Ina Fried

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Dalton Caldwell’s Newest Venture: Giving Apps a Better Home Page

The premise of Dalton Caldwell’s latest venture is so simple, it is almost hard to believe there is a business to be had.

The project, App.Net, aims to create a more useful Web landing page for iPhone and Android apps, improving the odds that those browsing on the Web will actually download the program they are researching. Think of it as an About.me for apps.

However, in hearing today how the process works, it is a bit easier to understand why there might indeed be an opportunity. Today, mobile app creators typically point users to their apps’ page in the App Store or Android Market — a page over which they have little control and one that sometimes even lists competitors’ apps. Those that do have their own landing page can have a badge linking to the app store page, but have no way of telling what happens to users once they click on that button.

App.Net aims to improve both of those experiences, offering mobile developers a custom landing page for each app they create. The page consists of a series of optional modules, from screenshots to descriptions to a link to the official app store page. Developers can also offer social media connections such as the ability to follow the developer on Twitter or Facebook as well as the option to tweet, “Like” or “+1″ app pages they like.

“It’s meant to be really really easy,” Caldwell told AllThingsD this week. Caldwell is best known as the former CEO of music service imeem, which was sold to Myspace for a fire-sale price back in 2009.

The service is free for small developers looking to promote a single app, with monthly fees of between $12 and $49 charged to developers who want to promote multiple pages. For that fee, customers get access to App.Net’s landing page creation tools as well as analytics to see what is happening to visitors that show an interest in the app.

Caldwell, at least, is convinced the service will fill a need. Caldwell says he recently spun off his last venture, photo-sharing service picplz, as a separate entity, retaining an ownership stake and a spot on the board, but ceasing day-to-day operational control.

“It was a tough decision but I think focusing is very important,” he said. Caldwell is keeping most of his staff as well, bringing in a handful of new people to run picplz, which faces steep competition against the larger Instagram service.

As for App.Net, Caldwell has signed up a list of several other app makers as launch partners, including Evernote, Bump and Rdio.

(Correction: The original version of this article stated that picplz was spun off last week, based on a misunderstanding in an interview done with Caldwell. Picplz was actually quietly spun off several weeks ago, which was noted in a post last week on TechCrunch.)


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald