Flexion has announced that its Android and Java wrappers are currently enabling more than one free trial per second and that it is adding over 4 million new consumers per month to its platform. Over the last couple of months the company has seen the growth rate increase significantly thanks to several leading developers and publishers launching Flexion-wrapped games in app stores offered by Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Nokia customers in 68 markets can now download any Java game from EA and play it for free before deciding whether to commit to a purchase. Purchases are made securely via operator billing thanks to the Flexion wrapper, which offers operator billing in more than 80 markets.

The wrapper technology increases conversion rates by offering one-click purchasing following a free trial. Since end-users can enjoy the full gaming experience - playing the ‘full’ game on a trial basis (such as a limited time or number of sessions, rental, or subscription basis) - they are also much more likely to buy the full version of the game compared to if games were sold using the pay-and-download model.

“Instead of making developers add billing SDKs to their game code, we let them wrap their products with the Flexion wrapper which automatically enables in-app billing for products. These can then be distributed via app stores as free downloads,” commented Jens Lauritzson, CEO of Flexion. “We have done this successfully for some of the biggest publishers and our plan now is to make these services available to the whole developer community. We are aiming for a growth rate of 100 million new consumers per month within the next 24 months.”

The wrapper comes with an add-on feature called Discovery, Flexion’s on device portal, to promote more games to customers. Discovery acts as a dynamic storefront, giving end-users the ability to easily explore and try more content. Users who for instance decide to download an EA Android title from Samsung Apps will be able to try and buy other titles from the same publisher. Flexion plans to further develop the Discovery feature into a well-targeted affiliation network for advertisers and game publishers.

The Flexion wrapper benefits all the players in the apps market, including device manufacturers, app stores, publishers and billing providers. By using Flexion’s wrapper developers can remove the additional time and expense required to create and test multiple versions of products and can focus on developing the best possible gaming experience instead. Most importantly Flexion offers developers a new way to improve mobile content monetisation and distribution of their products.

There has been a considerable upswing in app stores since the arrival of the iPhone, which has forced OEMs and operators to create similar offerings. However, a longstanding problem has been how to charge for content. Much of Apple’s success with the App Store stems from two factors; already having millions of registered users in place when it launched the iPhone and the App Store being the only place for end-users to get content.

While offering a polished experience, the App Store itself is decidedly old school. The basic premium monetisation model is still pay-and-download and any developers who want to use more powerful monetisation strategies such as try and buy or in-app billing need to spend resources on integrating billing SDKs in to their code. Despite the inherent limitations of the Apple App Store, no non-iOS app store has been as successful, meaning that it is difficult for developers to generate the same level of revenue outside of the Apple App Store.

Flexion – and its wrapper technology – is the solution for these app stores, offering a self-service solution for developers. The wrapping process itself is fast and simple: the developer submits the content via established submission tools such as Metaflow and the content is then wrapped and returned. Developers can then decide how they want to licence and price the app.

“There are a number of advantages to developers adopting this model,” comments Jens Lauritzson, CEO of Flexion. “The more open app stores are, the easier it becomes for developers to launch with Flexion’s wrapper. Whilst app stores like Getjar have adopted a model where developers and publishers can use their own monetisation methods and tools, the majority of app stores are still struggling to provide a good business case for developers. Much of this is down to a lack of a good billing and licensing solutions for apps. This is why the majority of apps are offered free, or with advertising, but only a few manage to generate significant revenues.”

Lauritzson concludes, “Whilst some have tried non-operator billing methods such as Paypal and Google Checkout, the app stores need to be helping developers to make money before they stand any chance of rivalling Apple’s success.

Flexion’s wrapper technology works by creating a small amount of code that is ‘wrapped’ around the original content. This wrapped code enables a range of additional services, such as in-app billing, DRM and content discovery. Content owners can create customised pricing options and promotional models, such as free trials, rentals, bundles, discount and loyalty schemes, amongst others. They can also offer more content to their customers through a dynamic storefront delivered with every wrapped game, allowing for further upselling of content. 

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