Posts Tagged mobile

Motorola, Nokia try to win back market

In the smartphone market, Apple and Samsung have become the two giants. Is there room for a third?

Motorola Mobility and Nokia, two laggards in the mobile race, better hope so.

Both companies held events on Wednesday in New York to unveil their latest smartphones, just one week before Apple is scheduled to introduce its next iPhone. Much depends on the success of those phones, as Nokia and Motorola’s shares of the phone market continue to slide while sales of Apple and Samsung devices soar.

Combined, Samsung and Apple account for about 50 percent of the global smartphone market, with Samsung in the lead, according to estimates by Gartner, the research firm. Other phone-makers are so far behind that there is essentially no relevant third player. Research In Motion, a potential contender for that spot, has said its new line of BlackBerry devices will not be ready until next year.

Samsung and Apple are the only companies shipping lots of phones to retailers and making money, said Jan Dawson, a mobile analyst at Ovum, a research firm. “Nobody is really No. 3 because nobody else is shipping and profitable.”

At its event, Motorola unveiled three smartphones under its Razr brand that will be sold to Verizon customers. It said the focus of the phones was speed, because they connected to Verizon’s faster fourth-generation network. And they have larger screens than their primary rival, the iPhone.

These were the first new phones that Motorola has introduced since it was bought by Google, which announced the acquisition last year and closed the transaction in May. The companies remained mum about their plans until last month, when Motorola announced that it was laying off 4,000 employees, the start of a revamping under its new owner.

A Google executive, Dennis Woodside, is Motorola’s new leader. In an interview on Tuesday, Woodside said that the union of the two companies would spur mobile innovation. But Woodside, sharp and energetic, was careful not to overstate his goal for Motorola. He does not expect it to become a giant overnight.

“We want to be pushing the limits of what Android can do,” he said, referring to Google’s popular operating software for phones. He said that the plan for Motorola was to build excellent products that took advantage of its engineering heritage. “It doesn’t need to be the biggest player, but it can be one that’s truly leading in leaps and bounds in generations and generations of devices,” he said.

The new phones – the Droid Razr HD, Droid Razr M and Droid Razr Maxx HD – have a crucial component that reflects Motorola’s legacy as a radio company: the Motorola-made cellular modems inside them, which connect with newer, faster fourth-generation LTE networks.

And because Motorola helped develop this radio technology, the company knows how to design 4G LTE phones with long battery life, said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president for product management at Motorola, in an interview. The Droid Razr HD, for example, has a 4.7-inch screen with 16 hours of talk time, twice as long as many similar phones, according to Motorola.

The phones all use Android, raising questions about whether Motorola will become a legal target for Apple, which recently won a court victory against Samsung in one of many patent disputes related to smartphones. Apple accused Samsung of copying several aspects of the iPhone with its Android phones.

Woodside said he was confident that Motorola would not face similar problems. “We’ve always been pushing the envelope of technology,” he said. “It’s not a culture that copies things.”

Nokia has chosen a different and perhaps riskier route than the makers of Android phones, forming a close partnership with Microsoft and building that company’s Windows Phone software into its smartphones. The partners have not gotten much traction in the market lately, but they are hoping for another chance.

On Wednesday the two companies showed the Lumia 920, a smartphone that includes Nokia’s PureView camera technology and the ability to charge the phone by placing it on a special mat. Nokia also briefly introduced the Lumia 820, a midprice smartphone with exchangeable covers. The phones run Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the software.

“This is the most innovative smartphone in the world,” said Jo Harlow, Nokia’s executive vice president. She said the Lumia 920 took better pictures and video, especially in low light, than any other phone camera, and that it would offer access to Nokia’s mapping database, which provides maps for 200 countries.

Nokia, which is based in Finland, has been trying hard to gain a foothold in the smartphone market with its Windows-powered Lumia line. It sought to make a splash this year with the Lumia 900 on AT&T, aggressively priced at $100 and backed with an enormous promotional campaign, but sales were lackluster.

Investors seemed unhappy with the announcements. Nokia’s American shares dropped 16 percent. But some analysts were optimistic that the Lumia 920 would grab the attention of phone buyers.

Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said offering features like the ability to wirelessly charge the device would only help Nokia, as long as the phone is cleverly marketed and priced competitively enough. But Nokia did not say how much the phones would cost or when and where they would be available.

