The State of Video App Development 2015

April 11, 2015

There’s a digital land grab underway for real estate on mobile phones, set-top boxes, and game consoles.  Here are some excerpts from an interesting article (

Step One: The Audience

There might be a perception you can publish once and run anywhere, but that’s not the case when it comes to user experience, analytics, monetization, authentication, and optimizing the user experience across different platforms. So the first thing to identify is how many platforms you want to deliver to.

“Be realistic about development costs, because the reality of the insane device fragmentation driving the conversation that we’re having is publishers [saying], ‘I need to be on more places than just the desktop,’” Xiques says. “If you want to be on Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, and Xbox, you’re talking about four environments, and most likely you will need a different developer with a different skill set to get each one done.
“When you develop apps,” Roberts says, “it’s harder for user acquisition in comparison to driving people to a website. Each of the platforms is different. With iOS you can include a banner to the app store. With Roku and Android, it’s really a good idea to work with Roku and Google to try and get promotion within their respective marketing spots. It drives a lot of downloads.”

Step Two: The Technology

“It’s important to get something out early and then iterate,” Dale says. “An example would be getting your app out without ad monetization and then expand from there. Or you could launch with just progressive downloading, but not adaptive.”

So how do you iterate quickly? It starts with deciding on your required features. Do you need to handle advertising, analytics, DRM? Each piece increases the complexity.

A common feature request from many publishers, including Kidoodle TV, is pausing your content on one device and then starting it up later on another device.

“I think the reality is that’s not actually all that hard to do so long as the services are architected with that in mind,” Tapper says. “It certainly is more complex to add this in after the fact if you haven’t considered it from the beginning.”
So iterating, identifying, and mapping out features are the first pieces of advice from the experts. Other advice centered on finding developers you trust and the debate over native or nonnative development.
Most everyone we spoke with said that you need to have a great working relationship with your developers. You want them to be experienced with publishing apps within the streaming space, and you want them to be in business for the long haul when you need major changes. This is true whether you choose to use a developer who will create a native or nonnative app.
With native code, you’ll have to write it separately for each platform you’re on. So iOS, Android/Chromecast, Roku, and gaming devices will each require almost completely different code. Invariably it will perform better, but it will cost more to develop because you’re writing it several times.

“The level of investment, whether it’s internal or with partners, is going to be larger over time than it is for the initial build. You have to be aware of that and go in with your eyes open.”

Step Three: The Content

If you were serving progressive downloads to computers before, then you’ve upped your storage cost by 10 times. Each new platform will need additional files in varying sizes and maybe even format in order to be played on each of the devices. If you have thousands and thousands of videos that you want to offer, you’re going to have to be careful about storage costs at your CDN.

“Adaptive bitrate switching is a have-to-have, especially with mobile,” he says. “Your network conditions are going to vary so greatly that you have to have adaptive bitrate switching in place if you want to have an effective user experience.”

“Video itself is a complicated issue and you need to decide if you’re going to take it on head-on or entrust it to a third party. I think that’s probably a decision you should make early on and that’s got to be an informed decision,” Eichele says. “We encoded for all our content when it came in for the devices that we had on our year long roadmap.”

“If there’s one thing that you actually should know is that you cannot measure all of your analytics in a consistent way across all devices,” Jones says. “You get really rich analytics for desktop, you get fairly rich analytics for dedicated apps on Android and IOS, and you get very limited analytics across other devices.”

Key points for the audience step are to be aware of development costs by platform, be sure your audience is on the devices you’re considering development for, identify what your goal is for each specific platform you want to support, and design for the specific platform user experience.


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