Archive for the ‘Apps & Sites’ Category

 
      By Apps & Sites, News & Events, OS & Handsets

RIM is gearing up to make yet another attempt to woo would-be BlackBerry 10 developers to its platform. They know very well that this is key to making the  OS a success.

This time RIM will offer up hard cash to game developers who create a game for (or port an existing game to) BlackBerry 10. Each approved game will net the developer $100. Developers  can  submit 20 apps for consideration.

Also you get between two and five gaming apps approved, you get a free BlackBerry PlayBook on top of the money. Should five to ten or your apps get approved, you get all that plus a Dev Alpha device. On the off chance that you’ve been sitting on a boatload of apps that eventually get approved, you get all that plus a free ticket to attend GDC 2013.

The intelligence of this approach though remains to be seen. Is it going to produce lots of shoddy apps or maybe some good ones ? My guess is lots of shoddy ones.

They have promised top developers to pay the difference if their app doesn’t earn $10,000 in their first year in the BlackBerry App World. That may bring in some of the bigger and more exciting developers.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, General

Verizon Wireless said Monday that it plans to shut down its own-branded app store as of January.

Verizon set up the marketplace as Vcast Apps in March 2010, aiming to serve as an alternative spot for customers to get BlackBerry and Android apps.

The company will begin in January the process of removing its store, now known as Verizon Apps, from customer devices. This is a huge backward step and along with what Tmobile has done in the same direction and Sprint saying that they have no intention to have their own app store it looks like for now Google Play reigns supreme on the Android front.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, Geek & Tech, News & Events

Something crucial happened last month that no one seems to be paying attention to.

People searched less and that’s never happened before.

Ben Schachter of Macquarie Securities noted this in a research note:

Notably, total core organic searches declined 4 percent y/y, representing the first decline in total search volume since we began tracking the data in 2006. While this month marks the first y/y decline in total search volume, growth rates have been decelerating since February’s recent peak at 14 percent y/y growth (for the prior two years, growth rates were largely stable in the high single-digit to low double-digit range).

Tech insiders have been predicting this would happen for some time, as people shifted from using websites, where search is a natural activity, to using mobile apps. No less a luminary than Steve Jobs made this prediction in 2010 at the D8 conference:

We discovered something—people are going into apps. They’re not just going onto to websites. And people love apps. This is an entirely new thing—they aren’t using search, they’re using apps like Yelp.

That’s terrible for Yahoo, which depends on search for most of its profits and, having handed most of its back-end search technology over to Microsoft, has precious little leverage to restore its momentum.

It’s also horrible news for Microsoft, which continues to spend and lose billions of dollars to catch up with Google in a market that, it turns out, just peaked.

It’s fantastic for Apple, of course, which doesn’t have a stake in the search business but has a lock on most of the profits in the app economy.

It’s also good for players like Amazon, Yelp, and eBay, which handle specialized kinds of commercial searches that work well when packaged into a mobile app.

Google is not as bad off as it might seem. Yes, most of its business is built around search. But it has its own mobile ecosystem in Android, so it’s positioned to capture consumers as they shift from searching on the Web to using specialized apps to express and fulfill their desires. And with YouTube and Google+, it has strong social properties that don’t depend on search.

Twitter will continue to benefit from its unique ability to deliver timely content that doesn’t show up in conventional searches.

And Facebook, which admits it hasn’t really bothered to pursue the search opportunity, might still do something interesting. Or it might look at search and realize that it’s ultimately a declining business.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, Geek & Tech, OS & Handsets

Data from Localytics seems to indicate that Samsung has a spike in sales everytime there is a significant court battle. The publicity seems to profit Samsung. This is quite funny because Apple wished to disrupt Samsung’s and Android’s business prospects but it seems to be quite the opposite.

