It is possible to have too much of a good thing – even information. As the founder of Flurry Analytics, Sean Byrne knows this and found a way to make it easier for the makers of mobile apps to be successful despite the excess of data. But before Byrne can become today’s analytics hero, the story of yesterday’s internet must be told.
Once upon a time, the internet was a portal to a wide world of new ideas and information – a digital Shangri La that offered unfettered access to anything and everything one person might want to know. Users could frolic through the fields of data-plenty and gather all the four-leaf-fact-clovers they may need.
Three decades later and the internet now resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland where useful information is scattered amongst the wreckage of social media updates, Grumpy Cat memes and Kardashian scandals. Attempting to access useful data and organize it in a meaningful way has become almost overwhelming.
“Today, everything generates so much data: sales processes, marketing, payment systems, accounting systems,” Byrnes has said of the process. “A lot of companies have a hard time knowing where to look.”
Flurry is a free platform that provides companies with the facts they are looking for without the fuss of figuring out context. They offer valuable insights into how users interact with their mobile applications. They gather available data across numerous categories and use machine learning to fill in the blanks when the information is not available. It also employs event tracking and user segmentation such as app version, install date, usage, acquisition channel and other pertinent demographics to help their clients understand what’s working for their customers.
Interestingly, Flurry found its first success with emerging nations. Originally founded as a mobile application company in 2005, the concept of downloading an app to a phone wasn’t really generating a lot of interest domestically. Text was catching on in North America but there was no demand to make phones multipurpose as of yet.
“While people in the US weren’t thinking about their phones as computers, people in the developing world (e.g. India, Malaysia and Indonesia) didn’t have computers at home,” Byrne said. “They’d go to an internet café, create a Hotmail account, or read the news, or chat with their friends. Then they’d go home, and leave it all behind, and what we ended up doing was finding that they really enjoyed mobile apps in those countries, because it was a way to use the internet from their device.”
Delivering email and news apps to these users was how the company found their feet but it was the advent of the iPhone app store that opened up new possibilities to them. “At that point we had built a robust analytics and advertising platform for our own apps, and we realized that there was probably a bigger opportunity in switching to become a platform, than to be an app developer. The iPhone was interesting, but the App Store was really what was revolutionary about their whole platform.”
From there, the rest was history. Today, Flurry is everywhere. According to LanderApp.com, the platform is being used by 125,000 companies to gauge user behavior on 400,000 apps running on 1.2 billion devices. On average, a person’s device is likely running between 7 to 10 apps with Flurry. The company generates about three terabytes of data every day and the driving force behind the data is to help both advertisers and publishers achieve their end goals.
As for Byrnes, he has moved onto new projects but Flurry continues to flourish under the guidance of new leadership. Despite the trend to use big data to commoditize apps and other innovations, sometimes the information itself is its own reward. In response to a Quora user question about the most interesting finding Byrnes learned from data analytics, he had this to say:
“There is an enormous affinity between breastfeeding apps and mobile games. Why is that? New mothers spend a lot of time breastfeeding and to pass the time they end up playing games on their phones.”