Google’s Nexus Prime phone with Android 4.0 could land in October
Google may launch its third Nexus flagship Android phone, which is rumored to be called the Nexus Prime, earlier than expected this October, according to a report by the Korean site Electronic Times.
Like last year’s Nexus S smartphone, the Nexus Prime is expected to be built by Samsung, so it’s not that surprising to see this news hitting a Korean site first. Previously, Google’s Nexus phones were released towards the end of the year, instead of the middle of fall.
The Electronic Times confirms details about the Nexus Prime that we’ve previously reported. It’s going to be the first Android phone to run the Android 4.0 operating system, codenamed “Ice Cream Sandwich,” and it will sport a high-resolution HD display running at 720p (1280-by-768 resolution). The site also adds some additional tidbits, reporting that the Nexus Prime will feature a 1.5 gigahertz CPU and sport a massive 4.5-inch display. That puts the phone on par with other giant Android phones like the Motorola Atrix 4G.
If this report is true, it would mean that Samsung will technically have two high-end Android phones competing in the market this fall — the company is planning to announce its long-awaited Galaxy S II phones on August 29. And of course, the Nexus Prime will be going toe-to-toe with Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5, which is rumored to be available in September or early October.
Top 10 Android apps grab 43% of the pie, according to Nielsen study
Hundreds of thousands of apps populate the Android Market, but only a tiny percentage of them account for the vast majority of users’ in-app time.
The 10 most popular Android apps capture 43 percent of all the time spent by Android consumers on mobile apps, according to new data released today from market researcher Nielsen. When broadening that sample to the top 50 Android apps, Nielsen found that group of applications accounted for 61 percent of all time spent.
“With more than 250,000 Android apps available at the time of this writing, that means the remaining 249,950-plus apps have to compete for the remaining 39 percent of the pie,” wrote Don Kellogg, Nielsen’s director of telecom research and insights.
Also in Nielsen’s findings was this factoid: Most Android mobile users spend just about one hour each day using apps and mobile web browsers. Of that hour, around 67 percent of time is spent in applications, and 33 percent is spent browsing the web.
Nielsen has been tracking Android phone usage in a new way. Rather than relying on user-reported survey data, the firm is metering media usage on individuals’ phones the same way it does with individuals’ and families’ televisions. All this is done with the individual’s permission, of course. Called Nielsen Smartphone Analytics, the new meters and methods give an interesting and accurate picture of actual iOS and Android and app usage.
Image courtesy of laihiu.
Filed under: mobile
Verizon’s Android share suffers after iPhone 4 launch
The release of Apple’s iPhone 4 on Verizon in February helped to seriously erode the carrier’s Android market share, market research firm Chitika revealed in a report yesterday.
In March, Chitika reported that Verizon held 51.4 percent of the US Android market, but the company’s most recent report shows that Verizon has fallen to 41 percent. AT&T’s Android share, meanwhile, jumped five points to 8.7 percent.
The Android dip was to be expected — Verizon reported in its first quarter earnings that it had sold 2.2 million iPhones. In that same quarter, the carrier said it shipped 500,000 units of its first batch of 4G Android phones.
The iPhone is expected to eat into Android sales when it’s eventually made available on T-Mobile and Sprint (which may end up happening with the release of the iPhone 5). But let’s not forget that Google is activating some 500,000 Android phones every day, and that Android currently holds 40 percent of the US smartphone market (iOS is in second place, with 26.6 percent). Even with the iPhone on all US carriers, it won’t be able to compete with sales from cheaper Android phones.
Motorola Mobility sued by shareholder over Google deal
Investor John W. Keating alleges that the $12.5 billion price tag Google offered was simply not enough, despite Google paying a 63 percent premium on Motorola’s shares and agreeing to an astounding break-up fee.
“The offered consideration does not compensate shareholders for the company’s intrinsic value and stand-alone alternatives going forward, nor does it compensate shareholders for the company’s value as a strategic asset for Google,” Keating’s complaint, which was filed in Chicago, reads.
Google surprised the mobile industry when it announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility on Monday. The news has shaken up the mobile industry and made many pundits wonder what the action means for Google’s Android OS. Google says Motorola Mobility will be run as a separate business from Google, but many people believe this is impossible and that Google will show considerable favorability to Motorola’s hardware devices.
