Facebook has made email a primary way for developers to communicate with users in the past months, especially following the removal of third-party notifications at the beginning of March. Now, developers are responsible for obtaining permission from users in order to email them, and for subsequently handling all aspects of communication on their own.
An application that has a a few hundred thousand daily active users, for example, may need to send millions of messages every day — everything from people inviting friends to join a game, to reminders about a pending activity, to alerts about a new competition or feature.
AppGoGo is offering a service intended to help developers more easily handle large amounts of email, applying long-standing email technology and practices to the Facebook platform market including an email server, appropriate email standards, as well as templating and monitoring systems.
Email technology has been around for years, so developers might choose to build their own email servers. But there are costs. Internet service providers and email hosting services have technology and rules that are intended to limit spam, phishing and other threats. For example, if you send enough emails to users through a given ISP, and they don’t know who you are, they may think you’re a spammer and block your messages from getting through — a problem that developers may have encountered already.
AppGoGo works directly with ISPs to ensure that messages get through. It provides an IP address that’s recognized by other companies that transmit email, a corresponding identifier where it takes responsibility for sending messages, and a message format that’s recognized by most email receiver services — and direct relationships with ISPs so that it can work through any issues to ensure that emails keep getting delivered.
It also provides a templating service for sending out mass emails, and tracking tools to see information like the locations of people who click on sent emails.
Beyond packaging existing email technology to work best for gaming companies with millions of users, AppGoGo provides developers with an email API that matches Facebook’s now-deprecated messaging API. For developers who were formerly sending millions of messages through Facebook, this will make the transition easier.
The largest social gaming developers are building their own systems; they can afford the cost of learning how to do it themselves. Smaller developers may be able to operate their own email systems without getting blocked by the ISPs or encountering other problems that come with volume. Those companies could use cloud services provided by web hosting companies, and Amazon and Google, to manage all email — the cost structures of those companies’ data services could get high once an app has enough users, however.
AppGoGo wants to find developers who have a lot of email to send, but don’t have the engineering team available to build and maintain an in-house email system. Company cofounder Desmond Cahill tells us that it has a lot of interested developers in the pipeline, with one, Player Axis’ School Vandals, already using it. While there are a range of other companies that provide the same general email services to companies, they typically serve large marketers who want to send out a high volume of identical messages; they don’t typically offer APIs designed for Facebook apps, for example.
Beyond the more technical aspects of email delivery, developers who previously relied on Facebook’s notifications feature, and on other changing messaging channels, like Requests, will need to balance how they email users. If they act too spammy, users can remove their email addresses and quit the application. Cahill says he hopes to help developers find the right balance between email and spam; he’s also getting a lot of interest from developers looking to use email to get inactive users back in games.
AppGoGo is self-funded. Cahill and his cofounders have worked in the email delivery business for years; he was the chief executive of Habeas for 5 years, a company that provided custom email delivery for major brands. While the market is still young, the volume of email on Facebook’s platform and the nuanced needs of developers make AppGoGo a potentially valuable new platform service provider.
For now, the company is focused on Facebook, but it is also looking at offering relevant messaging handling for emails on other social networks, as well as SMS features for developers looking to do mobile communication.