Nokia has always enjoyed a close and fruitful relationship with gaming company Twist Mobile, so it made perfect sense for Conversations to catch up with them at the launch of the Nokia Asha 501 in New Delhi.
The company, based in Indore, India, has only been around for four years but it has already got 50-odd games in the Nokia Store and over 80 million downloads.
However, its CEO and founder, Virat Singh Khutal, tells me that Twist Mobile has always focussed on ‘quality rather than quantity.’
His company’s stamp of quality will very much be evident on the Asha 501.
Twist Mobile has already ported 21 of its apps and games to the Asha platform. One of these is called Twist Music, which uses the accelerometer in the Asha 501, so you create music as you move the device in your hand.
When it comes to developing for the Asha platform and the Nokia Asha 501, Virat says that ‘they have also got some great ideas for the future.’
As well as the Asha 501, Conversations spoke to Virat about his insights into mobile gaming, monetisation and future trends.
What’s your reaction to the Nokia Asha 501, a sub-$100 smartphone?
I think the Nokia Asha 501 is going to be highly competitive and looks much better than any of the low-cost Androids that are currently on the market.
What about Twist Mobile users? What type of devices are they currently using?
About 70 per cent of Twist Mobile’s downloads are from Series 40 phones. Generally, they have an aspiration for good quality products and games.
Nokia Asha has changed the game in India and people are using a lot more WiFi now. Old sub-$100 phones never used to have WiFi, so Nokia Asha has increased the penetration of online access in mobile phones a lot.
Now, the launch of the Nokia Asha 501 will give things another boost. The phone is more affordable and it brings premium innovations to more people.
How does Twist Mobile monetise on its apps and will Nokia’s new in-app payment tool and its operator billing network, help?
Right now, for us, the monetisation is happening through Vserv appwrapper for in-app advertising for Asha series phones and we are getting a decent amount of revenue. But just recently we are seeing more revenue coming from in-app purchasing too.
We see this will happen more with higher quality content, and this will help us to make more money. People are now ready to pay for high quality apps. We are definitely focussing on how we can monetise with in-app payments.
Nokia’s operator billing network is really helpful and plays a crucial role in emerging markets because credit card penetration is very low.
In terms of apps and mobile gaming, what trends have you noticed recently?
We are seeing that the companies who are switching games from consoles to mobile phones are not so successful because they don’t see mobile as the first platform.
People want to use more camera applications and other features about the phone, like the accelerometer. People want the content to explore their phone. It’s not the phone that explores the content; the content has to explore the phone’s capabilities.
Also, as the Asha series is more popular between 18-24 year olds we are seeing more downloads in the Action and Arcade categories because it’s a favourite of young consumers.