Keating is seeking class-action status on the lawsuit and wants regulatory authorities to reject the deal. But the complaint seems a little hollow after considering Google agreed to pay $40 per share of Motorola Mobility, which is a 63 percent premium on what the stock’s value on Aug. 12. Google also agreed to what one analyst called the “highest-ever break-up fee agreed upon in this industry”. Google will pay Motorola Mobility $2.5 billion if the acquisition is foiled by regulators.
What do you think of the lawsuit? Do you have any qualms about the Google-Motorola deal?
84-year-old becomes oldest app inventor with the word game Dabble
George Weiss is 84, and he just may be the eldest mobile application inventor in America. His app is called Dabble – The Fast Thinking Word Game, and it is now available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
The object of the $0.99 game is to spell five words as quickly as possible suing the 20 letters stacked in a pyramid shape. The five words must include a two, three, four, five and six letter word. The premise is simple and addictive. Dabble feels like the kind of old fashioned game you play with your grandparents — even grandparents reluctant to pickup an iPad.
“A lot has changed since 1958, but people still love a good game,” says Weiss in a press release today, reflecting on the year he first came up with the game. Weiss is hard to get a hold of in person because he cares for his wife who has Alzheimer’s. We will add more from Weiss when he gets a chance to give us a call.
After half a century of tinkering in his Brooklyn basement workshop, Dabble is Weiss’s first invention that has been brought to market. Weiss worked with a large team to make the Dabble app a reality. The physical version of the game was first picked up and produced by Ideas Never Implemented (INI) in 2011 and distributed by Barnes & Noble. After a few months developers at Flashy Substance and Itch used Corona SDK* from Ansca Mobile to create the Dabble app.
Corona lets users create graphically rich applications and games for the iOS and Android operating systems. It uses the Lua language, which is easier than Objective-C, the programming language used for most iPhone games. There’s a free version of Corona and a $349 version that lets you publish to the App Store.
Even though he didn’t code the app himself, everyone who has been a part of the game’s success points back to Weiss, from the developers at Flashy Substance to the founder of INI. Weiss gets full credit for the game.
“When you’re a creative inventor, you hesitate to share ideas,” said Jay Vohra, president and founder of INI. “There’s this fear the idea will be stolen. But George took a chance. He reached out to me, saying he didn’t have much longer to live and wanted to see his idea expand. He basically let me run with it.”
Vohra was introduced to Weiss through a family friend who had grown up with Weiss. That family connection helped Weiss feel more comfortable sharing his idea.
“He was just happy that someone took interest in his product,” says Vohra. “Then everything started falling into place.”
Vohra introduced the game to Barnes & Nobel who helped market it as a physical board game. Then Vohra took it to the New York Toy Fair where the CEO of Toys ‘R Us and Mattel’s VP of digital played with it and, according to Vohra, loved it. Dabble had the three keys to game success: It was easy to tech, easy to play and could easily transfer to digital. And now it has.
“It was easy to see how this could be come an app,” Flowers says. “We usually create games for competitive gamers ages 18 to 40, but this time we focused on keeping it simple since the board game is simple. The first time you play the app you may not win, but you will understand how to play. This is the first time we’ve been able to sit down with our friends and family and share a game we’ve built.”
Flowers has rave reviews for Corona SDK. He says he had a playable prototype of Dabble within eight hours of development. Flowers notes that the hardest part of building a successful app is acquiring a player base. The app’s base will grow thanks to the flyers going out in all new Dabble board games, encouraging players to download the app. (Watch the a video at the bottom of this post to hear more from Flowers on how the game works.)
Flowers worked with musician Robert Scott on the soundtrack for the Dabble app. The resulting music is charming and the sound effects are spot-on. This is Scott’s second game soundtrack but, based on the catchy song he composed for Dabble, it won’t be his last. The game’s letters make a satisfying “clink” like Scrabble tiles as they are placed on the board. The whole score is custom, nothing was off the shelf.
INI will expand Dabble further with plans for Dabble Jr., Super Dabble, an app for Android and a game on Facebook. When it comes to this game, the sky’s the limit.
“I never gave up,” said Weiss. “And now, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t waste all those years!”
