When revolutionaries fall out

•July 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Things seem to have got a tad messy on the Voice over IP front with one of challengers calling the incumbent a coward and the incumbent talking about protecting its users and being responsible. Oh, the irony. By Ian Scales.

It’s almost Orwellian the way wheel turns on these things. This is war by blog post. Skype, one-time disruptive force in the global telecommunications industry, practically the inventor of the peer-to-peer voice over IP  business, is being accused of ditching its openness principles and using its market power to try and disrupt the business of an upcoming rival, that’s according to VoIP player Fring (the upcoming rival) through a blog post.

The problem which sparked the spat lay with Fring’s video chat client, freshly approved for the latest iPhone (the one with the back-facing camera). That resulted in lots of downloads, lots of use and apparently a load-spike on Skype (and Skype’s carrier partners’ networks) with which Fring has open interconnect.  If you’re on Fring you can (could!) call Skype and vice versa  –  that’s all part of the VoIP game.

The big difference between Skype and Fring though, is that Skype’s video calling doesn’t involve the mobile data channel, but must be made on WiFi. Fring’s offering is 3G based (and the company is still slightly stunned that Apple and it’s network partner for the iPhone, AT&T, passed the app).
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More free apps available on Android than iPhone

•July 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

App store analytics provider Distimo last week published its report for June 2010, and zoomed in on the pricing of mobile applications across a variety of platforms once more.

The startup found that more than half of mobile apps are priced below or equal to $2 in Android Market, Apple’s App Store for iPhone and iPad, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Palm’s App Catalog.

The exceptions to the rule: BlackBerry App World (which doesn’t allow apps priced below $2.99) and Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

The latter also boasts the smallest share of free applications for all stores researched (22% to be exact), and notably, five out of the ten most popular free apps in Windows Marketplace for Mobile are actually published by Microsoft.

Android Market sticks out with a 57% share of free applications, way more than what the other stores average. Most of them clearly circle around 25% free vs 75% paid, according to Distimo’s research findings. In fact, the only other app store with a share of free apps larger than 1/3 is Palm’s App Catalog.

Distimo points out that while Android Market is available in some 46 countries, users in only 13 of those are able to download paid apps, while developers from only 9 countries can distribute them in Android Market (much to the dismay of developers and users around the world).

(You may notice the sum of the proportion between free and paid apps for some stores exceeds 100%, which is due to apps switching pricing models during the reporting period.)

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Google’s AdMob VS Apple’s iAd

•June 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After intense scrutiny to ensure the acquisition won’t make Google a de facto monopoly in mobile advertising, Google’s purchase of AdMob got the regulatory green light and was finalized this past week. The upcoming launch of Apple iAds played a fundamental role in helping Google clear the antitrust hurdle, and now the two platforms will go head to head for the nascent mobile ad market.

The Google empire contains a diverse array of online services and moving parts. Despite the outward appearance that Google is primarily an online search engine, the fuel that drives the search engine and funds the Google empire is advertising. That explains why Google was so aggressive in outbidding Apple to acquire AdMob for $750 million.

Had Apple sat idly by, there is a very good chance that the AdMob deal would have been blocked by the FTC out of fear that it gives Google too much of an advantage in the mobile advertising market. Instead, Apple acquired Quattro for $275 million–less than half of what it had bid for AdMob. That purchase led to the iAd mobile advertising platform, announced in April at Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 launch event.

In its statement announcing approval of the AdMob purchase, the FTC explains “The Commission has reason to believe that Apple quickly will become a strong mobile advertising network competitor. Apple not only has extensive relationships with application developers and users, but also is able to offer targeted ads (heretofore a strength of AdMob) by leveraging proprietary user data gleaned from users of Apple mobile devices.”

The FTC statement goes on to add “As a result of Apple’s entry, AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not. This is particularly important given that AdMob’s revenue and market share are derived largely from the iPhone platform.”

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Google’s Android mobile operating system has passed the Apple iPhone in terms of US market share.

•May 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

A report by market research company NPD Group, found the Android OS – developed by Google – ended the first quarter of 2010 with a US domestic market share of 28 per cent.

That’s up from about 20 per cent in the December quarter, and due mostly to strong sales of handsets such as the Droid and Droid Eris at Verizon Wireless, according to the report.

The iPhone saw its US share remain relatively flat at 21 per cent.

The leader in the US remains Research In Motion, whose BlackBerry family of “smart phone” devices has about 36 per cent of the market, according to NPD data.

A big part of the boost for the Android platform came from the launch of the Droid handset from Motorola in late 2009.

The device racked up strong sales and helped the platform’s market share surge from below five per cent in the third quarter to end the year around 20 per cent, according to NPD data.

Verizon is expected to put heavy promotion behind the latest Android device – the Droid Incredible from HTC – for the next several months.

The data may also indicate pressure on Apple to expand its base of carriers for the iPhone.

The device is still exclusive to AT&T in the US market, despite persistent speculation that it might expand to Verizon later this year.

The company has never commented on any of these rumors.

Who wants Palm…. RIM?

•April 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

Research in Motion built an enviable $38-billion franchise over the past 20 years without resorting to a single major takeover.

But in the unforgiving tech sector, no one can rest on their laurels. As RIM fights a losing battle with Apple for market share, and contemplates Microsoft’s planned push into smart phones, there’s a school of thought that says the Blackberry maker must break with its conservative past, and make a $1-billion bid for troubled rival Palm.

After 11 straight quarters of red ink and a steady loss of relevance, there are numerous reports that Palm is more than willing to listen to takeover offers. When this chatter began, Asian tech plays HTC Corp. and Lenovo Group were mentioned as the likely buyers – two investment bankers are alleged to have been hired to run an auction. Yesterday, sources at global investment banks said the only potential bidder to show serious interest in Palm was RIM.

The logic for taking out Palm goes like this: RIM is plagued by software bugs in its operating system, and needs to broaden the range of products its offer to consumer and business clients. Critics say the Blackberry needs to feature more applications and better video capabilities to keep pace with iPhone and other gadgets.

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World Cup 2010 to spur major growth of mobile content & apps market

•April 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

The soccer world cup in South Africa in 2010 will see a massive explosion in the availability and adoption of mobile content and applications throughout Africa as consumers use every channel at their disposal to stay in touch with news about the tournament.

That’s the word from Ayodale Cole, founder and CEO of Cole Solutions LLC, an American mobile content and applications provider that has targeted SA for its services and products. He said that with a major handset manufacturer and a global mobile operator among the flagship sponsors for the tournament, 2010 is likely to be a showcase for mobile content and applications.

User-generated content, text and multimedia messaging-based news services, advergaming, mobile television, video clips and mobile web portals are just some of the content and application services expected to proliferate during the World Cup, Cole added.

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AdMarvel & Opera first to launch ad platform for the iPad

•March 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

AdMarvel, a mobile ad company recently acquired by browser-maker Opera is launching an ad platform for the iPad.

Opera has a very tiny market share in desktop browsers, but it is actually a profitable company, traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Its desktop browser is free but it makes money by licensing mobile versions of its browser for phone makers.

This business will soon be toast, however, as the market switches from so-called “feature phones” with specific browsers that makers will pay licenses for, to smartphones whose OSes come with their own browsers, such as the iPhone.

So Opera needs to evolve its business model, and apparently they’ve chosen to go the mobile advertising route — first by acquiring a mobile ad company and now launching an ad platform for the iPad.