MyPad, arguably the most popular unofficial Facebook iPad app, will push the first phase of a Twitter integration this week. MyPad developer Loytr’s co-founder Cole Ratias also tells us the integration of a games section into the app has been a success, with roughly 30% of the app’s daily active users entering the gaming area and total ad impressions in the app doubling.
When the Twitter integration deepens, it will give MyPad and Loytr’s games partners more viral reach. This is because users are prompted to share when they open games via MyPad. Both the Twitter integration and the games portal could help MyPad differentiate itself in preparation of the launch of Facebook’s official iPad app.
Since Facebook chose not to release an official iPad app, several tablet-optimized native app Facebook clients popped up. These include Oecoway’s Friendly, currently the largest with 600,000 DAU but losing users, and MyPad2, currently second with 548,000 DAU but growing such that it should overtake Friendly by the end of the month. However, Loytr also has roughly 150,000 to 200,000 more users for MyPad1, which was built on touch.facebook.com opposed to the modern version that is built on the Graph API, meaning its total user count already surpasses Friendly.
These developers were able to make a comfortable living offering core Facebook functionality and some minor additional features such as color customization in ad-supported and premium versions of their apps.
However, it was recently reported that Facebook will launch an official iPad app. If the unofficial apps don’t differentiate themselves, they could see great volumes of their users slip away to Facebook’s app. New functionality, particularly the ability to play games, could also boost revenue through deals to distribute games from certain developers or increase ad impressions.
Facebook as a Mobile Games Portal
Loytr released a games integration with TinyCo and CrowdMob at the end of June such that shortcuts to the Apple App Store can be found in the MyPad navigation menu, allowing users to download games by these developers. Loytr gets a cut of the lifetime revenue generated by any users that click these bookmarks, including app and in-app purchases.
If a user has already downloaded a game and clicks the MyPad bookmark for it, the game launches via Fast App switching. Whenever users open a game through MyPad, they’re prompted to share the news of their usage with their Facebook friends, providing a virality bump to both Loytr and its game partners.
Apple prohibits iOS apps from offering their own proprietary app store, but referral links to Apple’s official App Store are permissible.
Now, Ratias tells us 20% of MyPad’s daily active users access the games bookmarks three to ten times a day. The engagement from the games bookmarks has helped push MyPad to double the number of ad impressions it shows per day since mid-April. This means MyPad is now showing about six to eight million ad impressions from Mobclix, Millennial and iAd per day.
These figures indicate the users want their Facebook tablet experience to include a portal to gaming. Third-party Facebook iPad app developers who take this approach can earn money and protect themselves from the official app’s launch. However, the data also bodes well for an official Facebook iPad app that includes its own games portal, possibly through a Facebook HTML5 mobile site.
Ratias says its developer partners are “pretty happy. They’ve seen good lift from the distribution and reengagement from users coming back to our platform to launch their apps. Currently the list of games is highly curated, but Ratias tells us Loytr is looking for more game developer partners. He says some more game sorting options would be required if it eventually offered dozens or even hundreds of games.
Loytr strategy of offering iOS games is certainly a better approach than Oecoway’s plan, which its founder told us is to essentially do nothing different to prepare for the official Facebook iPad app’s release. If the official app includes a games portal, even one that distributes Facebook and not iOS games, third-party app developers may need more differentiation points. Which brings us to Twitter.
Retweet Facebook Updates
MyPad will slowly begin to integrate Twitter into its Facebook client. To start, a version of the app currently awaiting Apple’s approval will allow users to retweet Facebook updates by them and their friends. When users are viewing a news feed or wall story, they can on it to bring up feedback options including Like, comment, and now retweet. Status updates and URL-shortened links to photos and videos can all be retweeted.
Soon, MyPad will allow users to view their own Twitter stream, as well as Twitter profiles, mentions, and direct messages. Ratias tells us the company is also looking into other social network integrations, which we assume could mean LinkedIn, or eventually even Google+.
Ratias tells us the next release of MyPad will prompt users to tweet when they open games through the app, and that this added distribution channel was a core reason the company chose to integrate Twitter.
Building straight forward third-party iPad Facebook clients may not be a safe business for long. But building a combined Facebook and Twitter client with a portal to curated set of great games could be a sustainable business regardless of Facebook’s official offering.