*Corona SDK was used by 14-year-old Robert Nay of Utah to build Bubble Ball, which knocked out Angry Birds to become the top free app in iTunes back in January 2011. Nay did the work on the programming and the art and his mother helped him design most of the game levels. Like Dabble, Bubble Ball appeals to a wide audience with simple graphics and basic rules.
E-book reader sales are tripling every year
Displays for e-book readers are in such high demand that its tripling every year, according to E Ink Holdings chief marketing officer Sriram Peruvemba.
Speaking at the Emerging Display Technologies conference in San Jose, Calif., Peruvemba said that overall demand for E Ink displays — the black and white displays used in electronic book readers such as the Amazon Kindle — could hit 25 million to 30 million units this year. Display Search, a market research firm that is putting on the conference, estimates that e-book display demand could hit around 27 million units this year. That’s about three times the number sold in 2010. It shows that e-book reader sales are holding on to a slice of the portable market, despite challenges from Apple’s iPad tablet computer.
“This technology has already emerged and it is in the mass market,” Peruvemba said.
The competition between e-book readers and Apple’s tablet is a familiar one. It’s like using a specific-purpose device, or using something like a Swiss Army knife. So far, the e-book reader has survived because it has done a better job of providing an electronic reading experience to consumers.
Due to the popularity of the Kindle, e-book reader sales have tripled every year since 2006. That’s a lot of progress for a new kind of display, dubbed an ePaper display, that debuted with the sale of about 100,000 units in 2006. Last year, E Ink Holdings generated $650 million in sales, and this year it expects to surpass $1 billion in revenue, Peruvemba (pictured below) said.
The screens used in the E Ink displays are much diferent from liquid crystal displays that are used in laptops and tablets. When you’re staring at the screen and reading a book, the display doesn’t use any power. But it’s slower than an LCD and takes a split second to turn the page. You don’t use these black-and-white screens to watch a video, but you can easily read and glance at black-and-white images.
As a company, E Ink was founded in 1997 and it was purchased by Prime View International in 2009.
The E Ink (short for electrophoretic ink) screens are pretty simple, consisting of black or white capsules that are suspended in an oil. If you run a voltage through the oil, it can float the black capsules to the surface so that you see something dark. Or you can float the white capsules to the top. The effect is to change the screen to white or black as needed. The displays are low cost, highly reliable, and easy to read in the sunlight, in contrast to LCDs. In 2010, E Ink introduced a color display.
In LCDs, about 26 percent of the power is consumed by the display, whereas E Ink displays consume only 5 percent of the power of an e-book reader.
The introduction of the iPad has had a big impact on the market for e-book readers in one respect. Amazon has driven the costs out of the readers and brought down the prices for e-book readers very quickly. The e-book are far less than the $499-plus iPad 2 tablets, with models reaching as low as $99.
At the same time, Samsung’s Liquavista division has introduced a new kind of “electrowetting” display, which creates images based on whether water is repelled or attracted from a surface. These displays can display 16 million colors and can play video, allowing e-book entrants such as Barnes & Noble to launch the color-based e-book reader, the Nook.
The threat from the iPad has forced Amazon to consider launching its own tablet computer. Many analysts expect Amazon to enter the tablet market shortly. Right now, about 12 percent of the population has an e-book reader, compared to 8 percent for the tablets and 83 percent for a cell phone. Each of those devices can be used to read books.
Peruvemba says he thinks there are wider applications for the E Ink displays in things like digital watches, cell phones, smart cards, universal serial bus devices, and even perfume bottles. In fact, E Ink displays have been used in all those devices on a relatively small scale. Some creative uses include a flexible mileage display that goes on the top of a bike’s handle bars and another is a electronic music stand that can display different kinds of music. Peruvemba thinks that e-books will soon disrupt one of the biggest paper book markets: paper textbooks in schools.
In its history, E Ink raised $150 million and it will exceed $1 billion in revenue. By comparison, makers of organic light emitting displays have spent perhaps $30 billion and have yet to make a return on that investment. That’s the nature of the display business. E Ink estimates it is the most profitable company in displays. It helps to have a novel idea.
