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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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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:

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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.

GoWalla Worth Nearly $30 Million After Financing. Time To Make Your Move, Facebook. December 14, 2009

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Austin, Texas based mobile social network GoWalla’s pre-money valuation in their recent financing was $20 million, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. The company raised $8.4 million in that round, making their post-money valuation $28.4 million.

That’s not bad for a service that launched just months ago and has 50,000 users. Part of GoWalla’s valuation is based on their PackRat Facebook application that still brings in “single digit millions” in revenue. But it’s clear that Greylock, Shasta and the other investors in that round are focused on GoWalla’s mobile strategy.

Silicon Valley based competitor foursquare has just over 150,000 users, and has raised just $1.35 million in funding. Their products are similar – users “check in” to places they visit. Friends can see where they are, and vice versa.

This clearly seems to be a winning model. Mobile social networks have been evolving briskly over the last couple of years, and the location based check in model seems to be what people want. Both services are expanding quickly, and passionate users chirp constantly about the services.

Facebook and MySpace continue to sit on the sidelines and take a wait and see approach. That’s probably fine for Facebook (here’s why). But MySpace doesn’t have the luxury of waiting. One strong strategic move they could make immediately is to jump headfirst into this space, damn the privacy issues. MySpace may even want to do this under a separate brand. But whatever – getting their bands and artists to use the feature will lure in lots of others. This is a wide open space. The model that users want seems to be set. It’s time to move.

Here’s GoWalla in action:

via GoWalla Worth Nearly $30 Million After Financing. Time To Make Your Move, Facebook..

How Local Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Social Networks? October 26, 2009

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Local Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Social Networks
The nearly mainstream social web is now evolving and graduating to mobile devices.  This emerging space of mobile-based social networks are empowering customers to find the best venues and prices, and offering savvy companies unique ways to cater to this new medium.  Yet, despite the emergence of applications like FourSquare, Yelp, and recently launched GoWalla, there are risks as customers talk directly to each other and opportunities for businesses who harness the tools.  Local businesses should approach the mobile social networking space by first listening to their customers, responding to commenters, provide special offers to advocates, and prepare for pricing to be impacted.

Mobile Social Network Offers Discounts Based On Location
Using FourSquare, a location based social network, I ‘checked in’ to the movie theatre indicator to my friends my location.  Immediately after the application identified my approximate location it offered a ’special nearby’ which I clicked.  The Savvy Cellar Wine Bar offered me 50% off a wine flight to a store 2 blocks away. […]

Catering To “Top” Customers Spur Word Of Mouth
The opportunities aren’t just focused on location based, but also provide opportunity for developing an unpaid army of advocates.  Take for example Foursquare’s point system, those who ‘check in’ the most to a location can become the ‘mayor’ of their particular store, indicating they’re the top customer.  Some savvy restaurants provide free drinks or other services to the mayor, who will continue to spread their affinity for a restaurant using social networks.   […]

Empowered Customers Check Prices In Real Time –Impacting Buying Behavior
Even if you don’t have a physical store, but offer a consumer good, consider RedLaser, which is a real-time bar code scanner that allows any phone to scan UPC codes and find them cheaper online.  […]

Innovative Market Dependent On Adoption
Despite the innovation, location based marketing and advertising has its limitations as it’s dependent on:

  • total number of consumers with mobile devices,
  • adoption of mobile social networks,
  • and their desire to find location-based offers.

Key Takeaways For Local Businesses:
Local businesses should approach these mobile social networks in a four part strategy –not simply reacting without a plan.  Companies should approach this space by:

  • Listening In For Free Research. Local businesses should immediatly montior their brands on mobile social networks like Yelp and FourSquare.  Use this information as free research: find out the perception of customers opinions both good –and bad to learn about their market.
  • Responding To Reviewers. Use negative information as a way to improve products and services and let your community know you’re listening to their feedback.  Although there are always two-sides to any complaint use these same tools to respond to customers in public, but be sure to abide by the terms of service.
  • Rewarding Top Customers.  Customers that frequently patron your store and tell others on these mobile social networks should be rewarded.  Build both in person and online relationships with them so they’ll continue to advertise and market on your behalf.  Free drinks anyone?
  • Preparing for pricing impacts and positioning.  With disruptive tools like RedLaser appearing, customers can quickly find pricing of products and find them at nearby retailers.  Retailers like CVS, Walmart, Target, BestBuy, Safeway should take heed as consumers continue to become empowered through instant information.  Companies will need to respond by:  making product pricing more competitive, or offering other deals such as bundling, speed, time, or other value-based offerings.

via How Local Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Social Networks « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing.

