Toronto-based Polar Mobile, which provides a digital media distribution platform powering the apps of some of the biggest media properties in the world, including Conde Nast, Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal, announced a new $6 million funding round on Monday. The funding will be used to help Polar launch its MediaEverywhere product, an HTML5-based solution aimed at delivering content to an even wider range of devices.
Polar Mobile already covers a wide range of mobile devices. Its SMART platform provides turnkey solutions for launching native apps on iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry OS, PlayBook, Windows Phone and Nokia devices. It’s definitely a leader in terms of white-label native-app solution providers, but the new funding, led by Toronto-based Georgian Partners, will help it extend its reach further still.
Polar Mobile CEO Kunal Gupta told me the planned HTML5 integration of MediaEverywhere will help Polar Mobile’s clients access not only mobile platforms like those listed above, but also the new wave of connected devices, including gaming consoles, cars, TVs and household appliances, as well as social networks like Facebook. At the same time, it will also offer media companies more opportunities to “leverage audience intelligence (data and analytics) to enable higher engagement and monetization,” Gupta said. He thinks this will help companies improve delivery of personalized recommendations, leading to more profitable business models.
The beauty of MediaEverywhere is that it doesn’t force content providers to choose between apps and web-based offerings; it can work with both app- and browser-based media delivery, depending on what solutions Polar’s media company customers choose to target. When it comes to the debate about whether native apps trump cross-platform mobile websites or vice versa, Gupta isn’t taking sides. He says while “apps include richer advertising experiences, distribution channels and homescreen icon presence,” browser-based distribution offers “discovery and referrals from social networks and search engines, which for many media companies now accounts for over half of their incoming web traffic.”
Polar Mobile’s success is based on the recognition that users want their media accessible anywhere, on any device they happen to be using. The launch of MediaEverywhere will help the company extend the reach of its clients’ products further still, in a connected future where people will seek out the things they love on whatever happens to be in reach, via both the web and native apps.
In addition to launching MediaEverywhere, Polar Mobile also plans to use some of the funding to fuel its international expansion. The company expects to double in size from 40 to 80 people in 2012, and open new offices in New York City and London.