Zynga, the darling of online social games with 45 million daily active users, has been a relatively late entrant in the mobile space, with its games apps focussed mainly around one platform, Apple’s iOS. With last week’s acquisition of Newtoy, now renamed Zynga With Friends, it is stepping up what it is doing in mobile, with more investments to come, says David Ko, the ex-Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) exec who is now SVP of mobile for Zynga, speaking at LeWeb in Paris earlier today. Here are some other highlights/data points from his Q&A:
— Zynga With Friends (ZWF) users are playing its games on average 1 hour per day. That’s a big number and effectively puts ZWF’s business alone (not counting other mobile games) on par with figures for average time spent playing online games, which NPD worked out to be around eight hours per week. The two biggest games in the portfolio are “Chess With Friends” and “Words With Friends.”
— “What you’re seeing with Newtoy is the first of our big investment in mobile,” says Ko. No word on what that might mean, but later Ko talked about the opportunity in mobile for “more localized experiences,” which may hint at the company’s interest in developing more location-based products.
— Mafia Wars will be published as an Android app later this month. This is significant because it will be Zynga’s first major non-iPhone game.
Although Zynga has a few deals with the likes of MySpace (NSDQ: NWS) and Yahoo, online it has been largely synonymous with Facebook for most of its growth and usage. It appears that Zynga wants to take a different approach in mobile and stay away from these kinds of walled gardens.
Asked whether it will extend its Facebook friendship to the mobile space, Ko avoided answering the question directly. “We want to make sure we’re offering seamless experiences to everyone in the world,” is one way he described Zynga’s strategy. That goes not just for different OS platforms for smartphones, but even extending games to feature phones.
— Ko was tight-lipped on Google’s rumored $100-million investment in Zynga. Will that translate to more apps for Android and this new Chrome OS? Or even an entirely new web-based games portal with the company? “We are a very partnership centric company,” he said. “Stay tuned for more to come.”