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Stanford Graduates Release Pulse, A Must-Have News App For The iPad June 1, 2010

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Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta, two Stanford grads who signed up for the Launch Pad class at the University’s Institute of Design (aka d.school), could have hardly chosen a better path to try their hands at startup life. The pair has gone from idea to a (very cool) digital news app for the iPad in just 5 weeks, and they’re just getting started.

The application, called Pulse, is essentially a visually attractive RSS-based news aggregator. On sale for $3.99 (iTunes link), the app is aimed to please both hardcore RSS reader users and people who are willing to pay top dollars for single publication apps.

via Stanford Graduates Release Pulse, A Must-Have News App For The iPad.

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Alternatives to iTunes: how 5 rival music services match up | ZDNet May 19, 2010

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How well do the current crop of online music services stack up against the iTunes Store?

When I did my inaugural round-up of iTunes alternative last year, I was looking for ways to avoid the high price of iTunes, and I succeeded. I found six rivals that offered significant savings—at least 10% and potentially much more. My criteria included services aimed at music lovers who want the option to buy music by the track or by the album. Several of the alternative services included interesting differentiating features, with the biggest being the all-you-can-listen-to subscription model.

I looked at three main factors: price, selection, and ease of use. To make price comparisons, I created a basket of 10 rock, folk, country, and classical albums, six recent releases and four back catalog choices from the previous century.

On price, iTunes was once again the most expensive, with the highest price for the collection. See the chart at right for details; the asterisk in the Cost column indicates that two of the five alternative services didn’t offer the entire selection of albums—Zune Marketplace was missing two and eMusic had only six of the ten albums on my list. To figure the total price tag for those two services. I calculated the cost of the missing albums using the prices from the iTunes store. Amazon MP3 and Lala offered significant savings over iTunes, with total savings of 11% and 20%, respectively. Rhapsody offered only trivial savings over Apple’s store, and the Zune prices were all over the map, with three albums costing more than their iTunes rivals.

Read the rest of this article via Alternatives to iTunes: how 5 rival music services match up | ZDNet.

P.S.: I’ll be back. China is behind me 😉

KeyesLabs Fights App Piracy with Automatic Application Licensing May 6, 2010

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KeyesLabs, makers of Screebl and Screebl Pro, have found their apps getting rather popular. Great news, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. Developer and founder David Keyes estimates that after nearly 100,000 downloads, roughly 70% of them are pirated copies. So, to combat this issue, KeyesLabs has created a new tool for developers called Automatic Application Licensing. […]

Continue reading at KeyesLabs Fights App Piracy with Automatic Application Licensing | AndroidGuys

Knocking lets you share live video between iPhones and Android smartphones | VentureBeat March 24, 2010

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Knocking Live Video, which allows you to send live video footage from your phone’s camera to another phone, is one of the coolest iPhone apps I’ve seen recently. And today it’s launching for phones using Google’s Android operating system.

via Knocking lets you share live video between iPhones and Android smartphones | VentureBeat.

Gartner Outlines 10 Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2010 and 2011 March 24, 2010

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STAMFORD, Conn., March 24, 2010 —  

Gartner, Inc. has identified 10 mobile technologies that will evolve significantly through 2011 in ways that will impact short-term mobile strategies and policies. Investments in mobile applications and technologies will increase through 2011 as organizations emerge from the recession and ramp up both business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile spending.”We are highlighting these 10 mobile technologies that should be on every organization’s radar screen,” said Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “These mobile technologies were selected because they will evolve in ways that affect corporate strategies, significant numbers of customers or employees will adopt or expect them, or they will address particular mobile challenges that organizations will face through 2011.”

The 10 mobile technologies to watch in 2010 and 2011 include:

(more…)

ZumoDrive Brings Cloud Storage And Syncing Application To Android And Palm Devices March 17, 2010

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File syncing and storage startup Zumodrive is expanding its mobile offerings today with free applications for Android and Palm phones. While there are a plethora of syncing and storage services available to users, ZumoDrive, which spawned from Y Combinator startup Zecter, has a different take on file syncing. Similar to other services, Zumodrive creates a drive on your device that is synced to the cloud. But service includes a slightly different twist-ZumoDrive tricks the file system into thinking those cloud-stored files are local, and streams them from the cloud when you open or access them.

The startup launched an iPhone app last year, which let users sync their content to their phone without having to deal with local storage capacity issues. The Android and Palm apps include much of the same functionality. The apps allows users to sync their entire iTunes library on their phones even though the songs are not locally saved. Plus, ZumoDrive allows you to import your files. photos albums and videos onto your Android and Palm phones.

Additional features include video streaming from ZumoDrive directly to devices in MP4, H.264 format, music organized by artist, albums, and even playlists created on other devices, the ability to stream music in the background and listen to music over both 3G or EDGE networks.
Additionally you can access and view Microsoft Office documents and PDF files.

ZumoDrive has been gaining traction over the past year. Fresh off of a $1.5 million funding round, the startup scored a deal with HP in January to to power the backend of the technology giant’s CloudDrive on all HP Mini netbooks.

