27 March 2009

How to Generate Money

Chris Andersson, of The Long Tail fame, points to an analysis about how web 2.0 businesses actually make money. The biggest revenue seems to be online advertizing. I would have though biggest source of income is Venture Capital investments.

The original analysis (by Box UK) is both interesting and useful. It shows what has been tried, what is being used, what are related possibilities. For start-ups it can help to (re)define what is their market and business model. Usually one model is not enough, so it's useful to see options where to target next growth sprint.

Analysis is based on data from Webware's "Top 100 web apps for 2008". This gives an enourmous amount of credibility to the analysis. You can see several well know companies, who are actually using these models: Amazon, Google, iPhone, Opera, eBay, !Yahoo, Skype, Twitter, Wikipedia, Facebook, bitTorrent, YouTube.

Some are more successful than others. Something to seriously think about.

Currency Conversion can be Fun!

Every now and then you see something amazing, especially within mobile software business. Applications, which make hardware do something it wasn't supposed to do. UIs, which do old things in new ways or new things in old ways. Designs which are oh so obvious - after you've seen them.

Convertbot (for iPhone) by Tapbots is a festival of design, party of usability, dripping sex appeal all over the place. Maybe putting form over function, but that form alone is something I'd be delighted to use regardless of what the function might be. This is an application I want to be seen using.

Make yourself a favour and check out their video. You will be glad you did. Not only the application is awe-inspiring, but also their marketing: the quiet guitar music, reassuring metallic sound effects, confident presenter voice - and the application itself. You really have to see how touch UI applications work, screenshots just can't deliver the experience.

Thanx to Gizmondo for their inspiring "ConvertBot is the Prettiest Unit Conversion iPhone App You're Likely To See" article.

26 March 2009

Mobile Games on Demand

Gazimoff's geekBlog has a good story about a potentially new, potentially revolutionary gaming system. After seven years of development, OnLive has announced Gaming as a Service. We could call it Cloud Gaming, since these times everything is Cloud Computing.

Lots of benefits in such system, same as in every SaaS system. Longer lifetime for "old" handsets (N93i), market for used devices, recycling phones, more data traffic for operators. Some additional drawbacks, like people who might want to own an actual physical copy of their favourite games.

I would like to see Mobile Gaming as a Service, as a Games on Demand. Great for end-users, easy setup and updating, available anytime and anywhere, instant community, automatic networking with people with similar thought, sharing of pictures, video and add-on material.

Could be built on top of widgets platforms already today. Apple Dashboard, Windows Mobile Widgets, Nokia Web Runtime Widgets, Opera Widgets, Yahoo! Widgets, NetFront Widgets, Plusmo Widgets, etc. Widgets are the new black.

23 March 2009

How Many Developers Does it Take?

There are 30 million iPhone OS devices. PC World Business Center story is titled surprisingly "17 million iPhones", but for developers that's 30 million devices. Half of them might have only WLAN network access, but they all run the same software.

More interesting is that Apple's iPhone developer program has "50000 members", who have released "25000" applications. That's about 2 registered developers per single iPhone application.

Some people have released several applications. Some reprecent companies, which contain several persons. Some might have released no applications at all. Still 2 developers per application is a mind blowing number. Dare we compare?

Nokia reports it has "more than 4 million registered developers" (Feb 2009). Obviously they haven't released 2 million applications, but if even mere 1% of those had released a single application, we have an inventory of 20000 titles. Hopefully the much expected (and soon over-hyped) Ovi Store will be able to gather as many as possible together.

During last 12 months I released 16 applications. Some good, most not, but at least I did my share. If x% of those registered developers had done the same, we would have... Err, there's something wrong with my logic. I think I'm comparing Apples and ...?

19 March 2009

Rumours: SonyEricsson -> Sony, Sun -> IBM

Recession is changing the world as we know it. Voluntary disruptions, such as Symbian Foundation and Android, will be joined by surprising operations forced by ruthless markets.

Motorola is fading, Palm is making desperate last moves, Facebook is trapped by Microsoft, Google tries to be everything for everybody, twitter explodes online communication.

Latest rumours are that Ericsson wants to sell Sony its share of SonyEricsson. Or that Sony wants to buy. Both companies have known financial problems, so it's difficult to guess in advance. We should know more this Friday 20 March, when Manager Magazin is released.

At the same time there are rumours that IBM wants to buy Sun. IBM is big on mobile service side, but recession is hitting hard on subcontractors. This move would allow them to take an active role in defining future of mobility. Interesting technology is still Java FX, based on SavaJe.

Surprisingly SonyEricsson and Sun are connected via Java FX. Just a coincident.

Two ways to fight for survival during downtime:
  1. Expand your service repertory. Sony might try to get back the leading positions in both camera and music player markets. Currently Nokia is the largest camera and digital music player manufacturer. Also remember what happened to SonyEricsson Playstation mobile phone!
  2. Create new innovative products. IBM already has office suite, but taking hold of Sun they could have more freedom. Java fragmentation is old news, Java MIDP3 process seems very slow. Flash and Qt might take over, Android is not using Java, iPhone is closed environment. Would IBM bet on java? Or just Sun's server business? Both?
Thing's will be different.

