Back in 2011, while attending Mobile App World in London, one of our execs met a mobile tools company called Apphance. After exchanging ideas (and business cards) it seemed like there was a fit, so we started talking about partnerships and integration between Apphance and our own in-the-wild testing services.
Since that meeting 12 months ago, uTest’s mobile app testing business has grown 5X to become the largest segment of our top line (just ahead of our web app testing segment), and we found time to raise a $17mm D round. The crew over at Apphance stayed busy too, refining and adding to their mobile quality tools. As the conversation progressed, the topic turned from one of partnership to one of acquisition.
Cut to today — if you read the title of this post (and if not, SPOILER ALERT), you know that uTest has acquired Apphance in a seven-figure deal. This marriage has monumental implications for uTest and Apphance, but also for the mobile testing world in general. More on that in a bit.
First, I wanted to let you know a bit about the product itself. We’ll be posting an in-depth look under the hood of Apphance later today, with full specs and an assortment of screenshots. In the meantime, here are the highlights:
What is Apphance?
It’s a mobile app tool (actually, a series of libraries) that makes it easy for developers to understand how their apps are working across a wide range of mobile devices, carriers and locations. With Apphance, mobile developers can easily distribute new builds to their testers, gather crash reports, get bug reports and solicit user feedback.
How does Apphance work?
A developer simply leverages the Apphance library, enabling devs and testers to see detailed diagnostics of each bug or crash, helping them identify the root cause and launch higher quality apps. Crash, bug reports and feedback are viewed through an easy-to-use web platform.
What platforms does Apphance support?
Apphance has a library for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook. And support for HTML5 is on the way.
What are the main features?
Apphance offers mobile developers a range of features to help them see how their apps are really working – in the test lab and in the hands of users. These include:
- Over-the-Air Build Distribution: Developers distribute new builds over-the-air to real devices for testing
- Crash Reporting: Automated, real-time crash reports are filtered by OS version, device and other parameters; available for pre- and post-launch
- In-App Bug Reporting: Bug reports can be submitted directly from the app; available for pre- and post-launch
- In-App User Feedback: User feedback can be submitted directly from the app, enabling developers to easily spot trends, discover issues and hear new ideas from end users
Why did uTest make this move?
Apphance is additive to what we’re already doing. It merely standardizes and improves the deliverables of our in-the-wild testing services by automatically appending detailed, diagnostic information to each bug report (such as device info, battery, resolution, connection status, and location). It also leverages our massive community of 60,000+ testers from 190 countries around the world for automated crash reporting on real devices, across OSes, carriers and locations.
Thus, while we’re offering uTest and Apphance as standalone offerings, we fully expect the vast majority of mobile customers to adopt both uTest and Apphance (and get some great discounts by bundling uTest’s services and Apphance’s tools).
What does Apphance cost?
Apphance is completely free to to all developers (uTest customers and non-customers alike) for the duration of 2012.
What’s the catch? Well, we don’t like catches, so there isn’t one. Thus, “free” means an unlimited number of apps, unlimited number of pre-production test devices, and unlimited number of production users. And going forward, there will be some seriously deep discounts for those companies that use both uTest and Apphance.
So now that you know a little bit about Apphance the product, and our plans for it. If you’re like the dozens of customers we’ve discussed this with, then you’re starting to see how this changes the mobile app testing game. And if not, keep reading.
Since August of 2008 (someone has a birthday coming up!), uTest has pioneered and refined the notion of in-the-wild testing services. We expanded into mobile apps in early 2009. Then in 2011 we expanded into security, load, localization and usability testing. By adding Apphance to our mobile app testing, uTest has positioned itself as an all-in-one mobile quality solution – for pre-production and production.
We now offer the best of both worlds: A sophisticated tool for developers to distribute new builds (to in-house QA and uTesters alike), crash reporting, and in-app bug reporting, combined with real testers on real devices around the world. As our friends over at Appcelerator noted, “uTest Apphance fills a critical need in the mobile app development ecosystem.”
To close, I wanted to send out a round of kudos to a few groups:
- To the Apphance team: For developing wildly innovative, all-in-one product that will dramatically improve mobile app quality. Welcome to uTest Nation!
- To our investors: For seeing the value in this deal, and for helping us make it happen.
- To our customers: For your support and feedback on improving the the idea of in-the-wild testing; and to the dozens of you who gave us such emphatically positive feedback about the Apphance technology.
- To our 60,000+ testers: For your continued passion, talent and dedication to delighting our 1,000+ customers. Apphance will enable you to discover and document even better mobile defects.
- Our employees: For keeping your mouths shut – no small feat for 100 highly connected people over the span of 100 days. Kidding (sorta),
Thank you for your hard work and commitment. Changing an industry as large and static as software testing is no easy feat… it’s not for the timid, the lazy or the weak. Today is another in a long line of steps in our journey to bring mobile testing into modern times and change the app universe for the better. And none of it – not the acquisition, not the 5X growth in our mobile business, not last December’s D Round – would have been possible without your tireless efforts.
If you have questions about Apphance – the product, the integration with uTest, or the acquisition – leave them in the comments section or drop us a line.