Android, iPhone and Nokia apps markets will be targets for Zamano

25 Mar 2009

B2C and B2B mobile software and services provider Zamano said the Apple iTunes Apps Store, as well as the Nokia Ovi and Android Market will provide the company with a global audience for its next generation of games and services.

“We’ve already done the registration and will be selling apps on the Apps Store,” said Zamano chief executive, John O’Shea.

“The nice thing about the Apps Store, and the other forthcoming markets from Nokia, Google and Microsoft, is they allow software players to launch to a global audience, and also provide developers with the billing services.”

Dublin and London-listed Zamano reported a 66pc jump in revenues to €41.4m from €24.7m, following its acquisition of mobile software player Red Circle.

Zamano is the No 1 provider of mobile ringtones, music, video games, chat and dating services for Ireland, and is in the top five providers in the UK.

Annoucing the company’s results, O’Shea said the decline in the value of sterling affected its revenue performance by €7.4m, saying revenues would have been up 98pc to €49.8m.

A €5m once-off  non-cash charge affected profits, and the group turned in a loss of €3.6m for 2008.

“Because we spent €25m buying two companies, and because of the fall in sterling, we had to write off €5m in non-cash. What we did was translate €5m of earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortisation (EBIDTA) into €4.9m in cash, and we used that to pay the debt,” O’Shea said

“In 2009, we will be profitable in cash … cash is the most important thing going forward.”

Looking ahead ,O’Shea said the opening of so many apps stores by mobile manufacturers and software giants such as Microsoft is good news for services firms like Zamano.

“The geographic expansion of these stores means we are now also selling directly through the devices and are not limited in the number of partnerships we need to establish.”

He said, however, that operators will continue to remain in the picture as they control the relationship with consumers and businesses.

“Operators want to move from being pure pipe providers of data to enabling value-added services as well.

“The big change is vendors don’t have the capital to be going out and buying new software versions, and they are more open to partnerships with developers, and that’s why opening mobile portals is much more important.

“They are willing to open their APIs and offer consumers what they want in rapid response to their needs, instead of leaving it to the operator to decide.”

O’Shea said that in the mobile software space, Zamano is unlikely to be making any large software acquisitions in the coming year. “There’s a lot of potential in the markets we are in and, with the reach we have and the team we have, we will grow organically.

“That said, there will be opportunities out there with distressed assets, but at a low level in terms of cost. We will be cautious because the environment is challenging.

“There certainly will be opportunities, but it will be a while before we do something major on the acquisition front,” O’Shea said.

By John Kennedy