“The most pressing question is whether Nokia can get its magic back, whether it can be a viable third leg in the smartphone world and it remains to be seen,” Golvin said.

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China’s Baidu enters mobile browser fight

China’s dominant search engine Baidu Inc rolled out a mobile browser on Monday to help secure its share in a mobile Internet market that surpasses the US population in size and to fend off smaller rivals such as Qihoo 360 Technology Co.

In China, the number of users who access the Internet from mobile phones has risen to 388 million, according to a government report in July, outstripping the number of users who access it from a desktop computer for the first time.

The Baidu Mobile Browser, which will compete with UCWeb Inc’s UC Browser, Google Inc’s Chrome and default Android browser, and Apple Inc’s Safari, is about 20 per cent faster than its rivals based on internal tests, Li Mingyuan, Baidu’s general manager of mobile and cloud computing, told reporters on Friday at a pre-launch briefing.

Baidu’s mobile browser also allows users to access a plethora of web-based mobile applications (apps) and run high-definition video through the browser without having to download apps or supporting software.

The browser, together with Baidu’s other mobile products such as its mobile operating system and cheap smartphones launched with partners, forms the core of what Baidu hopes will eventually become a source of revenue.

“Monetizing mobile is hugely important for Baidu,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTech Advisors, who added that the drive to monetize would be a medium-term concern for Baidu as its advertising clients still need to create mobile-friendly websites.

The shift to mobile could pose problems for Baidu if it can’t find a way to make money from search traffic. Baidu currently makes the bulk of its revenue from users searching from laptops and desktops.

Baidu’s goal is for 80 per cent of China’s Android handsets to have downloaded the Baidu Mobile Browser by the end of 2012, Li said.

The Baidu Mobile Browser also comes as Baidu is fending off threats on its home turf. Anti-virus software firm Qihoo 360 Technology’s entry last month into search caused Baidu’s shares to tumble 17 per cent to date.

Baidu is also moving into cloud computing, a term used to describe data storage or processing on the Web.

Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said on Monday the firm will invest more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to set up its cloud computing centre.

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Iwata: Gamers need dedicated handhelds, have a desire for ‘rich and deep’ experiences

The argument for the 3DS has been precarious at the outset, price not withstanding. With the rise of the iPhone and Android devices, people are playing more games on their phones and tablets than ever before, cutting into a handheld gaming market dominated by Nintendo for more than a decade.

“I don’t think there’s not a bright future for handheld devices but I understand that the competition, again with the rise of smart devices is different, and I do recognize that,” Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told Kotaku during a frank discussion on the 3DS and current portable gaming ecosystem. Iwata offered insight, not only on his own company’s stance, but on the needs of consumers in general ? and how Nintendo isn’t trying to compete so much as offer value.

“Previously we had to think, ok, ‘How are we competing with Sony?, How are we competing with Microsoft?, How do we compete with all the other software titles and all the other publishers out there?’ That environment has changed. And the games available for smartphones, I’m not saying that none of these are interesting, rich or fun experiences, because I know that there are some. And one way we can ensure that there’s a market for handheld gaming devices is by continuing to bring out entertaining and engaging software that will provide users experiences that they cannot get on these other devices.”

Iwata expects the need for “rich and deep” experiences will remain consistent, even while consumers change the context in which they play games. “I believe that as environments change and as the world progresses we’re going to have different ways in which people want to spend their time,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think we’re going to see the desire to have, again, rich and deep sort of gaming experiences… we’re not going to see that vanish. That’s not going to go away.”

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Indie dev PerBlue makes millions, sees Android dominating iOS


Source: Joystiq

Justin Beck launched PerBlue while finishing college in 2008. He got to work on the company’s first title, Parallel Kingdom, with his co-founder and a staff of seven in Madison, Wisconsin, surviving on $20,000 of savings from a stint at Microsoft. Today, PerBlue generates $3 million a year, supports 35 employees and has successfully launched three free-to-play MMOs in the Parallel universe on Android and iOS.

PerBlue’s Parallel Mafia and Parallel Zombies both hit mobile devices in 2012, but during his talk at GDC Europe, Beck discussed the specific finances of Parallel Kingdom, which has been live since 2008.

