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One Developer Finds Smaller Platforms Pay

Kik found that when it released a messaging app on Windows Phone 7, usage on Android and iOS shot up. How is that possible?
Common wisdom suggests you should focus your energies on developing for the big platforms, making sure your app is solid before considering developing for smaller platforms. Kik found that not to be the case.

Kik develops an app called Kik Messenger. It's a messaging app that works cross platform. Designed for smartphones, it uses push notifications to alert someone not currently running the app that a friend wants to chat with them. From then on, the conversation happens just like it does in any other messaging app.

Something unexpected happened when it launched Kik Messenger for Windows Phone 7. For every user that signed up for it on WP7, 1.53 additional iOS or Apple users signed up as a result. To put it another way, the company saw a 22% boost from its core audience when WP7 users joined.

This makes sense when you think about it. Windows Phone is a new platform with relatively few users and apps compared to the market leaders. Its users are hungry for popular apps on the other platforms, so when one launches, a significant portion download and install it. With an app like Kik Messenger, they try and get their friends to use it. Chances are, their friends have iOS or Android, not WP7. That is why there's a jump in usage on other platforms.

With more and more apps designed to work with multiple users, it makes sense to target smaller platforms even if it doesn't make financial sense if you only look at that platform's share. Words With Friends is a Scrabble-type game that you play against others. Lay down your tiles to spell words and then wait for your friend to do the same. That could be in a few minutes, a few hours, or tomorrow.

I'd be willing to bet if the company, Zynga With Friends, were to release a WP7 app, it would experience the same thing Kik did--a noticeable surge in new players from its existing platforms, iOS and Android.

It's an interesting phenomenon. As Kik CEO Ted Livingston said, "Who would've thought?"