Graphicly in 2011

When I joined Graphicly a little over a year ago, we had two primary audiences:

  1. customers (those of you who buy, read, and discuss comics), and
  2. publishers (those of you who create comics).

Each of these are familiar with a subset of our total product offering. And since 2011 saw a large volume of output from our team, I wanted to share a quick overview of what we released in the past year’s span.

Updates

Graphicly has a large number of “storefronts:” apps where you can browse, buy, read, and comment on our publishers’ content on many different platforms. Each of these has a unique interface that was optimized for the particular device it resides on, and, as such, has unique needs/bugs that pop up over time. So, in terms of updates this past year, we focused on 2 key areas: the Web and iOS.

  • Web app
    At Graphicly, we firmly believe that HTML5 is the future of app development. Because of this, we’ve invested heavily in our Web infrastructure over the past year, most noticeably in the form of an entirely revamped Web site launched in June. Formerly just a Chrome Web app, the site now supports all major HTML5-compliant browsers, allows full browsing (and previewing) of all our publishers’ content, and showcases our social integrations (with sharing & commenting across all major social platforms). Additionally for the Web, we launched:

    To top it all off, Google honored us with a case study detailing the success we’ve had with our updated Chrome Web Store App.

  • iPhone app
    Our iPhone app had been long in the tooth. This update brought support for iOS5 and cleaned up a number of issues some users had seen on iOS4.
  • iPad app
    We pushed several quick updates throughout the year to address some open issues some of our customers had seen previously, as well as updating the appearance to more closely match our Web app.

New releases

2011 saw a tremendous amount of new products from our team, as well.

  • Apple iOS5 Newsstand apps
    First out with comics on Apple’s latest iOS5 Newsstand, we launched 9 titles as their own Newsstand apps, meaning that customers get the latest issue downloaded to their iPad the same day the book appears on shelves.

  • Android marketplace app
    Graphicly launched the first commercial comics app to offer Marvel Comics content (as well as all our other 300 publishers) back in February. Adoption of our app on the platform was quick and dramatic, and continues to rise. We’ve also released roughly a dozen updates to the app to continue adding features and fixing quirks coming from the myriad devices the platform supports.
  • NOOK Color/Tablet apps
    The NOOK platform was the sleeper hit for us this year. Initially releasing 4 apps which sold like hot cakes, we’ve subsequently released 70 collections (bundles of issues) on the platform with phenomenal sales success. We even released a special edition collection for the Cowboys & Aliens movie that launched this past July, which offered unique extra content to customers who took their app on the NOOK Color into a Barnes & Noble store to unlock the features.
  • Amazon Appstore apps
    When Amazon announced their Android app store early in the year, we reached out immediately to to ensure our storefront was available. As our product line amassed this year, though, we quickly added the apps available on the NOOK to the Amazon store, of which nearly all were available for the Kindle Fire at its launch.
  • Facebook Custom Tab app
    Nearly all of our publishers maintain a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but none had an effective way to show off and preview their product on their Facebook Pages. As such, we launched the only means for publishers to embed, preview, and sell their books on their Facebook Page (as well as to theme and curate the page). As of this writing, there are several hundred Pages now featuring our Custom Tab app with the list growing every week.
  • Web widgets
    When we re-launched our site in June, one of our key features was the ability to take any comic to go. Think of it as YouTube for Comics. See a comic or book on our site? Grab a simple embed code, paste it anywhere on the Web (your blog, your site, where ever you like), and that page can now display, preview, and sell that book. Not to mention: Graphicly’s consolidated conversations and social metrics go along for the ride, keeping users connected regardless of location.
  • Facebook app
    Although we haven’t done any press on this yet, we launched a full browsable experience on Facebook for users at the end of the year. Now you never need to leave Facebook to browse, buy, and read your library of comics. Of course, social features abound, and we’ll be adding in the ability to pay with Facebook Credits soon.

Retired

One of the most important things a small team in the pursuit of excellence can do is focus. It sounds simple, and, of course, it’s not. One of the realities we saw over the past year was that few users used our targeted Windows 7 products, whether for desktop or mobile. Even without a concerted effort on these products, handling support and infrastructure costs for these apps sapped at our ability to focus on what was critical for both our customers and publishers.

As such, we made the deliberate decision to shutter our two Windows 7 products:

  • Windows 7 app
  • Windows 7 Phone app

What this meant was straightforward: Graphicly will no longer support, maintain, or enhance these Windows 7 products. Users on these platforms are far from without options, though. In the case of the desktop product, users can easily switch to our AIR application or Web app; for Phone users, the Web app remains the way to go. Microsoft’s subsequent decision to push HTML5 app development for their platforms reinforced our decision, knowing we’ll best be able to serve this audience using technology we’re actively maintaining.

Going Forward

When Graphicly was founded nearly 2 years ago, core to its mission was the widespread availability of great comic content regardless of geography or local inventory. In the time since, we’ve worked diligently with everyone from major publishers (Marvel, Image, etc.) to individual creators (Michael Jasper, Caryn Tate, etc.) to ensure their content could be found on just about any device available. In roughly the span of 1 year, we’ve grown from supporting less than 100 publishers to now more than 300 publishers (and not just in comics, but in children’s books, magazines, traditional books and other visual media). We’ve also seen significant growth in terms of our readers, especially once we released content on the NOOK and Android devices.

2012 will see us continue to ramp up our efforts to build products that support authors of all kinds, and truly help them do what is most important: get their stories seen. Our mission hasn’t changed, but our strategy to get there has certainly matured. We hope you’ll be excited for what’s in store this year, too.

micah
Micah Laaker () heads Product Management and User Experience for Graphicly. He lives in sunny Mountain View, CA with his wife, sons, and mammoth music collection, and he is known for his affinity to his home state: Nebraska.

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