Sleek Motorola Droid HD photos leaked alongside Droid Bionic
Leaked photos of the new Motorola Droid HD smartphone appeared alongside the much-delayed Droid Bionic on technology blog Engadget today.
The leak comes the same week Google announced its plans to acquire Motorola Mobility — news that has shaken up the mobile industry and made many pundits wonder what this means for the Android OS. Google says Motorola Mobility will be run as a separate business from Google and that it will continue manufacturing Android phones.
Judging from the photos, the Droid HD smartphone appears to be running the Gingerbread version of Android, and it features a 4.5-inch display (with Moto’s qHD 540-by-960 pixel resolution or perhaps a 1280-by-720 resolution), an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera that takes 1080p video, and a front-facing camera. Because it looks like a very powerful device, we would also assume the phone has a 4G chipset inside.
The 4G-enabled Droid Bionic smartphone was originally supposed to launch on Verizon in the second quarter but Motorola delayed the device. The phone is rumored for a September launch, and a spec page from Motorola says the device features a Texas Instruments 1-GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera, and a 4.3-inch display with qHD 540 x 960 resolution.
While both devices look close to finished, Google’s bid to takeover of Motorola this week could alter when the phones are ultimately released and what their software builds look like. Google could potentially give Motorola early access to the next version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, or work with Motorola on better integration of Google services.
More leaked photos can viewed below:
[Photos via Engadget]
Google swings into photo sharing with Slide’s Photovine app
Today we are finally getting to play with photo sharing app Photovine, created by the team at Google-acquired Slide.
The app has been in invite-only, friends and family testing for months, with little more than a splash page to tease all of us strangers. A spokesperson for Slide tells VenutureBeat the concept for Photovine was conceived late last year by a team that was “very inspired by” the Nexus S intro video (posted below), which was the genesis of the “Where I Stand” vine featured in many pre-public release Photovine screenshots.
The Photovine app shares photos by stringing content themes into vines. These vines grow as people who participate in a given vine share their similar photo experiences. For example, you can share a photo of you and your friends at brunch and give it the caption “Perfect Weekend.” Your friends would share their own take on the “Perfect Weekend” vine by posting a photo of them boating, reading a book, on the dance floor, or whatever the caption means to them. The main Photovine features include:
* Browse vines — See photos and creative captions added by the Photovine community.
* Add a photo to a vine.
* Create a vine — Start a vine and watch it grow. Be clever, witty, or literal; it will define the direction in which the vine grows.
* Follow people – Find interesting people and follow them.
* Social sharing — Share photos and vines on Facebook and Twitter (no word yet on Google+ sharing).
* Loop your friends into a vine — Notify friends both in the app and outside of the app via email or app notifications.
Photovine wasn’t released in a hurry. Perhaps this was a way to avoid any sort of Color catastrophe (a photosharing app with lots of funding and hype but few dedicated users). The months of friends and family testing resulted in a substantial early user base. Because sharing isn’t necessarily location-based (it can be), Photovine doesn’t need a heavy concentration of users. The app does require creative users who are willing to share openly with strangers and friends alike. Timid users who don’t want their images seen by the masses will not help vines grow. Perhaps the app would benefit from the Google+ Circles concept.
Speaking of Google, the company’s other photo-sharing app, Pool Party, is still in invite-only.
The release hasn’t been drama-free. Photo-sharing app Piictu is claiming Photovine is a carbon copy of its app and is circulating a side-by-side comparison of the two apps. A Google spokesperson says “Photovine is a photo-sharing app built by a few folks at Slide, who conceived and starting building the product late last year, long before we knew Piictu existed.”
It’s hard not to be accused of copying in a market as crowded as photo sharing. There are apps that place emphasis on photo filters like Instagram and Streamzoo. Other apps compete in the photo browsing space, like Cooliris. Social networks are dabbling in their own photo sharing apps. For example, Twitter just launched its own photo-sharing features to compete with well-known third-party services including Twitpic and Yfrog. Photovine will have to compete with these apps and hundreds of others.
My first reaction to Photovine is “sweet.” It certainly gets you thinking about new ways to connect with people you know and total strangers. The “Vine of the Day” today is titled “At My Bedside.” It gives you the chance to be a bit of a snoop and see what people keep next to their beds. Imagine an “Inside my Medicine Cabinet” vine. The “Unexpected Heart” vine was fun to explore, and I had a few of my own to contribute. We’ll see if users heart Photovine in the coming months.
