SwiftKey Goes Free After Apple Reveals Its Own Predictive Keyboard

Jun 11 2014, 2:14am CDT | by

SwiftKey has just made a gutsy move. The popular Android keyboard app has dropped the $3.99 price tag that’s driven its revenue over the last few years and is going free from here on out.

It’s the kind of make-or-break decision that could help it scale up in fast-growing developing markets, and in SwiftKey’s case, also help it in going head-to-head with similar, free technology that Apple will soon offer to iPhone users.

“We’re focused not only on reaching more users with our powerful technology, but on building great content and features to engage them,” said the company’s CEO Jon Reynolds in an official statement. SwiftKey’s business model till now has been to use its paid-for Android app as a way to prove out its natural language processing (NLP) technology. This underpins SwiftKey’s ability to predict what word users will type next, with three suggested words above the keyboard.

Along with the app, SwiftKey also sells white-label technology to the likes of Samsung, which embeds SwiftKey’s algorithms in its Galaxy line of smartphones, and the BlackBerry 10 mobile OS that’s on several of the company’s recent smartphones. As a result it claims to be on more than 200 million devices worldwide.

Now on the consumer side, the four-year-old company will make money solely from enhancements to the free app — ie. premium keyboard themes.

SwiftKey is one of the best selling Android apps of all time, having spent more days at number one on Google Play than any other paid app. But it’s never managed to get on iPhones because Apple hasn’t released the relevant instruction set  that would allow third party developers like SwiftKey to sell keyboard enhancement for iPhones.

That all changed last week at Apple’s WWDC keynote, when the Cupertino-based company announced it would finally allow third-party keyboard apps on its App Store.

Then came the blow to SwiftKey. At the same time, Apple also announced a crucial improvement to the built-in keyboard on the forthcoming iOS 8 platform: Quick Type, a kind of predictive keyboard that looks almost identical to SwiftKey’s three-word predictive interface.

We understand from a source close to the company that SwiftKey did not license its technology to Apple, as it did to Samsung and BlackBerry. This means Apple went on its own to develop the NLP technology necessary for its own predictive keyboard, and that when iOS 8 comes out, SwiftKey’s technology will go head-to-head with Apple’s.

SwiftKey didn’t mention Apple in its official announcement about going free, but the timing can’t be pure coincidence. With a proprietary offering from Apple now built into iOS, SwiftKey is being forced to go the extra mile to make its product even more appealing to iPhone users, and that includes dropping the price tag. That’s something SwiftKey wouldn’t be able to do if it was still charging $4 to Android users.

To keep those Android users extra happy, SwiftKey is also releasing an update to its Android app, which we’ll likely see reflected in the iOS version that’s released alongside iOS 8. It includes 30 new keyboard “themes,” predictions on what emojis you might want to use (because who uses words anymore?) and improvements to SwiftKey’s core prediction engine.

“This is the start of an incredibly exciting phase for us as a business,” said Reynolds.

Fortunately SwiftKey has $17.6 million in recent funding to fall back on after turning off its revenue spigot from Android.

In total the London-based business has raised $21.6 million from venture capital funds including Index Ventures and Accel Partners.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

A8 Chip of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Can Handle 4K Videos
A8 Chip of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Can Handle 4K Videos
The WALTR developers find a great function of the A8 processor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
 
 
$1 Samsung Galaxy S5 Best Buy Black Friday Deal is on Sale Now
$1 Samsung Galaxy S5 Best Buy Black Friday Deal is on Sale Now
The Best Buy Black Friday 2014 Deal on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is live now. You pay $1 on contract for the Samsung Galaxy S5.
 
 
The Best Black Friday iPad Deals
The Best Black Friday iPad Deals
The Apple iPad Black Friday 2014 Deals started to sell.
 
 
Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has Started
Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has Started
The Amazon Black Friday 2014 sale is officially here. Earlier than ever Amazon offers Black Friday 2014 deals.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Hamilton admits hardly sleeping the night before
Abu Dhabi, Nov 24 (IANS/CMC) Newly crowned Formula 1 World champion Lewis Hamilton has revealed he hardly slept the night before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which he eventually won to clinch his second...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Real Madrid to play in Australian tournament
Melbourne, Nov 24 (IANS) Real Madrid, which boasts the most expensive squad in world football, have been announced as one of three teams to compete in the International Champions Cup in Melbourne in July. The...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Cruzeiro win Brazil Serie A title
Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Nov 24 (IANS) Cruzeiro have clinched their second consecutive Brazilian Serie A title with a 2-1 victory over Goias. Everton Ribeiro struck the winner at the Mineirao stadium Sunday after...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Honours shared in Milan derby
Rome, Nov 24 (IANS) Inter Milan have played out a 1-1 draw against crosstown rivals AC Milan in a sellout Serie A game. Jeremy Menez gave AC Milan a lead at halftime but Joel Obi equalised for Inter shortly after the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
IOC chief condemns Afghan bombing
Lausanne, Nov 24 (IANS) International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach condemned the suicide bombing at a volleyball tournament in Afghanistan. The lone bomber detonated explosives Sunday during a local...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Marseille tops French league
Paris, Nov 24 (IANS) Marseille have climbed to the top of the French league after rallying to beat Bordeaux 3-1. With the victory, they now enjoy a one-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain. Bordeaux striker Thomas...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
New crew aboard Russian spaceship reach ISS
Washington, Nov 24 (IANS) Three new crew members from the US, Russia and Italy arrived Monday at the International Space Station (ISS) on board a Russian spaceship. Terry Virts of NASA, Soyuz Commander Anton...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Sears plans for big Black Friday 2014
Sears is looking foward to cashing in big time for the upcoming Black Friday 2014 shopping holiday on Novermber 28th. Members of Sears have seen their Black Friday specials start one week early and the company has...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Apple gears up for Black Friday
Black Friday is fast approaching and one company that plans on seeing a sales increase is Apple. Apple has announced that they will have discounted prices for the upcoming buying holiday and one product they plan on...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Thousands protest in Chile in favour of new constitution
Santiago, Nov 24 (IANS/EFE) Several thousand people took to the streets of Santiago and other Chilean cities to demand a Constitutional Assembly as a means to provide the country with a new constitution, as was...
Read more on Politics Balla