Photo: via Imaginary Feet
For the great majority of iOS users, the only way to find new iPhone apps is to see what Apple is featuring or rely on the App Store’s wonky “Genius” recommendation service.Crosswalk, a new website launching today, aims to solve this massive problem.
Crosswalk leverages iCloud’s new API to create an online profile filled with apps you own. From there, you can see what friends are downloading and get customised recommendations on apps you might like.
Compared to Apple’s Genius, Crosswalk is a huge step forward.
A New Kind Of Useful Social Network
Once you register for Crosswalk, you plug in your AppleID, Facebook account, and Twitter account. Crosswalk then cleverly yanks out all the apps you own, as well as your Facebook and Twitter friends.
Not just anyone can register for Crosswalk quite yet, but the company gave us 250 early invites to the service. (Click here to claim yours.)
All of a sudden, you’re immersed in a new kind of social network built around the apps you own. These days the apps that live on your iPhone home screen signify what your priorities are and what kind of person you are.
So Crosswalk is a social network, but more importantly, it’s an app discovery platform. It’s simple to see what apps your friends are downloading, get recommendations for apps you might like, and get involved in discussions about whether apps are worth a purchase or not.
App Discovery Is Very, Very Broken
Being an iPhone app developer can be really rough, according to Crosswalk founders Emil Anticevic, Patrick Jackson, and Thomas McLeod.
The three met at college in Washington D.C., and put their heads together to build some photography apps for iPhone. They founded Imaginary Feet, which has sold hundreds of thousands of mobile apps.
At one point, one of their apps reached 500,000 downloads in one day, but only because Apple decided to feature the app on the front page of the App Store.
After the hot lava cooled a bit and the app was no longer featured, the team only saw 50-100 downloads per day. They all immediately saw an underlying problem: app discovery is very broken. If Apple doesn’t feature you, you’re basically screwed.
The rest is all mob mentality—users bum-rush the Top Paid app lists and reinforce what’s already there (like Angry Birds, for example).
The Imaginary Feet team decided that instead of making more apps, they’d build the first platform for app discovery. Crosswalk was born.
Instead of browsing categories, top apps lists, and featured apps, you can check out which photography apps are used most by actual photographers. Now there’s a search that yields relevant results.
The Golden Egg Underneath Crosswalk
Anticevic already knows where the real gold in Crosswalk lies: data gleaned from users who sign up. When you sign up for Crosswalk, you agree to let the site see what apps you’re downloading, and when you’re downloading them.
This is information developers are dying to get their hands on.
As of right now, iOS developers can only view how many apps they’ve sold per day, and some general location statistics about where people purchased the apps. They can only check these numbers once per day, thanks to Apple’s enigmatic developer rulebook.
Crosswalk will enable developers to view who’s buying their app, when they did it, what other apps they’ve purchased, and tons more essential data nuggets and demographics.
Here’s where the money is, since the Crosswalk founders have no plans to stick ads on the site. And they’ve found some believers, too. Crosswalk has received initial funding from XOL, a group of ex-AOL angel investors in Washington D.C.
So Crosswalk will be the first CRM for iOS developers, the first place where app developers can gather valuable data about their customers. The Crosswalk developer platform launches “later this year,” as does the Crosswalk iPhone app.