Channel companies seeking a way into the fast-growing mobile app space can tap a growing number of reseller programs that offer technology and tools to set them up in the business.
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Mobile developers and development platform makers such as Appy Pie Inc., Bizness Apps Inc., Conduit Ltd. and Maxamum Mobile Solutions are among the companies that target resellers with a mobile app reseller program. These firms offer to build apps that solution providers can resell to their end customers or provide a DIY platform that they can use to create their own apps. The reseller-oriented vendors also offer advice on marketing mobile solutions to end customers -- typically smaller businesses.
We don't want to create a sales force that goes in and sells a local restaurant an app and they don't see them again.
president and co-founder, Maxamum Mobile Solutions
Resellers pay fees for mobile app development and platform usage, but get a leg up in the mobile market and the opportunity to make money on the initial sale and, potentially, from ongoing support. Companies offering a mobile app reseller program stand to benefit as well: It allows them to develop a sales operation to complement their technical know-how.
"We love partnering with resellers," noted Andrew Gazdecki, CEO of Bizness Apps, a San Francisco-based company that provides a mobile app and mobile website platform for small businesses. "Partnering allows us to focus on what we do best, which is the technology and the software, and work with people who do well with marketing and sales."
Types of mobile app reseller programs
Reseller programs offer different gateways to the mobile app market. Individual entrepreneurs or companies wanting to focus on mobile app sales can simply resell software. Bizness Apps will build a mobile app or mobile website for a reseller for a $100 fee. Gazdecki said the company's design team can turn around an app in two to three business days. He noted that the company has a large internal design team that designs apps from scratch. He said the designers use elements from a given business' website, but noted that the process isn't automated.
Resellers with design personnel can join the Bizness Apps white-label program, which starts at $300 per month. That fee lets resellers use Bizness Apps' development platform to build 10 iPhone apps and an unlimited number of Android apps and mobile websites. After the first 10 iPhone apps, they can build additional iPhone apps for $30 each.
"They take our platform and white-label it and use it to build their own applications," he said.
Gazdecki said resellers sell apps at price points ranging from $500 at the low end to $5,000 at the high end. Those prices include a setup fee. He said that monthly, ongoing maintenance fees range from $40 to $200 per month, depending on the particular services included in a reseller's package.
Maxamum Mobile Solutions, a mobile marketing company based in Robbinsville, N.J., launched a mobile app reseller program earlier this year. Resellers can sign up with the company for $97 and pay $30 per month after that. Maxamum builds mobile apps and mobile websites for its partners, which resell them to their customers. Maxamum manages, maintains and hosts the apps. The reseller gets paid a commission on the sale of an app and also receives a percentage of Maxamum's $50-per-month hosting fee.
In addition to providing recurring revenue, the hosting fee lends itself to an ongoing customer relationship, according to Ben Duncan, president and co-founder of Maxamum. Hosting and maintenance, he said, aren't just back-end services; they provide an opportunity to stay in touch with the customer.
"We don't want to create a sales force that goes in and sells a local restaurant an app and they don't see them again," Duncan said.
A reseller who proves particularly adept at selling apps may be promoted to sales manager, he added. A sales manager can recruit people to sell apps and receives a percentage of the team's book of business.
In addition, Maxamum offers a white label mobile app reseller program, which lets partners establish their own branding on the apps they resell. Duncan said he likes to see resellers go through the entry-level reseller program before they enter the white-label program.
Appy Pie, a cloud-based mobile app maker, in May launched a reseller program for its DIY mobile app platform. Resellers can use the platform to build white-label apps. The Walnut, Calif., company offers three plans within its reseller program. A plan for small and medium-sized business (SMBs) requires a $1,500 setup fee and has a $100 monthly fee thereafter. White-label app creation is priced at $6 per app per month. The enterprise plan's setup fee is $2,000, with a $200 monthly fee and a $4-per-app monthly fee for white-label app creation. The company's newest plan, Developer, has no setup fee and no charges for white-label app creation. Participants pay $249 per month. In addition, the SMB and enterprise programs provide resellers with a white-label platform with the reseller's branding and URL; the developer program lacks that feature.
Pick a plan
Some programs let resellers buy custom apps individually or in bulk. Conduit's mobile reseller program provides partners with a platform for creating and testing apps. A reseller can create an app via the company's Conduit Mobile control panel. They can test the app using Conduit's downloadable Re.Vu native testing app or tap the control panel to test a Web app version in HTML5.
The reseller purchases a Conduit plan once it is satisfied with an app and ready to submit the native iOS and Android versions to the app marketplaces, said Liat Karpel Gurwicz, marketing director for mobile at Conduit, which has offices in Israel and in Foster City, Calif. Resellers can choose between pay-as-you-grow or buy-in-bulk plans. The former lets resellers purchase plans for their apps as they need them. In other words, they don't have to commit to purchasing a certain block of apps before they have sold them to customers.
"This is most convenient for resellers who are just starting out and are beginning to build their mobile business," Gurwicz said.
She said the more seasoned resellers usually prefer bulk-rate plans, which offer better rates. Overall, pricing depends on the number of apps a reseller wishes to publish and whether a monthly or yearly subscription is selected for those apps, she added.
Optimize Chr 2.0, a Conduit reseller based in Neuilly-Plaisance, France, initially used Conduit's pay-as-you-grow plan "to test the services and make sure my own customers were happy with the tools and services," noted Fred Poulet, the company's founder.
But now, Optimize Chr 2.0, which works with cafe, hotel and restaurant customers on Web presence and mobile social networks, uses the buy-in-bulk plan. Poulet said the bulk plan saves time when the company needs to negotiate contracts with five customers in a row -- as with a restaurant chain, for example.
As for the technology, Poulet said the main advantage of Conduit's app framework is its ability to integrate external mobile features as if they were native features. He pointed to the example of Lafourchette.com, a restaurant booking website, which he said can be quickly integrated into a Conduit app. Future enhancements Poulet said he would like to see include greater cooperation between Conduit and "killer app" providers. He cited full integration of Foursquare check-ins and capabilities as one example.
Resellers can also obtain marketing assistance through the various reseller programs. Conduit offers resellers tools to run their own marketing campaigns, Gurwicz noted. Those tools include PowerPoint presentations on the mobile industry for use during a sales pitch and sample mobile apps to present to prospects, she said.
Maxamum, for its part, offers training and support to get resellers started in the mobile marketing consulting industry. Duncan said people contacting Maxamum may have no sales experience or sales experience in an industry other than mobile. So, the company trains resellers on the features of the mobile apps and how to connect with decision makers.
Bizness Apps also offers reseller training, including weekly webinars on topics such as how to sell to small businesses.
"We really focus on training our resellers on how to be successful in the mobile market," Gazdecki said.