FunMail, a free iPhone app that uses word-recognition technology to send pictures with your text messages, is now launching on Android and upgrading the current version in hopes of widening and building a core audience that can be monetized later.
“I’m trying to build the ‘devastation’ factor,” said FunMobility chief executive Adam Lavine, meaning that he wants users to be devastated if the application went away. Right now, 26 percent of survey respondents say they would; Lavine wants that number to be 40 percent among top users.
The app’s maker, FunMobility, says it has garnered 100,000 downloads since launching in November, ranking in iTunes Top 25 Social Networking applications. The upgrade will make for faster service as well as more images returned per search –- 20 as opposed to five. And instead of including a link to the image –- a snag that users “hated a whole lot more than we thought they would,” Lavine said — it will now be incorporated into the actual text.
A few facts about users: The audience skews slightly female, and appeals to the 20-30 year-old crowd and 30-and-up users more than teenagers, contradicting FunMobility’s original expectations. They tend to spend about 18 minutes on it and send out FunMail texts in big batches — say, a bachelor hitting up several women in hopes for a response, or asking multiple people about their evening plans.
The app uses a technology called “Media Brain” that suggests images to go with texts – such as a coffee cup for “Let’s have coffee” or an image of a running man for “I’m running late.” You can send the images to any phone, but the upgrade will make sending between Android phones and iPhones faster. The technology gets smarter about what images you’re likely to use based on past selections, and on Android, the app will also work with Google’s voice-recognition technology.
Lavine says FunMobility doesn’t plan to charge for the app -– rather, paths to monetization could include advertising-sponsored imagery, or charging for virtual gifts.
“We think we’re on the right track,” Lavine said. “We found that core audience and we’re trying to nurture them.”