16 March 2009

Nokia MVNO in India Still Possible

Week ago Rethink Wireless speculated whether Nokia would become MVNO in India (which I commented here).

This week Indian operator statistics show how newcomers are struggling to gain any foothold. Over a year HFCL (Punjab) and Shyam (Rajasthan) managed to gather 300000+ users each. Since Rajasthan has 56,6 million and Punjab 24,3 million population, the market must be extremely tough.

Nokia's luxury brand Vertu MVNO should focus into wealthy areas, like Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kolkata. Ultra high density urban areas with enough people, enough money, enough socializing, enough personal interest. Obviously.

Would Indian operators allow that? Nokia partnered in Japan with NTT Docomo for "Vertu Club" starting Q2 2009. NTT Docomo owns 26% of Tata Teleservices, which has almost 32 million subscribers. Tata has a joint venture with Virgin Mobile, which is positive sign.

Things look good for Vertu Club India. Vertu users have "enough" money and care more about value service than price. Furthermore Vertu MVNO is hosted by NSN in Singapore, having natural close ties to Nokia handset manufacturer. This is not only business, but also marketing. Nokia handsets, NSN hardware, Nokia services, NSN services. No need to worry about profit.

13 March 2009

Symbian Foundation with Open Plans

David Wood of Symbian Foundation has made an impressive demonstration of what "being open" means: he shows Symbian Foundation platform release plan, with comments!

I'm speechless. Literally. I've signed so many NDAs that even thinking about such is not allowed! To show them on public means getting fired, getting in jail, bankrupting your company, millions of euros fee, getting banned from industry for life. A moment of silence to catch my breath...

For the first time I'm a believer. I have always had faith in Symbian OS, but now I'm beginning to believe it might really be "open". The possibilities are... limitless!

Thank You!

Looks like we'll see first Symbian^2 device announcements this summer. Since it's based on S60 5.1, it should be "just" a better Touch UI device. Think something like Nokia N97 (based on S60 5.0), but better, faster and more.

First community effects will be seen in Symbian^3. Most likely no major features are introduced, but existing ones will start to turn into unexpected directions. Symbian^4 is something different. That is the moment of truth, showing whether Symbian Foundation has succeeded or not.

12 March 2009

Nokia 5030 - with Internal Radio Antenna

Both extremely fascinating and extremely silly "Nokia 5030" video, released by Nokia Conversations. Could be Nokia "techno marketing" department, great blog anyway.

Video storyboard:
  • 30 secs technology
  • 25 secs usability
  • 20 secs market research
  • Last minute ridiculous use case how The Lonely Hero goes on Deserted Sunny Beach, sends text message to His Friends, who immediately arrive and setup a Spontaneous Party - because the radio "sound quality is so great".
Got to love that stuff! Hats of to the lady, who had the guts to present the last minute!

Finally a mobile phone radio with internal antenna! I used to be active DXer (shortware listening), when I had more time. This is a feature I would like to see in smartphones.

10 March 2009

Android 1.1 for ADP1, Just the Way You Wanted

Android Developer Phone 1 (ADP1), firmware upgrade 1.1, does not allow installing copy protected applications. The situation is weird, since intended target group for ADP1 is developers.

You know developers, the fellows who write those copy protected applications. The fellows, who need to check that everything works for normal users. Is this a not-so-clever way to increase hardware sales?

One of the surprises at MWC 2009 was lack of Android devices, regardless of expectations and early announcements. But no, there are still loads of Android devices in labs, 12 devices to be released by the end of 2009, VC people in the loop revealed. Or was it 16? Maybe 20?

Google says "many developers are concerned" about possibility to pirate copy protected applications on ADP1. On the other hand there are developers disagreeing with this. The situation is similar to Symbian Signed start: platform people blamed operators, who blamed platform people, nobody took credit.

Everybody forgets the developers, in the best interests of the developers, of course. Apple iPhone marketing department must be having a party.

09 March 2009

One Shop to Rule Them All - or Maybe Not

What's going on in online mobile software business?

From myriad of small stand-alone one or two app websites, to operator controller Walled Gardens, to huge generic software stores (Handango), to manufacturer operated application stores (Apple AppStore, Android Market), to... what's next?

It's all about money. Developers, some of them, write software for money. Application stores were born, when some developers just couldn't figure out bookkeeping and tax systems. Some merged into megastores. Operators want their fare share, since they keep the system up and running. Manufacturers want to sell more hardware, maybe even get their own fare share of the software and services business.

Some developers are not happy about this. After so many fair shares taken in between, after so many forced restrictions and requirements, there is very little left for developers. There is more than just money: freedom, independence, self-expression. Latest software market revolutions are led by Cydia, to fight Apple's tight control, and potential "Android App Flea Market".

