SpeedUp is known to some in Indonesia for producing modems, Android tablets, and routers. The company took a bold step in March this year by launching SpeedUp Studio, a local third-party Android app store that challenges the Google Play store. The startup aims to gain users as Android booms in Indonesia and helps local developers monetize their apps through SpeedUp Studio; it also promises better local content (music, magazine, apps and games) discovery.
Doing what Google can’t
The Google Play store doesn’t yet support Android developers in Indonesia who wish to monetize their apps through direct sales or in-app purchases. So after signing up as a developer by paying $25, app makers in Indonesia can only upload free apps to the Play Store. The only way to make money from an Android app in Indonesia is to integrate advertising into the app.
This is where SpeedUp has the upper hand. SpeedUp provides a convenient way for users to pay for apps in SpeedUp Studio by charging it directly to the phone’s credit. Similar to Google Play, SpeedUp Studio only supports Telkomsel for the time being, but plans to work with XL and Indosat in the future. But, unlike Google, SpeedUp can actually pay the developers for the apps sold in SpeedUp Studio. If payment is done by deducting from a user’s phone’s credit, then developers get 49 percent of the share, while 30 percent is going to the telco and the remaining 21 percent goes to SpeedUp. The scheme differs if payment is done through credit cards, however, as SpeedUp guarantees a 70 percent for developers (and the rest for itself) split after the payment gateway fee and tax. That 70:30 split is on a par with what Google and Apple do in their respective stores.
The SpeedUp Studio store boasts of hosting over 850,000 apps and other media. Much of the number is actually music and magazines. The number of apps was not disclosed.
SpeedUp, however, pushes a more Apple-like “walled-garden” approach with its own app store. For instance, SpeedUp Studio is exclusively tied to SpeedUp tablets. That means the distribution channel is very limited and is constrained by the sales of their tablets. But SpeedUp’s own-brand tablet also comes with the Android Play store installed, which could confuse early adopters of tablets in the country.
We talked to SpeedUp BizDev Reza Januarto about the number of devices sold, and he mentioned that currently 10,000 SpeedUp devices were sold in the past three months. Reza, however, could not provide specific numbers for tablets.
Aiming for global roll-out
Reza also told us that SpeedUp aims for global sales of its tablets (with its app store in tow), and is trying to enter the market in Taiwan, the US, India, and parts of Europe (Belgium, Germany, Spain). This might prove to be difficult up against tablets from established players like Samsung, HTC, Sony, Huawei, and LG, not to mention newcomers from China like Oppo and Xiaomi. SpeedUp’s tablets are sold in the range of $80 to slightly above $200, meaning that they are targeting the lower-end market, and are even cheaper than some 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7. This pricing makes Android tablets affordable to most people and it might actually work well in developing countries where GDP per capita is low and people are very price conscious.
(Editing by Steven Millward)