The research isn’t based on actual sales, but the number of new Samsung Galaxy SIII handsets seen by apps using Localytics app-tracking analytics package from July 31 to October 1, 2012. Nevertheless, it’s interesting, not just for the unexpected stats, but also the Localytics’ conclusion that this might signal the “beginning of mobile OS ambivalence”.

Week over week Galaxy S3 growth with iPhone 5 launch noted

Localytics stats suggest that Apple’s legal battle with the world’s largest phone vendor had cemented the perception that the companies’ smartphones were similar.

Does the OS matter ?

Localytics states: “A possible implication of this analysis is that a portion of smartphone users appear less tied to a particular operating system, instead comparing the full package of device, mobile network and available apps before choosing what to buy. This not only creates new opportunities for Android device manufacturers but also new Windows 8 devices. For app developers, this underscores the importance of having a presence on the top two or three platforms for your market.”

This may just signal to developers that having a truly Multi OS approach for the top 3 or 4 OS is key for success.

  
 
      By Advertising, Apps & Sites

Came across this excellent article on Fierce Wireless

The most popular gaming apps challenge players to chase after pigs and aliens, destroy fruit and even play god. For the developers who make them, there’s an even bigger challenge: finding a path to profitability.

Much of the research around smartphone use shows the majority of consumers are highly reluctant to pay for an app, let alone something that’s primarily for fun as opposed to a business or productivity tool. There’s enormous competition to attract players to gaming apps, and the debate over in-app purchasing and in-app advertising becomes even more heated when players probably want to spend more of their time scoring points than receiving a marketing message. These were among the issues discussed at last week’s Apps World Europe, which took place in London and featured a session on monetization strategies for mobile game developers.

Tag Games makes social-mobile games including Funpark Friends.

“The key learning is it’s actually really hard to make money,” said Paul Farley, founder and managing director of Tag Games Ltd., in a phone interview with FierceDeveloper from the conference. Farley was among the participants in the panel discussion. “No longer are you a developer, but a developer, publisher and now also a retailer. Customer acquisition is an issue, among other things, but the rewards are there if you can do it.”

Which pricing model works for you?
One of the key decisions for developers is whether to simply offer games for free, treat the game as a “premium” app and charge for it, or a “freemium” model whereby the game is free but players would be required to pay for various enhancements. Will Luton, a gaming industry consultant based in the U.K., said that while some developers may start out by giving a gaming app away and later trying to charge, it’s very hard to switch between models.

“There’s some examples of titles that have done it, mostly those with existing virtual currency, but there’s lots of complexity around how it’s done and how you manage player backlash,” he said. “I’d suggest all devs put consumable in-app purchases (IAPs) in their apps, regardless of if they intend to charge upfront or not. It gives the greatest flexibility.”

More specifically, Luton suggested developers consider what he calls the “Four Cs” of IAPs: content, competitive advantage, customization and convenience. Each of these have their pros and cons, however, For example, some users may be willing to pay for special content that enhances the gaming experience, but these could be more one-off purchases rather than the kind of recurring revenue developers would probably prefer. Allowing users to pay for a competitive advantage, meanwhile, could unbalance the game, Luton warned.

“Customization, which usually means (offering) avatar dressing or something similar, works best when users can share with and view customization of friends, due to a phenomenon known as social proof,” he said. “Convenience falls in the realm of letting a player do something quicker or easier–commonly this is energy mechanics.”

Farley said Tag Games has tried similar things. “Most people will pay to speed up the experience of open up content that’s only available for purchasing,” he said. “With customization, it might be about letting them choose the color of their car. What we’ve learned is that what would be perceived as having value from the developer is not always what the audience would see as having value.” Even something simple, like buying specialty stickers for one of Tag’s racing car games, has gained traction, he said.

Matt Gillis
Matt Gillis

Matt Gillis, senior vice president of global monetization solutions at Millennial Media, said it’s better to start early and ensure that monetization tactics like IAPs are tightly integrated into the fabric of the game, rather than looking like users were seemingly forced into it after the fact.

