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Pinger's Textfree delivers billionth free text message

Aron Trimble

Among the many methods available for getting around AT&T's stronghold on text messaging and the exorbitant rates associated therein stands a giant in the form of an iPhone application. Pinger's wildly popular app "Textfree" puts the power back in the hands of users by creating a simple and elegant way to text message your contacts without running up the wireless bill.

Today, Pinger announced that they have reached a significant milestone. In the short 10 months that Textfree has been available on the App Store, over one billion messages have been delivered. This huge amount of messages represents a staggering savings to Textfree's users and shines a spotlight on the innovation that Pinger has brought to the iPhone ecosystem.

I had a chance to talk with Greg Woock, one of the co-founders of Pinger Inc., about the success of Textfree as an individual app as well as Pinger's strategy for App Store success. Hit the read link to check out Pinger's success story.

Pinger was founded in 2005, long before the release of the iPhone or the App Store, and though Pinger was involved in mobile messaging it wasn't until Apple announced the App Store and the SDK that the lights came on. The iPhone as a platform sparked a revolution in mobile development that gave power to developers and wrenched it away from mobile carriers.

Pinger's first app was Pinger Phone which Greg called "an educational process" that taught his team simplicity. Pinger took the most compelling feature from Pinger Phone -- free text messaging -- and created a single, stand-alone app: Textfree.

Textfree made it easy, enjoyable and (importantly) cheap to send and receive text messages on the iPhone and iPod touch. Their next app, Picfree, further enhanced the mobile experience of the iPhone by providing a way for people to send and receive picture messages. At the time that Picfree was released, the iPhone didn't support MMS, so Pinger stepped in and filled a gap that Apple wouldn't.

Leveraging the success of Textfree, Pinger used their first app as a medium for marketing Picfree. And thus a legacy was born. It was natural that Textfree users would be interested in what Picfree offered, so Pinger notified their users about Picfree and from there the app really took off.

Pinger discovered that by using great apps to promote other great apps they could create a dynasty of excellence with the Pinger franchise. Pinger has over 15 million downloads across its lineup of 16 applications. In December 2009, 10 of their applications were listed in the App Store "Top 100" list. Additionally, both Textfree and Picfree were listed in the iTunes Rewind as top sellers for 2009.

Pinger's experience in the App Store is unusual because of the multiple apps that have done well. Pinger's unique publication strategy puts them into position to launch apps and then they are able to push the right buttons to get their apps in front of users. This is evident by the number of apps Pinger has that have made it into the upper echelon of the App Store Top 100. Pinger uses their successful apps as a platform for marketing new apps and in turn makes them successful.

Moving through 2010, Greg is positive that Pinger will remain at the top of its game, continuing to publish world-class software for the iPhone, iPod touch, and eventually the iPad. If the passed year is any indication of what's to come from Pinger, then hold on tight because it's going to be a wild ride.

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