Blogging Inside Social Apps: iOS, Android and HTML5 app development

We’re at the San Francisco Design center, blogging Inside Network’s third annual Inside Social Apps conference.

Day two of the conference begins with “Cutting Edge Mobile App Product Development: iOS, Android, and HTML5,” moderated by Kim-Mai Cutler. She joined by Zynga’s SVP of mobile Travis Boatman, Bionic Panda Games’ CEO and co-founder Charles Hudson, Karma Science co-founder Lee Linden and Red Robot CEO and co-founder Mike Ouye.

The following is a paraphrased transcript of the discussion.

Kim-Mai: Mike, your company has this thesis about how location enhances gameplay…

Mike: We ran some numbers and saw some gains in both retention and monetization. We use real life locations in our game and we looked at how many location players had. People who had 20 or more locations had a 3x rise in retention and monetization was 1.5x. We feel it’s a sticky thing to interact with real life locations in gameplay not necessarily check-ins.

Kim-Mai: Charles, your games are exclusive to Android and you were one of the first developers on there. How has the market place changed?

Charles: A year ago, there weren’t that many high quality games compared to iOS. but the quality of games has really gone up over the last year and so has the quality of devices. The hardware market has come a long way and developers can just now take advantage of it.

Kim-Mai: What about payments and conversion rates?

Charles: The good news on payments for developers is that we have a standardized thing to  shoot for with Google Checkout instead of hacking together our own solution. It’s still in its early days and they’re still working out some of the kinks. Google is new and not 10 years old like iTunes.

Kim-Mai: How many more users are converting as a result of Checkout improving?

Charles: I can give you some sense. On per-user monetization, it’s up. Since we’ve switched from a combination of Paypal and Checkout to just Checkout, monetization is up about 25% in the last 6 months since we switched.

Kim-Mai: Lee, How has the space evolved since you left Tapjoy?

Lee: There’ s a ton of opportunity in mobile apps and gaming. You’ll see companies taking a mobile first approach. I’m excited about that. In terms of gaming and all other spaces, the quality bar is going up by a good margin. People realize they only have so much of people’s attention span and its an extremely competitive market. You have to have a high quality bar and be focused on providing value right away to users. The folks that are focusing on the experience right from the beginning are going to do pretty well.

Kim-Mai: Travis, we noticed Zynga has caught up on mobile despite a late start.

Travis: The zynga mobile team is a relatively new team, but Mark [Pincus] has a vision to translate Zynga’s success on Facebook into mobile. We’re focusing on a long -term strategy and not just quarter to quarter. Part of the investment is on cross-platform iOS and Android infrastructure and allowing people to play together, as well as supporting the amount of players that are playing our games at once and all players we’re going to have.

Kim-Mai: You have several franchises on mobile right now. Is that how you’re going to be organized this year, or will you add new genres?

Travis: We’ll change over time. We listen to what our players want. We don’t have games in some of the genres they want, like physics based games. We’ll continue to listen and try to bring great social games to those folks.

Kim-Mai: How do you decide which genres to enter?