Last year, ZumoDrive released a new version of its system that wirelessly syncs playlists between devices, auto-detects content, and lets users link file folders on their devices to ZumoDrive only once so that changes in that folder will always be linked to ZumoDrive. The service was also upgraded to integrate well with media applications, like iTunes, so users can play entire music libraries saved in ZumoDrive on multiple devices without manually syncing content. We initially reviewed Zumodrive here.

Zecter previously launched a product called Versionate, an office-wiki product, that we first covered in July 2007. We wrote about them again a year ago. ZumoDrive faces competition from Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box.net.

via ZumoDrive Brings Cloud Storage And Syncing Application To Android And Palm Devices.

Day 74 Sales: Apple iPhone vs. Google Nexus One vs. Motorola Droid March 17, 2010

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Through applications using Flurry for analytics reporting, Flurry can detect and count unique devices in the market such as Google Nexus One and Motorola Droids. Because applications embedded with Flurry have been downloaded to over 80% of all iPhone OS and Android devices, Flurry is able to make reliable estimates about total handset sales.[…]

So, why 74? Simply put, according to Apple, the original iPhone reached 1 million units sold in that many days. […]

The chart below compares the sales results through each of their respective first 74 days. The launch dates were: iPhone, June 29, 2007; Droid, November 5, 2009; and, Nexus One, January 5, 2010.  Please note that we forecasted the last few days of Nexus One’s first 74 days sales based sales of the first 70 days we tracked at the time of writing this report.

Sales Nexus One, Droid, iPhone

Inspecting the graph, it’s immediately clear that Nexus One sales continue to pale in comparison to iPhone 1G and Motorola Droid, with each besting Nexus One sales by roughly 8 times over the same time period.

At the same time, an interesting side-story is that the Motorola Droid edged out iPhone 1G over the first 74 days, coming in at just over one million sold through, by our calculations. This was surprising enough that we re-ran our estimates several times and still came up with the same results. Thinking about the differences associated with each launch (operator, year, etc.), we believe there are three underlying drivers of Droid worth keeping in mind compared to the other two handsets:

1. Consumer Perception & Demand: Motorola Droid launched over 2.5 years after the iPhone 1G. (Nov 2009 vs. July 2007). When the iPhone launched, consumers’ concept of a mobile computing device as we now understand it, was very different. Since then, Apple has spent millions of dollars training and educating consumers about capabilities of such a device, which was no small feat especially after its first foray into the handset business (Motorola ROKR E1 in 2005). Until the iPhone was introduced, most consumers, especially in the U.S. had thought of their phones as, well, just phones.  Finally, it’s worth noting that the Motorola Droid could be considered Android’s “third generation” handset, which benifitted from generated awareness by preceding G1 and MyTouch 3G handsets.

2. Relative Subscriber Bases: Droid launched on Verizon, a larger network with more subscribers than AT&T, especially when considering AT&T’s 2007 size (63.7 million at the time of iPhone launch) versus Verizon’s 2009 size (89 million at the end of Q3). Additionally, there was pent up demand among the Verizon subscriber base for an iPhone killer, which is exactly how Verizon positioned the Droid. Finally, Verizon backed the launch with advertising support of at least $100 million.

3. Holiday Season Sales: Droid benefited from launching on Nov 5 and having its first 74 days lifted by the holiday season, which is the highest selling period of the year for handsets. Neither iPhone 1G nor Nexus One’s first 74 days spanned a holiday period.

As Google and Apple continue to battle for the mobile marketplace, Google Nexus One may go down as a grand, failed experiment or one that ultimately helped Google learn something that will prove important in years to come. Apple’s more vertically integrated strategy vs. Google’s more open Android platform approach offer strengths and weaknesses that remind us of PC vs. Mac from the 1980’s. A key difference this time around is that Apple is enjoying much more 3rd party developer support, whose innovative applications push the limits of what the hardware can do. Ultimately, however, developers support hardware with the largest installed base first. For Android to make progress faster, from a sales perspective, it needs more Droids and fewer Nexus Ones going forward.

via Day 74 Sales: Apple iPhone vs. Google Nexus One vs. Motorola Droid.

Now you can shop for Android apps without Android | VentureBeat March 17, 2010

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Google has limited app discovery in its Android Market store to Android-powered devices. That makes it hard for people who don’t own a phone, or who want something faster and bigger than a Droid screen, to search for and learn about apps.

AppStoreHQ has solved the problem with a browser-based Android directory at AppStoreHQ.com/android-apps. The directory works like AppStoreHQ’s iPhone directory.

The company has also made it possible for other sites to tap into their Android listings. You can see the API-like info at DroidDog and AndroidTapp.

AppStoreHQ founder Chris DeVore sent me this list of features:

  • Keyword search and category browse for any app in Android Market.
  • Web-based profile pages for each app that include price, description, screenshots and recent user feedback.
  • Direct buy links for Android device users.
  • For Web visitors, barcode-based buy links and an email-to-phone option.
  • Easy social share actions for any Android app via Twitter, Facebook and email.
  • “Hottest Apps” rankings based on worldwide Android app mentions on blogs and Twitter,with results updated several times a day.

