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Dec 3, 2012

How GetJar Recommends Mobile Apps

GetJar is a young company based in San Mateo, California. They make recommendation to mobile users on what applications to download. Today GetJar has more than 75 million users. TechCrunch had an article on this fast growing startup.

The problem of Get Jar is very different from Netflix in that the user feedback is “implicit”. In the original Netflix problem, the feedback is user ratings for movies. Such feedback is called “explicit”. In certain applications such as Yelp review or Expedia travel, users give ratings to restaurants or hotels. In these cases, recommender system worked for Netflix would also work.

However, in many other cases a company only observes implicit feedback. A retails store only observes user purchases. An online search or online game company only observes click behavior or playing behavior. A more practical recommender system should be able to use such implicit feedback to make recommendation

For GetJar, the feedback data are app usage. The feedback can be encoded as binary (1 or 0). If a user has used an app, then that user’s entry for an app is 1, otherwise it is 0. (GetJar also tried to use more information such as the number of days using an app, but found no difference in recommendation results)
  
For more technical detail on GetJar’s recommender system, please see paper "GetJar Mobile Application Recommendations with Very Sparse Datasets" by Kent Shi and Kamal Ali  (from GetJar),  presented in KDD 2012 conference.

If you are interested in other recommender systems presented at KDD 2012, Urban Mining has a nice collection of them.  

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