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Psychic Friends Network (PFNI) Readies 'Freemium' Mobile Apps in Bid to Re-Dominate the Nearly $2.5B Psychic Entertainment Market

NEWARK, Delaware, December 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Psychic Friends Network, the company that single-handedly created the psychic entertainment market in the 1990s and generated over $1 billion in revenue, is developing a mobile smartphone/tablet application (mobile app), a first for the psychic service industry.

"This is a major breakthrough not just for the Psychic Friends Network, but for the entire psychic service industry," said Marc Lasky, CEO of Psychic Friends Network. "Our research indicates that among the under-40 customer base, the new mobile app could quickly become the primary means for seeking psychic services. And among our more traditional customer base, the new app could broadly increase usage with its ease of accessibility."

Make Money by Giving Something Away

According to information and analysis provider IHS, "…the best way to make money in the smartphone apps market is to give away apps for free-and to generate revenue on subsequent sales of in-app purchases." This model of offering apps for free, then charging for content, is known as "freemium." This strategy represents the fastest-growing segment of the global smartphone apps business, and will soon dominate the market.

IHS notes that a whopping 96 percent of all smartphone apps downloaded in 2011 were free and, predicts that in-app purchases will account for 64 percent of total market revenue by 2015, compared to 39 percent in 2011. They further reveal that well over 50 percent of the top-grossing apps on Android and half the top games for iOS are free. It is notable that this trend is largely limited to games, but then again, games are by far the most popular category of all apps.

The company with the greatest success to date with freemium games and who helped to popularize them is Zynga, which rode the popular FarmVille and its other Facebook games to an initial public offering of almost $1 billion. FarmVille is free to play, but players can purchase "farm cash," which can be used to make crops immediately available for harvest. Other top public companies using this strategy with mobile games include Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) with a market cap of $4.5B, Glu Mobile with a cap of $181M, Vringo at $272M, and Renren at $1.2B.

Mobile Growth

The growth of mobile games, paid or freemium, is linked directly to the explosive growth of smartphone use worldwide. A Gartner study states that in the third quarter 2012, smartphones represented almost 40 percent of all mobile units sold worldwide, a 47 percent increase from one year earlier.

The smartphone market is dominated by Apple and Samsung, with both companies together controlling 46.5 percent of the smartphone market. Samsung's mobile phones sales in particular continued to accelerate, totaling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 18.6 percent year-on-year. Nokia continues to sell enough units worldwide to garner attention, but its overall market share has slipped to 19 percent compared to 24 percent for the same period last year.

Adapting the Freemium Strategy to the Psychic Industry

Psychic Friends Network may not produce games, but they are in the entertainment content business. In the past, the company's sizable content offering could only be consumed by customers calling 1-900 numbers and speaking live to psychic readers. In today's mobile-connected world, customers want to enjoy their horoscopes and personalized psychic consultations from anywhere, on the device of their choice and in many forms (text, audio chat, video chat and more).

To address this new reality, the company plans to offer its new branded mobile apps free for download with a special free text psychic reading introductory offer.  

"I expect that the new PFN mobile app will rival, and perhaps even surpass, PFNI TV and more conventional online revenues within a very short order," Lasky said. "And our free-message offers will jumpstart that success."

In addition to branded mobile apps offering daily horoscopes and live connections to psychic readers, PFNI will also offer other mobile services that do not require an app:

  • Premium SMS text services. Through this type of paid service, the company will offer a daily horoscope sent to a customer's mobile phone.
  • Live psychic advice. Customers can send a SMS text to a live psychic, such as, "What do you think about my new job?" They will instantly receive a text reply (at $.99 per text).

These premium SMS services can be directly added to the customer's mobile phone bill (also known as carrier billing). This lowers the barrier to purchase, as the customer does not have to key in a credit card on their phone.

Freemium Is Not for Every Company

Dropbox, LinkedIn, Pandora and Skype are notable companies that gained success by giving away their products and services free to build a customer base. Skype was acquired by Microsoft for $8.5B, LinkedIn was worth over $9B after its first day of trading, Pandora debuted with a $3B IPO, and pre-IPO Dropbox raised a whopping $250 million on a $4 billion valuation.

According to Simon Hill at Digital Trends, the big freemium successes have managed to combine good conversion rates with high retention, so that people continue to play and purchase content for weeks, months or even longer.

The freemium approach, however, doesn't make sense for any business that can't eventually reach millions of users. Typically only 1% or 2% of users will upgrade to a paid product, according to David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars, a start-up accelerator since 2007.

Psychic Friends Network is no stranger to large customer volumes with high conversion and customer retention rates. At the peak in the 1990s, PFNI had more than 10 million unique customers, with an impressive 25% conversion rate over 1-900 phone numbers and an even more impressive 75% retention. The average PFNI customer spent $350 per year, with 80% spent in the first six months.

PFNI is about to re-launch with a newly developed "version 2.0" technology platform. The centerpiece of this re-launch are the company's new mobile apps, which combine the best of PFNI's past proven conversion methods with the latest freemium revenue strategy. Given their past track record, the company is fully expecting to re-dominate the nearly $2.5B psychic market.

About the Psychic Friends Network, Inc.

The Psychic Friends Network, Inc. (PFNI) is a marketing and entertainment company providing on-demand psychic advice as well as daily and weekly horoscopes. PFNI connects professional live psychic readers with customers via telephone (mobile and landline) and through their newly developed state-of-the-art online platform enabling interaction with video chat, voice or text chat. During the 1990s, PFNI pioneered the psychic industry with memorable television/radio marketing and infomercials. PFNI is re-launching the original brand on a new technology platform that will capitalize on the latest social media and video technologies to connect psychics with consumers.

To learn more about PFNI, visit PsychicFriendsNetwork.com

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Forward Looking Statements

This press release may be deemed to contain forward-looking statements, which may be subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the re-launch of the Psychic Friends Network brand, PFNI's business plan, website and mobile applications. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and may differ materially from actual future events or results due to a variety of factors, including, among other things, PFNI's ability to successfully re-launch its brand and operations and other risk factors set forth in PFNI's current report on Form 8-K dated March 30, 2012. Any forward-looking statements in this release are based on limited information currently available to PFNI, which is subject to change, and PFNI will not necessarily update the information.

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