To remedy the difficulty of choosing between the vast range of downloadable apps now available, Voxel has developed a Cloud-based service which allows consumers to try before they buy.
The software applications market is proving extremely lucrative. Along the lines of success stories such as Instagram, a vast number of both paid-for and free apps continues to be created for mobile phones and tablets. However, the publishers’ sales approach is characterised by two main aspects: firstly, many mobile users have only a vague idea of what a given app actually is or does, which has led the software developers to take a highly intuitive marketing approach; and secondly a pattern of impulse-buying, largely encouraged by low pricing of the product. If not yet saturated, the market today seems at the very least extremely well-supplied with apps of all kinds. To remedy the difficulty consumers have when it comes to comparing apps before purchase, California-based company Voxel has come up with a system that allows users to try out apps for a limited amount of time – and without having to download them – before deciding to purchase. In the same vein as the ‘satisfaction or money back’ guarantees often provided in the general retail sector, this tool could perhaps help to relieve some of the congestion in the apps market by enabling more accurate targeting of customers’ needs.
Try before you buy
The Voxel tool is intended to act as an intermediary in the transaction between customer and software publisher. Rather than follow the beta test model used up to now, the US startup has decided to place the emphasis on immediate consumer impressions. Under the beta approach, consumers have the chance to download and try out a limited-feature version of the app. However, the customer first has to install the app on his/her mobile device, a time-consuming process, which may also take up considerable space on the device. Moreover, marketing approach has proved relatively inefficient, as users who have already gone through the installation process rarely decide to upgrade to the paid-for, full-feature version. To get round these constraints, the Voxel system enables software developers to upload their apps directly into a Cloud service managed by Voxel. From there, consumers can try out a given app free of charge for a certain amount of time – at the moment limited to one minute. The system has however not only been developed for paid-for apps, but can be extended to all types of applications. The company’s stated goal is to help software publishers achieve a high conversion rate, whether in terms of increasing sales of the app or boosting the success rate of in-app advertising. By targeting the consumer more accurately, Voxel aims to ensure a longer active lifetime for apps, which will turn them into a more profitable business.
Towards specifically mobile marketing
The Voxel system is thus basically a marketing tool. The Voxel team started out from the conclusion that existing mobile marketing techniques are rather ineffective, largely because they simply set out to transpose previously existing procedures on to mobile, without taking account of the specific features of mobile consumption. Voxel CEO David Zhao claims that close to 88% of all consumers find existing options for mobile ads an “awkward and poor user experience.” In addition, evidence shows that mobile consumers generally use the apps they download only for a very short time – rarely more than a few weeks, especially entertainment-related applications. Meanwhile development costs are very high: on average it costs $40,000 dollars to develop a mobile application.