Tag: Symbian (Page 2 of 6)

Carnival of the Mobilist # 228

This should have come a week earlier but, alas, I was on the road – quite literally – en route to San Diego and Qualcomm’s most excellent Uplinq conference.

Life of course did not stop, and amongst the things you should not miss was (and is!) the last iteration of the formidable Carnival of the Mobilists, hosted by our very own Peggy Anne Salz on her award-winning MSearchGroove blog. Amongst the gems not to be missed were:

  • An interview of a company focused on Windows Phone 7 (yes, you read that right!);
  • Tomi Ahonen with another go at the app economy (which he claims isn’t much of an economy; read my comments on this here);
  • A look on web bookmarks as an alternative to apps (to which I still not agree; cf. here);
  • A couple of posts on Android, and specifically Motorola’s Droid X (and the future, if any, of Motoblur);
  • And many, many more…

Finally, my post on Vodafone’s pondered changes to its revenue share structures featured, too.

The carnival is here, and well worth a read! And, again, my apologies for the late posting of this. But the old Highway 101 along the Pacific just had me in its grips… 🙂

Smartphone Market Shares Q1/2010

Gartner published the latest smartphone numbers for Q1/2010 (or so I read), and it is testament to the continuing rise of this segment: sales increased by nearly 50% year-on-year (and do remember that there was this recession-thing last year). Total sales were 54.3m units in the first quarter of this year. Not too shabby!

On the OS side, the rising stars are Android (9.6% global market share from 1.6% a year ago), which is now bigger then Windows Mobile (and it took it only a year!) and iPhone (15.4% vs 10.5% in Q1/2009). The silverback gorilla still is Symbian which dropped to 44.3% from 48.8%. Blackberry is also down (albeit only slightly: 19.4% from 20.6%).

Here’s a table:

Mobile + Social: The Case for Games / Presentation

Here is the deck to the talk I gave at the Social Media World Forum (or rather its mobile track, which was called Mobile Social Media Europe) in London this week.

Mobile + Social: Show me the Money / Presentation

Here is the presentation I delivered at Casual Connect Europe in Hamburg.

Mobile Games are Mainstream!

We said it before: mobile is the biggest mass medium on the planet, and now game developers (and not only the sometime masochists that have been there for years) flog to it. According to a fairly large survey by GDR (which can be yours for too many dollars to count and has been reported about here) among 800 developers, a quarter of them are now making games for mobile phones with most of them (namely 75%) – surprise, surprise – choosing the iPhone as their platform of launch. This is doubling last year’s figures (apparently).

The iPhone and its non-phone sibling, iPod Touch (and you have been reading that a year ago here, here and here) are proving a more attractive launchpad onto portable gaming platforms than dedicated gaming systems like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

The reasons will be the same as they were a year ago: a platform that is relatively easy to work to and a simple distribution model. With the number of downloads Apple continues to pile up, it is no wonder that developers from “traditional” platforms (PC downloadable, online, etc) are attracted to that. They will also be less scared of the marketing challenges since they had had to market their games in the whole wide oceans of the Internet previously (i.e. there were no carrier safe havens with feature slots). Whilst this does not mean that every traditional developer’s games will be successful on the app store, the threshold to enter is lower.

It will be interesting to see if the wave will roll further into other “smarter” platforms, including Android, Windows Mobile (see the latest rumours for WinME 7, including full Xbox Live gaming implementation here), Symbian Maemo and Blackberry. With the device numbers clearly speaking in favour of that, platforms becoming more accessible and, last but not least, with easier paths to the users via OEM app stores, this is to be expected. Good times for mobile gamers!

Nokia Maps for free: signs of life on Ovi

Nokia recently shook the world by starting to provide its Ovi Maps app including turn-by-turn navigation for free. And only just under 2 weeks later, it announced that users have downloaded the app more than 1.4m times. Good stuff.

The numbers led some people (Nokia’s Vanjoki as well as various industry pundits) to claim the dawn of Ovi downloads had arrived. I beg to differ, and here’s why:

1.    A mapping application with turn-by-turn navigation cost, until very recently, anywhere between $30-80 a pop. And all of a sudden it is free. It is a little akin selling a Porsche Cayman for the price of a VW Polo: people will jump through any number of hoops for that. This is not proof that the download boom has finally also arrived with proud owners of Nokia phones; it merely shows that this is too good an offer to decline.

2.    1.4m downloads across the Symbian install base of c. 300m is not actually that impressive a number. To put it into context: a simple ad-funded game, Waterslide Extreme by German high-end development house Fishlabs, which is also a free download, clocked on the iPhone more than 10m downloads. As far as I am aware, the developer still sees around 40,000 downloads per day. And this is a long time after its release and for an app that fills significantly less of a need than satellite navigation. But even if one leaves aside this last bit (which is taking a very favourable view – no ceteris paribus here), Ovi Maps would need to hit roughly 100m downloads before it could say it was, pound for pound, as successful as Waterslide Extreme (NB: this is not exactly true because Nokia only supports some 20m devices to date).

3.    It is not actually proof that the Ovi Store works as users can also download the app via the Nokia Website or via the “SW Update” application on the phone. At a time when the store still needs 90 seconds (measured on an N97 running on a Vodafone UK 3G network) and more to even load the opening screen, I struggle to believe that the store will see an uptake across the band.

