PapayaMobile, which is staking a name for itself as an Android-focused mobile and social gaming network, is teaming up with One Economy’s Applications for Good to figure how to make apps aimed at public good financially viable.
While Applications For Good will seek out apps like the Khan Academy mobile app, where educator Salman Khan teaches kids about algebra and physics, or Diabetes Log, which helps diabetics watch their sugar intake, PapayaMobile will help bring these developers new users and traffic through their network. PapayaMobile says it has 10 million registered users, but more than 50 percent are active every month — meaning they take an action like posting a status update, commenting or logging into Papaya’s network.
Papaya will also help developers and tech-savvy social entrepreneurs figure out how to make their work financially sustainable. Applications for Good is part of a non-profit called One Economy Corporation, which was founded in 2000 and was early in getting broadband Internet access to the financially disadvantaged.
Painfully trendy as the word gamification may be, there is a very real opportunity in using gaming mechanics in everyday life to manage good and bad behavior.
However, there are always risks that this endeavor could be somewhat naive if it’s executed incorrectly.
“There could be a potential game in which you have a point-tracking system and if you check in at a Whole Foods, you might get extra points and if you go to McDonalds, you might get deducted,” said Paul “We could use leaderboards or player challenges to challenge users to eat more vegetables for a week.”
The ethically interesting dilemma though is in bridging the gap between the mobile-social gaming world, where developers primarily monetize through sometimes frivolous virtual goods, with the very real economic constraints that Applications For Good’s target audience face every day.
Arthur Grau, the community manager for Applications For Good, says they’ll overcome this by focusing on freemium apps that can earn revenue from a broad socioeconomic range of users.
“That’s a huge concern of ours,” he said. “We don’t want to create something where people are wasting their money on silly activities when our primary target are people who are at the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum.”
If some of Applications For Good’s titles decide to go down the virtual goods route, Grau said PapayaMobile could help figure out how to design or price virtual goods that might be appropriate.