SweetLabs, the startup best known for its alternative app store and start-button replacement Pokki, today launched a new foray into the world of app discovery and monetization generically named App Install Platform. In short, the company is releasing a suite of cloud-based services and client-side software that let OEMs replace their current app preload model on Android and Windows devices with a targeted and recurring one.
For more than a decade now, OEMs have deployed a single image file containing the desired operating system and preloaded apps onto all their devices. As a result, they overload their customers with tons of useless apps that have to be preloaded months in advance during manufacturing, they have no way of offering new or different apps after the sale, and they have no data on which apps are actually used.
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SweetLabs’ solution still lets them deploy one image file, but instead of a static set of apps, it offers the startup’s client-side software. Using the cloud-based service, the OEM can then deliver relevant apps upon first boot or even promote apps over the lifetime of the device.
“With our App Install Platform, OEMs can simplify their preload process while delivering a better and more personalized user experience,” Jim Geison, VP of Business Development at SweetLabs, said in a statement. “For example, they can deliver a tax app during tax season, a new popular game the day it comes out, or a completely localized set of apps – all from a single device image.”
The real work happens on the server-side. SweetLabs lets OEMs keep track of every model they sell, filter by the country it was sold in and its default language. If they want, OEMs can even go as granular as where it was purchased from by using their own hardware IDs.
From there, the OEM can pick which apps to deploy to a given device or set of devices. These can be from the official app store (Windows Store and Google Play) or their own proprietary stores; once a user gets such an app on their device, it will get updates from whatever store it came from.
Lastly, the cloud dashboard also provides analytics. This allows the OEM to see which apps are being installed and launched, when in the day they are being used, which users are installing which apps, and other such metrics. If an app is performing poorly, the OEM can then choose not to deploy it next time for that type of user, market, or at all.
On the devices themselves, SweetLabs allows OEMs to customize and brand its client-side software however they like. Apps can be installed upon first boot (downloaded in the background during device setup) or with a bit more user control (also downloaded in the background):
Apps can also be installed on a recurring basis. They can be served up based on how they are performing elsewhere as well as on criteria such as device type, device mode, channel, region, language, customer segment, and customer interests:
Here’s the official list of the services SweetLabs is offering in its App Install Platform:
- App Ad server – a system and console that enables OEMs to dynamically customize, optimize, and track the apps that are delivered to any specific device, both during the out-of-box experience and throughout the lifetime of the device.
- App Ad network – a marketplace of hundreds of app and game developers bidding for promotion on Android and Windows devices.
- Analytics – end-to-end app and device analytics console that provides insights on app performance, customer conversions and engagement, as well as data on their products themselves.
- Customizable touchpoints and APIs – white-label apps and widgets, as well as APIs that an OEM and developer can integrate to power app install ads in any interface.
If you’ve ever dealt with preloaded crapware on Android or Windows, this should sound refreshing. Yet SweetLabs still has a long road ahead.
Pokki helped the startup build relationships with OEMs (it has deals with Lenovo, HP, Acer, and Toshiba), which are struggling with the challenge of monetizing their devices while staying competitive. Yet Pokki was Windows-centric, and SweetLabs has designed this solution to be Android-first.
Today it is merely announcing the App Install Platform: no OEMs have signed up just yet. Furthermore, the solution isn’t self-serve just yet, meaning each OEM will have to talk to the startup and develop their own solution with regular back-and-forth communication.
As a result, SweetLabs doesn’t expect to get its software on devices before the end of this year. Yet if this means the start of the end of crapware, we can’t wait to see which OEMs sign up.
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