Month: January 2009 (Page 1 of 3)

Top 10 Mobile Phones in January

Our beloved manufacturer of carrying cases for portable electronics, Krusell, enlightens us again with their top 10 list of best-selling phones for the month of January 2009 (or should that be best-selling phone holsters?). 

1. (1) Samsung SGH-i900/i910 Omnia
2. (-) HTC Touch HD
3. (9) Nokia E51
4. (-) Blackberry Storm
5. (2) Nokia 6300
6. (5) Nokia 3109
7. (7) Sony Ericsson X1 Experia
8. (8) Nokia E71
9. (-) Nokia 6220
10. (10) HTC Diamond
The number in brackets is the rank from the prior month.

Now, as compared to all of 2008, the iPhone went from #1 to nowhere. I explained this before: they track phone sales by the number of model-specific accessories sold, and I am still not sure if that makes any sense. I see this more in practical terms: the “suits” carrying around their business phones do not seem to have the fashion sense to realize that specific phone cases is nothing that one does (this is also popular with taxi drivers), and therefore it seems obvious that a lot of “business-type” phones are in the list (and none of the “classic” Blackberries because they have their uber-cool faux-leather holster in the box (and, yes, that’s the piece I throw away first!). 
Let me know what you think!
Photo credit: http://blogfreespringfield.com/wp-content/uploads/image/holster.jpg

Next-Gen iPhone Will Wipe Out DS & PSP

Today, there was a piece analyzing recent reports whereby Apple was well on its way to wipe out DS and PSP from the handheld gaming sphere, and that it would therefore seek to address a number of weaknesses in its next iteration of the iPhone (and iPod Touch) that would add a few currently missing features that should bridge the – already slim – gap to the PSP.

You have of course read it here before but I would like to revisit this again. I had mentioned the huge advantage of having swift and global digital distribution, giving Apple and any developer pondering which platform to choose an easy solution. Accelerometer and multi-touch add new gameplay features. Plus the iPhone is lighter than its rivals (and of course does a number of other things pretty decently, too, namely playing music, making phone calls or surfing the web).
And then there are the numbers. It took Apple less than 3 months to boast 1.5x the number of games of DS and PSP combined (1,500). The digital distribution model keeps on impressing and shows that this is really what consumers want in terms of accessibility, purchase mechanism (download as opposed to physical cartridge) and – yes – perhaps also price (although there is rumour that Apple wants to introduce a premium segment).
So here is what Apple allegedly wants to change:
  • Enhanced graphics (to address its current lack of loading complex textures);
  • improved processing capabilities (through its own ARM chip, which is currently developing; this follows the acquisition of PA Semi last spring);
  • Better camera (minimum 3.5 mega-pixels) and video-recording.
Multi-tasking as demonstrated by the Palm Pre with its WebOS would be something I would like to see. 
No word if cut-and-paste will work as well, it seems… Oh well, I guess they need to leave something to complain about for the old-school geeks to who Apple still is the fruity devil… 😉
Photo Credit: http://www.macblogz.com/Media/2008/6/iphone-flash-nand.jpg

Vodafone ponders and prepares to bulk up

Did you know about Vodafone’s Flipfont app? No, I didn’t think so; it seems to have gone more or less unnoticed. Well, it allows you to – listen to this – customise your phone frontpage. Woah! How cool is that? The downside? Well, you need to pay £1.99 for the pleasure, per screen! I don’t think so… And, apparently, (now) so does Vodafone. Amidst the iPhone/AppStore rage and the “revelation” that UI might actually matter to people, they seem to have realized that changing a font will not necessarily change the uptake of consumption to new levels. And because they cannot have the iPhone (although it has the Blackberry Storm, which is performing much better than the initial damning reviews would have suggested), they will launch their very own app store, or so they said (if you read Dutch, that is; how nice that we have a Dutch blogger amongst us who translated it for us).

This is not the only bit of news though: Vodafone also wants to tighten relationships with two other players in the market, and these are none other than giants China Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Now if you thought that Vodafone was large, take this in: together, these 3 carriers combine 821 million (!) subscribers (Vodafone 280m, China Mobile 457m and Verizon Wireless 84m [although I believe that VF counts a number of VZW subscribers proportionate to its shareholding in]).
Here’s what Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao told the FT:
“If you think of three players, China Mobile is very strong in China; it’s a big country. Vodafone is very strong in Europe, Africa, India. Verizon is very strong in the US.

