Israeli start-up finds success in Christmas app market

TabTale’s Santa Rescue Saga recently shot to number one on the iTunes free apps chart. Photo courtesy of TabTale
TabTale’s Santa Rescue Saga recently shot to number one on the iTunes free apps chart. Photo courtesy of TabTale

With more than 220 million downloads and 240 apps so far, a young Israeli start-up company has been quietly dominating the children’s app market and is setting itself up as one of the world’s top children’s app makers.

TabTale, which specializes in interactive books, games and educational apps for children, recently raised $12 million ($13.5 million to date) and was named the eighth largest publisher by download volume by App Annie, an app ranking data website. Its ranking places it among app-making giants like Rovio, EA and Disney.

The privately held company, which is based in Park Ezorim Petah Tikvah, was co-founded in 2010 by its CEO Sagi Schlisser, who found it to be the perfect time as Apple’s iPad was just hitting stores.

“This was going to create change around how children interact on a daily basis with mobile media,” Schlisser said by phone from Israel. “[The iPad] would give us an advantage in creating and managing content.”

The apps TabTale releases fall into five categories: interactive books, educational apps, musical apps, casual games and virtual apps where kids can dress up characters and maintain houses and hospitals. The apps can be downloaded to iPhone, iPad and Droid platforms, and TabTale also has its own technology platform where more than 80 apps are available to download in multiple languages.

What may perhaps be the most interesting development for the TabTale is how it has made its mark on the children’s Christmas app market. Many of its most successful apps have been based around the holiday, including Christmas Tale, an app it released in October 2010.
“We found it very entertaining. Israel is not that foreign to Christmas and we [don’t celebrate it] very intensively,” Schlisser said. “It caught us by surprise, but we understood that Christmas is a big consumer power.”

TabTale’s most recent Christmas app, Santa Rescue Saga, went to the top of the iTunes App Store free apps chart earlier this month. The virtual adventure follows Santa around the North Pole as players help him gift wrap and deliver presents, while competing in challenges.

The company’s main market has been in the United States and the United Kingdom, but it has also made an impact in Saudi Arabia, where it places third in terms of total downloads.

“We find it very peculiar,” Schlisser said about the 10 million-plus downloads in the country. “Almost every app we release gets to number one in Saudi Arabia.”

TabTale might still classify as an up-and-coming app maker, but Schlisser looks to continue the company’s expansion.

The company currently releases around six apps each month. The plan for next year, he said, is to reach a goal of 20 each month.

For more information about TabTale, go to TabTale apps can be downloaded on iPhone and Android, on iTunes and Amazon app stores.

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