Filed under: mobile
The Google/Motorola deal explained with lightsabers, ponies (video)
The big news that Google aims to acquire Motorola Mobility was inescapable yesterday, but after a while all the analysis and speculation got difficult to wade through. Leave it up to Taiwan’s Next Media Animation to cut through the crud and deliver the real meat of the news in a short video (below).
And, yes, it does include a lightsaber-wielding Darth Steve Jobs and the Google co-founders riding on a pony. (Astute readers will remember Darth Steve Jobs from Next Media’s Antennagate video last year.)
While undeniably zany, the video still manages to cover the broad points raised by the Google/Motorola deal. We know that the acquisition will give Google a healthy amount of patents to defend Android, and that it will likely cause Google some friction with existing Android partners, even though they won’t admit it in public.
I just hope Next Media will be able to further illustrate the adventures of Darth Steve Jobs with future videos and that the Google guys will have more than a bumbling droid to help protect them.
Good morning, would you like an Apple, Google or Microsoft?
While it comes as a big surprise that Google is buying Motorola Mobility, it is just as surprising that Apple launched a cloud service that will eventually fully compete with Google’s services and Microsoft essentially turned Nokia into its own private Foxconn and will compete with Apple’s devices.
All of these moves actually fit economic theory perfectly: Personal computing is now pervasive throughout our society, and the 30-year-old industry is maturing into a “rule of three” phase, where three large players will dominate the industry: Apple, Google and Microsoft are the GM, Ford and Chrysler of our era.
Each of these “big three” players needs to build a full vertical stack and extract efficiencies between and from each layer: mobile operating systems, mobile devices, desktop operating systems, personal computers, web browsers, productivity applications, content distribution and cloud services. Now we know why Apple needs Safari, iWork and AppleTV. Why Google needs the Chromebook, YouTube video rentals, and Motorola. And why Microsoft needs Bing and Nokia.
Each of these products on its own merits doesn’t really make sense, but from a full stack’s gaps perspective, they make a whole lot of sense. It doesn’t matter if each product isn’t best-of-breed, because of best-of-breed just doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that each player has each product and, over time, can improve that product and better integrate the product into its overall, vertical solution. Apple’s iCloud offering is nowhere near as good as Google’s and Microsoft’s offerings. But it is good enough to keep the Apple fanboys around, and that’s all that matters.
Over the past few years we have seen the same type of “insane” moves in the enterprise space. Why did Oracle acquire Sun and replicate Red Hat’s version of Linux? Because Oracle wants to play in the consolidated big three of the enterprise and had to match IBM with its full suite of business apps, DB2 database, AIX operating system, and PowerPC hardware. There are still some crazy moves left in the enterprise space, such as HP and SAP merging so that they can match IBM and HP.
The “big three” computer players now all have massive patent portfolios, and they are not likely to sue each other as it will be mutually assured destruction. However, they will be more than happy to tax niche players into extinction, much like HTC is paying Microsoft for each Android handset it ships. Even IBM, with its patent trove and aggressive IP monetization arm, doesn’t want to play in this fight, and sold its mobility patents off to Google.
So what’s next?
We can expect Microsoft to pick up RIM and HTC much like it picked up Nokia, lock down computer hardware manufacturers with stringent guidelines and add stores to compete with Apple on service. Apple will aggressively build out its cloud infrastructure and beef up AppleTV to fend off the XBox. Google will continue to beef up its productivity apps and focus on consumer hardware. All three will compete on the next generation of answers-oriented, Siri-like search.
Even the carriers could be in play, with former Apple President (and my two time board member and longtime mentor) Jean-Louis Gassée predicting that Google will acquire TMobile. Sound crazy? C’mon Google needs stores to compete with Apple and Microsoft. And owning a carrier just raises the stakes for the other two even further. It’s no crazier than Google buying Motorola. Game on.
Peter Yared is the VP/GM of Social at Webtrends. He has founded four e-commerce and marketing infrastructure companies that were acquired by Sun, VMware, TigerLogic and Webtrends. You can follow him at @peteryared.