4.    It is likely being a bit of a one-off: Nokia also announced that, from March, every Nokia will come pre-loaded with the app.

Now, to clarify things: it is great news for boosting awareness of mobile phones as location-aware devices, and the pre-install on future phones will help that. It is likely that this will contribute to the fall of the dedicated satnav sector in much the same way Nokia’s landmark deal with Carl Zeiss lenses (and the resulting higher image quality of photos taken with your phone’s camera) was a doomsday scenario for the lower end of the digital camera market.

Also: Ovi Maps looks like a VERY good app: it covers more than 180 countries (car & pedestrian navigation: 74; traffic: 10), it is available in a whopping 46 (!) languages. It includes 3D landmarks for 200 cities around the world and incorporates Lonely Planet and Guide Michelin city guides. It is good, no doubt!

Finally, Nokia started early with the mantra of location-awareness. It was just that it had not executed particularly well to date. I know there is probably much more in the works than is visible to the untrained eye (or any other eye not from within the company) but the company does need to ramp up here since its hard-earned (and well-deserved) fame is/was beginning to fade quickly.

It would be fantastic if the world market leader would see uptake of applications rise sharply. I would very much like to ask them though not to fool themselves into believing that the store is not so bad after all only because of one successful application on it. There is a lot of work to do. The Ovi Maps case simply shows that one does not have to be a crazy Apple fan boy to be craving cool and useful apps. So, dear Nokia, continue to study the app store and try solve the shortfalls of the Ovi Store. It’ll be good for everyone!

The Power of Open: Why Android is Big

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a keynote at Droidcon, the (so far) largest Android conference, in Berlin. I spoke about why brands should look at it (I posted it here). Brands care for volume. They’re not necessarily interested in small segments of the market.

The iPhone is not an exception, it is rather a powerful reinforcement of that idea: in spite of its niche, it provides ROI (and warm, fluffy PR as well as content execs) when you compare the cost of the activity (creating an app) with its effects. The conclusion is however not that the iPhone is such a big driver in itself but that EVEN the iPhone (with its very limited scale) generates positive ROI.

The mobile phone market (and its associated content offerings) is extremely fragmented. A plethora of platforms (J2ME, BREW, Symbian, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, a couple of proprietary ones, some with middleware, now Bada and Maemo; wonderful…) and distribution channels (traditionally carriers, and lots of them, plus D2C distributors like Thumbplay, Jamba, Zed, Buongiorno, etc and now, increasingly, app stores: everything from the App Store to Android Market, Ovi, Blackberry App World and countless others). Tough for brands: they do not really care for a subset of users consisting of owners of J2ME devices on, say, Orange UK (no offence, Orange).

The ecosystem is tough to address as every mobile game developer will tell you. Which is why the iPhone was such a huge game changer: one device on one platform with one distribution channel globally. And all presented well, easy to use, great UI and users get to content with very few clicks and without unnecessary warnings). It is also always connected (rather than only connected in theory) and hence opens the doors to a new way of consuming, promoting and using content, specifically interactive one such as games and apps. Everyone else scrambles to follow but they struggle because it is such a different way to look at the world (well, different when you are a network operator or handset OEM). And because of this, competition on this platform is now fierce, very fierce.

But now then, why would one support Android? I mean, Gameloft just said it sucks (well, commercially at least). Why do I think it will be (is?) big? And why do I think one should look at it now rather than, well, later?

For starters: it took Gameloft a full 3 days or so to realize the mess it made with its announcement to cut back Android; and swiftly issuing a statement that said pretty much the contrary… But, heck, we’re not running everywhere where Gameloft runs, do we?

Android’s potential is enormous! Not because Eric Schmitt, Google’s CEO said so. But because it is O.P.E.N. This gives it a potential that is beyond all others: it enjoys wide support from vendors (HTC, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Huawei, Motorola, Acer, Creative and countless more), carriers (it’s a little like the who’s who: China Mobile, China Unicom, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint, KDDI, Softbank, T-Mobile, TIM, Telefonica, Vodafone) and has a very powerful sponsor indeed in Google. The result is a huge number of devices (cf. Wikipedia page here), and they will grow. They will grow faster than Apple can because of the law of big numbers. Even if Apple may retain an edge on running the overall sexiest package but it will not withstand the overall numbers. Incidentally, the afore distinguishes Android – for the time being – from Symbian (which is now also open source): it lacks a convinced sponsor at the moment (Nokia seems to be wavering in its support) and also seems a little clunky (no open can be so strong so as to support a weak or rather outdated proposition). However, with its massive install base of 280m+ devices it could rebound if they fix this.

Android stretches further though: it is not limited to mobile devices, it goes across to eBook readers, set-top boxes, netbooks, you name it. Users increasingly swap between screens. As a content and/or service provider, you want to be with them, be of service to them, wherever they are. They should not have to worry, you should! Android makes this relatively easy for you.

The Power of Open is tremendous. It provides for (theoretically) infinite growth. And you want to be there. And you want to be there now: They say, a tidal wave of apps is coming. You won’t catch the train once you can see it… 😉

Do not forget: people (and brands) want to reach people. Full stop. They do not necessarily want to reach people who happen to have an XYZ device running the ABC OS on the carrier X in country Y! Apple is wonderful (I am an avid iPhone user and do not plan to change – well, yet) but it is a niche. And if you have business to do, you may want to look beyond that niche.

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