketing guide for startups.

Get feedback: The most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s a two-way channel – not a podium where you do all the talking. Your social media marketing should be a source of intelligence to you. So stimulate relevant discussions. Ask questions, test and validate ideas. Learn who your influencers are. Early on, this can be a great form of market research. Once your social followings have achieved scale, research analytics tools (more on this in a future post) to help test content strategies, identify trends, and fine tune what works.

 

Note: This post is part of the Developer App Marketing Series, specifically designed to offer marketing tips and best practices for new app developers. The series is intended to begin by covering the basis before moving into more targeted app marketing tactics. Developers – is this content helpful, and if not, how can it be? Your feedback is as valued as it is welcome. Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

HTML5 Games—a Chat with Play.im’s Content Chief

Scott DeVaney

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HTML5 gaming is still in its early stages, though rapidly maturing to make good on its promise of becoming the cross-platform technology that everyone—developers and gamers alike—yearn for. We spoke with Roy Tzayag, head of content and strategy for Play.im, about the state of HTML5 gaming and where it’s headed. Play.im is also the publisher of Yepi Games, a casual games multi-pack now available on Firefox Marketplace.

How close are HTML5 games from truly being able to run proficiently across all browsers—desktop, mobile, and tablet?
Roy Tzayag: It’s definitely getting there! Smartphone browsers are becoming more powerful as we speak, and alongside various updates, compatibility and performance issues are being solved and dealt with on a daily basis. I can already detect fewer performance and compatibility issues are appearing on the newer games we build, and as time progresses these issues will decrease even more.


If you’re a beginning developer in HTML5 games, please consider using one of the many free, open source frameworks available, such as Phaser, LimeJS, and Crafty for instance. They make the process of creating a cross-platform/cross-browser game easier, and allow you to focus on your game logic, without having to worry about the little (and big) things necessary to make your game run smoothly.

yepi_yepiWhat’s the biggest hurdle HTML5 games must overcome to take that next big step in widespread adoption for both users and developers?
RT: Before answering this question, I must indicate I’m a true believer in the potential of HTML5 games. I’ve seen the way these games have progressed during the last few years, and I think the next step is very close.

Let’s not forget that Flash games nine or 10 years ago featured very low quality, and it took them some time to become the games they are today. In my opinion the biggest hurdle is overcoming the huge, unrealistic expectations gamers and developers have for HTML5 games. The “one game fits all” solution takes time to achieve, and while we’re not quite there, HTML5 games are definitely on their way to achieve that Holy Grail.


How do you see HTML5 games taking root in developing regions, like India, where internet access can be spotty?
RT: Thanks to many companies—Mozilla for instance, Google, and several others—internet and smartphone opportunities are expanding into places where they weren’t previously available. Many companies recognized the huge opportunity in developing regions, and started shifting resources in order to supply and conduct business in these high potential markets. Mozilla, along with its low smartphone prices helps many people acquire smartphones, hence opening new markets for apps, especially HTML5 apps. Since there is a lot of business potential hooking up these countries, I believe that in the years to come, most of the world will have a steady internet, which opens a hatch for various markets where you as a developer can distribute and monetize your games.

yepi_html5Let’s say I’ve just created a great HTML5 game. How do you suggest I make money off it? In-game advertising? Download purchase?
RT: Unlike the more polished native games, HTML5 titles are currently not that rich in content. While there are several games that offer enough depth and complexity to leverage download or in-app purchases, for beginners I would recommend sticking with free games that feature ads.


Ads-wise, similar to the web world, Google will supply most of your needs with their solid ad solutions, as they monetize in pretty much all countries and are quite flexible in sizes and types.


Another way to monetize games is by offering them to various publishers (like Play.im for instance). Publishers may offer various deals to HTML5 developers, either on a revenue share basis, or a one-time payment mode.

Build a Website to Market Your App

Sakina Groth

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Uphill battleApp developers know that becoming a breakthrough success is an uphill battle, particularly for new developers. Apple and Google’s app stores receive over 10,000 new app submissions a month, making discovery so challenging, Businessweek recently reported on a new marketplace specifically dedicated to failed apps. The good news is, developers can take proactive steps to bolster their chances of success far ahead of becoming a failure – even before an app is actually developed.