Million-Dollar Apps – BusinessWeek October 24, 2009

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In the course of reporting my feature story on apps for the Web and mobile phones, I asked developers how much money these little pieces of software are actually bringing in. While they are certainly the exception in the sea of 80,000 programs on Apple’s App Store, I found several apps that have racked up sales of $1 million or more. Here they are:

enigmo.JPG

Enigmo
Sales: $2.5 million
Company: Pangea Software
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F.A.S.T.
Sales: $1.8 million
Company: Social Gaming Network
ocarina.JPG

Ocarina
Sales: $1.3 million
Company: Smule
tpain.JPG

I Am T-Pain
Sales: $1.1 million
Company: Smule
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Roller-Coaster Rush
Sales: $1.1 million
Company: Digital Chocolate
flick.JPG

Flick Fishing
Sales: $1 million
Company: Freeverse

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Ragdoll Blaster
Sales: $950,000
Company: Backflip Studios

Currently, the lion’s share of app revenues come from the upfront fees paid by users upon download. But many developers see much bigger potential with in-app purchases, such as the extra songs you can buy after you download Smule’s I Am T-Pain.

Apple recently lit a fire under this opportunity by making it possible for companies to offer in-app purchases within free programs. Kleiner Perkins-backed game maker ngmoco plans to give away the first level or portion of all its games and charge users to keep playing.

via Million-Dollar Apps – BusinessWeek.

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010 October 20, 2009

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Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.[…]

The top 10 strategic technologies for 2010 include:

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution.[…]

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. […]

Client Computing. Virtualization is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical. Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise’s green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. […]

Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion. […]

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

Security – Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before. Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. […]

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

Virtualization for Availability. Virtualization has been on the list of top strategic technologies in previous years. It is on the list this year because Gartner emphases new elements such as live migration for availability that have longer term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server. […]

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

via Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010.

Dropbox Meets The iPhone; Access Files On The Go October 5, 2009

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Dropbox, the easy to use file access manager which syncs your files across all your computers and the web, has introduced an iPhone application to make it even easier to access your files anywhere in the world. After almost 7 weeks of waiting, Apple has finally approved the application. With this new iPhone app, users will get access to all their Dropbox documents, PDF’s, pictures, videos and much more. Dropbox also introduced offline viewing in the iPhone app, with “Favorites.” If you add a file to your ‘Favorites’, they’ll be accessible at any time. To do so, just hit the star at the bottom of any file, and it’ll be added. Otherwise, your files stay in the cloud.

One of Dropbox’s core features is sharing your files and folders stored in the cloud with anyone else who has a Dropbox account, and the iPhone is no exception. Users can easily share their Dropbox files and folders from their iPhone to any other Dropbox user by putting in their email address, just like on the web. The app allows users to upload photos for 3G users, and videos if you have an iPhone 3GS.

What’s really cool about Dropbox’s iPhone app is that you can even stream music and movies from your Dropbox straight to your iPhone, without any noticeable delay. Dropbox’s app is also heavily integrated into Apple’s camera API with straight photo and video uploading available too.

Just a few days ago, Dropbox reached 2 million users. Dropbox was a finalist at the 2008 TechCrunch50 conference.

via Dropbox Meets The iPhone; Access Files On The Go.

Creating A Hit IPhone Game September 26, 2009

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BURLINGAME, Calif. — David Whatley’s fast-paced action-strategy game “geoDefense Swarm” is the latest to top the iPhone App Store.

Priced at 99 cents, “Swarm,” which was released Sept. 14, is currently No. 1 in the Top Paid Apps Games genre, beating out “Madden NFL 10.” “Swarm” is also No. 3 in Top Paid Apps overall.

Whatley says the “ultimate secret” to getting to the top in the App Store is getting Apple ( AAPL news people ) to notice your product and promote it in categories like “What’s Hot” and “What We’re Playing.” This kind of attention drives tons of traffic to your app, he says. But it is near impossible to engage the infamously closed-off company directly, especially with many new titles coming through every day. Instead, he says, developers need to be able to successfully generate buzz around the blogosphere and on online message boards to pique Apple’s interest.

Whatley says PR firm TriplePoint was key to sparking interest in the original “geoDefense,” which was released last February, and now “Swarm.” “For an indie developer to be successful, you have to do more than write code. You have to figure out how to get the word out about your game,” says Whatley, who does game development in his spare time. His day job is president and chief executive of Simutronics, a company he co-founded over 20 years ago that creates game engine software for publishers like Electronic Arts ( ERTS news people ).

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