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Increasingly, as the mobile app economy grows, there’s an emerging opportunity in mobile development support services helping to make the lives of app developers easier. It’s a big market that spans everything from app discovery, monetization and distribution to back-end support, retention tools and analytics.
Crittercism, an AngelPad start-up, is getting in on the action with a user diagnosis and support tool that helps developers track app crashes and address user complaints and bug reports. The support platform, which has had more than 1 million installs since going into beta on iOS (s aapl) in January, is now open to all iOS developers and is also available on Android (s goog). The San Francisco company today announced that it has lined up an undisclosed investment from Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures (s goog), Opus Capital, Shasta Ventures and AOL Ventures (s aol).
The impressive list of investors underscores the growing opportunity in this kind of particular app support and the larger market of serving developers. A recent research2guidance report forecast that the mobile application development services market will grow to $100 billion by 2015. Though almost all of that money today goes toward app coding and design, 30 percent of the revenue by 2015 is expected to be from maintenance, analytics, distribution and extension services.
Crittercism’s value proposition is that it helps developers get valuable information about app crashes and helps funnel complaints to community forums, where the developer and other users can help address the problem. Crittercism provides a plug-in that communicates with a cloud service, which diagnoses app crashes and recreates the conditions during the actual failure. That in itself is helpful for developers, especially Android programmers dealing with a plethora of devices, to understand why an app might be crashing.
But Crittercism also allows developers to create a support forum to communicate with users directly in the app, so they can report their issues and have their questions answered. This helps users from punishing an app with a bad review or rating, which can often happen, even with popular apps. And it also allows the developer to inform users of fixes and updates and enables them to even follow-up with users who have stopped using an app.
“What users need is a place to reach out to a developer for customer support so we’re bringing that into the application,” said founder and CEO Andrew Levy. “This is all about helping the developers diagnose better and provide better support to keep users engaged and to drive better sales.”
There are currently a lot of analytics and advertising options for developers. And more recently, we’re seeing monetization and distribution services like Tapjoy and W3i step up as well as back-end providers like StackMob and Kinvey. I just wrote about Pontiflex, which helps developers retain users using an email tool. With the market for apps exploding and mobile app store revenue expected to hit $58 billion by 2014, there’s going to be big money in support services, because not everyone has the funds, time or expertise to do all these things well. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see more companies like Crittercism pop up and more VCs betting on them.