Studies have found that most developers, particularly new ones, do not plan for marketing. This is unfortunate, because research has found a clear correlation between app marketing and traits of successful developers. So get ahead of the game and start building a marketing plan now. A great place to start? Just a simple website. If you’re an HTML5 app developer, your app making skills may also be your best app marketing skills.

But What About “Think Mobile First”?

Yes, websites are primarily for desktop users. But you’re already adopting the “mobile first” strategy by creating an app in the first place – a website is just a way to draw more attention to it. You need a place to give all-important bloggers, journalists, and other online influencers a place to find you. An app can’t go viral by itself, but a web URL can – it is sharable through blogs, social media, and anywhere else on the web. This also gives users another way to find and communicate with you. Finally, as you add more channels to your marketing mix – a website allows you to have a simple, one-click call to action. This is a much likelier conversion than say, tweeting about your app, hope people immediately pick up their phone, enter the app marketplace, find for your app and (finally!) download it. Ultimately, the user will have to take these steps to download the app either way, but which would you consider more compelling: a tweet with a 140 character limit, or an entire website that intrigues and excites the user about specific benefits of an app?

Building Your Site: Tips & Tricks

Ready to build that website? Follow these key best practices to make market your app effectively:

Keep it Simple

The goal of your website is to convince people to download your app (or follow through on another specified call to action) in as little time as possible. People have short attention spans. You have to capture their interest quickly. The page should never be text-heavy – whenever possible, limit text to bullet points and replace words with graphics. Most importantly: let visitors know where your app is available! Most app stores have badges available for this. You can also create a general icon for an unpackaged, browser-based app, such as this one from Rioleo.org.

Some of the most effective elements for your website include: Badges

  • Brief bullets explaining what your app does and the benefits of using it
  • Screenshots of your app – show, don’t tell!
  • Badges indicating where your app is available. Firefox Marketplace badges are available here.
  • Awards, accolades or any other form of social proof. This may include features or reviews on other sites or media, testimonials, or ratings and reviews. Be creative!
  • Promotional video – a great way to demo your app.
  • Contact info – make sure users (and press!) can get in touch with you.
Make it Slick
Line is doing a great job marketing their app with a website

Line is doing a great job marketing their app with a website

Simple doesn’t mean boring. To captivate your visitor, your site needs to should be visually appealing and create a sense of excitement. Keep it clean and easy to scan, but use bold colors, images, and fonts. Ensure a modern look and feel –no one wants to use technology that feels outdated.  For a great example, check out Line’s website – great design, captivating imagery, easy on the text, clear messaging.

Optimize

Of course, there’s no point to having a website if no one visits it. This is where search engine optimization comes in. If you’re new to this, do a little research before you start building your site. Google has a great starter guide for this. . Try to use keywords that will draw the most targeted audience for your app. And make sure your site is optimized for mobile browsers!

Have a Call to Action

CTA’s measure the success of your website marketing. Incorporate at least one but no more than three. A link to download your app (if it’s ready) is the most obvious CTA. If you have them,  include links to your blog, social sites, and/or newsletter. Integrating comments will help make your site interactive, and can help you get valuable feedback. If your app isn’t ready yet, use this valuable time to gauge interest and capture feedback about the app you intend to build. Invite users to subscribe to status updates on its development. When it’s ready, you’ll have a targeted distribution list for an announcement. Nurture long-term relationships by communicating as you add new features to your app, or start building a new one.

Jongla Offers Free Soccer Stickers & More

Scott DeVaney

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jongla_1Now that we’re headed to the 2nd stage of World Cup competition, this is a good time to mention that one of the most popular messaging apps on Firefox Marketplace—Jongla—now offers free soccer-themed stickers.

Look at these cute little dudes!

More than just stickers, though, Jongla’s latest app update includes a bunch of feature enhancements and privacy protections.

jongla_2“The idea of the Jongla Firefox OS App is to make messaging fast, fun, and free without forgetting the safety and privacy issues,” says Jongla CEO Riku Salminen. “Jongla is designed for private messaging and we offer a more privacy conscious and secure experience for our users. Thanks to unique Jongla Usernames, users phone numbers are never revealed to other users. We are using TLS encryption to provide communication security during the registrations and messaging – ensuring what is private, stays private.”