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Category Archives: Mobile Misc

Cartoonist wins Pulitzer, sudden respect from Apple

Frustrated because Apple rejected your iPhone application and looking for a surefire approach for earning App Store approval? The answer is simple: Win a Pulitzer Prize. It worked for’s Mark Fiore, who last week became the first online-only…

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Will developers turn the page to writing Kindle apps?

With Apple poised to finally confirm its long-rumored tablet device on Wednesday, is going on the offensive–as Apple muscles in on its Kindle ereader territory, the online retail giant is targeting the App Store in kind, releasing a software development kit offering coders the means to build and upload “active content” for the Kindle platform. According to Amazon, the Kindle Development Kit will include access to programming interfaces, tools and documentation for both the 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX, enabling creation of content that leverages Kindle hallmarks like seamless and invisible 3G wireless delivery, high-resolution electronic paper display and battery life extending as long as seven days with wireless activated. Amazon will kick off a Kindle Development Kit beta trial next month (details here), and adds that firms including Handmark, EA Mobile and Sonic Boom are already creating content for the platform.

The challenge facing Amazon is the same one looming in front of all of Apple’s rivals: How to lure developers away from the iPhone, especially with the promise of the Apple tablet on the horizon. Amazon does not report Kindle sales totals, although analysts project the number sold at between 1.5 million and 2 million–by contrast, Apple announced Monday that it sold 8.7 million iPhones and 21 million iPods in Q1 2010 alone. Jeff Smith, CEO of Smule–the startup behind App Store bestsellers including I Am T-Pain and Ocarina–tells BusinessWeek that while it might cost 10 percent of the original development outlay of an iPhone app to fashion a new version for the tablet, it would probably cost as much as another 70 percent to rewrite the software for the Kindle. Developing for Amazon would essentially mean “rethinking how I design applications from the start,” Smith adds.

But the biggest obstacle facing Amazon could be the quirks inherent in the Kindle concept. As the Kindle Development Kit homepage points out, Kindles are not smartphones: Users don’t pay a monthly wireless fee or sign up for an annual service contract. Which means Kindle applications must be priced to cover the associated costs of downloads and ongoing usage–according to Amazon, that translates to content delivery fees of 15 cents per megabyte. (Applications smaller than 1MB that use less than 100KB per user per month may be offered free to consumers–Amazon will cover any wireless costs associated with delivery and maintenance.) On top of that, Kindle applications will face an upper size limit of 100MB; apps larger than 10MB will not be delivered over-the-air, meaning consumers must instead download content from the Kindle Store to a computer and transfer the app to their Kindle via USB. For niche developers and content providers like educational software designers and comic book publishers, the chance to reach the core Kindle demographic could be a game-changer, but most programmers may have to change up too much of their own game to make the opportunity worth pursuing. –Jason

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Microsoft posts–then removes–Windows Mobile 6.5 SDK

Microsoft briefly posted a Windows Mobile 6.5 software development kit to its Microsoft Download Center website last week, removing the SDK within a matter of hours. According to ZDNet, the WinMo 6.5 SDK appeared on Jan. 22, and remained online long enough for some bloggers and developers to download the kit–some speculate Microsoft pulled the download because it reportedly contains widget tools and emulators for Windows Mobile 6.5.3, an interim build said to add support for “touchable tiles” as well as enhanced gesture support, a revamped address book and updated start menu placement.

With the web buzzing about the SDK post, Microsoft on Monday issued the following statement: “”On Friday, January 22nd Microsoft prematurely posted a version of an upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 SDK to a public facing Web page. While the SDK was not announced or promoted, it was discovered and generated questions from the community. The beta SDK has since been removed and will be reposted once final testing has been conducted. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The WinMo 6.5 SDK snafu seems likely to fuel increased speculation over Microsoft’s mobile roadmap and the long-promised release of Windows Mobile 7. While some sources report the software giant will formally announce the revamped OS during February’s Mobile World Congress 2010 event in Barcelona, others indicate it is now delayed until 2011.

For more on the WinMo 6.5 SDK release:
– read this ZDNet article

Related articles:
to discontinue Mobile2Market program
adopting chassis strategy for Windows Mobile 7

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Developers question Windows Marketplace payment delays

A number of Windows Mobile developers are venting their frustration with Microsoft over Windows Marketplace for Mobile payment delays, posting messages on the Windows Mobile Developer Center forum that indicate they are owed substantial sums derived from premium application downloads via the storefront. According to this thread, multiple WinMo developers are awaiting payment following extended delays, some dating back to October 2009 and in several cases totaling thousands of dollars–on its Windows Mobile for Developers FAQ, Microsoft pledges to pay within 15 to 30 days for credit card billing, and within 90 to 120 days for mobile operator billing. “If you’re a developer, you will be paid 70 percent of all application sale prices as your revenue share,” the FAQ states. “At the end of the month, Microsoft will total all transactions for your application sales on which we were able to collect money. Your 70 percent revenue share is then applied to the total and if that equals or exceeds $200 USD we will initiate an Electronic Funds Transfer payment to your bank account.”

Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile product manager Mihir Rao responded directly to the Windows Mobile Developer Center thread, stating that Microsoft completed its first round of payouts in December and plans a second round this month. According to Rao, there appears to be confusion around Dashboard status updates indicating whether a developer is eligible for payout, suggesting that some programmers are currently ineligible due to missing bank or tax information, or because the $200 threshold has not been met. However, multiple developers responded to Rao’s post to report their Dashboard has read “Eligible for revenue payout” since last fall.

“I see my explanation of the ‘Eligible for revenue payout’ status has raised more questions than it has answered,” Rao wrote in a post dated Jan. 21. “I am going to get some more details on this particular dashboard status to provide further clarification. I will post back with more details by the end of this week, so stay tuned.”

For more on the Windows Marketplace payment delays:
– read this Ars Technica article

Related articles:
Windows Marketplace
extends to WinMo 6.0 and 6.1
Microsoft adds online app sales to Windows Marketplace

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Microsoft to discontinue Mobile2Market program

Microsoft will discontinue Mobile2Market, its mobile application certification and marketing program for independent software and hardware vendors. According to an email sent last week by Microsoft to Mobile2Market members, the software giant will terminate the program on Feb. 18. “Benefits of the program–including Buy It Now functionality with online distributors, the Windows Mobile Catalog, the Designed for Windows Mobile 6 logo, and Microsoft Partner Points–will no longer be available after that date,” the email reads. “The Logo License Agreement for Windows Mobile 5.0, 6.0, and 6.1 also will end effective February 18, 2010, at which time distribution of and all references to the aforementioned logos will need to cease.”

The email does not expand on Microsoft’s decision to shut down the Mobile2Market effort. Calls to Microsoft were not returned prior to press time.

Related articles:
adopting chassis strategy for Windows Mobile 7
Can Microsoft woo iPhone developers to Windows Mobile?

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Are mobile ads the future of mobile apps?

Consumers worldwide will download about 4.51 billion mobile applications in 2010 according to a new forecast issued by research firm Gartner, increasing from 2.51 billion downloads last year–that translates to app store revenues close to $6.8 billion, up from $4.2 billion in 2009. Gartner anticipates that free applications will represent 82 percent of app store downloads in 2010, a number that will grow to 87 percent of downloads in 2013 even as expected revenues jump to $29.5 billion: Gartner estimates corresponding mobile advertising revenues will leap from $600 million per year in 2009 to about $7 billion in 2013 as developers embrace a host of mechanisms to subsidize their efforts. Gartner contends that developers have little choice but to pin their hopes on mobile advertising, arguing that as smartphones continue to come down in price, the new wave of mass-market users will be reluctant to pay for mobile software. “Growth in smartphone sales will not necessarily mean that consumers will spend more money, but it will widen the addressable market for an offering that will be advertising-funded,” Gartner research director Stephanie Baghdassarian said in a prepared statement. “The value chain of the application stores will evolve as rules are set and broken in an attempt to find the most profitable business model for all parties involved.”

But some experts question whether existing mobile advertising concepts and approaches are on the right track. The doubters are said to include Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who believes “mobile ads suck” according to BusinessWeek, citing a source familiar with Jobs’ thinking. So Apple reportedly is exploring new approaches to mobile advertising in the wake of its recent agreement to acquire mobile ad network Quattro Wireless, plotting ways to exploit consumer data to better serve mobile advertisements. Insiders say Apple’s efforts seek to make ads more relevant to consumers, factoring into the equation data like purchases and downloads from iTunes and the App Store as well as geo-location. “[Apple] could also use the iPhone’s capabilities in creative ways–say, having someone shake the device to win a rebate the same way they do to roll dice in games,” the report notes.

Despite Gartner’s app store revenue projections for the year ahead, more than half of developers are pessimistic about their immediate financial outlook. A new Mobile Entertainment Forum study examining the state of the U.S. mobile content value chain reports that among 100 respondents from 80 companies spanning across the mobile entertainment landscape, 42 percent said they expect at least a 20 percent revenue increase in 2009, and 58 percent anticipate comparable revenue growth in 2010–app developers are less optimistic than any other industry segment the MEF polled, with only 48 percent believing revenues will increase 20 percent or more this year. MEF Americas chairman Jim Beddows theorizes developers have serious doubts about the longterm viability of current marketplace conditions: “The explosion of app stores and applications continues to feed consumer demand, but it’s still not proven whether there’s a sustainable revenue model,” he said in an interview with FierceDeveloper. Nor is it proven that mobile advertising is the solution to those concerns, but if not, then what is? –Jason

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Verizon Wireless opens binary submissions for V Cast Apps

Verizon Wireless announced it is now accepting binary submissions for its forthcoming V Cast Apps mobile software storefront. According to an email sent out last week to Verizon Developer Community members, programmers who’ve successfully submitted concepts to V Cast Apps can now upload binary files as well as provide additional information including Icons, Application Descriptors, Pricing, Export Compliance and Version Information. Upon accepting a binary submission, V Cast Apps will notify developers of certification results via email. Verizon Wireless adds it has updated its VDC forums with new links to app submission resources.

