Posted by: Viki ZabalaAugust 22, 2012
Venture capital investments in mobile have boomed this year, reaching levels not seen since 2001. For thrill-seekers hoping to hit the jackpot and “win big,” new smartphone and tablet apps are providing Las Vegas-style gambling options – with real money – at the swipe of an index finger. And following a series of leaks and rumors, Google Play will now offer gift cards for its content-distribution store.
Mobile now represents a staggering 46 percent of all VC investments, with venture backing for mobile consumer apps totaling nearly $4 billion during the first six months of 2012, according to new data from M&A advisor firm Rutberg & Company. During this time, VCs invested in 479 mobile startups, with the median funding round size netting at $3.5 million. “The six-month mobile investment total represents the highest level of activity for a half-year period since the firm initiated coverage in 2001 – in addition, 2012 mobile investments are currently $1 billion ahead of the pace set during the first half of 2011, which was the largest year for mobile tech venture funding in a decade,” reports Jason Ankeny in FierceMobileContent.
Juniper Research estimates that by 2017 consumers will gamble $100 billion on their mobile devices. Game developers have recognized this huge market opportunity and are starting to convert smartphones into virtual casinos – and up the ante by adding real-money bets. In the U.K., where it is legal, Big Fish Games Inc. will soon introduce a version of its gambling app Big Fish Casino with real-money betting, Bloomberg reports. “This is the biggest opportunity that game developers have had since the advent of the Internet,” Christopher Griffin, chief executive officer of Betable, said in his recent Bloomberg interview. While in-app gambling with real money isn’t yet cleared in the U.S., gaming giant Zynga is lobbying hard because the company has plans of its own to launch real-money gaming products in the first half of 2013, according to reports in the The Wall Street Journal.
After months of speculation and increasing user demands, Google Play gift cards are officially expected to hit U.S. retailers in the next few weeks, reports Engadget. The gift cards will be available in $10, $25 and $50 denominations, and users can redeem them for just about any digital content in the Play Store. These new cards represent Google’s latest step toward a “full-fledged content store," helping Google to compete with the popular Apple's iTunes gift cards and others in the physical retail store market, according to The Verge.