Adknowledge Ventures Onto Android With an Eye to Help Mobile Developers Monetize

Adknowledge‘s SuperRewards, a longtime offers provider on the Facebook platform, is making a bet that the same business models that blew up social gaming are now about to take flight on Android.

Today, the Kansas City, Missouri company is launching an SDK for Android developers that brings offers, new payment methods, installs and customer service to their apps. It supports all devices running at least Android Donut or version 1.6.

“We’re moving away from paid or subscription games to ones that are free to play, where developers can gain a far larger user base,” said Chris Smutny, the general manager of Virtual Currency and Gaming at Adknowledge. “You’re going to see the vast majority of developers move go free-to-play with virtual goods. They’ll be able to tap into a recurring stream of revenue which is incredibly powerful.”

He added, “On Android alone, this business could be a nine-figure run-rate for us by the end of the year.”

The Adknowledge SDK has four parts. It serves offers or ways for players to gain virtual currency by shopping, watching videos or signing up services. It also support four payment methods upfront: Google Checkout, credit cards, Zong and Paypal, with more to come. Adknowledge is also getting into installs for mobile apps, or giving ways for players to gain virtual currency by installing other developers’ apps. Lastly, it adds customer service in case there are any payment problems.

Smutny added that the company may launch similar products for iOS and the mobile web next month.

Adknowledge is making this move at a time when Facebook may look to clamp down on third-party offers companies. Facebook said yesterday that all canvas developers will be required to process payments through Facebook Credits by July, giving the company a 30 percent cut of revenue.

Rival Trialpay won the contract to be Credits’ offers provider so other companies in the space like Adknowledge are considering different platforms for continued growth. Another large rival, Tapjoy, expects to shift the majority of its business to mobile platforms away from Facebook this year. That said, both companies are still serving offers on the platform. “We have not shifted a single resource off Facebook,” Smutny said.

At the same time, Android is poised to surpass iOS with the number of devices in circulation. That could turn Android into as attractive a platform to develop for as the iPhone or iPad, if not moreso.

“The magic of the Android platform is that it’s open to many manufacturers and open to many technologies,” Smutny said. “Openness drives innovation forward in a way that is very difficult to match in a closed system.”

However, Android’s payments infrastructure is not nearly as strong so developers see few paid downloads. They make the vast majority of their revenue from advertising. Adknowledge is aiming to step in and fill in that monetization gap between Android and iOS.