Tag Archives: iPhone

No, app developers aren’t “switching” from iPhone to Android

Learning to write link baiting headlines is a very good method of learning how to spot them. And I expect that the latest AdMob report on mobile application development will draw a few linkbaiting headlines, such as MobileMarketingWatch’s “AdMob: 70% Of iPhone Developers Switching To Android“.

It’s good link bait, but it’s simply not true. In fact, what the AdMob report [PDF] actually says is:

  • More than 70% of iPhone devs plan to develop for Android over the next 6 months
  • Close to half of Android devs (48%) plan to develop for iPhone in the next 6 months

So in other words, it’s not a question of “switching” to Android. As is entirely sensible, developers are looking to do cross-platform work. That’s why almost half of the Android developers surveyed plan on developing for iPhone, too.

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Is crapware invading Android?

One of the things that fascinates me about the way that the smartphone market is developing is whether it is following a similar path to the PC market. It’s easy to see the conflict between Apple and Google, for example, as a re-run of Apple versus Microsoft – and draw the conclusion that the end result will be similar.

I don’t think the analogy holds as strongly as some commentators believe, but there are some interesting areas where Android looks increasingly like Windows. One example of this a what some companies would call “value-added software”, which consumers often call “crapware”: additional software which customises the user experience or (in theory) adds additional “free” functionality to the supplied product.

On Android, this manifests itself as “user experiences” like HTC‘s SenseUI, but it’s not only manufacturers that want to play this game. Consider, too, the kinds of software added by networks like Vodafone:

“Vodafone has flagged up the forthcoming release of HTC’s Android-based smartphones Legend and Desire on its network next month.Legend will come with Vodafone’s 360 content and social networking portal pre-loaded.”

And this is just the start. The temptation for networks to “differentiate” themselves by skinning, amending and otherwise tampering with Android is going to be pretty intense – they’ve done much the same in the past with customised versions of non-smart phones, and they’ll do the same again with the “open” platform of Android.

Of course, the problem with this “value add” is that it rarely adds any value for the customer. The “problems” these kinds of add-ons are designed to solve are usually more to do with operator revenue than customer need.

Thus, Android is beginning its spiral into the world of crapware, software which serves no real purpose other than to give marketing people a “differentiator” which doesn’t really meet a customer need. And just as it has on the PC, the situation will get worse before it gets better – with the unfortunate issue that crapware is even harder to get rid of on a phone than it is on a computer.

(Image from louisvolant)

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Is it time for Apple to open up the App Store model?

I don’t often link to Daring Fireball, basically because I assume that you’re all reading it anyway. But in his post on Tits and Apps, John perfectly summarises the challenge that faces Apple in maintaining its mindshare with mobile developers:

Apple sees the App Store as an aspect of its brand. Developers see the App Store as the entirety of the Cocoa Touch platform. This is a significant conflict. Developers, if rejected from the App Store, can freely deliver whatever content they choose through MobileSafari — but you can’t reuse compiled Cocoa Touch apps that way. The work invested in a native app can only be recouped through the App Store.

The obvious answer to this – and, I suspect, the long-term solution – is to have more than one App Store. The Apple App Store would, like Apple’s physical and online stores, be quality goods selected by Apple. The other store (or stores?) would be more free-form, with levels of gauranteed quality which differed from those Apple set.

You would expect that any store which Apple allowed into the walled garden of the iPhone would have certain limitations. For example, the apps wouldn’t be allowed to use private APIs, or contain malware, and I would expect Apple to continue to check every iPhone app for this (and take a cut – less than 30%, but not nothing).

Good luck with making money from Android apps

Android App Store Is 57% Free Compared to Apple’s 25% – app stores – Gizmodo:

App store analytics firm Distimo recently released a bunch of juicy info about the major mobile app stores, and the results are pretty interesting. For one, Android has a much higher proportion of free apps.

Or, to put it another way, you’ve got even less chance of making money on Android than you have on iPhone.

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HTC Bravo head-to-head with Google Nexus One?

When I predicted that Google wouldn’t launch its own phone, one of the reasons I believed it was unlikely was that everything pointed to it being a rebadged HTC Bravo (otherwise known as the HTC Passion). While I was wrong about Google launching its own phone, I was right about the rebadge job – and it seems that it may be the Bravo, not the Nexus One, which is heading into the UK retail market.

