Insider Q&A: Kiwi CEO, Omar Siddiqui

Kiwi_1_650

After finishing 2013 with $9M in funding and three games in Google Play’s Top Grossing Charts –Shipwrecked: Lost Island (5M+ downloads), Hidden Object: Mystery Estate (1M+ downloads), Westbound (1M+ downloads) – Android-first mobile game developer Kiwi is looking for even bigger things in 2014.

Inside Mobile Apps caught up with CEO Omar Siddiui to get his thought on Android development, what it takes to stand out in the crowded app market, and why his company decided to focus on Android over iOS.

Here’s what Siddiqui had to say from his company’s Palo Alto office.

Inside Mobile Apps: Why did Kiwi decide to become an Android-first developer?

Omar Siddiqui: We saw the potential for growth that Android offered us at the time, and it was also the earlier days of Android, so it was less crowded. Another factor that became more significant over time is the pace at which you can release games on Android. It’s a huge advantage in terms of tuning your game, fine-tuning it, and making it the best you can for consumers. That really attracted us as a way of rolling out our products and making them compelling. We’re also releasing our top products on iOS, so we’re not planning on being an Android-only shop, but we found Android to be a great place to launch our products and then rapidly iterate them as we try to make them more compelling for consumers.

Shipwrecked_650

IMA: What are some of the challenges developing for Android that maybe you didn’t anticipate when Kiwi first started out?

OS: Every platform presents its own challenges, but Android has actually gotten a lot better and a lot easier over the last couple of years. The developer tools have really improved. The biggest issue we face is the diversity of devices and the wide range of devices that we have to support. So for Android, if you’re going to bring your games to market, even today, we support everything from Android 2.3 and on, which means that there’s a range of devices that are running your game. This means that you need to make sure when you’re designing your game, you’re providing a good experience to people who are running it on an old device, while at the same time, you’re still taking advantage of the richness the new devices can offer. That’s definitely something you need to account for and design to right from the get go.

IMA: How difficult is it these days to just get your game noticed in such a crowded marketplace?

OS: Both iOS and Android have over 800,000 apps, so there’s no two ways about it, you need to make a great product if you want to breakthrough. At the end of the day, making a high quality product is what’s necessary if you want to get noticed on either platform. With Android, we’re really seeing a phenomenal growth both domestically and internationally, but domestically we’re not seeing as much of the volume in Android tablets in the U.S., so you’re not able to take advantage of that platform like you can on iOS with the iPad. On a relative basis, I’d say if you have a more tablet-oriented game and you’re optimizing for that type of device, the volume just isn’t there in the U.S. for Android like it is for the iPad, but that represents a huge area of opportunity and growth for Android in 2014 and on.

IMA: Kiwi is one of the few companies to have multiple products in Google Play’s Top 100 Grossing Games at the same time. Are you surprised by your company’s success with games like Shipwrecked: Lost Island and Westbound?