“Developers do not necessarily have to ‘make a move’ to freemium,” he said. “It can be part of an overall monetization strategy from the beginning.”

Making the IAP process smooth and giving a real show of the outcome is very important, added Luton. This is all about good game design–making the title fun and enjoyable and the player feeling satisfied in making a payment. “It’s still very early for IAPs right now and we’ll see bags of creativity–it’s rapidly moving,” he said.

Luton had high praise for IAP experience on iPhones. “Generally iOS is still killing it,” Luton said, noting Facebook and Android still have some improvements to make. Gillis said Windows Phone from Microsoft should not be ignored, either.

“It’s worth thinking about your approach to monetization based on the platform,” said Luton. “For example, up-front paid is almost commercial suicide on Android–some games can do it, but very few– [a] better [option] is ad-supported with IAP.

Gillis pointed to SongPop, a gaming app from Fresh Planet which offers users the ability to play for free since it is monetized with advertising. Additionally, there are in-app purchase opportunities in the game so users can unlock new song packs, send messages to friends and even buy the songs they hear. “It is clear to me that Fresh Planet took a very holistic approach to monetization when they were developing their game.”

Developers also need to think about how they can leverage popular platforms, and their own apps, to gather and analyze data, Farley said. He noted that Zynga has been particularly successful in tailoring its marketing activities based on what it knows about its customers. That’s one of the reasons Tag Games recently hired a data scientist to get greater insights into buyer behaviors.

“It’s giving you as a developer inside knowledge into how people are playing the games–what they are doing, what they aren’t doing,” he said. “There might be things you thought would be popular but aren’t. Prior to that, most games were designed by some creative visionary, but the more you can find out what people are actually doing, you can give them what they want.” This can make paid services much more viable, he added.

Can in-app advertisements work for your app?
As for the dreaded in-app advertisements? Farley sounded reluctant. “If I’ve downloaded it, I don’t’ want to be sold to every five minutes,” he said. Tag Games is far more interested in cross-marketing its own products or possibly looking at product placements within gaming experiences. A player might see a McDonald’s restaurant in the game’s virtual world, for example, and by clicking on it receive discounts or coupons.

Luton agreed and called these “offer walls,” acknowledging that this is still a risky area for most developers. “You need to consider hard the options and how they’re integrated,” he said. “Adverts can have a hugely negative impact on player perception.”

Most of the developers that are monetizing with in-app purchases experience the same challenge– 5 percent of their users account for 95 percent of their revenue, said Gillis. For example, Beeline Interactive made a dramatic pivot with a game like Smurfs’ Village from charging a one-time download fee to a freemium model. Since then, they have followed on with many other titles leveraging in-app purchases.

“I think the key learning is that freemium and ad-supported models can be complementary so that developers can monetize 100 percent of their users, rather than just five percent,” he said.

Even though few can match the marketing budgets of the largest game app makers, Farley said developers shouldn’t completely give up on the idea of premium games. There are still a few that can charge as much as $20, which can actually help them stand out within app stores and increase their discoverability.

“It’s like vinyl LPs–there’s still a market for it,” he said. “I think it’s all about experimentation, trying different things. We have options. You don’t have to go through a publisher; you don’t have to go premium. You can do what’s right for your product which is, after all, unique.”

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

C Spire Wireless, a regional wireless carrier, reported that its personalized recommendations app, SCOUT, has surpassed 110,000 users across Android and iOS devices.

SCOUT asks users a series of questions and thus creating a profile then based on the profile suggests apps that the user may enjoy. Soon after launch,  the app expanded to include music, movie and eBook suggestions across Apple’s App Store and Amazon.com.

The carrier also expanded SCOUT to include App Critics–users who review and spotlight select apps–and App Packs–bundled, curated apps by interest.