Parallel Kingdom doesn’t have a massive number of players, hype or notoriety in the wider gaming world, but it proves that when managed efficiently, a mobile game can provide huge profit for a small developer. Parallel Kingdom has 1.5 million registered accounts, but only 15,000 daily active users, which Beck admits is “not that big.” These users, however, represent $0.40 – $0.50 per user, per day for PerBlue. Extrapolated to 50,000 monthly active users, that’s more than $200,000 each month in microtransactions from one title alone.

Beck has transitioned from programmer to CEO, tracking PerBlue’s finances with detailed precision, but without self-destructive obsession. From this vantage, he sees Android outpacing iOS in almost every way ? 85 percent of PerBlue’s players use Android, with the remainder on iOS. The Android arket is growing, with multiple carriers offering dozens of devices to potential players, compared to Apple’s slimmer choices.

“Android is continuing to outpace iOS…. Android is a freight train.”

– Justin Beck, CEO of PerBlue
Furthering the hardware imbalance, mobile carriers earn a higher margin on Android devices and have begun advertising those over iOS, Beck has noticed. Previously in Germany, for example, Vodafone advertised iPhones in its windows, but today it’s the Samsung Galaxy S3.

PerBlue sees slightly lower monetization rates on Android, but higher player retention, making monetization across Android and iOS equal. Though of course since more players use Android, its revenue stream is higher.

“iPhone makes a little bit more money at a quicker pace, but Android actually has more users over a longer period of time,” Beck tells Joystiq. During his talk, Beck called Android a freight train and predicts that while Apple is “an amazing business,” it won’t be able to keep pace.

PerBlue itself will continue chugging along, creating games with the tools and approach that it has proven work well, 3 million times over.

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What’s Next after 4G Tech? Advance Review

Yes after early debut of 4G technology, we are now again facing another surprise from the developers of this technology. They call it 5G technologies which promise a faster mobile internet for the consumers.

If you can figure out internet options in your area, especially if it is 4G, don’t just be contented with the faster mobile internet that you can receive. Be mindful that as the sales of smartphone and tablet users increase, it would have a direct impact to the congestion of the wireless networks provided by the network companies.

Give it five years from now and you would feel the deterioration of your internet speed. This is the prediction of the network developers. That is why while you are enjoying the current comfort 4G is offering, they are busy in researching and developing a much faster mobile internet connection.

So what would you expect from 5G technology? Here are the facts that would excite you for the future.

Faster mobile internet connection

 

It would be an understatement to say that 5G offers faster mobile internet connection from 4G technology. However, according to the standard of the International Telecommunications Union, 5G technology would have a speed of one gigabyte per second. It’s a literal speed that can download an HD movie in less than a minute. Imagine the data that speed can offer you? Another shocking part is it can actually shared by the entire household. For example, if you are comfortable with slower mobile internet speed, then you can actually share the remaining bandwidth to your family members. And that’s what we call intelligent network.

Intelligent network

 

The developers of this technology do not only focus on the speed. They also put emphasis on the reliability and usefulness of this technology which is not seen in the 4G. With intelligent capability to distinguish priority connections, consumers can now put machines into their internet. For example, you could actually set your thermostat in plus 20 degrees hotter even if you are still driving two miles away from your home. When you are in an emergency, this technology allows you to prioritize emergency calls using VoIP than your social media sites. They predicted that this technology in internet connectivity will be more inclined in the introduction of IP based machines, instruments and appliances. Would this be true, we don’t really know. What is cleat though is that it can make human lives more convenient.

Affordable

 

5G technology has been predicted to be much cheaper compared to its ancestors. This is because data caps will be avoided and companies will now charge its consumers in a much affordable price. Indirectly, people can save from the costly internet bill because of the 5G’s capacity to share. From the point of view of consumers, this technology is the best way to do things like watching TV, using the telephone and watching expensive movies in the cinemas in a single billed internet service. Now, you can save more from those expensive cable and telephone bills.

Review by: Jashon Wills

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Spend more to get noticed on Apple’s App store

Getting noticed on Apple’s App Store has become more expensive for developers this year, while application downloads haven’t increased much, according to Fiksu, a digital marketing company.

Developers who actively market their apps on the world’s largest mobile-software marketplace spent about $1.44 to attract each loyal user in June, an increase of 13% from a year earlier, Fiksu said in its report. A loyal user opens an app three or more times, according to Fiksu.

