You might know Moborobo as an all-in-one Android management tool for PCs. Moborobo aims to offer a simple way to sync and manage your device from your computer, just like iTunes does for iOS devices.
We’ve sat down with Frank Chen, the CEO of Moborobo Inc, and discussed about Android in general and developing for Android in particular. Check out our latest developer interview below.
Tell us about your team and how you got into Android app development.
Our team consists of a combination of experienced industry professionals and young college graduates with open-minded, innovative thinking capability. The mixture offers a strong baseline to support the creation of next generation of ideas that are useful for the users.
We had always been very interested in smartphones and were awed by the new breakthrough when the iPhone debuted. In 2009, when the Linux-based Android system came into the market, we soon realized its great potential due to its open platform. We then realized that one important thing Android lacked is the official desktop management tool. iOS has iTunes, while the Windows Phones have Zune, but Android has nothing besides a bunch of PC suites provided by different phone manufacturers.
Many Android users claim that they are quite satisfied with what Google provides, such as backing up contacts and everything else on Android “over the air”, through use of Google services and applications like Titanium Backup. However, these utilities either require users to have a good knowledge of their Android phones and Google services, or require users to root their phones to use them, making it hard for new Android subscribers to access and use.
To make things easier for new Android users to get started, we decided to develop an Android management tool that would allow Android subscribers to easily manage and backup everything on their Android phone, download everything they may ever need, and most importantly, a tool that is free to use.
What apps are you currently working on? Which are the most popular?
Along with our flagship product, Moborobo, the Android PC manager, we are currently working on a few various Android applications, such as Mobo Launcher – an Android home replacement application; Mobo Daemon – an application that lets you connect your Android to your PC through WiFi; and Mobo Market – a mobile market application that allows you to download games & apps from the Moborobo download center.
Our most popular application at the current time would be Moborobo, the Android PC manager. Apart from the traditional media/file management and backup/restore features, Moborobo integrates complete application control, including app downloads, installation, removal and updates, and complete data management, with access to calls, messages, call logs, the ability to send SMS from computer desktops, live streaming, and screenshot captures for Android devices. Meanwhile, Moborobo also supports iOS devices, and allows users to transfer contacts and texts from an iOS device to Android and vice versa. You can download a copy of Moborobo 2.0 at moborobo.com, and it is 100% free to use.
What inspired you to create your apps?
When our team acquired our first Android device, we found it was quite complicated, with too many options and settings that we were not familiar with. Creating contact backups, managing applications, and transferring media to PC were very difficult during the first few days. We learned from the internet that we needed to use several applications to handle these operations, while some even required rooting the phone. To a new subscriber who just learned how to download Apps from Google Market, these things were too hard to access and use.
Surely others must have experienced the same problems as we had. We realized the importance of a simple-to-use desktop management tool. After some discussion within our team, the prototype of Moborobo gradually appeared in our mind: an all-in-one PC program that integrates all the essential needs of an Android user: game/app downloads, backing up contacts, and file management and transfers. After that, we got to work, and now we have Moborobo 2.0. That’s how it all started.
What are you planning to work on in the future?
We are planning to expand our download center, building the Moborobo download center into a comprehensive resource market where users can find everything they need for their Android device. It will feature things like applications, games, videos, music, ringtones and themes. Meanwhile, we are keeping on improving the push and recommend system to offer the most relevant content to fit your lifestyle and interests.
We are looking for partners to help provide this content to the users, and we are planning to offer a well-integrated platform to Android developers to share and distribute their products, as well as gain feedback from the users. We aim to grow Moborobo into a new distribution channel to reach out to the vast number of Android users.
In addition, our mobile resource market application will be completed very soon, giving users more convenience when downloading applications, themes, and wallpapers from their mobile phones. We believe that this mobile resource market application will be a strong complement to the Moborobo download center.
How do you monetize your apps?
Advertising, paid app downloads, and revenue share with in-app/game purchase are the three main sources of revenues right now. We are actively exploring opportunities in other value-added services as well.
Did you consider developing for iOS, WP, or other platforms?
Yes, we do support iOS currently. We offer some basic features, like contact data management and the ability to transfer their contact data between iOS and Android.
We are still working on other features, such as media manager, and resource downloads. But due to the restraints and regulations by Apple, this process is moving a little slower than we’d like. We would like to ask our iOS users to be patient and stay tuned for the release of Moborobo on iOS.
We are still considering whether to add WP to Moborobo, and are following the number of users of WP in the market.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards that you encountered as an Android developer?
One of the biggest challenges we encountered was the diversity of Android systems. Google didn’t provide a common standard for the Android operating system that each phone manufacturer should follow. Different brands, even different models within the same brand, have some tiny differences. This makes it hard to attend to all the users with their unique issues. We have produced various tutorials on our website to guide users in using Moborobo more effectively.
It’s really rewarding to see that people are actually using our products and support our work. One of the most rewarding things about developing applications is to have users like your work.
I’ve even heard from some of our users that Moborobo is changing the way they would normally use their Android device! Yes, we are!
What do you love and what do you hate about Android?
We really love the openness and flexibility of the Android system. It really offers great opportunities for app developers and platform developers. However, the same openness creates fragmentation, which makes it hard for one to come up with apps that work for all the phone models. But we are still trying very hard to support as many phones as possible and resolve the issues encountered for each phone. I would like to ask our users to help us to improve Moborobo, and we welcome any suggestions and feedbacks our users may have.
Before we developed Moborobo, the one thing I used to hate about Android is the absence of an official desktop management tool. But now that we have come up with the solution, I do not hate it anymore. (laughter)
What are the areas where you think Google should improve?
I think Google has done an incredible job catching up and overtaking iOS for the number position in the smartphone market. Its openness has provided great business opportunities to many small developers such as us. Unfortunately, it also creates a lot of fragmentation. It will be interesting to see how Google will resolve this issue, as well as how Google plans to work in the tablet market against the iPad. We will be watching closely, and try to help Google in any small way we can and profit from it at the same time. (laughter)
What are the most exciting things you are looking forward to about working in Android development?
By using Android devices, we were able to identify some issues that caused inconveniences to us, and these issues fostered ideas that provide the next business opportunity. And there are always new ideas waiting to be discovered and turned into new business ventures. Moborobo is such a creation. The idea of cross-platform contact data transfer between Android and iOS system was brought to us by a friend who was switching from Android to iPhone. The app data backup feature was inspired by one of our team members who didn’t want to lose all his games saved when he planned to switch to a new Android phone. To see these ideas and concepts come true and get accepted by our users is the most exciting thing that we are looking forward to.
What advice would you give to would-be Android developers?
The one piece of advice that I would give to Android developers is “Just do it!” Don’t wait around! If you have a good idea, write it down and work to make it a reality. In this field, no idea is a bad idea. it’s just a matter of hard work, good timing and a little bit of luck.
Our team is working on a platform within our software to offer a place where users and developers can come together and share ideas and applications. We welcome all developers to come along and share with the community.
What’s your favorite Android device, and what are your favorite apps for Android?
My favorite device would be the Samsung Galaxy Note, with the extra large screen. I really enjoy it and can’t go anywhere without it! In terms of my favorite applications, I have so many, but the ones that tops the lists are Dropbox, Viber, Mobo Launcher, Fruit Ninja, Swype, and Mobo Player.