How Poynt rode BlackBerry to success

For all the talk of the barren wasteland that is Research In Motion’s developer ecosystem, there actually have been successes.

Poynt, a location-based search app, is a breakout hit largely thanks to the early support it got from RIM. It was one of the first “super apps” named when RIM attempted to coin the term. Its early success at RIM allowed the company to foster stronger relationships with carriers and other handset vendors, allowing its app to be preloaded on more phones.

In early December, Poynt announced a deal to have its app loaded on all Samsung devices — a major coup for the company since the Korean consumer electronics titan is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer. Two weeks later, Nokia said it would load Poynt on its new Lumia Windows Phone devices in India.

The company is on a roll, having surpassed 12 million unique users and adding about 20,000 to 30,000 new users a day. The app is available on the BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Nokia QT and Windows Phone platforms.

And for all the knocks that preloaded apps get — many deride them as bloatware — Poynt has seen a lot of success with the model.

“You can expect to see some additional deals in the first quarter,” said Margaret Glover-Campbell, senior vice president of marketing for Poynt.

In one month over the US summer, half of its 700,000 new users came from a carrier preload deal, Glover-Campbell said.

Poynt offers suggestions on everything from restaurants to gas stations based on a person’s location. The company gets a cut of revenue generated whenever someone buys a ticket to a movie theatre listed on its app, or makes a reservation at a restaurant located through Poynt. Like Groupon, it now sends offers based on location. The company sees targeted, location-based advertisements as the key growth driver for the company.

“You’re starting to see brands and advertising agencies starting to come aboard,” Glover-Campbell said. “We’re seeing an upswing in revenue there.”

With the value of intellectual property at an all-time high and patent lawsuits flying around, Poynt is looking to make better use of its own patents, which relate to location-based services and the delivery of coupons and offers to mobile devices. The company is looking at potential licensing opportunities, and may even turn to litigation down the line.

Glover-Campbell said Poynt’s success can be attributed to the company’s focus on building apps for specific phones and platforms, as opposed to porting one app to every device.

“If you want to be successful at any platform, you have to look at how to integrate into that device,” she said. “Look at who the audience is.”

And what of RIM, which has run into a heap of problems, including the delay of its next-generation BlackBerrys? Glover-Campbell said she isn’t too worried about the company.

“I don’t think they’re going anywhere,” she said.


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