Andrew Wright, a Canadian who made his way from Alias Research to Microsoft and then to Real Networks during the 1990s, says he had an epiphany of sorts while building the RealArcade gaming unit, which would eventually become a $100-million-a-year revenue generator for Real Networks.
The epiphany had to do with the target market for RealArcadeâ€™s casual computer games. Over time, it had become obvious that the main market for such games wasnâ€™t kids — although they were an important market. The biggest market segment by far, however, was women, specifically stay-at-home and working moms.
Why? Because games such as Bejewelled were intellectually stimulating, but were also simple enough that they could be completed in minutes — perfect for a mom with dozens of other things on the go, and only a few minutes here or there to relax and do something fun.
Mr. Wright took those insights with him when he left Real Networks and started building his own company: a combination greeting card and photo-sharing/scrapbooking service called Smilebox, which launched last year. Much like RealArcade, the service is a combination of Web and desktop: users install a small application, but it is tied closely to the Web.