Sep 18, 2013 · 2 minutes

You can't throw a rock at the tech blogosphere without hitting a publication that's referenced App Annie's software market data at least once. (Never mind the logistics of throwing a rock at digital publications. Pretend you're in a server farm or something.)

The company is today announcing that it has raised $15 million from Sequoia Capital to create a "platform that allows anyone involved in the app and digital content economy to extract insights that they can do something about," as Marcos Sanchez, the company's VP of global communications, describes it.

App Annie is best known for its app rankings, monthly "indexes," and quarterly reports published in conjunction with IDC, a research firm. But the company is about more than monitoring the app sales horse race -- it's also about providing detailed information that allows analysts, marketers, and app developers to navigate a quickly-changing ecosystem.

"People forget that a lot of our customers actually use our data to make decisions about what they're going to do and where they're going to go next," Sanchez says. Developers use App Annie's analytics to determine which markets they might want to expand to next, if they should switch from a paid app to a freemium app, and how competitive products are faring.

"I think that creating any app is about the balance of art and science. You want to find that Golden Ticket, you want to find that Angry Birds, you want to find that 'Titanic' movie, you want to find that Facebook," Sanchez says. "But what a lot of app developers understand, and what other people are starting to understand, is that it's about science as much as it's about art."

Analytics can let developers know that Russia is becoming an increasingly lucrative market, or that the type of software they're developing might perform better if it were free with in-app purchases. Developers can't analyze their way to success -- if they did we'd be surrounded by apps and services with 1 billion users -- but analytics can certainly help them make more informed decisions.

"You can't let analytics debilitate you from trying new things," Sanchez says, "because there are always going to be things that you can't analyze until you try them."

It's about balancing intuition with observations, the subjective with the objective, the art with the science. This latest funding round is supposed to let App Annie better help its users with everything that can be measured -- it's up to the developers to work on the things that can't.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for PandoDaily]