AppsFire Pivots, Uses Twitter to Find Hot Mobile Apps

Appsfire — a company co-founded by former venture capitalist Ouriel Ohayon and partner Yann Lechelle — earlier this year ran afoul of Apple’s (S aapl) App Store censors. Their app put together a list of the most popular iPhone apps and thus helped with the discovery of new one. They submitted a new version to the App Store, but it has been 75 days since any action was taken by Apple. AppsFire is a great little tool — and my bet is that Apple wants to build its own. Facing near disaster, Ohayon and Lechelle went back to the drawing board and have come up with some new services — first came AppsFire Search, and today they launched AppTrends.


Think of AppTrends as the Billboard chart of mobile apps, only in real time. AppsFire scans Twitter and identifies the top 20 apps and serves up a Top 20 chart. How do they do it?

  • They look for iPhone apps based on their iTunes URL (even if it has been shrunk). The logic is that since many people tweet about the apps (and their URLs), they have a good idea of the Twitter sentiment. The company ranks top 100, but only displays the top 20 for now.
  • AppsFire has created a ranking based on two things: number of mentions of an app and the influence of the tweet.
  • They track the apps and update their listings in real time, much like trending topics.
  • They filter noisebots, repeat tweets and fake accounts.

Ohayon pointed out that despite the diversity of iPhone apps, “Top hot apps stay hot in Twitter for up to 30-40 hours and only very exceptional apps stay hot for several days” (such as the vuvuzela apps). But the company can’t rely on just focusing on iPhone apps. It needs to quickly diversify to other mobile platforms — Android and Ovi, to be specific. It would help it become a more in-depth ranking system and at the same allow it to build an e-commerce operation around this list.

Despite being forced to pivot on its product, AppsFire has raised new money from a New York-based seed fund, Lerer Ventures, an extension of its previous round of funding. Jaiku creator and mobile guru Jyri Engestrom has also joined the company’s board of advisers.

Related GigaOM Pro report:
Surveying the Mobile App Store Landscape (subscription required).