Genwi launches do-it-yourself iPad app publishing tools
Genwi wants to make building an app for Apple's iPad as easy as starting a blog on sites such as Blogger or WordPress and on Wednesday the company took a step toward that goal.
The Los Altos, Calif., start-up has launched an iPad app publishing system that enables users to build fully customizable apps and even update the apps with new content in real time.
Of course, just as any decent blogging platform does nowadays, Genwi offers templates as a place to start when building an app, so users aren't completely in the dark when getting started.
Each app a user builds lives in the cloud, accessed and edited online. HTML5 and CSS programming options are available to programmers and designers as well, looking to differentiate an app from others built using the company's Web-based tools.
The iPad app publishing tools follow Genwi's platform for building apps for Apple's iPhone and phones running on Google's Android operating system, which used to be known as iSites but was renamed mCMS (Mobile Content Management Server) on Wednesday.
Genwi's do-it-yourself app publishing tools also enable users to build full HTML5 apps -- which should please both sides of the native apps versus Web apps debate, said Genwi's CEO and founder, P.J. Gurumohan. And every app produced using the company's platform can integrate with online ad services such as Adwhirl, AdMob and DoubleClick, or coupon services.
"You create once and you publish everywhere -- iOS, Android, HTML5," Gurumohan said.
But who exactly is Genwi trying to get as users? Right now, the main goal is attracting media companies, the publishing industry and even retail consumer brands, he said.
Among the current Genwi customers are Spike channel and PBS, Forbes magazine, the website College Humor, shoe company Vans, Cox Media (the cable TV, Internet and mobile phone service provider) and even smaller media and retail brands like Bossip and NiceKicks.com, Gurumohan said.
Genwi's platform is currently being used to power about 1,500 apps across Android, iOS and on the Web in HMTL5, he said.
Pricing for Genwi's services aren't quite at a consumer level -- but then again, the company isn't making a consumer product as Blogger and WordPress offer for blogs.
Genwi's app tools are subscription-based and start at $99 per month for a "basic plan" that includes building and publishing an Android app, iOS app and an HTML5 Web app. Getting into an iPad-app territory means taking on a "professional plan" and bumps the price up to $499 per month. But those prices are tied to apps having 100,000 people or less download them. Past that, charges tied to usage come into play, Gurumohan said.
Next up for Genwi -- publishing tools for Android Honeycomb, Google's tablet-specific OS, he said.
"Apps aren't the same as websites," Gurumohan said. "Tablets, smartphones, apps; it's a whole new way of interacting with information. We knew media companies would be interested, but lifestyle brands like Vans -- that's what we didn't expect. But, brands like that, they need apps too."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: Screen shots of an upcoming iPad app for The Weekender -- a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania -- built using Genwi's publishing tools. Credit: The Weekender/Genwi/Apple