“If these three companies could work more closely… in the management of customers, procurement and service creation, we could be unbeatable, quite frankly.”
And right he is…

Carnival of the Mobilists #158

This weeks Carnival of the Mobilists, the definitive guide to the must-read blogs on everything mobile is hosted over at Tsahi Levent-Levi’s VoIP Survivor blog. Check it out here.

Twitter on the Money Trail again…

Twitter is this phenomenon of which some people say it is the business that never was. Not that Twitter never was but that it never was a business… which is why they apparently need fresh money, or more specifically $20m, or so it is said (see also here) The valuation? A cool $250m. A lot, you say? Well, they allegedly recently turned down a $500m acquisition offer from Facebook, so it’s a bargain!

Now, one of the issues they are facing is (never mind the unresolved business model) that a) they need to bulk up on infrastructure to cater for the 750%+ growth in 2008 and b) (OK, there are probably more reasons) they are trying to bring back SMS notifications to the UK (which it stopped last summer claiming it cost them up to $1,000 per user p.a.). And on the latter I wonder why: does anyone still uses this? I am using Twitterberry, cooler users use any one of a plethora of iPhone clients, and there are enough clients for “other” phones out there, too. It is more convenient, more powerful, a better interface and – for Twitter – much, much cheaper. If they are not satisfied with it, shouldn’t they perhaps invest some $100k to build a Twitter client for all phones? I mean, it’s not THAT complex…
As to business model, I am fairly confident that they will be able to translate this staggering amount of traffic into $$$. Their recent acquisition of Summize, which provides a newly introduced search option for Twitter, is one step. My hunch would be that they will utilize some of the momentum their growth afforded them will allow them to acquire some of the value-adding services (GigaOM names Twitpic and Stockwits) as well as ad-funded clients (e.g. Twitterific serves you – on the free version – an ad per hour of use).
Oh, and yes, I am a fan and Twitterer. Follow me here (vhirsch). And, no, if you’re an investor, Stephen Fry‘s account on why this is so great will not necessarily convince you it makes sense (although he is VERY enthusiastic about it) 😉

Mobile Social Gaming?!

I’ll be giving a presentation at Casual Connect Europe in a few weeks and have hence been looking a little at the concept of social gaming. In particular with the iPhone success story, this concept has received its fare share of the limelight recently – and rightly so: the unique distinguishing factor of a mobile phone is that it is always with its owner and that it’s always on, making it the perfect tool for connecting with people (well, this is what they were invented for in the first place), and the iPhone does that well not only with voice or SMS…

The “social” aspect of mobile gaming has mostly focussed on this connectivity and this is also what has been haunting it, at least in most parts of the world because of the horrendous fragmentation on the carrier and handset side. To make a fully integrated connected mobile game, one needs to integrate with a vast number of carriers (in the US, the situation is a little different – integration in only the 3 or 4 biggest carriers – Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint/Nextel and maybe T-Mobile, and you’re in business big time; there is e.g. WPT Texas Hold’Em that scored tremendous commercial success, including full web-to-mobile-to-web play), and they cannot seem to resolve on a common standard; nearly every carrier runs its own little system…

However, do games really have to be fully connected multi-player with in-game chat, buddy lists, alerts, etc, etc, in order to be “social” games? I do not think so. They “merely” have to become a social object, and set in an environment to leverage the social aspect of this (there’s more from Jyri Engestrom on object-centered sociality). This does not work for every game in every case but there are plenty of examples out there both in mobile and online: Playfish (founded by mobile games veteran Kristian Segerstrale) runs a number of games on Facebook that are stand-alone single-player games but integrated into Facebook in a way that pushed them all the way up the rankings. Digital Chocolate runs a very successful franchise with TowerBloxx on mobile and online – again a single-player game with hooks into existing social networks (the latter providing the environment that facilitates them becoming a social object). Orange Israel recently created a raft of online destinations around Totomi: a micro-site, a Facebook Group is all you need to create a community around a game.
So whilst I am and will remain a big fan of connected games (phones are to connect with people!), some simple data streams out (high-scores, etc) AND links into existing social networks are actually likely to activate a lot of the potential in there. 
I will be continuing to ponder this, and I would be most grateful for any input!

Carnival of the Mobilists #157

Another week, another carnival. #157 is hosted over at mjelly this week. Check it out here! Lots of goodies in there, including the Nokia biography by Tomi Ahonen, well something like that at least 😉

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