Early Crowdstar Numbers Suggest Amazon’s Users Monetize Five Times Better Than Ones From Android Market

We caught up with Crowdstar’s chief executive Peter Relan after the company announced yesterday that it’s now bringing in about 50 percent of its revenues from mobile games.

In the short Q-and-A below, one of the most interesting things we heard from Relan was that after launching an Android app at the beginning of the month, it’s seeing that ARPU or average-revenue-per-user on Amazon’s appstore is five times higher than it is in Android Market. Relan says that because Amazon has millions of credit cards on file, its users are more willing and able to pay than general Android owners.

The caveats to Crowdstar’s data are: it’s been three weeks since Top Girl’s exclusive launch on Amazon and one week since the general Android launch — so the data is super early. Plus, Amazon’s base is also still small since the Kindle Fire only started shipping this fall. Plus, Crowdstar probably got some extra promotion since it gave Amazon the early exclusive — and we hear those deals are key for having any meaningful usage at all on the Fire.

IN: What do you think of Zynga’s IPO? And what do you think it portends for other social gaming companies that have been approached by investment bankers for public offerings in the last several months?

Relan: Zynga’s done a fantastic job over the past four years. As for the IPO, there’s not too much to blame them for. There are macro issues like Europe, which is still looking very messy. I think that scares investors. A few big tech companies like Oracle have also missed earnings. The fact that they went public in this environment is a credit to them.

There’s also the industry comparables problem. Right before Zynga went public, Nexon also did at around a 7 billion valuation on similar top line revenues. Their performance may have tempered Zynga’s valuation. [Editor’s notes: Nexon has declined more than 16 percent since its debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Dec. 13.]

IN: How does it affect the possibility of other social gaming companies going public? I mean, regardless of Zynga’s share performance, they now have $1 billion at their disposal to dominate mobile via original games or acquisitions.

Relan: We don’t even see it as a competitive situation. Zynga was such a big, dominant player in the Facebook space that there was no way to compete given their capital, their control and market share.

We’re not trying to go public next year.

We started Project Trident [a strategy to diversify onto mobile and abroad] because we had this vision of play anytime and anywhere. Think about what percentage of the time you’re in front of a PC versus your phone. Zynga’s business model is mostly Facebook. Our model is to go more global and mobile. The combined user base of these other platforms — Android, iOS and then the Asian networks — exceeds Facebook.

When we were competing with Zynga through 2009 and 2010 with Happy Aquarium, FishVille, Farmville and so on we realized that this was a hard company to keep up with. We made a strategic change. They had a demographic of older females, so we went for the young female demographic. At the same time, Kabam went for the male, hardcore demographic.

The other difference on mobile is that unlike Facebook, where there was this big standoff between Mark Pincus and Mark Zuckerberg, mobile is a much more level-playing field.

Pincus brought so much engagement to Facebook that if he had left, Facebook would have suffered on engagement metrics with its core audience. They had to work out a deal which ultimately made Zynga the major player. As a young company, Facebook needed Zynga.