DeveloperTech (DT) caught up with Phani Pandrangi (PP) to discuss some of the industry’s biggest topics such as how the company is easing the transitional period we are seeing to the Cloud, as well as how to take advantage of the mighty market of China. Pandrangi is the Chief Product Officer at Kii, a carrier-grade Cloud-orientated mobile app development platform.
DT: The Cloud is undoubtedly the biggest topic for developers at the moment. How is Kii helping it to be utilised to its full potential?
PP: So our product, Kii Cloud, is a backend platform for app developers. Whether you’re developing an app, a game, or some form of Internet of Things-type service – ultimately you need to manage your user’s data.
There are many ways to do it; one is you build all this functionality yourself and your own data centre, or you can use a Cloud platform like ours. What we have done is packaged common functionality required for apps and games in the Cloud, and we expose everything through APIs.
That’s one usage pattern. The other is where the user says: “I want to use the Cloud, but I want it private. I have my own data centre, but I want to use your services in a private environment.” We do that too.
DT: You mentioned the Internet of Things there. What kind of impact do you personally feel it’s having?
PP: If you think about IoT, it’s all these devices where inherently the unique characteristic about them is that they’re connected via Wi-Fi and various other means. Other than that, really, they’re not that smart. They’re doing their own thing. It could be a sprinkler, a thermostat, whatever they might be doing… they’re doing their own thing and that’s it. The real intelligence and interesting thing it can do is really on the server-side because inherently those devices don’t have the kind of compute power so a lot of the real value is coming from the Cloud side.
One case study that we can talk about which is using our platform is Weaved. You know security cameras, webcams… we can actually search inside of those and whenever there is an emotion event they can detect via sensors and it makes a call to our Kii Cloud where it uploads. So inherently that device itself; all it has is connectivity. Through that it is calling the Cloud, and all this additional functionality is made possible there.
DT: Do you support cross-platform?
PP: The way we are making all these services available is through the REST API so whether you’re building on Android, or Windows, or whatever doesn’t really matter. But to make it easier for them to use our services we have built specific SDKs so they can easily develop.
DT: You help to develop, optimise, and grow applications. How do you achieve this and what do you think are Kii’s strengths against competitor solutions?
PP: If you look at our base, unfortunately it’s called MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service) which is a term I hate. Traditionally when people talked about MBaaS all it meant was; we have user-management, data-management, push notifications, and you pay us X amount per month and we give you these services. But right from the beginning our thinking has been that just providing these types of building services is not going to make them successful, and especially in an Enterprise apps context, building is one thing, operating it, scaling it, and making it perform well are all different problems and you really want your platform of your choosing to be able to do all that. Just building is not enough, you also have to make the app work for the users as well which is why we have analytics and A – B testing. These are pretty important services for any kind of app because once you deploy it has a life of its own and you want to know what’s happening.
You build your app using our backend services, optimise it, and now you want to grow. How do you do that? This has been a big problem for all levels of app developers. Everyone has this user acquisition problem. We are solving this in a couple of ways already.
You have probably heard of ‘Kii to China’ which is a service we provide specifically for developers who want to go to China to acquire more users – there are like billions of users. Going to China is very important for a lot of developers.
DT: Do you find many barriers when it comes to localisation in places like China?
PP: China in particular, yes. The way to think about it is: “How do I get to a market?”, then “How do I monetise that market?”, then of course there’s translation and things like that. Assuming you’ve taken care of it – if you want to go to market in China – there are tons of app stores, like hundreds, so you have to ask: “For my type of app is this store better?” There are all these considerations and if you’re outside of China you probably have no idea about them, how to get on them, and their individual terms and conditions.
The next problem is if you’re using some backend services and those happen to be in the US then because of the “Great Firewall” and latency issues, if that is your only option, then you might get a lot of users in China but they may not be happy because it’s not connecting well.
The third problem is if it’s a game or some consumer app, and you want to monetise through IAP or advertising, China has its own mechanisms. Over here, and the rest of the world, it’s Google Play Store integration and Apple App Store integration and you’re done. In China it’s completely different.
All these problems need to be solved, and Kii to China is a service we have which allows you to do all of that. First we help you with the distribution, second we have our own Cloud instance in China so the Great Firewall is not a problem anymore, and thirdly we help to deal with ad integration.
Will you be taking a look at Kii’s backend for your app? Let us know in the comments.
If you are interested in IoT, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London’s Olympia, December 2-3 2015.