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For developers, app stores are both a blessing and a curse. While they offer a simple way to push your wares to mobile devices, you need to resubmit native mobile apps — those built entirely for a platform like iOS and Android — to app stores for just about any change, even if it’s a minor design tweak.
Seeing an opportunity, Artisan Mobile developed Optimize, a product that lets iOS developers instantly tweak their mobile app designs without resubmitting to the App Store. Optimize also lets developers easily test their designs to figure out what works best.
Artisan announced today that it has raised $5.5 million in a first round of funding led by FirstMark Capital. The funding comes on top of $1.5 million in seed money that it raised a few years ago.
“It seems kind of obvious that people building mobile apps are going to want to do the same things they’ve done with websites forever,” said Bob Moul, Artisan’s chief executive, in an interview with VentureBeat.
With Optimize, Moul explains, developers can treat the design of their mobile apps similar to web pages — they’ll be able to tweak design elements on the fly and easily A/B test different designs with users.
Optimize is powered by a patent-pending SDK that connects to the cloud to retrieve app design elements. Once the SDK is implemented within your app, it will ping Artisan’s servers for any design updates. Moul tells me that it won’t affect the functionality of the app when you’re offline.
Editor’s note: The mobile fragmentation that Optimize seeks to solve is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to build a winning mobile experience. The problem is at the heart of what we’re discussing at MobileBeat on July 9-10. Buy tickets now.
In addition to being simple to implement, Optimize also lets non-technical people update their company’s apps. For example, a marketing employee could tweak an app’s copy without much fuss. They can also make changes to their apps right from their own phone — with Optimize, they can navigate to the appropriate portion of their app and just start editing, similar to a WYSIWYG web page editor.
Pricing starts at $1,000 a month for a single mobile app with 25,000 monthly active users, and scales up to $10,000 for 25 apps with 5 million monthly active users.
The company will use the funding to accelerate its platform — it also has an analytics product in the works for later this year, and it’s working to bring Optimize to Android later this summer. Additionally, it’s working on a product to personalize app designs based on a user’s location.
Founded in 2010, Philadelphia-based Artisan Mobile was originally called App Renaissance, but it moved away from that name because people have a hard time spelling renaissance. The company claims it has 40 to 50 top Internet brands piloting its software.
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