handangobyebye With the advent of centralized software distribution systems for mobile platforms run by the companies who are responsible for the platform with customers whose emails and often credit cards or other methods of simplified billing they already have, meaning there’s no additional signing-up required to get software, paid or otherwise, and since there’s no advantage of which I am aware for developers to use Handango to distribute their software rather than by using the aforementioned app markets like everyone else, Handango’s days, not unlike those of any other similar operations out there (including my own), are numbered.

Maybe you’ve heard about Handango right here with articles like their “free app Friday” sales offering some software on the house if you use some discount code we give you. Sounds like going-out-of-business language to me, doesn’t it? Doing a little reading on the company it seems that their main asset is some old corporate ties and a long series of various awards and accolades, a list which stops at 2006, which if I recall is around the time the non-third party app stores started popping up, swiftly making Handango irrelevant. From where I’m sitting the best thing they’ve got going for them is WinMo’s continued existence, if you can call it that, for which there is some demand for such a service. Unfortunately for Handango, WinMo go bye-bye too.

That a company may be facing its demise (unless for example were that company Microsoft) I do not take delight in reporting it, but that this company may be on its way to failure illustrates the increasing successful app distribution model introduced by the primary players and third party outfits like these have entered obsolescence, and that’s worth pointing out. Also these Handango giveaway articles are getting under my skin for some reason. And there’s a chance, which I’ll close with, that we can help them out.

Trying to size up Handango so that I’m not coming completely out of left field with this prediction, I tried to pull up download counts on various software they’re offering, stats you can get anywhere else from Android’s market to XDA. Can’t find any on Handango, which isn’t surprising, not disclosing that data. Now I hate Alexa ranking as much as the next guy (the next guy who understands how they collect data, that is), and I really hate being on the receiving end of some other guy’s stupid Alexa chart, but because I’d bet green money that people who use a site like Handango are much more inclined to use the Alexa toolbar than, say, the Android crowd, I think it’s okay to post this little chart to illustrate my point. Here’s Handango in blue, Androilib in some kind of ugly yellow/green color, appbrain in red and windowsphone.com in turquoise from 2008 through the present, a vague, wildly inaccurate but for these purposes sufficiently decent barometer of each site’s respective popularity’s growth:

handangofail

First off, Handango covers software for pretty much every platform. Androlib isn’t even a place where you go to download Android software, it’s just a web-based guide of what’s available on the Android market that has to be accessed by phone to install the software. AppBrain is something you have to sign up for and install software on your phone in order to trigger installations of software from the Android market on your phone, a third party operation, yet boom it debuts and blows up while Handango trickles. And then we’ve got the fledgling Windows Market which from the last time I checked has very little software on it, probably (I’m guessing) much less than Handango, yet as of the time of my writing this, these Alexa guys (man I don’t trust them, but still) have them neck and neck with Handango and Handango’s been around for over a decade. The trend appears obvious that Microsoft will overtake them imminently meanwhile everybody else will leave Handango (and of course Microsoft, but let’s stay focused) further and further back in the dust. Were Handango a public company I’d free up some cash by selling a few of my Google shares and short the hell out of Handango (no offense, Handango).

A little Googling of the company, even without a word like sucks added into the query, will run you into consumer remarks like this:

But when you access it, a message would come up stating: The number of downloads for this order has been exceeded. I am then told: To verify my order, by entering the credit card I used to place this order.I provided the CORRECT credit card number that I USED for this order. But an ERROR message would show stating: Please re-enter the credit card you used to place this order.
I am at wits end trying to figure this crap. This is my first attempt to download the new version & I do not know why I have to jump through hoops to obtain it.

I’ve e-mailed Handango twice (2X) within the past week — NO replies. Why do you think I am posting in the Brighthand forums, if they cannot get their act together people should know about it. They do not even have a customer support phone number to call in the event that you run into difficulties.

In addition to having an obsolete business model, leaving your patrons feeling like this guy… it’s just bad for business. Though their number one in my corporate death pool, I don’t want this company to fail. I’m not too moved one way or the other, and actually considering that they’re American, a Texas company, part of me is rooting for them. So now that all this party-pooping negativity is out of the way, let’s say you wake up tomorrow and discovered that you’ve suddenly become the king of Handango. What would you do to keep your company in the black (if that’s even where Handango is – I don’t know, they’re private) and stay away from extinction? Are you a developer and if so what could Handango do to entice you to use them for distribution either as an alternative or a supplement to other systems? Same question for non-developers, what could possibly steer you away from your app market and toward Handango? These are not rhetorical questions, I’m actually asking you, you as in YOU, for some answers.

Perhaps we can generate some good ideas here, given that some of you are smart, maybe one or two ideas Handango hasn’t thought of that might help as there’s a decent chance Handango will tune into the thread. I’d also submit that the volume (or lack of volume) in this help Handango with some new business model ideas thread will serve as a better indicator of the company’s future than Alexa. Man I wish I were writing this article about Alexa instead. I’m sorry to rub it in and I hope I’m way off base, hope there’s something about you and Symbian that I’m not seeing. I mean, Texas. I like Texas. I’m not messing with Texas, I’m trying to help damnit.

I’ll get the ball rolling here: Handango people, chin up, good luck. I don’t know your financials but if it comes down to it, snatch chapter eleven fast before chapter seven’s your only option. That option disappears with a quickness.

Doug Simmons

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well you are sort of mixing oranges and maybe grapfruit (want to stay away from any reference to apples) as 99% of the apps on Handango are $$$ while I have been made to understand that the majority of Android apps are free. Wonder what Alexa would have to say about http://www.freewarepocketpc.net/, where as the name implies, everything is free. People like free. In Windows Marketplace, a good $1.99 app might see 5/10 downloads in a week, but a “free” app will garner a 100+ downloads/comments in an hour.

    Don’t have an answer for Handango. If OS suppliers continue to restrict the app market to a single source, then Handango and all the other independent app stores, free and $$, are through. End of story. I have 9 active apps purchased through Handango on my device right now, and probably another dozen I am no longer using. Plus another 13 through PocketGear (Handango acquired PocketGear earlier this year or late last year, don’t remember). Never had a problem that 1 or 2 emails couldn’t fix. In contrast, my very first Windows Marketplace experience was the worst app purchase I ever had. It took three threatening emails to get someone’s attention and even then I still never got an apology for their screwup, just my $4.99 refund. So for me, Handango (and the other stores) will be sorely missed.

    Changing gears for a second, I often wonder what compels Android developers to offer their apps for free. Even the fine folks at XDA-Developers usually solicit donations. So are the Android developers just a bunch of nice guys or is there some other motive. Curious.

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