Those considering distributing their film on a mobile platform no doubt have the iPhone and its millions of users as a possible target. I recently sat down (as I do when I write all my emails) to “speak” to Mars Yau of the Hong Kong-based MarsApp about this viable alternative to having your film listed in the iTunes store.
BTBO: Can you describe in detail the service that you provide on MarsApp.com? Can you also describe the process from the time someone hires you to create an application to the time the application is on the App Store?
MarsApp: We are an iPhone App Development Team focusing on develop mobile apps. We are excited to design and develop successful applications for iPhone and iPod Touch, and will expand our app collections to iPad soon. Actually, we hope to partner with any content provider. So, when someone is interested to publish their content (e.g. movie, articles, books, graphics…) and ideas on mobile market, they can let us know the detail for review. If the idea or content is good, we will start the project and the process is just like other software development process, including Requirements Gathering, App Design, App Development, App Testing & Bug Fixing and Product Release. Of course, before the app is released to the public, it is still require to pass the Apple’s approval process, which will take around 5-10 days for app review.
BTBO: How did you find Nina or how did she find you?
MarsApp: At first, I found that Sita Sings the Blues is using Creative Commons License, I love the idea and I think it is great if this great movie can be release on iPhone for more people to watch. So, I contact Nina to endorse my iPhone app.
BTBO: Had you created an iPhone application for a film before?
MarsApp: Yes, we had created some films app before and most of them are some classic films, e.g. Lost of the World, His Girl Friday. We hope to create more great movie app like the Sita app.
BTBO: How is that different from having a movie directly listed on iTunes? Do you know if one is more lucrative than the other for a filmmaker? MarsApp: There are two main different between list a movie directly on iTunes and creating as an app. First, we can add different feature into the movie app, such as movie description, cast information and wallpapers. Second, the iTunes Store is not available in much of Asia and some of other countries with no prospect of its roll-out in the near future. However, App Store is available in most of the counties and it is a great distribution channel if you looking for worldwide market.
BTBO: Do you guarantee that the application will be approved by the Apple App Store? How long does it normally take? MarsApp: Although we cannot guarantee the app can be approved, but we still feel confident in the app submission and approval process. We had submit over 150 apps and over 95% of them are approved in first submission.
BTBO: How do you charge for your services, (an hourly fee or a flat fee)? MarsApp: We love free products as everyone do, so we don't charge a dime for our services. We are not building a business to ask content owner to pay a huge publishing fee before they can earn money. We are building a profit share business model, just like what Nina do on free distribution, we trust that a good product can generate long term profit if people love it.
BTBO: Is it the case then that you take a percentage of the download purchase price? If so, what percentage?
We generally take 50% of the profit. That mean if the app price is $1.99, the profit is around $1.3 after 30% cut by Apple. And we share 50% of this $1.3 with the content owner. We are open to adjust the rate depends on apps, but at this moment, we think that 50% share is fair to both content owner and publisher. I would like to remind that Paid App is not the only thing we want to do, we also create Free App to help content owner to publish their product as the download rate of Free App is much higher than Paid App. So, if the content owner love to release their product for free, we can help them to release it. The free app may monetize from advertising or related paid app (e.g. “Sita Sings the Blues – FREE” is free for download and people can purchase the “Sita Wallpaper” if they love the free app).
BTBO: What is the best way for you to be reached if someone is interested in your services?
MarsApp: Our website (http://www.marsapp.com) is just revamped with more attractive design and more details will be added. So, if someone is interested to distribute their works on iPhone or iPad, we suggest they to visit our website or contact us by email support [at] marsapp.com.
If this is something you are considering be sure to check out this interesting Nielsen post on iPhone U.S. demographics and their video consumption.