“SCOUT gets to know each consumer in a more intimate way and offers app and entertainment recommendations that match their interests and needs–providing content that is relevant, meaningful and more personalized to each customer,” said Suzy Hays, senior vice president of personalization and brand management for C Spire Wireless.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites

App search company Quixey has partnered with browser technology company Skyfire to create a new app discovery tool for Android called Skyfire Horizon.

Using a toolbar embedded into Android browsers by participating operators, it integrates Quixey’s discovery technology to allow mobile users to find apps that are relevant to the content they are viewing.

For example, if a user is reading content on ESPN, Quixey will recommend apps from this content provider as well as other relevant sport titles.

Users are also offered a Quixey search bar at the top of the apps page, to enable users to search for apps to help them achieve a particular task.

Quixey secured US$20 million in funding in June which it plans to use “to expand its world-class team, drive global partnerships and further develop the company’s ground breaking Functional Search technology”.

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, News & Events

 

Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2012 – GREE Advertising, Inc. (“GREE Advertising”) today announced a partnership with MobPartner SAS (“MobPartner”), a leading French mobile affiliate network. The alliance will enable game developers and publishers on GREE Platform to take advantage of industry-leading app discovery and user acquisition technologies across smartphone operating systems.

GREE and MobPartner will collaborate to offer developers and publishers on GREE Platform a new suite of promotion tools and serv

ices that will draw from MobPartner’s proven mobile marketing expertise and international network of mobile affiliates. Enabling granular, localized targeting of the optimal mobile media for each app, he new mobile ad solutions will benefit developers and publishers by facilitating cost-effective acquisition of users from GREE’s global community of high-engagement players, and the global market as a whole.

By driving new user registration to GREE Platform, the partnership is also expected to accelerate the growth of GREE Platform itself. Launched globally in May 2012, GREE Platform is an integrated platform combining social gaming and other applications with social networking features that, with a reach of 169 countries, is the largest of its kind in the world.

“We are excited about this partnership with GREE, as it brings an enormous opportunities within reach,” said Guillaume Alabert, Co-Founder of MobPartner. “After years of evangelism, the mobile user acquisition market has now reached critical mass, thanks to players such as GREE who are willing to invest aggressively in new fields. We also see this partnership as a confirmation of MobPartner’s expertise, and the reliability of our technology.”

“The future is bright for mobile ads and mobile social gaming, sectors that are growing rapidly as smartphone penetration increases in key markets around the world,” said Tatsuhei Asanuma, CEO of GREE Advertising. “By matching MobPartner’s mobile ad capabilities and ad network with GREE’s expanding global reach, developer community and user base, we’ll be able to help deliver new products faster, and to more people than ever.”

App discovery/ user acquisition flow

About MobPartner
MobPartner is the number one global Mobile Affiliate Network based in France. With a network of over 100,000 publishers and 1000 campaigns MobPartner helps advertisers and agencies drive incremental revenue across the globe, acquire new users and they only pay for performance. Our R.O.I – driven model (CPA) allows every type of action (CPS, CPL, CPI) on all Operating System.We offer publishers innovative tools and services for the monetization of 100% of their traffic. Our commitment to providing premium services in total transparency and openness to our partners is a fundamental base of our worldwide success.

GREE Advertising, Inc.
GREE Advertising provides advertising agency services to support global promotions targeting smartphones. GREE Advertising was launched in April 2012, as 100% Subsidiary of GREE, Inc. Alongside its own advertising products, GREE Advertising is pursuing strategic alliances and business with major Internet mobile advertising companies around the world, and is developing sales and support offices overseas, mainly in North America, Europe and Asia.

Contacts:

GREE, Inc. PR Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan E-mail : pr@gree.co.jp URL : http://www.gree.co.jp/en/ Twitter : @GREE_pr_jp
MobPartner 86 rue de Charonne 75011 Paris, France E-mail: press@mobpartner.com URL: http://www.mobpartner.com/en Twitter: @MobPartner

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, General

In June 2012 a presentation from Marcos Christensen—comScore country manager for Argentina and Uruguay—offered some compelling data on mobile device usage in Argentina from comScore’s Device Essentials service.

