App Ecosystem WeeklyIt’s December 21st, 2012, and welcome to this week’s issue of The App Ecosystem Weekly. This week, we’re looking at app discoverability and if purchasing high rankings in the App Store is a viable strategy, Android security issues, and the new app ecosystem around the Raspberry Pi device. If you’re new to Kinvey’s App Ecosystem Weekly, you can follow us on Twitter here or subscribe via RSS here. We publish weekly roundups of the most interesting and thought provoking stories around the app ecosystem, app development, and the rest of the mobile world.

This Week In App Discovery: How did successful apps get to the top, and why not mine?
As revealed in a survey by app promo this summer, while most app developers understand that marketing is important to their app’s success, more than half of app developers set aside no money for marketing their app and little time for it either. However, developers who actually spent time and money on marketing their apps were well correlated with success – with top earners who earned $50,000 or more spending 14% of their time on marketing and on average, about $30,000 on marketing. As mobile analyst firm VisionMobile pointed out this week, these difficult numbers and developers’ unwillingness to become app marketers as well has launched a number of third party services and providers to help cross that gap. One developer, Chris Devore also blogged previously about the role of demand generation and inbound marketing in creating and marketing successful applications, saying, “blaming the app stores for poor discoverability is a little like blaming Google for not putting your site on the first page of results”.

Many of these services focus on “ASO”, App Store Optimization, by trying to artificially boost downloads to the point the app will rise into one of the top apps listing positions and start to attract downloads from there. These services typically run from 3 to 10 thousand dollars and can survive only as long as the major app store providers like Apple and Google allow them to – Once their attention becomes focused on people gaming the app store rankings in this manner, they will absolutely find ways to shut it down quickly. This isn’t a long-term strategy for anyone, but it is paying off for developers in the short term if they have the financial resources to fund it.

What methods are you using to promote your app and acquire new users? Have you found any particular tactics that were effective for you? Please let us know, we’d love to discuss any useful tactics in a future post on app discovery.

Android Security Issues: Premium SMS Numbers and Memory Security
Two major security issues on the Android platform were demonstrated this week, creating major tech press coverage and interest in how Google will work to secure Android better in the future. One issue revolved around how a user-installed application could take control of the SMS application and force the phone to send messages to premium SMS numbers that charge the costs to your phone bill or could lead to other exploits of the affected device, as demonstrated by a security researcher in Romania with a variety of Android devices from different manufacturers.

Another related story developed from Samsung phones, which were shown to let a malicious app gain control over all the memory in a device. This would allow an attacking app to do literally anything it wanted, from stealing user data to wiping the device or other anything else the app inventor could imagine. Because the exploit also involved a specific piece of commonly used hardware though, nearly all Samsung phones and tablets were affected by this issue. Samsung played down the issue by claiming that most people only run “credible applications” and wouldn’t be affected, but the issue remains open today as they develop a way to prevent this exploit, and then they must issue a software update and hope that their users all update very quickly.

These kinds of issues are just the risks of having a completely open ecosystem, where software developers can do evil as well as good. Companies that are working on their own ecosystems should think closely about what customer data is involved, how it is accessed, and how they can protect their customer’s sensitive data.

Raspberry Pi App Store Launches With Free & Paid Apps
If you’re not familiar with it, the Raspberry Pi is a $35 Linux-based PC that offers most of what most computer users would need for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest PC. This week, they launched an App Store to help distribute software to run on the platform. While it still has less than thirty apps available in it, already some of their community members are complaining about the idea of people already being in the business of selling Raspberry Pi software. Those people are unfortunately missing the useful point of their new app distribution system – It makes it dramatically easier and simpler to distribute software for the computing platform, which is still less than a year old. From the Raspberry Pi foundation, they stated, “it’s also an easier way into the Raspberry Pi experience for total beginners, who will find everything they need to get going in one place, for free.” The goal isn’t generating profit, but making the experience for a new user better and easier, and reducing the amount of knowledge you need to acquire to turn the system on and do something productive with it.

That’s it for this week’s App Ecosystem Update, covering mobile technologies, app development, and trends in the space. Please follow us on Twitter and stay tuned for future updates from the Kinvey team, the leader in mobile Backend as a Service  (mBaaS)