If you are a mobile app developer, maybe you should check out Mobcent, who presented at Technode’s TNT event last Sunday.  Founded last October in Beijing, Mobcent provides tools  for mobile apps developers.   With a few lines of code, they can add the complete social network functions to their apps.

“Adding social network will naturally increase page-view of an app, and hence, its advertising revenue,” said James Zhao, co-founder of Mobcent, “Moreover, it is an effective way to increase user stickiness and user loyalty.”

Furthermore, as many of us might be aware of, adding social network also helps app developers to get user feedback and hence they can improve their apps accordingly.  And once an app has a group of loyal users, it is easy for the developers to launch a new app, by targeting the existing users in the social network.

However, the effectiveness still depends on the type of applications and how the developers manage their social networks, said James. He believes life style related mobile apps, such as those for travel, health and fitness, sport, etc., would benefit the most  from adding a social network, as most of their users have a need to discuss their experiences with others.

“We just provide the platform.  It still leaves to the developers to make their users active,” said James.  He expects 300 third party mobile apps will use Mobcent’s platform to build their social network by the end of this year, covering 2 million users.

Mobcent also provide the required servers and bandwidth, which is a good news for small developers.  “Most app developer teams are small.  They cannot afford to pay for servers and bandwidth,” said James.  According to Youmi Mobile Ad network, 42% of mobile app developers are individuals and 28% are teams of 2-5 persons.  60% started their business in less than a year, said Analysys International.

Before starting his own company, James was VP for technology of Yicha, a leading mobile search company in China.  Apart from China, Yicha also has a strong presence in Japan, where it partners with Yahoo Japan to do mobile advertising.  Currently, Yicha earns over US$1 million a month from its Japanese operation.  James was responsible for building the technology platform.   “Market in Japan is very different from China.  Mobile advertising is very mature there.  All the rules are clear and the cost-per-click is much higher,” said James.

Japan is one of the first market in the world to introduce mobile ad and Yahoo Japan is one of the first to do it, said Sammy Hsieh, CEO of i-Click, an online market firm based in Hong Kong.

Currently, Mobcent focuses mostly in Chinese market, but soon it will also develop oversea markets.  “In fact, many app developers in China are targeting oversea markets. English, Japanese and Korean version [of Mobcent’s platform] will soon be ready,” said James.

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter...

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