More Mobile Traffic Than Ever
First, non-computer devices accounted for 2.1% of the web traffic in Argentina, similar to the amount measured for Brazil (2%). In addition, comScore points out that non-computer web traffic has increased in nearly 100% in Argentina between 2011 and 2012. Despite this spike, Mexico and Chile seem to be ahead of both Argentina and Brazil in terms of using the mobile web: for each country, 4.6% of their respective web traffic comes from non-computer devices like mobile phones and tablets.

Mobile Phones vs. Tablets in Latam
When the device traffic is broken down for these markets, the following emerges:
• Argentina: 70% of non-computer web traffic is from mobiles, 25% from tablets
• Brasil: 54% of non-computer web traffic is from mobiles, 44% is from tablets
• Chile: 81% of non-computer web traffic is from mobiles, 15% is from tablets
• Mexico: 59% of non-computer web traffic is from mobiles, 30% is from tablets

Clearly, both Mexico and Brasil are great markets for selling tablets—and the high tablet use is something marketers and advertisers should consider when creating online campaigns for these markets. In addition, a recent projection from Cisco says that non-computer devices—smartphones, notebooks and tablets—will account for 21% of web traffic in Brazil by 2016.

Other Signs of the Rise of Mobile Internet in Latin America
Clearly, deeper mobile phone penetration and a surge in smartphone sales are both clear indicators of the rise of mobile Internet in the region. But we’ve covered them before in depth. However, another indicator that we haven’t focused on is mobile broadband, and that’s also gaining ground in Latin America’s major markets:

• Argentina: 194% increase in mobile broadband subscribers between 2010 (1.7 million) and 2012 (5 million)
• Brasil: 14 million mobile broadband subscribers in 2010, 73 million projected by end of 2012—421% growth
• Chile: 105% increase in mobile broadband connections in 2011
• Colombia: 69% increase in mobile Internet use in 2011
• Costa Rica: 35% of mobile phone users access the Internet, up from 14% in 2010
• Mexico: 107% growth in mobile broadband subscriptions between 2011 and 2012
• Uruguay: 60% increase in mobile broadband connections in 2011

  
 
      By Apps & Sites, General, News & Events, OS & Handsets

Growth of Google’s Android operating system continues to slow, hovering just above 50 percent U.S. smartphone market share for the third consecutive month, according to new data published by research firm comScore.

Android-based devices represented 50.9 percent of all smartphones nationwide in May 2012, up from 50.8 percent in April but still down from a high of 51 percent in March. Android’s stasis coincides with a recent upswing for Apple’s iOS: Five years after the retail launch of the first iPhone, the iOS mobile operating system now powers 31.9 percent of all smartphones in the U.S., up from 31.4 percent in April 2012 and an increase from 30.7 percent in March.

Android and iOS now make up a combined 82.8 percent of the U.S. smartphone market. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry continues to crumble, sliding from 11.6 percent market share in April to 11.4 percent in May. After several months in decline, Microsoft’s Windows platform held steady month-over-month at 4 percent, with Symbian bringing up the rear at 1.1 percent, down from 1.3 percent in April.

Close to 110 million U.S. mobile subscribers now carry smartphones, up 5 percent since February 2012, comScore reports. Text messaging behaviors remain unchanged since February, with 74.8 percent of U.S. subscribers sending a text to another mobile device. At the same time, 51.1 percent of subscribers used a downloaded app in May, up from 49.5 percent in February, and 49.8 percent accessed the mobile browser, up from 49.2 percent three months earlier. In addition, 36.7 percent accessed a social networking site or blog in May (up from 36.1 percent in February), 33.5 percent played games (up from 32.2 percent) and 27 percent listened to music on their phone (up from 24.8 percent).