Seattle-based AppStoreHQ is run by DeVore, and funded by Founder’s Co-op, also in Seattle. The company won Best Mobile Service Startup at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat 2009 conference.

via Now you can shop for Android apps without Android | VentureBeat.

Tim Bray lands on Android team March 15, 2010

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XML co-creator Tim Bray has joined the exodus from Oracle and landed at Google, as a “developer advocate” for the Android.

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

Having a public, personal face on its Android efforts will be very important to Google, which faces both marketing and legal challenges to its growth in the mobile market from Apple. […]

via Tim Bray lands on Android team | Open Source | ZDNet.com

Demolition Derby in Devices: The roller-coaster ride is on | VisionMobile :: blog March 13, 2010

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[The economic realities will lead to a roller-coaster ride that will shake up the mobile industry. Guest blogger Richard Kramer talks about the impending price war, the implications for industry growth, and how this will alter the landscape of device vendors in the next decade]

With all the discussion of technology trends on the blogosphere, there are some harsh economic realities creeping up on the handset space. The collective efforts of vendors to deliver great products will lead to an all-out smash-up for market share, bringing steep declines in pricing.

In November 2009 I wrote a note about what Arete saw as the impending dynamics of the mobile device market. I called it Demolition Derby. This followed on from a piece called Clash of the Titans, about how the PC and Handset worlds were colliding, brought together by common software platforms and adopting common chipset architectures. As handsets morphed into connected devices, it opened the door for computing industry players, now flooding in.

New categories of non-phone devices
A USB modem/datacard market of 70m units in 2009 should counted as an extra third of the smartphone market, as it connected a range of computing devices. By the end of 2010, I believe there will be many new categories of non-phone mobile devices to track (datacards, embedded PCs, tablets, etc.), and they may be equal to high-end smartphone market in units in 2011.  Having looked at the roadmaps of nearly every established and wannabe vendor in the mobile device space, I cannot recall a period in the past 15 years of covering the device market with so many credible vendors, most with their best product portfolios ever, tossing their hats in the ring.  I see three things happening because of this:

1. First, a brutal price war is coming. This will affect nearly every segment of the mobile device market. Anyone who thinks they are insulated from this price war is simply deluded. I have lost count of the number of vendors planning to offer a touch-screen slim mono-bloc Android device for H2 2010. The only thing that will set all these devices apart will be brand, and in the end, price.  Chipmakers – the canaries in the handset coal mine – are already talking about slim HSPA modems at $10 price points, and $20 combined application processors and RF. Both Huawei and ZTE now targeting Top Three positions in devices, with deep engagements developing operator brands. They are already #1 and #2 in USB modems.  Just look at the pricing trends ZTE and Huawei brought to the infrastructure market; this will come to mobile devices.

2. Second, growth will rebound with a vengeance. I expect 15% volume growth in 2010, well ahead of the cautious consensus of 8%.  I first noted this failure of vision in forecasting in a 2005 note entitled “A Billion Handsets in 2007” when the consensus was looking for 6% growth whereas we got 20%+ growth for three years, thanks to the onset of $25 BoM devices. Consumers will not care about software platform debates or feature creep packing devices with GHz processors in 2010. Ask your friends who don’t read mobile blogs and aren’t hung up about AppStores or tear-downs:  they will simply respond to an impossibly wide choice of impossibly great devices, offered to them at impossibly cheap prices.

3. Third, the detente is over. The long-term stability that alllowed the top five vendors to command 80% market share for most of this decade is breaking down.  This is not simply a question of “Motorola fades, Samsung steps in” or “LG replaces SonyEricsson in the featurephone space”.  Within a year, there could be dangerously steep market share declines among the former market leaders (i.e. Nokia) to accompany their decline in value share. Operators are grasping control of the handset value chain; many intend to follow the lead of Vodafone 360 to develop their own range of mid-tier and low-end devices. Whether or not this delivers better user experiences, operators are determined to target their subsidy spend to their favourite ODM partners. In developed markets, long-established vendors are getting eclipsed: in 2010, RIM or Apple could pass traditional vendors like SonyEricsson or Motorola in units. RIM and Apple already handily out-paced older rivals in sales value, and with $41bn of estimated sales in 2010, are on par with Nokia.

Hyper competition
So where does this lead us? Even with far greater volumes than anyone dares to imagine, there is no way to satisfy everyone’s hopes of share gains, or profits. With Apple driving to $25bn in 2010 sales and Mediatek-based customers seeking share in emerging markets, the mobile device market is entering a phase of hyper-competition. It is all too easy for industry pundits to forget that Motorola and Sony Ericsson collectively lost over $5bn in the past 2.5 years. More such losses are to come.

Never before have we seen so many vendors acting individually rationally, but collectively insane. Albert Einstein once famously said that “the defintiion of insanity was doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result”.

The men in the white coats will have a field day with the mobile device market in 2010.

– Richard

via Demolition Derby in Devices: The roller-coaster ride is on | VisionMobile :: blog.