Our friends at TechCrunch reported a while ago that Comeks, a user generated mobile content startup from Finland, was for sale.
We were surprised by the news and called around to see what was the case and found out that the guys at Comeks were equally at ave after hearing the news. Clearly there had been a misunderstanding of some kind.
To be sure, we wanted to let the dust settle and see whether Comeks is still in business after couple of months.
Couple of days ago I talked with the Comeks co-founder and CEO Arto Viitanen and he answered from the Comeks office and told me that he did not have much time to talk as he was hacking away on Sunday night for the looming deadline. Clearly Comeks was and is still in business.
That said, there was some truth to TechCrunch posting as Comeks was running out of money and had to cut their head count from 10 persons to 3 founders. This is hardly surprising news in the current economy where everybody from Nokia to startups looking for ways to cut burn rate.
Arto told me that they were actually pretty excited and saw the current state of the company as a new start. Earlier in 2007 Comeks had raised €400,000 from Accel Partners, but consequentially Accel had lost interest and let the company interestingly just walk away.
Comeks was clearly too early in the market with their offering. Had their been platforms such as Apple’s App Store and Android Market I might have written a whole different type of blog post now.
Arto told me that even though they have had around 200,000 registered users for a quite a while, it was a pain to monetize them mainly because these users come from countries such as India and Indonesia, where premium SMS billing is close to impossible due to very thing margins imposed by the local telcos. And just when iPhone came out with App Store Comeks was at the point of running out of money and had their focus deep in their Jave client.
Now the company is focusing on client project for a while to get financially healthy, while at the same time working on some new products. They already have three different application in App Store and an application in Android Market which according to Arto has been downloaded 30,000 times, which account a whopping 3 percent of the novel Android Market. The company has also a long running partnership with Sony Ericsson, which is ongoing.
Even more than iPhone, Comeks is focusing on Android Market since it builds on open source platform, which can mean more flexibility for the coder vis-a-vis App Store which is a very regulated environment. Although I belielve the benefits are highly debatable and vary depending on who you ask. Comeks is currently setting up a legal subsidiary in UK, just to get access to the paid app Android Market. Another are of interest for the company along with iPhone and Android will be Nokia’s touch screen models.
Now when the mobile app ecosystem is getting into adolescence the market starts to be ready for Comeks products. I think we will be hearing more from Comeks in the future and it won’t be about deadpools.