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One would think that developing a business focused solely on Windows 7 Phone (and now also on Windows 8) is a little too niche. But this month Lithuanian startup AdDuplex, the Startup Sauna graduate, has released its new cross promotion network for games and apps developed for Windows 8 platform, and it may just have enough room to move to make this niche a bigger business.
Admittedly Microsoft has been late to join the smart phone bonanza. According to Gartner, there were 2,7 million Microsoft phones sold in the first quarter of 2012 alone, compared to 81 million devices on Android platform, and 33 million Apple iPhones. Yet, the number of Microsoft phones is measured in millions, and no one can accuse the company for lacking cash to do better. Lately, despite its lackluster performance in all things social and mobile, Microsoft and its Windows phone designs have been cautiously praised by the forward-looking publications (NY Times, anyone?)
AdDuplex is the largest cross-promotion network for Windows platform, and it is an official partner of Microsoft. It helps app developers, who feel that their apps do not get noticed, help gain exposure for free, by promoting other apps and giving 20% traffic to AdDuplex who will in turn sell it to advertisers. A few Window apps make good money from advertisement, but then, some days are better than others, and sometimes there are not enough ads for the available space. This is when the app developer can use AdDuplex to promote other apps and get credits to advertise its app through the network. AdDuplex model is simple, it solves the need, and it has around 1600 apps in its network.
The way Alan Mendelevich, the founder of AdDuplex got to idea for the business, seems to have classic touches of where entrepreneurs get most of their ideas. Previously he used Microsoft stack and Silverlight developing for a consulting company, but found working for other clients rather dull. So when in 2010 the Windows phone was announced, he decided that he will develop apps for Windows platform. Alas, at a conference in Las Vegas he learned that Microsoft will only approve developers from 30 countries or so to create apps for its platform, and tiny Lithuania was not one of them. But by then Mendelevich had an established network of developers, and understood their issues, the major one being a lack of marketing support for their apps. This gave rise to AdDuplex.
One can say that the business is heavily reliant on Microsoft making their mobile platform successful, or that with maturity of ad networks on Windows phone will make AdDuplex obsolete.
Before that happens though, AdDuplex has a niche, and with that a chance to develop into something bigger, e.g. expand the niche to other platforms, or push the boundaries of its client base. Its competition includes either regular mobile ad networks, or cross-promotion networks on other platforms. And then there US-based Chartboost (iOS and Android cross-promotion network, which raised $2 million and profitable) as well as Finnish Applifier, the cross-promotion network for social games ($2 million raised from PROfounders, MHS Capital and others).
Despite the narrow niche, AdDuplex is cash positive, and can sustain modest organic growth.
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vita at goaleurope dot com