By Asina Pornwasin
THE NATION WEEKEND
THE App Store is a huge part of Apple’s business, perhaps because of its ability to profoundly transform the way people live their lives or enhance the way people pursue their passions. It’s said that there is “an app for everything” and that seems true, including being able to create or play games or get more things done in a day.
The App Store may be the best place for people to discover content and apps that help them pursue their passions. In the period since the App Store was launched a decade ago, it has truly transformed how people live. In the business sector, it has created concrete companies, tens of millions of jobs and supported new industries.
The App Store is now live in 155 countries, offered in 28 languages, and accepting 44 currencies.
At the WWDC 2018 conference for developers, Apple announced that it had paid US$100 billion (Bt3.28 trillion) to developers since the App Store’s 2008 launch, making it the best place for them to be rewarded for their hard work and creativity.
Last year, Apple unveiled an all-new App Store with dedicated taps for games, apps to help customers find what exactly they were looking for along with helping them discover apps.
Through the “Today Tap” function, customers can browse hundreds of stories to help them discover new apps. The function is within the grasp of more than a billion people around the world.
Following the company’s aim to make Apple Music locally relevant, the App Store is curated for customers in Thailand. People often find truly unique collections for the local customers in as the Kingdom can boast one of the most vibrant and exciting developer communities in the world. And that is doubly so for Southeast Asia.
Kiratijuta Bhumichitr or Fair, 25, developed U Spark. He is also a lecturer in the Science and Technology Faculty, ABAC.
U Spark, a university solution app, is intended as a one-stop student service, a student-centric education platform. Students can create and customise all their study-related details in U Spark. That includes personal education data such as grades and current GPA, learning credit units, courses and curriculum, along with classroom and exam timetables.
But it is not limited to use as a university app, but rather can play the role of a personal education assistant for the student. For example, the feature called “estimated grade” can calculate which grade (A, B, or C) the student needs to achieve in a certain semester if they want to receive a learning honour reward.
It is the first app enabling students to register for courses this way. It also allows students to manage their own learning plan in each semester before registering. The app will show available schedules for student to choose from. Students can register immediately via the app, and pay for their registration via mobile banking.
This app has been implemented and used at ABAC University for three years, and two other universities are planning on adopting it.
“This app came from my personal pain point when I was a student – I had trouble doing my course registration for each semester,” said Kiratijuta.
He developed the first version of the app to solve his own pain-point. At the time, it had just three basic features – grade results, classroom timetable and student profile. He released it on the App Store and told his friends to try it out. A month later, 80 per cent of the university’s students had downloaded his app.
The app is now commercialised under a subscription model. The university buys this solution, paying him per user. All of ABAC’s more than 15,000 students use the U Spark app.
Anucha Aribarg, creative director of Pixel Perfex, developer of Earth Atlantis, describes the app as a shooting game in art style, with all of the game graphics and content presented in a drawing format.
Earth Atlantis was launched just a few months ago, after it enjoyed success on console game devices including Nintendo, PlayStation and XBox. The paid app is available in 12 languages. Anucha says he earns a good income from selling the game.
Arwut Sanpatchaya, CEO of Fugang Company, Kooup’s developer, describes the product as the most secure “seeking a mate” app. He claims that Kooup has the largest number of downloads in Thailand within the category of mate-seeking apps.
Members can verify a photo of the match they are chatting with.
Before developing the app, Arwut spent five years developing and overseeing the match-making “Koo 25 Up” website.
It had 80,000 users with 2,600 active users per day. Then two years ago, Arwut turned to developing the mate-seeking app, Kooup.
He claims it has 750,000 registered people, around 80 per cent of them in Thailand, and has 26,000 active users per day. Average users are age 25 to 35, with females and males in equal numbers. The app is now available in four languages: Thai, Vietnam, English, and China.
“We use big data in create value-information for our users. By estimate, this app encourage several ten-thousand couples to be engaged via app,” said Arwut.
He says the company is now monetising the app via the “freemium” model. Basic features are available for free. VIP members can access extra features such as more greeting messages per day (it offers 10 greeting messages per day for the free version), and targeting potential mates through personalised specifications – after they buy a coin to pay for the features.
“The App Store is a place for developers to generate revenue. It is easier than the past,” said Arwut. The app is popular among people age between 25 and 35. They are familiar with this kind of app and see it as an opportunity to find their right match.
Ekkachai Charoenpatanamong-kol, founder and CEO of i-App Creation, said that Pastel Keyboard is designed for Asian users and includes a cute and useful concept. It has been in the top rank of paid apps since launching three years ago, and was Apple’s “Best Paid App of the Year” in 2016-2017.
Pastel Keyboard was borne after Apple announced at WWDC it would allow developers to careat extension keyboards for iPhones and iPads. Ekkachai said he wanted to be in the first group of developers to join the new venture with Apple.
Pastel has reached around 300,000 downloads, with around 80 per cent from Thailand, and 20 per cent from the rest of Southeast Asia.
“For example, QuickText is a useful feature,” said Ekkachai. “It helps users to keep their frequently use sentences such as email address and signature – just tap once and no need to repeat typing ever.
Meanwhile, Calculator helps users to easily do calculations on the keyboard.”
There are now over 6,000 themes available on the Pastel Keyboard app.
Content on Pastel Keyboard is developed by the company and its partners.
The company creates its own keyboard them, and also works with Internatinal IP to develop theme keyboards with cute characteristics, such as Sanrio.
Moreover, Pastel Keyboard includes themes developed by designers, artists and creators. They can submit themes on the Pastel Crafter. It is a platform allowing local creators to sell their theme to Pastel Keyboard.
“We opened Pastel Crafter a year ago, and are focusing on this with the aim to help local creators to show off their designs. We will share success with local creators. We share revenue with creators,” said Ekkachai.
Apple Music fans: Polycat, D Gerrard, Violette Wautier and Earth Patravee Srisuntisuk.
Apple Music hits the high notes
APPLE MUSIC has also become an important part of Apple’s business since its launch three years ago. Apple Music has become the fastest growing music streaming service in the world, with 50 million users and a catalogue of 45 million songs.
Apple Music is all about human curation.
According to the Thai band Polycat, people now have more choices to enjoy music. There are many more small and new upcoming artists, since it is easier to produce music and the Apple Music platform facilitates people being able to make new discoveries.
Polycat are heavy fans of Apple Music, as they can easily share their music library and it helps them focus their energy on the creative process of crafting the next single.
Given the massive size of the Apple Music library, almost everything they need is there.
Violette Wautier says Apple Music addresses young people’s music listening lifestyle, because they prefer to search for their own favourite songs and keep different playlists for different emotions.
Apple Music also offers the chance for artists to reach new groups and a wider audiences since the library has a lot of users worldwide that go beyond the local Thai market.
Artists can demonstrate their music and their own personality through the new channel, says Patravee Srisuntisuk (@earthpatravee). She particularly likes Live Session, which has become like her own personal music room where she can share her music with her friendly audiences.