Archive for August, 2008

 
      By News & Events

The $100 million iFund investment pool, created by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has invested in five iPhone start-ups, NYT reports in a profile piece on Matt Murphy who heads up the endeavor.

Pelago, the parent of mobile location-based service Whrrl, received an investment from KPCB before the iFund was created, and then was transferred over. The next three were: iControl, a company that enables users to monitor homes while away, and Gogii and Ngmoco, two mobile game companies. A fifth unnamed investment is expected to be announced soon.

Whrrl has already launched its application on the iPhone, with Gogii, Ngmoco and the unnamed company expected to launch this fall. iControl will take longer, and aims for early next year. Murphy said KPCB has already received 2,500 business plans for potential iPhone application start-ups. While iFund investments can range from $100,000 to $15 million, KPCB has invested $5 million to $8 million in each of its first five. Murphy added that the goal is for the companies to go public in seven to eight years.

Murphy also talked about how frustrating the mobile space has been until only recently. Murphy: “I was frustrated along with everyone else about how slowly everything was moving…Until the iPhone came out and you got to use one, it was hard to imagine how impactful it could be.”

Murphy also did an interview with CNBC earlier this week. Here’s the video clip.

  
 
      By OS & Handsets

Nokia, Samsung planning out new strategies to counter effect the trend of Apple iPhone. This entails launching a portfolio of next-gen touch-screen phones at a much lower price than iPhone in India and building their online music services to compete against Apple’s popular ‘iTunes’. This expansion of iPhone has prompted the move by the two major cellphone makers to provide cheaper touch screen phones to India and well I hope the rest of the world.

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According to a study, 40% of all phones may incorporate touch-screen technology by 2012.

“iPhone is a device which is desired by the Indian mass market. But its prohibitive pricing will play a spoil sport, something which other vendors can capitalize by rolling out user-friendly touch phones at competitive prices,” said IDC Asia-Pacific research manager Aloysius Choong.

For starters, Nokia plans to roll out a portfolio of touch phones across the low-to-high end of Indian market. Sources said Nokia’s first touch phone, code-named Tube, will target the mid-segment and have features that compete against iPhone 3G at a much lower price. Nokia’s internet services platform Ovi will have a music store, which will be loaded with regional and Hindi music, sources reveal.

Nokia India director (marketing) Devinder Kishore said, “We will launch touch-screen phones in India by December. Ovi will also be launched by then and will have a host of entertainment services, among others.”

Samsung is also going to create an online music service in India. “We are aggregating content for music service which will be launched next year. The focus will be on evolved touch-screen phones with full functionality like drag and drop of menu, video streaming and high resolution camera,” Samsung Telecom India country head Sunil Dutt, media reports. Samsung is going to launch its flagship touch phone Omnia next month.

Even Motorola is soon going to be a part of this race with its new range of touch phones across price segments. Motorola India director (marketing) Lloyd Mathias said, “The phones will be competitively priced against iPhone”.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

Google announced yesterday a new geolocation tool for both users and an API for mobile website owners and wapmasters. What is cool this works for mobiles without GPS capabilities.

This opens all sorts of possibilities for wapmasters who have services that till now could or didn’t want to put in place complicated LBS.

Charles Wells from Google Labs demons this new tool with a new mobile restaurant finder service from LastMinute.com called FoneFood on the following YouTube video :

Sadly this tool works only on Windows Mobile applications for the moment but Google promises that we will have an Android version soon. What we would really like is a Symbian and Java versions so that we can touch the largest possible number of users. I feel that it is only that way that LBS will really take off.

If you know of any other LBS tools like this that work on Java we would love to know. Just post a comment. Thanks

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

A few weeks ago I posted an article on how to develop .mobi compatible sites. This had a lots of feedback and was one of our most read articles. So I thought I would take a few minutes to give some more resources for iPhone ready sites.

