Jorgos Brouzos, Handelszeitung, 6 October 2011, (original article in German)

Terria Mobile – The Basle-based software company earns good money from the maintenance of apps, because a lot of companies are overstretched with the maintenance.


The latest presentation of the new iPhone from Apple is boosting the mood in the middle of Basle’s pedestrian zone. The offices of Terria Mobile are situated in a dim side street. The young software company is currently successfully riding the wave of mobile communication.

Four letters are generating increasing sales for the Basle natives. The young company specializes in keeping apps up to date. The solution for the small programs is unique in Europe, and the number of competitors worldwide can be counted on one hand.

“The pain is increasing,” says CEO Robin Wirz in summarizing his business model. By that he means the level of pressure that companies feel to manage different apps for multiple mobile platforms. Many companies have developed and distributed an app in the past months. Now that the apps are out there, they have to be maintained. “Customers no longer want just an app, they have multiple programs in circulation and these start to grow beyond their control,” says Wirz.

Many companies underestimate the effort and cost it takes to maintain the apps. In larger companies, apps have often been developed by different departments and now need to be reconciled. So the development can sort of be compared with that of websites. At the start, it was just about having an Internet presence, with time it became more important and increasingly complex for the company.

The market potential is enormous. The iPhone from the US electronic giant Apple has completely changed the way people use mobile Internet. According to the market researcher Net-Metrix, two million users in Switzerland already use mobile devices to access the Internet. And apps are finding their way onto them. There are already well over 400,000 apps for Apple devices and more than 300,000 apps for Android smartphones and tablets in circulation.

Android and Apple count
Launchbase is the name of the new solution from Terria Mobile, which aims to help companies with the maintenance of apps. It allows companies to keep their apps up to date, without requiring a new approval by Apple for each update to reach the mobile phones or tablets of customers or employees. This saves up to seven working days, in which Apple tests the app, and saves a considerable amount of effort. If field staff require the latest product infos, these will be installed when the program is started. Simultaneously the app’s range of functions can be extended. This offer is unique in Europe.

In the USA, two companies offer a similar all-round service. Launchbase also comes with a delete function. It can be used if the customer consultant’s tablet goes missing and important company data is still present on the device, or if access to the data is to be denied to former employees. The products are currently proving popular with banks, pharmaceutical companies, and medical technology companies. For instance, Terria Mobile are developing a simulator of an electronic pipette from Mettler-Toledo: this allows customers to test the functions of the pipette, without Mettler-Toledo having to distribute the sensitive devices.

Nowadays, it is no longer sufficient to offer just an iPhone App, customers with Android devices also have to be taken into consideration. In the USA, Android devices have already overtaken Apple. According to market researchers from Nielsen, Android smartphones have a market share of 43%, a trend that is increasing. iPhones maintain a market share of around 30%. Apple phones are very popular in Switzerland, but even here Android has established itself as the second power. “Both systems are important for our customers,” says Wirz. The effort required for an Android app is not greater than for an iPhone app, but the variety of Android devices makes the maintenance more complicated. Other operating systems, such as Windows Mobile, play hardly any role at all.

Major role model around the corner
Terria Mobile has seven employees to date. The company does not release details of its turnover. The three founders and a private equity investor have financial holdings in the company. Although the company wasn’t operating in the black from the first day, Wirz is convinced that “it’s all going according to plan”. One office room is still free and is awaiting new programmers. “If the orders continue to increase like this, we will definitely also have to increase the number of employees,” says Wirz. Terria has a famous neighbor, which has already demonstrated how quickly a growth story can unfold. Day Software is situated just 200 metres away.

The two companies are also close in business terms. Day helps companies to maintain their websites, Terria does the same with apps. Terria CEO Wirz was among the first employees of Day and the one-time head of development at Day, David Nüscheler, has recently taken up a position on Terria Mobile’s Board of Directors. By the way: Day was taken over by software giant Adobe a few months ago for 250 million francs.

Source of original article: (in German)

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