During the recent Consumer Electronics Show event in Las Vegas, Verizon Wireless said it is “on the cusp” of launching V Cast Apps, originally slated to go live in late 2009. Verizon Wireless director of business development Todd Murphy did not offer a specific launch date, but said the storefront would initially be available across five of the operator’s BlackBerry smartphones: The Storm 1 and 2, the Curve 1 and 2, and the BlackBerry Tour. “We’re just waiting for that inflection point” of enough quality applications, Murphy said, adding “We believe that when we put this out into the marketplace, it will have a significant impact.” Murphy said Verizon Wireless currently counts about 3,500 developers registered in the VDC program.

For more on V Cast Apps’ progress:
– check out the Verizon Developer Community website

Related articles:
Developer Community membership soars in first month
Mobigloo wins Verizon‘s Apply Your Ideas contest

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Nokia presents Symbian^4 user interface concept proposal

Nokia has submitted its Symbian^4 user interface proposal to the Symbian Foundation, proposing to simplify the S60 user experience by means of renewed layouts, context menu support for list items, guidelines for autosaving content and minimizing user prompts, among other upgrades. “This proposal improves the competitiveness of the Foundation Platform by reorganizing and clarifying the feature richness of the software to improve access to and use of richly interconnected applications,” writes Nokia head of user experience Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson, the author of the S^4 User Interface Concept Proposal, who goes on to compare the UI design solution to rival operating systems:

  • “HTC Hero and Motorola Droid, both on Android, have a Homescreen with movable Homescreen widgets; however, each has one multi-panel homesceen page, whereas Symbian Foundation has independent unique pages
  • “Palm Pre’s WebOS eliminates Exit commands, but instead of saving state and releasing memory it keeps applications running
  • “iPhone has a flattened application library; however, it is displayed to the user exclusively as a manually organized grid, whereas the Symbian Foundation application library is an alpha-ordered list with multiple filtered views.”

The Nokia proposal is available for download now on the Symbian Developer Community forum, which also calls for questions, comments, suggestions and requests related to the document.

For more on the Symbian^4 proposal:
– visit the Symbian Developer Community forum

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reaffirms commitment to Symbian
planning just one Maemo phone in 2010

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Apple accelerates the App Store approval process

Nearly two weeks into January, most of us have long since abandoned our New Year’s resolutions, but Apple’s App Store continues its march toward self-betterment. In the wake of a bumpy 2009 that culminated in a handful of developers forsaking the iPhone platform while their applications lingered weeks and even months in approval purgatory, 2010 is off to a much more promising start: Developers are now reporting that the App Store is processing their software submissions at record speeds, indicating that Apple has made dramatic strides in improving how the digital storefront operates.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that iTunes Connect, the portal developers use to submit their iPhone and iPod touch applications, was offline from Dec. 23 to Dec. 28. What happened during that blackout period is anyone’s guess–this is Apple, after all–but whatever Steve Jobs’ elves did to improve the app submission protocol, the results speak for themselves. At least one startup, Atomic Cactus, tells TUAW that its new puzzle game Artilect earned Apple’s stamp of approval in less than 12 hours, while its previous submissions took two to three weeks to run the gauntlet. “Today at 4:00 am I submitted for approval our latest app, which isn’t exactly a ‘fart app’ (it’s a pretty polished puzzle game with OpenFeint),” Atomic Cactus developer Yuri writes. “As of 1:30 pm today, the app is in the App Store.”

In related news, the App Store exceeded the 3 billion download benchmark last week–the latest milestone came less than four months after the store surpassed 2 billion downloads, a moment that itself arrived roughly five months after consumers downloaded the first billion iPhone and iPod touch applications. “Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months–this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Jobs said in a self-congratulatory press release. “The revolutionary App Store offers iPhone and iPod touch users an experience unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.” It’s posturing, of course, but if the App Store is indeed solving the problems that have caused developers so many headaches in the past, Jobs might be speaking the truth. –Jason

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Nokia challenges developers to make a difference

Forum Nokia announced its Calling All Innovators 2010 developer challenge, promising $1 million for ideas that make a difference in people’s lives. This year’s edition of the Calling All Innovators event calls for application submissions across four categories:

  • Eco/Being Green: Apps that help to save the planet.
  • Productivity: Apps to simplify users’ lives and improve efficiency, e.g. utilities, business or personal finance applications.
  • Life Improvement: Apps that positively affect the daily lives of citizens in developing nations.
  • Entertainment: Music applications, multimedia and games.

Forum Nokia will team with Sesame Street producers Sesame Workshop on an education subcategory within the Life Improvement category to encourage developers to create applications that emphasize early literacy. Sesame Workshop will offer insight during the judging process and collaborate with select developers to further enhance relevant projects, encouraging programmers to create educational applications and even utilize the Sesame Street characters when appropriate.

More details on Calling All Innovators 2010 are available here. Submissions will be accepted between Feb. 1 and May 18.

For more on Calling All Innovators 2010:
– read this release

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