I know that I posted an article recently by Simon Judge that questioned whether Apple and its ground shaking iPhone would be able to sell premium apps on their Apps store indefinitely. The same goes for iPhone optimized sites one could say.. is it worth with the small slice, though impressive, that Apple has to allocate time and resources to develop an iPhone specific site ? If you are already a wapmaster is it worth being an iPhonemaster ? Will you be able to sell access of content ? Display advertising or what ever your economic model is, if you have one… ? I don’t have the answers to those pertinent questions.. nevertheless.. We will most likely debate more on this blog and many others.. really in the end it is the end users who will vote with their fingers (as opposed to thumbs on most mobiles.. lol). Anyway if you want to make a iPhone optimized site here are some resources and tutorials that will help you out.

If you are a Mac user there is the Apple web site generator iWeb part of the iLife suite that makes things exceptionally easy. In fact you can have a simple iPhone optimized site up and running within 40 minutes. You can even optimize an already existing web site created using iWeb. This includes optimized finger buttons.

For the vast majority who don’t use Macs you can visit the Apple web site at their section called Web Apps.. that is what they call iPhone optimized sites :

I found some other resources with tutorials that are well done and explain in dev speak how to optimize or develop a purpose made iPhone site :

The first one is EngageInteractive which has done a step by step tutorial :

This one is good too and gives some tools to download :

If you have other resources, tutorials or blogs treating this subject please don’t hesitate to send them to me and I will include them in the list at shaun@mobilopen.org

  
 
      By OS & Handsets

T-Mobile USA has promised to debut the first mobile handset based on Google’s Android operating system, The New York Times reports.

Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times reports that T-Mobile will launch the so-called HTC Dream in the fourth quarter, perhaps as early as October–the device, boasting an iPhone-like touchscreen and slide-out keyboard. Following is an alleged video of the device :

The retail release date of the HTC Dream hinges in large part on the device and the Android OS earning network standards certification from the Federal Communications Commission–execs from T-Mobile, Google and HTC all hope to officially announce the Dream in September in an effort to cash in on the lucrative holiday season. The Dream is expected to be the sole Android-based device released in the U.S. during the remainder of 2008.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

Posted by Allen Hutchison, software engineer

A few months ago I was planning a vacation to Austria and Italy. I knew a few words and phrases in German and Italian, but that was about it. So I looked around for some portable language dictionaries. I thought Google Translate was great, but the web page didn’t work that well on the iPhone. So I teamed up with David Singleton, a fellow engineer in our London office, to build an iPhone interface for Google Translate.

Google Translate for iPhone is optimized for speed, supports all of the existing Google Translate language pairs, and uses a client-side data-store on your iPhone to hang on to your past translations so you always have them at hand, even if you can’t use the local data network. We wrote this using the AJAX Language API, so every time the Google Translate team updates the languages they support, the languages will automatically be added here.

I tried an early version of this interface out on my trip and it was great — although my pronunciation wasn’t. So every now and then, I would just hold up my phone to let people read what I couldn’t. If you’re wondering about data costs, I found that I could get between 200 and 400 translations in 1MB of data download. Although we don’t charge for this service, your carrier may charge for the data usage so be sure to know what your roaming rates are. For my plan, I found that I could translate 400 phrases for less than $10 when roaming internationally.

To try Google Translate for iPhone, point your iPhone or iPod Touch web browser to www.google.com and choose the “more” tab. Or you can go directly to translate.google.com in your browser. If you are traveling this summer (perhaps on your way to Beijing?) we hope you find this useful.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

As there are so many VoIP service providers like Jajah/nonoh today, Skype is not as attractive for calling rate. However, Now, you can get an Unlimited World calling subscription from Skype from $9.95/month, which makes their calling rate competitive again. Except their new pay monthly plans, another important move of Skype is the releasing of the official mobile Java Skype version. However, how does the official mobile Java Skype version work? And what is its rate? It seems that most descriptions on the internet are not so clear.

Fring is the only “really” mobile Skype client (except the Windows Mobile version of Skype) to me. And this official Skype Java mobile version is just another similar approach of third party mobile Java IM/VoIP softwares that supporting Skype like EQO, Nimbuzz and so on. The reason is that this official Skype Java mobile client only can transmit TXT chat via wireless data link. It is almost impossible to transmit voice by this mobile client due to the limitation of J2ME application’s performance. Moreover, there is report mentioning that making 20 minutes call per day with the official Skype Java mobile client will use only 1M byte traffic, which is too little for voice.