Competition between app developers is heating up as the market matures and users have more choices among apps offering similar features. Costs peaked in December at $1.81 per user as developers tried to attract people who got an Apple device for the holidays.

The 200 most popular free iPhone apps were downloaded 4.63 million times per day, on average, last month, an increase of 2.7% from June of last year, Fiksu said.

Apple has paid $5 billion to developers selling their wares in the App Store and more than 30 billion apps have been downloaded since the digital store’s opening in 2008, Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive officer , said at a press conference last month. Most developers aren’t complaining.

Mobile apps for Apple and Google operating systems will generate $8.7 billion in revenue this year, up 60% from last year, according to a report by Flurry, a mobile-research company.

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Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack coming to Steam August 15

DrinkBox Studios’ roly poly platformer Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack was widely recognized as the PS Vita’s best early release, and now it’s going to get access to an even bigger audience. DrinkBox has announced in the gibberish-ridden teaser trailer above that the game is headed to Steam, with the Vita’s touch controls translated right over to the mouse and keyboard.

The team is seeking beta testers right now, and the game will be out on August 15. Oh, and if you have a PS Vita and live in the EU but haven’t played the game yet, it’s on sale right now there as well.

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Dress like the Jet Set with new Sega clothing line

Whether you’re spray-painting police officers in Shibuya-cho or bundling up for a Sakuragaoka afternoon of investigating what happened on the day the snow turned into rain, UK-based Insert Coin Clothing has styles to suit you.

The company’s “Sega Reloaded” line features authentic recreations of both Beat and Gum’s t-shirts from Jet Set Radio (which amusingly bear the characters’ own names), and both shirts and hoodies based on the tiger-adorned leather jacket worn by Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki. Other Sega designs reference Shinobi, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Sonic.

Another upcoming offering by the company is inspired by Sega even more literally, complete with bags matching the approximate shape and appearance of Dreamcast and Mega Drive consoles.

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More Indians access Facebook via mobile

HYDERABAD: An increasing number of Indian users of Facebook access the social networking site through the mobile thanks to a higher penetration, a top official of the social networking site here today.

While for other countries it was the desktop which was first used to get in to the portal, in case of India it was the mobile phone, said Kirthiga Reddy, Director-Online Operations and Head of Office-India, Facebook.

“Because if you think about it in US, most of the people started on desktop and moved to mobile. It is India that is causing us to rethink our model. Because many people are going to Facebook first on mobile and they might never go to desktop again,” Reddy said on the sidelines of a seminar.

She said the situation prompted Facebook to come out with many innovations so that the site can be accessed through any mobile phone.

Reddy also said currently language translation is available in eight languages (for India users) in Facebook.

“Globally, we have 300,000 users that contributed for translation of local languages. Translate tool is open for a few other languages,” she said.

Replying to a query, she said as per studies children below 13 are accessing Facebook when their parents are using the site.

“Our policy is that children below 13 years of age are not allowed…we have taken that very seriously. Anytime someone is being reported being under 13 (of age), we immediately look into that and take action. There is a lot of education and initiatives we engage in,” she added.

Facebook had a user-base of 8 million when it started its office in India in 2010. It has grown to 15 million users since then, she added.

According to her, 50 per cent of the active users log into their account every single day.

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Amazon.com plans to expand its mobile platform

FRANCISCO: Amazon.com Inc plans to expand its mobile platform and broaden its offering of devices beyond e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet, analysts, developers and retail partners said ahead of results next week from the world’s largest Internet retailer.

Amazon is to introduce up to five or six tablet SKUs, or stock-keeping units, according Demos Parneros, president of US Retail for Staples Inc, which sells the Fire.

The tablets will be different sizes, including a 10-inch model, Parneros said. Amazon spokespeople declined to comment on the company’s plans.

Amazon is making its own tablets to help the company sell more digital goods, such as MP3s, movies, TV shows, apps and games. Physical versions of these products, such as CDs and DVDs, were a big business for Amazon, but they are now in decline.

Having its own devices sitting atop a software platform that offers digital content to more than 100 million, credit-card-wielding customers already programmed to buy, could help Amazon become a major mobile platform player, challenging Apple Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc.

“You’re seeing the Apple play book recreated by everyone else who wants to play in the mobile device ecosystem. Amazon is the latest entrant,” said Niccolo de Masi, chief executive of Glu Mobile Inc, which develops mobile games for the Fire.

