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Web Profile: OpenCandy

Posted on 2.03.2009

Designing software and Web applications involves a series of difficult and challenging tasks. But one of the developer community’s greatest challenges is getting their work noticed and distributed. Like fine art, it’s only deemed “great” when enough people take notice. Unfortunately, with the speed of development it’s often too late. That’s an issue OpenCandy hopes to solve.

OpenCandy is dedicated to making sure developers get their work noticed and used, and ensuring consumers are aware of the right solutions for their needs. It’s also a system to help developers build business models around their software and for advertisers to maximize their ROI. “We saw products that could be competitive to big companies, but with nobody helping them tap into their potential,” says OpenCandy co-founder Chester Ng.

In short, during a software download, OpenCandy makes a suggestion to the user to download another (related) piece of software chosen by the developer from OpenCandy’s virtual warehouse of available downloads.

The recommendations and downloads take place through a plugin for the developer’s installer. The plugin displays recommended software to the user and acts as a download manager when chosen. And because the plugin is portable, it’s accessible virtually anywhere, including in applications from top software download sites like Download.com and SourceForge.net. This mass distribution potential is where OpenCandy can have a major impact. Instead of being limited to a handful of websites, developers have a chance for their creations to be exposed across the Internet.

For advertisers, OpenCandy offers a tangible and cost-efficient way to distribute software — they only pay when something is installed. So, instead of paying for superfluous clicks, advertisers are only charged for successful installs of their products. “For software developers or companies, that’s as good as it gets,” says Ng. And in a time when advertisers are paying very close attention to their budgets, paying for that kind of specificity makes perfect sense. According to Ng, the user in this case is already in “download mode.” Because they have already decided to download something, they are open to another. As another fail safe for advertisers, the “No” box is pre-checked on the download recommendation window, so the user has to make a conscious choice, preventing accidental or wasteful downloads. Once a download is complete, OpenCandy determines which developer is responsible for the sale, and a revenue share is enacted.

So who are the advertisers and what kind of software is being distributed through the network? Ng says there are two major types right now.

The first are large companies who are already spending money for distribution of a piece of software. They could be currently using channels like AdWords or Commission Junction, for example. And the downloads might be something like video utilities, chat clients, toolbars, anti-virus software or productivity tools.

The second are the new breed of Web companies with downloadable components. They might include Firefox add-on developers, or a company like Xobni, who makes an email organization tool obtained through a downloaded component. One of the challenges faced by these Web companies is the surplus of similar, available tools — Firefox recently announced the one billionth add-on download. And that’s exactly where the OpenCandy distribution model steps in.

Currently, OpenCandy is in private, closed beta while the system is tested and tweaked, and populated with software. If you would like to join the network as an advertiser or developer, contact them through their website at http://opencandy.com.

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