Then why Skype claims that this Skype Java mobile client can receive Skype call and make Skype/SkypeOut calls in some country? In fact, it will be clear by reading the explanation of cost: To receive Skype call will use SkypeOut credit and users have to input their mobile number to login the Java mobile client. In other words, it is the same as to set call forwarding when you are offline, your SkypeOut credit was used to call you mobile phone and the voice is transmitted over traditional PSTN. And this Java mobile client uses Skype To Go function to make Skype/SkypeOut calls in some countries, which means via access number.

In general, this official Skype Java mobile client is almost nothing new comparing to third party Java mobile VoIP/IM client. If your mobile phone is supported by Fring, it will be a better choice.

What is cool is that it does exist in several formats like Java as talked about here but also Windows Mobile, PSP and for the few WiFi phones out there.

  
 
      By OS & Handsets

I came across this thought provoking blog by Simon Judge :

“Apple sold an average of $1 million a day in applications for a total of about $30 million in sales over the month, Mr. Jobs said.”

“Mr. Jobs said developers’ share of iPhone application sales in the first month was about $21 million, of which the top 10 developers earned roughly $9 million.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software,” he said.”

Even if you have say 1000 developers sharing the remaining $12 million (less Apple commission), that’s still a good income for most of the developers.

The question I ask is how long will this gold rush continue? I was in the early market for Windows Mobile and Symbian applications. I once made a living selling applications direct to consumers. Now I do consultancy and custom development. Why? As number of developers increased, prices decreased. As more hobbyists wrote freeware, the value of software approached zero.

Today, its more predictable for me to write applications for others who tend to be companies trying to get their enterprise, brand, product or service mobile. This usually involves ‘free’ or ad supported applications and doesn’t depend on anyone selling anything.

Don’t get me wrong. The iPhone currently offers the best opportunities for developers wishing to make money from their mobile applications. All I am asking is how long the current gold rush will last?

Copyright 2008 Simon Judge

  
 
      By Advertising

Bango and Millenial Media have announced a partnership that will allow mobile advertisers to better understand the traffic that is being exposed to their ads, and so optimize for better performance.

Millennial Media has announced that it has integrated Bango’s mobile analytics into its Decktrade marketplace platform. Decktrade is a performance-based, self-service network for mobile advertising, featuring a simple-to-use auction environment.

Bango’s analytics platform was recently upgraded, and now provides the two metrics most sought after by website owners: the number of unique visitors browsing the site and conversion rates from mobile marketing campaigns (see post with more details on Bango Analytics.)

Ray Anderson, CEO of Bango said “this partnership gives mobile website owners the tools to target exactly the right audience across multiple markets and to increase their success on the mobile web”.

Eric Eller, Millennial Media’s SVP of products and marketing explained further, “Our Decktrade customers will benefit from being able to leverage the response of each campaign to then reinvest where they see the strongest performance.”

  
 
      By Advertising, Apps & Sites

The advertising world continues to pay attention to the iPhone, which is beginning to represent a significant share of mobile web page views. JumpTap and Pinch Media will combine efforts to allow advertisers to place ads in iPhone applications.

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The new offering will utilize JumpTap’s mobile ad network with Pinch Media’s analytics and ad serving technology. Developers of iPhone applications can now easily integrate advertising into their apps, thus bringing in a new revenue stream and keeping consumer prices low (or free!). And on the other hand, this will provide advertisers an excellent opportunity to reach the desirable iPhone user base, and benefit from the rich user experience the iPhone provides.

JumpTap is a mobile focused search company that has a worldwide mobile ad sales team.

Pinch Media has a network of iPhone application developers who use Pinch Analytics in their iPhone apps. The analytics module provides a comprehensive view into the number of unique users, length of time the application is being used, geographic location and other valuable data.

Since Apple launched its 3G iPhone July 12th, more than 800 applications have become available. iPhone applications are growing extremely rapidly, with the most popular free applications having over 250,000 unique users in less than two weeks. Individuals are extremely engaged with their applications – on average, spending almost five minutes a session.

For an excellent interview of the CEO of JumpTap : Dan Olschwang see MobiAD.