Heyzap, a platform that helps gamers share and discover apps, launched a Netflix-style recommendation system for Android apps today. It’s another stab at the problem of discovery, where hundreds of thousands of apps compete for a few square inches of shelf space in the packed Android Market and iOS app stores.
In Heyzap’s app, users can check into their favorite games and then the company will use a collaborative filtering algorithm to suggest other games. Heyzap has been shifting away from supporting Flash-based games into mobile over the last few months and its Android app has been installed 1 million times (helped in part by featured placement in the app store). The iOS version, which came three months later, is much smaller.
Heyzap said its iOS and Android SDKs, which let game developers add basic social functionality like the ability to post to Twitter or Facebook or challenge friends, are now in 310 games.
Both the iOS and Android app stores are also getting into personalized recommendations; Apple has Genius, which analyzes a person’s music or app library and then makes suggestions, although it’s unclear how widely this is used. Google also announced personalized recommendations in Android Market in May. Amazon’s app store also has personalized suggestions although the store doesn’t have a lot of reach at this point but that may change with the introduction of its Android-based tablets later this fall.
There are also a number of third-party discovery apps like Appsfire, which just raised $3.6 million, Zwapp, Chomp and Apptitude. Plus, many of the mobile gaming networks like OpenFeint, Scoreloop, ngmoco:) and PapayaMobile allow friends to share what they’re playing with others, even if they don’t have personalized game recommendations. The issue with many of the third-party, standalone discovery apps is that they themselves often have problems being discovered, meaning they never get the scale to drive meaningful installs for other developers.
Heyzap says it is making some revenue by driving downloads for third-party developers. The company’s co-founder Jude Gomila said it’s still really early at this stage though, and Heyzap is mostly focused on user acquisition itself.
“We’ve caused multiple millions of installs on Android already,” he said. “We’re more interested in building scale at the moment.” He said the app’s inventory is currently sold out for months.
Heyzap, which started with Flash gaming as a YCombinator-incubated startup, is moving with the rest of the developer community toward mobile devices. The company has raised $3.65 million from Union Square Ventures and other angel investors including Naval Ravikant, Chris Dixon and Joshua Schachter.