We first covered GENWI back in 2007, when the company was a social feed reader that allowed users to organize their content feeds by category and share with friends. GENWI has gone through several variations since, most notable among them the launch of iSites, a quick and easy mobile app development platform for iOS and Android, which led to a $1 million investment from Inventus and Quest Venture. Today, the startup is announcing a rebranding, which is really a return to the GENWI name, folding iSites and iSites.us into the GENWI umbrella.
The cloud-based smartphone and tablet app publishing platform continues is also continuing to push forward in the mobile app development space, today launching an iPad app publishing solution and mobile content management system (CMS). As the company’s evolution has led it to a focus on providing media publishers with tools to create and manage newspaper, magazine, and catalog apps for iOS and Android, the iPad app solution is a logical extension to prior platform iterations — especially with the escalating adoption of tablets, specifically the iPad, as a content production tool and a source for some of the best (and most well designed) media apps.
As such, GENWI’s iPad platform will allow publications and media companies (and everyone in between) to create cloud-backed iPad apps on the fly. According to GENWI Co-founder Raju Sagiraju, the solution is customizable and offers a branded experience for publishers. Adding new content and updates to apps is obviously extremely important to publishers, so GENWI’s solution offers flexible client architecture, just as it provides optimized templates and themes (a la WordPress) that enable businesses to shorten the app design process and duration.
To that end, GENWI also offers an “Advanced Option”, which allows publishers to perform custom design development using HTML5 and CSS to create a unique design experience from scratch. With these tools in place, the solution’s goal is to provide media publishers, broadcasters, etc., with a platform that allows them to turn their print publications, newsletters, and podcasts into customized apps.
As to the new mobile CMS, or mCMS as GENWI is calling it (apparently under trademark), allows publishers to add content in a bunch of different formats, including Media RSS, iTunes RSS, ATOM, XML, Restful APIs, CSV, InDesign, and PDF. The mCMS then aggregates content from these sources in realtime and pushes them out over the mobile landscape in such a way that is intended to be device-specific. And, like any other CMS, GENWI enables publishers to curate the aggregated content for each device.
GENWI is currently serving 1,500 active apps on the iPhone and Android smartphones, from more than 30K publishers, according to Sagiraju. But, what will likely be most appealing to publishing companies and their developers is that GENWI apps do not have to be resubmitted to app stores for reapproval, and users don’t have to upgrade apps when small tweaks are made to the app’s design. This, then, is essentially akin to the capabilities of a SaaS product in the web space — a useful enhancement to the mobile app development space to be sure.
Among other features, the GENWI platform also includes built-in monetization features like an ad and coupon management, analytics, and in-app subscriptions based on the iTunes payment system.
In terms of cost, Sagiraju said that this will depend on usage and app interactions, but an iPad, iPhone, Android, and HTML5 app can be developed and launched at about $500 per month. This would include a limited version of GENWI’s mCMS, with advanced features and higher levels of usage involving further fees. Depending on the size of the publisher, these fees could hamstring them a bit, but many will likely be willing to pay for the ability to easily manage and publish apps across platforms.