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App Annie just raised more money in a fourth round of financing than in its previous three, and the company announced a major new product addition that will help app developers spy on their competitors’ vital statistics: daily users, monthly users, time spent, usage frequency, and the all-important user retention.

“We have been very fast-growing, and to keep climbing that fast, you need gas,” CEO Bertrand Schmitt told me last week.

He’s not kidding.

App Annie doubled its headcount to 300 last year while tripling revenue. It’s gathering data on hundreds of thousands of mobile apps and counts 350,000 mobile developers, marketers, and publishers as members of its “app community.” And the new $55 million will likely just increase all of these numbers.

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(More on that “app community” later.)

With the headcount comes new products, and this latest product is just an addition to a significant product Schmitt announced just a month ago, which enables app publishers to assess the demographic profile of their users, compare it to those of their competitors’ apps, and easily make accurate data-driven decisions about who to target in acquisition campaigns.

App Annie usage data product

Above: App Annie usage data product

Image Credit: John Koetsier

But demographics is one thing. Hardcore knowledge of competitors’ key performance indicators (KPIs) is another level entirely.

This is a significant product that will provide for unprecedented insight for app developers who can afford it (App Annie’s average contract is about $80,000 per year). With that data and App Annie’s existing store intelligence data, mobile professionals can calculate the revenue that apps are pulling in and how efficient they are at separating mobile players from their cash. Knowing competitors’ KPIs is a compelling advantage for those who want to emulate the successful, check relative standings, or just plain spend the opposition into submission in a war for the best users.

App Annie collects the data largely by distributing high-quality free apps, such as VPN software; it’s one of the most-downloaded such apps in the U.S. Each is free but asks for the right to collect data on apps, usage, and other behavior. Combine enough of these and you eventually get massive reach — and Schmitt says that “we will have a portfolio of apps to ensure we can gather as much data as we can.”

I’m impressed, and I’m thinking other app intelligence companies will find it hard to keep up to App Annie

Mobile is a land war in Asia, and Schmitt plans to keep shooting.

“We probably have the engineering capacity of our next five or 10 competitors combined,” he told me. “This product has been two years in the making … and we plan to keep releasing new products.”

Not only is App Annie working on new products in app intelligence, the company also plans to leverage its mass to create whole new classes of products and services for mobile professionals. App Annie counts 350,000 mobile leaders as users and will be working on ways to make more of a community of those users … and then more.

App Annie usage data product ... showcasing user session numbers, session duration, and total time in app

Above: App Annie usage data product … showcasing user session numbers, session duration, and total time in app

“We already have a huge community but there is so much more we can do,” Schmitt says. “We definitely want to do more in that direction … adding tools, services, and communication on the platform. So it’s not to just keep adding new sources of data, but make it as useful as we can in a very collaborative way.”

The new cash will help.

With a “warchest” of $55 million dollars, App Annie can be opportunistic about acquisitions, Schmitt says. It’ll also keep growing internationally — Schmitt speaks about five languages, and he wants to have feet on the ground wherever the company has significant customers.

Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) led the founding round, with existing investors Sequoia Capital, Greycroft Partners, and IDG Capital Partners participating.

“App Annie now integrates app sales, search, advertising, demographics and usage data into one unified, standardized platform,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Any company that wants to remain relevant is now an app publisher, and we’re confident they will all need App Annie to move their mobile business forward.”

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