On the last Tuesday of every month, a woman stands on stage in front of a seated audience of 200, comprising angel investors, VCs, entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs (university students). CalcuttaRank CEO Meryl Ko presents the month’s app market trend insights in just five minutes. Her analysis covers 38 country’s top traffic-generating apps on Android and iOS, over areas from messaging apps and gaming apps, free games and paid games. Those attending find out which new app has enthralled the market, and which app has been maintaining its momentum for several months. This is a scene you can see if you attend a GoVenture Forum in Korea. (Though remember: the talks are all in Korean). Among the frequent participants, Ko is well known for her friendly smile and question, “Can I look at the menu on your phone for a minute?”

CalcuttaRank, a real-time top traffic app ranking provider

CalcuttaRank offers real-time ranking information from Apple’s App store and GooglePlay store by aggregating the data from 38 countries over the world. As the service provider, Calcutta Communication provides mobile advertising, consulting, and total mobile solutions to corporate clients. Every day, 1.8 million data points are gathered in each category, combining up to 710 million points per day. The company’s aggregation engine records app traffic ranking and info from all categories, from gaming to photo apps. The company received angel investment from Samsung SDS, with whom they have been working together since 2009, with Ko having 100% ownership of the company. 

However, it’s not only just data and static figures that the company provides. Last year, Ko observed how Hong Kong’s top messaging app was the Korean-based LINE, due to My Love From The Star, the Korean drama that went full swing in Asia. Another eye-catching phenomenon was when Chinese photo app MomentCam first gathered interest in China then went viral worldwide. “I think WeChat Events helped the app spread out since it encourages users to change their profile photo in MomentCam caricature and provides more templates,”  Ko said.

The company has three revenue streams, a structure unchanged since 2009, proving its success. First is app research and consulting. “Many people ask me how to increase value and lead a successful app business. One CEO asked me, ‘I have millions of photos taken in China – what service can I come up with using these photos?’ I provided him with photo app technology trends, success stories and even photos that had received most online views in China that day.” 

Second, the company publishes monthly app trend reports, on the overall market as well as on specific areas, according to customer needs. The report covers 38 countries, app LTV (Life Time Value), app ranking history, publishers, app info, the app’s global competitor, and app market analysis. “The app is the brand these days. By ranking the apps, we can analyze the competitive relationships, and see how it changes over the day, week and month. If you have spent a lot advertising your app, we can check  how effective is was in reality.”

Third, the company can develop an app based on data a client company provides. They have released over 30 apps on iOS and Android, including Go to the Forest, Smart Ranking, and Calcutta Rank. 

Calcutta Rank’s founding story

Founded in August 2009, the company was previously an online service marketing company. The company first came up with an engine to record app ranking based on its traffic, providing a tool to analyze applications between Korea, China, Japan and U.S

For ten years,CalcuttaRank CEO Meryl Ko’s hobby has been using newly released software from the U.S. and reviewing them. When the iPhone was first released and created a new market for apps, all the software companies in Korea converted to become app developers. “The iPhone was the most attractive thing I had ever met in my life.”, she recalls. Then she thought it would be valuable to record the ranking data from the app market. Along with the increasing number of apps, the smartphone-using population soared in Korea: it still has the world’s highest level of smartphone usage. It was when Ko’s hobby turned into a business and her usual user ID ‘Calcutta’ was chosen for the name of the company.  The name comes from the Indian city ‘Kolkata‘, or ‘City of Joy’.

As for China’s iOS App Store, the engine ranks the 200 highest traffic-producing apps every day. Since languages differ all over the world, the aggregator also records its original name. Then the team analyzes and reports the trends. “Servers are located all over the world. Since we don’t have the capacity to get information about local markets, we want to find a local partner who can operate the server in China,” Ko said.

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Weekly Top 10 February / Week 4 (02.23 ~ 03.01) by CalcuttaRank.com

 Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com

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