SAN FRANCISCO —
Facebook wants more Monster Shooter makers.
The social network recently contacted the game's maker, Helsinki-based Huuuge, to convince the team to build mobile applications with its tools. The startup didn't bite, said Anton Gauffin, Huuuge's founder and executive chairman.
"I don't think developers really see Facebook as a tool or provider of help for developers," said Gauffin, who added that his team makes games using Apple Inc.'s software.
Facebook is pushing to change that perception this week at the F8 developer conference in San Francisco, the company's first major event for app makers since 2011. While Facebook once was a key site where software makers like Zynga introduced their games, many programmers have since turned their attention to building apps for smartphones instead.
At F8, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is set to rally developers with a new message: Facebook has software that makes it easier to build apps for mobile phones, as well as tools that help programmers sell those wares to the social network's 1.28 billion users. The more developers use the technologies, the more prominence the social network gains in a mobile world dominated by Apple and Google.
At the center of Facebook's developer strategy is Parse, which the company acquired a year ago. Parse offers technology to more quickly build an app and keep consumers engaged. Over the past 12 months, the number of apps built using Parse's tools more than tripled to 260,000, the company said. Parse will be featured during Zuckerberg's F8 keynote on April 30, and the CEO will be joined on stage by Parse chief Ilya Sukhar.
"Now we're absolutely focused on solving people's problems — build, grow, monetize," said Sukhar, who is also head of developer products at Facebook.
All of this contrasts with Facebook's last F8 conference. At that event, the Menlo Park, California-based company promised developers they could popularize their apps on the social network by sending messages and prompts through users' friends. Yet that created more spam on Facebook and annoyed consumers, leading the company to limit developers' freedom on the site.
"We've definitely moved away from the world of 'send a cow to 100 of your closest friends in one click,'" said Sukhar, referring to Zynga's method of distributing its FarmVille game on Facebook years ago.
Getting more developers to use its tools is key to Facebook's mobile ambitions. Mobile ads now generate 59 percent of the company's advertising revenue, up from almost nothing at the time of its 2012 initial public offering. The mobile business has powered the company's stock, which has more than doubled in the last year. While shares dropped late last week, Facebook is up 5.6 percent for the year, compared with a 2.4 percent decline in the Nasdaq Composite Index.
To boost mobile revenue, Facebook has leaned on a type of ad it offers developers to drive downloads of their apps, called app-install ads. Those promotions are one of Facebook's best- performing products, responsible for more than 350 million app downloads since they became available in January 2013, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an earnings call with investors last week.
Programmers can use Parse's tools to handle the complex interactions that happen behind the scenes in an app, as well as to integrate user identity data from the social network and track how people are using the app. Parse's basic tools are free, with premium features starting at $199 a month.
The product is geared to developers who aren't technical. Parse walks a person through the steps of building an app, storing all the data on Facebook servers. Once the app is up and running, Parse shows the developer a page prompting them to advertise on Facebook to boost downloads.
"It's so much easier if you're built on Parse to integrate these other services," Sukhar said. His team has doubled to about 50 people since Parse was acquired and the executive said he has regular meetings with Zuckerberg, who has vetted products and recruited developers to the tool. Customers include eBay and Samsung Electronics, he added.
The more that developers incorporate Facebook data, the more essential the social network becomes in mobile advertising, said Bob Buch, CEO of San Francisco-based SocialWire Inc., which helps build Facebook ads. That's because consumers use their Facebook identity for activities across all their devices, making the social network one of the few connectors in mobile, he said.
Facebook has said it is testing a mobile-ad network, which could eventually also help developers profit from their apps, Buch added.
"They're reviving F8 after all this time and a main thing they're going to be offering is a way to actually make money," Buch said.
Some software makers won't be won over easily, said Slaven Radic, CEO of Vancouver-based Tapstream Network, which works with mobile developers. He said he's seen some developers, including makers of the anonymous-sharing app Secret, choose to build social ties into their products using consumers' contacts list from their smartphones instead of a list of Facebook friends.
In the mobile world, developers are also still more focused on appealing to Apple and Google, which are the prime distributors of apps through their online stores, Huuuge's Gauffin said.
"With all the competition now, I don't know if they can get back to the glory days," he said.
Yet using Facebook and its tools is paying off for Itai Tsiddon, co-founder of app maker Lightricks Ltd. The company started building with Parse last year after trying Facebook's ads. Tsiddon's team, initially made up of himself and four PhDs with $500 in marketing dollars between them, relied on the ads to boost downloads of Facetune, a selfie-editing app.
Facetune, which costs $2.99 in the U.S., has been the top paid app on Apple's store in 94 countries, bringing in millions of dollars in revenue last year, he said.
Now Facetune uses Parse to send video tutorials to users on their mobile phones, showing how to edit their selfies so they will come back for more.
"Every time we send a notification like that, we definitely see really big double-digit spikes" in usage, Tsiddon said.
SAN FRANCISCO —
Facebook wants more Monster Shooter makers.
Downtown Master Plan accepted by council
The 2014 Downtown Master Plan Study was accepted by a 3-0 vote Tuesday evening by the Edmond City Council.
Fort Worth-based consulting group Freese and Nichols presented their final update to the 1998 Downtown Master Plan. The city hired the group at a cost of $300,000 to make recommendations for future development of Broadway in the central business district.
“There are clearly some short-term (parking) options that we feel should move forward,” said Cody Richardson, of Freese and Nichols consultants of Fort Worth. “Better signage at existing parking lots.”
Lambrecht Construction to build office
The commercial site plan of a physician’s office was approved recently by the Edmond Planning Commission by a vote of 4-0.
Lambrecht Construction plans to build the office at 3917 E. Covell Road in the Fairfax Business Office, north of Covell and west of Sooner Road, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
More cameras monitoring Edmond motorists
The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.
Oklahoma sales tax takes a holiday
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1 and ending at midnight Aug. 3, Oklahomans will be able to participate in a sales tax holiday giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing and shoes free of sales tax.
Yes, retailers may not charge tax, including state and local sales taxes on items that are tax-exempt during the sales tax holiday weekend. The sales of clothing and shoes priced at less than $100 are exempted from sales taxes.
Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs
Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.
Anderson Properties continues to grow
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties recently announced the acquisition of Tulsa-based Prudential Alliance Realty, an eight-office, 150-agent brokerage operating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and Edmond.
The transaction gives Anderson Properties, a full-service real estate agency a total of 38 offices and more than 600 agents.
Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one
Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.
Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated
When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
“When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.
Planning Commission approves rezoning
The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district. Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
“They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”
A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings
On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.
Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.
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