The HTC Bravo, of course, will feature the company’s Sense UI, as featured on the HTC Hero (video below).

As I said prior to Nexus One’s launch, the one thing that Google can’t do is offer a phone which has “better” Android software on it, which means that its partners get to offer customised and in some cases better UIs. This is the problem that Google faces: Unlike Apple with its iPhone, it doesn’t own the hardware and software.

The rumours are that the HTC Bravo will launch in the UK on Orange with others to follow. Certainly, I’d expect more Bravo’s to be sold than Nexus Ones.

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CrunchGear catches the TechCrunch bullshit bug

Apparently, Apple is now responsible for via killing hardware innovation throughout the industry, at least according to John Biggs.

Remember when Apple bought up all the Flash memory? Well, Apple has also cornered the market in touchscreens. A few months ago I spoke to one inventor who had a horrible time trying to grab capitative touchscreens for a project, even at the smaller electronics markets. Manufacturers knew that something from Apple was about to drop so they drove up prices, resulting in a standstill in innovation.

By pricing the iPad at about $500 on a good day, Apple has forced Asia’s hand. The company clearly did plenty of deals with Foxconn and the rest of the suppliers down the line and while folks like LG are making a mint on screens and other components, they have essentially closed the spigot overseas leading companies like Asus and Acer to announce that they won’t try to compete.

This also explains why other companies just couldn’t get past the resistive touchscreen for so long. Suppliers knew that Apple was sniffing around and so they kept prices high. As a result we had almost two years of me-too garbage coming out of Samsung, Sony, and Nokia until – at long last – the smaller touchscreens are ubiquitous.

First: Where’s the actual evidence that Apple ever bought up all the flash memory? Sure, there was a rumour they had bought a vast amount of supply. But as I remember it, other manufacturers seemed to have no problems shipping the hundreds of products which also feature flash memory. And prices for flash devices as a whole came down.

Second: high quality capacitive glass might well be in short supply. Apple might well have bought up a lot of supply from key manufacturers. And John’s friend who wanted 100 or 1,000 panels for whatever his project was might well have found it hard to buy them in those numbers.

But do you seriously think for one second that if Nokia or Samsung (who MAKE panels) or any other major player wanted to launch a product and went to a manufacturer with a potential order for 10 million panels, they wouldn’t find a way to get what they wanted?

If Nokia went to a manufacturer of capacitive touch screens and said “Hey, we’d like to buy lots of them. By the way, we sell three times as many phones as Apple” who do you think that manufacturer would make first in line for supply?

Sure, it might take some time to make it happen. But the biggest customers get the best deals, and in LCDs Apple is by no means the biggest customer.

Third: Apple is a master of supply chain management. One of the main characteristics of the Steve Jobs era is that, thanks largely to terrific work by Tim Cook, it does not hold much inventory. And that includes inventory of parts. The idea that Apple is buying up a year’s worth of any kind of part is laughable.

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Nokia app store passes one million downloads a day mark

Brand Republic:

Nokia‘s Ovi application store is now attracting one million downloads a day around the world, the company has claimed.The store was launched in May last year, allowing the handset manufacturer to join the progress in apps being made by rivals such as Apple and by Google’s open source Android platform. Ovi Apps include Ovi Maps, as well as business tools and games.

To put a little context around that, Apple is currently running at about ten million downloads per day, from an installed base significantly lower than Nokia.

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The iPad and me

There’s a million posts around about the iPad today, and there will be a  million more tomorrow. My reaction is simply that I’ll be buying one, because I’m a geek, and that’s what I do.

As for whether it’s good or bad, game-breaking or Apple-breaker, that I’ve yet to learn.

I learned with the iPhone never to judge Apple products until I’d  had them in my sweaty paws. As a dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry user, there was not way I was going to get an iPhone. Not a chance.

However, as a general nerd, I felt duty-bound to experience the interface – so I bought an iPod touch. Within two weeks, I’d bought an iPhone. Having used the interface  on the touch, there was simply no way that I was going to not have that lovely interface on my phone. It made my perfectly-good BlackBerry feel like something from the 19th Century.

So, till I actually have one in my hands, I’ll refrain from too much comment. People who judge Apple products by looking at the spec sheets simply don’t get it.

