Multimedia-based mobile phones with independent apps are all the rage these days, thanks in large part to the iPhone and its successful, market-equalizing App Store. It seems like every new product touts an open SDK, hoping a killer app will herd consumers and lead it to a den of riches. But as the number of apps grows, the more detail is needed as to how, exactly, they’re being used. That’s where mobile application analytics provider Flurry comes in.
Today, Flurry has unveiled an update to its free analytics service that adds user path (flow) tracking and “dynamic parameter” settings, both aimed at helping developers better understand detailed user-generated actions. If a developer builds an app that includes a search engine, for example, integration with Flurry will allow her to know every word entered and when, and which of them are the most popular. In this way, it’s similar to web analytics’ “click streams.” And just like it, the program creates easy-to-read charts of this data that can be used to evaluate key structural app trends.
But unlike other analytics programs, Flurry’s can also be customized throughout the development process. And the fact that Flurry works across platforms, with services for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Java ME means developers no longer have to spend time measuring the differences among them. For Java, Flurry promises analytics app integration within 30 seconds -– though that seems too fast to be believed.
As Flurry V-P Peter Farago noted in an email, when it comes to analytics, web and mobile are not the same: “Web sites are always on, so analytics are measured live. [Mobile apps, on the other hand], are on/off, cell phones are on/off, [are] roaming, reachable/not reachable.” But he maintains it’s a challenge Flurry has not only solved but is built to understand.
For developers, using this tool correctly can lead to increased app retention rates and help them grow their user base. But part of the reason why the mobile analytics space is so interesting is because it has the potential to soon grow beyond those features.
For example, offerings from Flurry and its competitors could bring about new revenue models to two big areas due for growth in mobile, ads and Flash-based games. While Flurry has put off enabling in-application advertising for now, the potential revenues from a well-realized Google Analytics/Adwords model are too great not to try. Big web analytics companies seem to realize this, and both Omniture and Google have started offering their own mobile services for developers, with varying levels of success and accuracy.
Development for Flash-based mobile apps for widgets and games is also growing fast, and improved user analysis will be key in developing more responsive games for users. In the past, developers haven’t had much access to accurate, detailed information of people’s flash and game interactions as Flash web apps have always taken a back seat to the easier-to-analyze HTTP tracking. (Google (S GOOG) changed all that in the web analytics space a few years ago.) Farago noted in our interview that a couple of other features are likely to emerge as important: benchmark analysis within categories (such as, How successful are asteroid games in relation to other shooting games?), and CRM data accumulation for user data mining.
Flurry’s announcement today and its knowledge of the mobile market means it is slowly developing a strong feature set that will be competitive and continue to grow. But expect that eventually Google and Omniture will figure out how to port their strong web analytics offerings down to mobile, giving Flurry a good run for their future money.