If you wanted to show someone that it’s possible to take a concept, launch it on mobile, gather an audience and make money from them – you could do worse than to use Flirtomatic as an example. The mobile social network is dedicated to connecting people who to flirt, chat and maybe meet up, and it has proved adept at making sure that the service is always profitable. But Flirtomatic has had a rocky relationship with mobile applications, so now that it has announced the launch of an iPhone app, it’s worth looking at why.
Who is Flirtomatic?
Flirtomatic is a London-based mobile social network – it has over 1.5 million users and has grown fairly consistently in terms of revenue. It works in much the same way as any digital dating service – users can create profiles and browse the profiles of other people. You can chat and message one another, and send each other digital presents. The reason that Fliromatic is so successful has been mostly due to good design. It works well on a fairly awkward platform (mobile), and it has never been afraid to make big adaptations to keep the customer base happy.
What’s the news?
For most of its life, Flirtomatic has been a fully web-hosted service. This means there was no downloaded component for your phone – the entire experience was had through your devices mobile browser. Now the iPhone app is available for download free from the App Store:
What we think?
I think it’s actually pretty interesting that Flirtomatic has launched an iPhone – but you have to look at the history of the service to know why:
Over Christmas, GoMo News hosted a popular article from Flirtomatic about how mobile profitability and advertising. The company itself wondered whether or not mobile applications were the best way to go, considering the generally very short shelf life of an individual app. To quote the article: “Mobile apps are hot and look sleek, but many crucially fail to deliver the footfall and numbers hoped for on launch. Most apps are used for only a short time before the novelty wears off…. in [many] cases app development just seems to be a way of ticking the ‘mobile’ box.”
You also have to take into account that when Flirtomatic was first launched, it came as a mobile web service and also as a downloadable Java application. But the Java app was quickly abandoned, for reasons including low usership and the difficulty of updating the service. Getting all your users to redownload a Java app was much more bother than simply updating the web-hosted service they were all accessing anyway.
I would have put Flirtomatic in the category marked “Opposed to Applications”, and even so it has launched an iPhone app. Why? As far as I can see, it boils down to three simple reasons:
1) Apps are better now. Updates to the iPhones application abilities mean that updates to existing applications can be sent over-the-air to a users phone without them even knowing about it. So the updating difficulties are now a thing of the past.
2) There’s gold in them thar hills. Even if you don’t like apps, you have to admit they can be hugely profitable. Flirtomatic uses clever advertising services to generate a lot of revenue, and that can be easily applied to a mobile application. With the proper backing and promotion, it is possible for an app to dissappear within a few weeks of launch and STILL turn a profit.
3) It’s what customers want. One of the major strengths of Flirtomatic is that it has always paid attention to what the users actually want. And as Mark Curtis, CEO of Flirtomatic “customers have told us they want to flirt everywhere and anywhere… Now we are taking flirting to the world’s most talked-about smart phone.”