This post was written by Janet Rae-Dupree and is brought to you by Nokia.
With more than seven million mobile app downloads in 215 countries, Mexico-based Inode Entertainment knows a thing or two about international software distribution.
Tip number one: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
When Jaime Enriquez and partners formally incorporated Inode in their hometown of Chihuahua three years ago, he took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. While an American developer might have focused exclusively on Windows Mobile 6 (which had just replaced the Pocket PC operating system) or Apple’s iOS (known at the time as iPhone OS), Enriquez knew that Symbian already was a huge player across the globe. So when Nokia released a set of development tools for that operating system, Enriquez didn’t hesitate to use them.
Now two of those apps — Ming Zhou and Mayan Raiders – are among the growing company’s most popular games, and that’s via exclusively Nokia Ovi store distribution. Both games are scheduled for release in iPhone versions “very soon,” Enriquez said, but Inode hasn’t felt the need to rush it.
“In the beginning there was a lot of question about why we should focus on the [Nokia] Ovi store, but at this point we’re making as much money there as we do on any other store, and perhaps more,” says Enriquez, who has seen Inode grow to 26 employees in just over three years.
A key driver in both games’ success, he believes, is that they’re both logic-based “thinking games” that challenge users to find their way through increasingly complex mazes. The addictive nature of such puzzles lead Inode to under “thing two” about international distribution:
Give enough of the game away for free and happily addicted users will pay to work their way through greater complexity.
“We found out that being nice to the users and sharing the experience was the best advertising we could have,” he said. “Challenge them, make them think, and they will pay for more.”
While Inode’s strength so far has been in games, Enriquez says the company has been expanding its international presence by moving into every form of mobile application they can. Think of it as a corollary of international distribution Lesson 1: Sell a bit of something for everyone.
“We do Twitter clients, tourism apps, wallpaper, even event apps,” he said. “Companies putting on big sporting events have hired us to develop apps for them and we use Nokia tools to develop those because it serves an international audience so well.”
Inode , Enriquez says, wants to be “a role model for other companies in Latin America,” so it is becoming known now as Inode Technology and plans to establish offices in Canada and Jordan this year. He doubts the company would have made it so far so fast without Nokia’s tools.
“They have the best developer program in the industry,” he said.