GamesBeat: From the featuring perspective, anything you can provide details on there — is it a one-time deal? Is it a rotational piece? What does it mean to be featured in this store?
Pohontu: We refresh the store every week. It’s a case by case basis. We’ll feature different products. The standard featuring is usually one week, but often our partners will be featured far longer than that, depending on how different their product is, how well it’s performing in relation to our featuring objectives at any given time.
Our long term vision for featuring decisions is to separate our editorial team from doing that. When I said that we want to be a complementary experience to the traditional stores, I meant that. We want to have 3,000 to 5,000 apps, and we’ll regularly purge underperforming apps. We want to effectively be a boutique store, a highly selective environment.
Within that environment we’d love to work with the likes of GamesBeat and Pocket Gamer to provide the editorial substance that sustains the store. We’d like to have a transparent editorial policy. We can trust the luminaries in the industry to show us what’s the best content available. Obviously we have a while to go before we get there, but that’s the vision.
That’s why I mentioned our ideological bias toward indies. We think the type of content indies produce is often lost in the traditional stores, but it will not be lost in a store that deliberately tries to limit the number of apps and is very selective in identifying those products.
GamesBeat: Are there any specific success stories you can share? Have people come back and said that this really works?
Pohontu: We have a series of game partners that we’re happy about, including Game Insight, which is very prominently featured at this conference. We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with them. We’re also thrilled to work with well-known publishers like Gameloft and EA and so on.
On the startup stage we’re collaborating with an accelerator in the Valley called Plug and Play, probably the largest accelerator in the Valley. They’re incubating about 300 companies simultaneously at any one time. We’ve created a category for them to be able to feature the work these startups are producing. It’s a very exciting proposition, an ideal way to feature what we want our storefront to be all about.
GamesBeat: Obviously Gear VR is ramping up for a pretty big end of year for you guys. Does this interact with your store at all? Are there separate stores? Can people in the VR space benefit from working with your team?
Pohontu: The game store in Gear VR is Oculus. We’re working very closely with Oculus. We’re happy to have that partnership. Also, as a side note on VR, we’re very happy with the fact that Gear VR inhabits a unique space in the VR ecosystem. It’s the only mass market device currently on the market and it probably will be for some time.
It’s effectively the only subsidized VR model. The phones you get will be subsidized by carriers in some fashion if you sign up for a two-year contract. The support, the goggles, are very inexpensive at $99. These phones, even though they can’t deliver the same experience that the full-fledge Oculus device will, it’s nevertheless a workable, functional VR experience. As a casual user, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from that engagement.
Now, we do have a separate store for VR. It’s currently primarily geared toward content like video. Some music will be there in the future. This is what we’ve prioritized in the past. But we could potentially open it up to games as well.
GamesBeat: Discoverability is a problem for everyone these days. There are millions of apps, so how do you find one? If you could paint a picture of two or three years from now, what is the app store delivering to consumers, and what is it delivering to developers?
Pohontu: To consumers it delivers a fabulous panel of exclusive experiences that they can only find within the Samsung ecosystem. It’s a destination that’s prized and valuable. To developers it delivers a legitimate way to monetize your wares and realize the potential of your art. That would please us immensely.
GamesBeat: Are you working with publishers or venture groups that have multiple products they’re supporting, looking at higher-level strategic agreements, or are you still working on a developer by developer basis?
Pohontu: It’s always a developer by developer engagement. Even with publishers, we may talk to larger teams, but it’s still very much an engaged conversation. We’ve done this very successfully in the past. Quite a good number of developers and publishers have already come into the store, but I really think this is still virgin territory in the sense that — the traffic figures I announced today aren’t well-known in the industry, but they are significant and they’re growing very fast.
Since the U.S. team started merchandising the store according to the new approach I’ve just discussed, we’ve found very good traction. We benefit enormously from the fact that we’re preloaded on Samsung mobile devices.
GamesBeat: How big is the market? How many Samsung devices are there?
Pohontu: Samsung sells 30 million devices in the U.S. every year. That’s the market penetration that we’re looking at. As far as installed base, devices in the field, we’re at about 80 million active devices that have the store on them.