Last week two US-based iPhone app developers reached out to Techvibes to cover their Canada-only launches. Since we're focused on Canadian tech stories, rather than passing I thought I'd dig around a little.
Turns out they both had similar apps and similar stories on why they're launching their apps in Canada first.
NYC-born Matchbook is a simple bookmarking application for places. If you've ever taken a matchbook from a restaurant to remember it, then you have a good idea what this app does. When someone gives you a recommendation about a bar, restaurant, or shop you can bookmark it. Matchbook will organize those places so you can make a fast decision about where to go out.
Matchbook's Jason Schwartz on their Canadian launch: "Instead of building for early adopters, Matchbook is really keyed into the average smartphone user. Canada has the largest penetration of the iOS anywhere in the world. This makes it a unique place to get insights into the first version of a product. The mass market here is primarily made up of tech savvy iPhone users. That's exactly who we're targeting, and where we think the best feedback will come from. We hope the community will be active in their feedback so we can build the best product for them."
San Francisco's Spot is a simple, elegant iPhone application that lets you capture local recommendations the moment you hear them and quickly recall and sort them anytime you like.
Spot's Julia Graham was even more analytical in her choice of Canada citing iOS penetration - as of January 2011, iOS devices account for 3.6% of all web traffic in Canada versus 3.4% in the US - but also pulling business climate and market research into the mix.
"Canada offers a very healthy environment for small businesses, and is in fact ranked the #2 best place to do business in the world (after Denmark) by the US government Small Business Administration in 2010". Graham also commented that only China and Canada experienced growth in restaurant visits in 2010.
Looks like Canadian app stores are the ideal test market for apps that plan to eventually target the US. With Canadian app stores largely unaccessible elsewhere, app developers worldwide can use a Canadian launch to get feedback and gather metrics for an big splash south of the border.