“The Kindle Fire is off to a great start,” he added. “We will be supporting all new devices that have promise. They are trying to build on the foundations they have.”

Data = Smart Phone?

Amazon launched the seven-inch Fire in September, so the company has almost a year of data on the spending habits of these tablet owners. If they have increased purchases of digital goods through the device, that may embolden Amazon to introduce other devices, such as a larger, more expensive tablet and even a smart phone, analysts and others said.

“Amazon will keep working on this path of providing mobile devices and tablet devices,” said Giordano Contestabile, an executive at PopCap, a unit of Electronic Arts whose games include: Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled and Peggle on the Fire. “We’re all waiting,” he added.

Purchases of Amazon e-books surged after the company introduce the Kindle e-reader in 2007, Citi Research analyst Mark Mahaney said.

“If a device can do that to their oldest, stodgiest category, imagine what else can benefit from a smart phone,” he said. Mahaney’s Taipei-based colleague Kevin Chang told Citi clients in November that an Amazon smart phone would be launched in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Amazon is expected to report second-quarter results on July 26. During a conference call after first-quarter results in April, Evercore analyst Ken Sena asked what traction the company was getting from the Fire and what the thinking was around a Kindle smart phone.

Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak dodged the smart phone question, but said the Fire was spurring purchases of “a lot” of digital content.

“We are very pleased with what’s happening,” the CFO added. Since the Fire came out in September, Amazon’s share of the video market has climbed to 13 per cent from 10 per cent, according to The NDP Group. In music downloads, Amazon’s share rose by one per centage point to 14.4 per cent, NPD data show.

“They haven’t grown exponentially but that’s a healthy gain post the Kindle Fire,” said Russ Crupnick, senior entertainment industry analyst at NPD.

LAB 126 GROWS Recent job postings by Amazon’s Lab126 research and design center in Silicon Valley suggest the company is working on new mobile devices that will run on wireless carrier networks.

Gregg Zehr, a former hardware developer from Apple and Palm, heads Lab126, which is based a short drive from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Lab126 had just over 500 employees listed on the LinkedIn professional network in September, when Amazon launched the Fire. That has grown to 865 as of mid-July , including 792 in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to LinkedIn. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment about Lab126.

“Amazon’s Lab126 development center has grown a lot and has a pretty enormous staff now – much more staff than is needed to handle a few e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet,” said Robert Brunner, founder of Ammunition, which has helped Barnes & Noble

design its Nook devices. “They are there to develop other devices,” said Brunner, who helped develop the first Kindle e-readers. “Knowing what I know about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, it’s likely they are doing a smart phone.”

Seven job postings by Lab126 in recent months sought hardware and software engineers who have experience with cellular products including cell phones and smart phones.

One posting for a Hardware Validation Engineer told candidates they may be responsible for adhering to carrier requirements for Lab126’s products.

Another for a Field Quality Engineer said candidates would coordinate with carriers to fix problems. “Prior wireless or related field test experience that covers smart phones or smart devices a plus,” Lab126 added in the job posting.

“That clearly means they will put out a device that needs to function on carrier networks,” Brunner said. “They are either planning on building that functionality on to tablets or a smart phone.”

‘Watch Out World’

Ed Liljegren, a hardware developer from Apple and Nokia , joined Lab126 in May 2011 and became a manager of Emerging Technology in April, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He described his new job as “Future Concept Development. Watch Out World for what we are doing next!” Liljegren added on LinkedIn.

Amazon also hired two Windows Phone managers from Microsoft in recent months, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Robert Williams is now director of Amazon’s App Store and Brandon Watson is director of product management for Kindle Cross Platform.

In early June, Watson blogged about his first few months at Amazon.

“I’m lucky that I get to work on a product that I really love, and loved before coming on board,” he wrote. “I can’t really say much about some of the things on which I am working. I can say that the goals of some of the teams are huge. Huge.”

Watson then recounted what an Amazon senior vice president told him during the recruitment process.

“He said, ‘the goal of Kindle was to enable a system to allow someone to buy any book ever published, and have it delivered anywhere in the world in 60 seconds. It’s time to think bigger.'”

Neither Liljegren, nor Watson, nor Williams returned calls or emails seeking comment.

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