Amanotes, the largest app publisher in Southeast Asia, is fast becoming a major player on the scene, having acquired 95 million users and topped charts worldwide with their award-winning apps.
Amanotes is a fast-growing app publisher from Vietnam tapping into a mobile app industry that’s projected to reach USD 935.2 million in annual revenue by 2023. As the developer behind award-winning music apps Magic Tiles, Tiles Hop, Dancing Road, Hop Ball 3D and Helix Crush, they’ve become the #1 mobile app publisher from Southeast Asia since their inception in 2014, with over 1 billion downloads and 95 million active users to date.
We sat down with COO Bryan Teo, a serial intrapreneur who’s built 5 tech startups in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, including ChoTot, the largest online marketplace for pre-owned goods in Vietnam with over 10 million visitors per month, which was acquired by Carousell in 2019. He chats through the company’s global vision to create an interactive music ecosystem, the industry impact of COVID-19 and how data-driven personalisation could be the future of apps.
So how did Amanotes first begin?
It all started with a childhood dream. Our co-founder Bill Vo has always believed that music can help people live happier lives. After meeting Silver Nguyen in 2014, Bill decided to try to deliver this dream through technology together, focusing on their love for music, but soon they faced the hard reality, realising that they needed revenue to be viable.
So, they started producing websites for companies in Vietnam and, with that income, they funded the creation of Magic Tiles, a game that boomed in the US gaming charts.
How has Amanotes developed since 2014?
Since 2014, we’ve produced more than 60 mobile apps that have been downloaded over 1 billion times – more than the population of all European countries put together. Along the way, we have grown exponentially from a team of 2 to over 200. In 2019, we became the #1 music games publisher worldwide and the #1 mobile apps publisher from Southeast Asia (in terms of downloads worldwide).
Our mission is to publish the best musical apps to help as many people as possible experience and interact with music. Now with 5 years of experience as a top publisher, we provide all of the core services to help a game developer get to the top charts – user acquisition, monetisation, game design, creative ideas and music content.
Our unique value-add, however, resides in our expertise in music. From musicalisation techniques to thousands of licensed songs, we provide our partners with all the tools and knowledge needed to make a great musical app. For example, we can synchronise in-game action or visuals with the music’s key beats or stack complementary tracks to create a full melody, helping to craft a great music simulation experience.
What does the publishing process look like?
We treat the publishing process as a delicate mix of science and art. From data-driven tests and learnings, we are able to evaluate the scalability and monetisation potential of an app during our soft launch process. Our goal during the selection process is to ensure that the product will be a lasting hit.
Working with our partners, our game designers create a customised musical concept that plays to its strengths (art, gameplay, level design, etc). We then provide support during the prototyping phase, delivering feedback and insights based on previous tests and market research to optimise the game. We also involve our content teams to find the best songs for the game and help integrate the music into the app. Finally, our creative team will produce store kit materials and ads to create a strong user acquisition campaign.
Once the game has been released, our user acquisition, monetisation, and live-ops teams continue to push to maintain our game’s position in the charts, generating long-term revenues for our partners.
We usually expect to have a ready-to-test product within 3-4 weeks. We then test the game in a big potential market (i.e. the USA) and evaluate its potential based on marketability and in-game metrics. If the game shows high potential, we will polish it and prepare it for a global launch where we plan to generate several millions of downloads across roughly 100 countries.
We also spoke to COO Bryan Teo at length about the 6 key strategies to make your app a success, from integrating personalisation to the monetisation metrics you should focus on.
How has the coronavirus affected Amanotes – and what advice would you have for other mobile app producers?
For the first months after the lockdown, we actually saw an increase in installations and time spent in our apps in our main markets in the US and Western Europe. Previously, key metrics growth happened on weekends; now, every day looks like a weekend for us.
We are in an unprecedented situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, the online games industry hasn’t been affected financially and may even be experiencing an uptick. However, as the real economy is tanking, it’s hard to predict what will happen for the rest of 2020. We depend on both brands’ ad investments and user spending on in-app purchases/subscriptions – when brands cut their investments dramatically and users feel the significant decrease in their real incomes, the whole mobile industry will feel it too.
A few things to consider if you are a mobile apps producer:
• Diversify risks: Try new countries, new mechanics, new monetisation loops. It might not seem like a good time to experiment, but in the long run, this may be the only way to survive.
• Start saving now: Create a financial safety net in case the economic situation doesn’t move in the way you’ve planned.
• Make an impact: If you are pretty confident about your risk tolerance and financial stability, think about how to make an impact. For example, we proposed a 30-days free trial for our most popular games in Vietnam to support our nation during its stay-at-home campaign.
Future plans for Amanotes?
We believe that ‘everyone can music’ – where music is a verb, not a noun. We are focusing on creating an interactive music ecosystem, helping users not just entertain themselves but also listen, learn and even create music.
This will require experimenting with entirely new types of apps, deeper collaborations with music labels and artists, cross-portfolio user management, and more branding efforts. In addition to creating technical solutions, we also want to focus on people’s growth, which is why we will work on developing internal talent as well as acquire overseas experts to help us grow globally.