Nokia has been heavily criticized about being late in the online application store rush. Maybe they let others make mistakes first, learn from them, and then make things right. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Let's see how Apple and Android deal with the new situation. Let's see how long Nokia waits.

Nokia Energy Profiler 1.2

One of my favourite tools has been updated, Nokia Energy Profiler 1.2.

New features are supporting S60 Touch UI, WLAN received signal strength and "3G cellular network T1 and T2 timers". Wonder what that last one could mean? Pleasure to study, no doubt!

I was thinking about Nokia Energy Profiler, when I created my Sensor Analyser (requires PyS60 1.4.x) to figure out how to use sensors in S60 devices. Now it's time to make an update, especially since PyS60 1.9.2 has Sensor Framework support. No Touch UI support yet, but it'll come.

Btw never could understand why Nokia didn't make & release any developer tools to encourage using sensors. Maybe it was to easy?

08 March 2009

Maemo 5 - Still using Hildon!

Maemo 5 Alpha SDK was released week ago, haven't seen too many comments about it. Nevertheless it is important news, so here's few thoughts:

How long does Nokia have affort to keep maemo project running, especially in these challenging economical times? Sites are closed, people fired and put on forced vacation, and something which to an outsider looks pretty marginal keeps happily running and making new releases?

Within 3+ years Maemo has been used in 4 devices: N770 (no link on Forum Nokia!), N800, N810 and N810 WiMAX - and there are rumours that latest one has been discontinued! Doesn't look like a big success story, so what could be going on at the background?

N770 was a big success. Huge! Nokia couldn't produce enough devices, market demand was enormous - especially in USA. Since decision to drop CDMA phones was done, Nokia market share in USA collapsed catastrophically. Something like N770 is priceless for marketing. Fate of N810 WiMAX is troubling.

Maemo is needed as an alternative. Big organizations cannot put all their bets behind one product. Just look what happened to Motorola after RAZR 3 got old. Nokia has S40 and S60. S90 was discontinued, same as S80. What will happen to Maemo?

Symbian Foundation platform could expand to internet tables, possibly replace Maemo. Can maemo expand to handheld devices? Btw Maemo already runs Qt 4.5, which is very interesting. Could Qt save Maemo (project/team)?

06 March 2009

S60 5th Edition SDK 1.0 Released

Don't know how I've missed this, but seems like Nokia S60 5th Edition SDK version 1.0 was released yesterday!

Release Note doesn't say what has changed since previous v0.9 release, unfortunately. Well, have to install anyway. Have to check also which Nokia blog RSS feed I'm missing, they have several of those. Too many and not too sure what is used for what.

Btw remember to backup your files before you uninstall v0.9. Yes, you have to do uninstall, for unclarified reason.

05 March 2009

Nokia to become MVNO in India?

One of my favourite source of rumours... err, I mean information, is Rethink Wireless by ARChart. Now they have a very delicious rumour about Nokia planning to become a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) in India.

Nokia might operate together with NTT Docomo, just like they do in Japan with Nokia Vertu luxury brand. Is this a second step on Nokia's long-term plan to expand, or even move away, from hardware manufacturer position? Service provider on top of dummy operator data pipes?

Wonder what mobile phone operators would think about that? Wonder why NTT Docomo agreed to this? Would they have common interests or common adversaries? Interesting times ahead!

04 March 2009

Does Innovation and number of Patents correlate?

McKinsey blog What Matters has an article "Building an innovation nation", which they summarized as a graph showing how innovation and US patents are directly related.

The article itself is well-thought, balanced and logical, but the graph gets all attention. One picture is worth ten thousand words.

Is number of patents really the most important evaluation criteria? Do you really measure world-wide innovation with number of patents in USA? Not in the world, but in USA? Only?

The article says USA is slipping in innovation, because many Asian people either return home or don't come at all. Japan and Europe are getting old. New innovations comes from emerging areas, which just might not register patents in USA. India and China we already know, look out for Africa.

Best of Nokia 5800 Software - how depressing

Steve Lichfield from All About Symbian has put together an interesting list of top-10 freeware applications for Nokia 5800, Nokia's famed touch screen device. The list contains good solid basic applications, but it's nothing to get excited about, on the contrary. Maybe that's why Steve added 10 more apps to the list.

Where are the innovative applications, which would use the device's unique features? Where are motion sensitive applications, using big full screen, vibrating user as feedback? Where are apps using nothing but touch UI, finally getting rid of click-click-clickety-click Options menus?

The main features of Nokia 5800 are, in my opinion, touch screen and large(r) screen. Tactile feedback and sensor framework are fascinating, as well as new UI and feature improvements on S60 5th edition. WLAN and A-GPS are becoming commodity features.

Btw one more candidate for next list, actually a Forum Nokia developer demo: "S60 5th Edition: Solitaire Game Example". Better use of Touch UI, but missing few things on Touch Experience. Demonstrates what can be done with Touch UI, but leaves lots of room to improve.