(Image by MarketingFacts)

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Apple levitates: Financial quarter, by the numbers

Joe Wilcox goes through Apple’s numbers for the quarter thoroughly (and dispassionately – something that I appreciate when it comes to numbers).

What sticks out for me is that Apple has managed a pretty astounding feat: preserving unit sales (or expanding them in many product lines) while pushing margins even higher, something that should barely be possible when the world is in the grips of the worst recession since the 1930′s. There’s been a lot of focus on the bottom-line revenue numbers, but the truth is that given the changes in the way Apple accounts (driven by a revision to the rules by the Financial Standards Accounting Board) it’s hard to really see clearly how well Apple did on that score. The best estimate is “very well, but not as well as the figures look at a glance”.

That’s why my focus in looking at these figures would be on unit sales and margins, and in both cases Apple did well – outstandingly so, in the case of its margins.

Put together unit sales on iPod and iPhone – something that’s a valid idea, I think – and they moved from 27.1 million in the equivalent quarter last year to 29.7 million units this quarter. The mix of products is high-margin items (iPhones) up, lower margin items (iPods) down. More product, at higher margin, is pretty-much all you could ask from any company at the moment. I am absolutely certain that many tech companies that are being driven to slice margins more thinly in the recession will look at Apple’s figures with a massive sense of jealousy.

As for unit sales in Macs, they seem to be broadly in line with IDC numbers, certainly for the US. In the US, IDC had estimated unit sales increase of 31%, and Apple hit 30%. Those are very good figures, but it’s worth remembering that IDC also estimated that Toshiba had upped its sales by 78% and HP by 45% in the same period. And neither Toshiba nor HP concentrate on the “cheap junk” end of the market: while their margins won’t match Apple’s, this isn’t a case of people flocking to netbooks rather than expensive PCs.

(UPDATE: But see an excellent point below by Piot on worldwide market share.)

Given these figures, don’t be surprised if Apple actually loses market share in the US this quarter. How much value you apply to market share figures is up to you – personally, I think that as long as Apple is selling enough Macs to sustain itself and keep the third-parties interested, it doesn’t really matter. The days when its market share was sinking at a worrying rate are clearly over and I doubt they are coming back.

It’s worth remembering there were many predictions that Apple’s unit sales in Macs would actually slide during a recession, as customers looked to significantly cheaper PCs or (if they were dyed in the wool Mac users) deferred purchases. That simply hasn’t happened. Without detailed, qualitative data on customers’ purchasing choices (why they’re buying what they bought) it’s hard to say for sure, but my best guess is that while Windows 7 has slowed Apple’s growth compared to the rest of the PC market, it hasn’t drawn back any of those customers who switched from Windows to Mac over the past few years.

In other words, once you’re Mac you don’t go back. The net migration from Mac to Windows which characterised the 1990′s is over. Instead, the chief characteristic is now net migration from Windows to Mac – something that Windows 7 has slowed, but not halted.

(Image by Photo by Checiàp – http://flic.kr/p/5n9bi)

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Moodagent – a great tool for playlists

Once you start to have thousands of songs on your iPod or iPhone, if you’re anything like me you tend to find that you listen to the same few songs over and over again. It’s almost like you’re paralysed by having too much choice.

Apple’s Genius mixes are one way around this, but they tend to be rather one-dimensional. Because they work principally on the basis of genre, they can sometimes bounce between up-tempo and slow, dark songs with sweetness and light.

Moodagent (iTunes Link) is a method of creating lists of songs which match your mood. The way it works is simple: it analyses your library, matching each track against an online database of “moods”. This can take a few minutes if you have lots of songs – around ten minutes for the 3,000 or so songs on my iPhone.

You then express what “mood” you’re in by playing around with five sliders, representing five mood aspects: Sensual, Tender, Joy, Aggressive and Tempo.

The app then creates a playlist of 25 songs which match that mood. When I tested it, it produced some really good quality playlists, which managed to mix up different genres while retaining a definite theme amongst the songs.

There’s one drawback, though. Although Moodagent plays songs using the iPhone’s built-in player, it can’t (yet) save the playlists you create back to iTunes. You can, however, save the playlists within Moodagent, so your carefully-crafted list can always be retrieved.

Moodagent is free, and at that price who could argue? But if it actually cost a couple of pounds, I’d still thing it was worth it.

(Image by Parislemon)

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