Why Android Takes Forever to Get Cool Apps

Why Android
Even though there are more Android phones than iPhones in the United States, the number and variety of Android apps lags compared to Apple’s offerings. For instance, Android users had to wait a year before they got Instagram or Pinterest apps. New research helps explain why.

There’s got to be more to the story than the number of phones. Flurry, a mobile-app analytics firm, released a report this week that helps explain the problem, laying out the challenges app developers face. It also shows that Android apps are unlikely to catch up and that small developers coding for either device will get squeezed out of the market.

For app developers to make a decent living, they have to sell 50 apps an hour, 24 hours a day, for $1 each, Johan Emil Johansson, a developer in Sweden, said in a blog post outlining the difficult conditions facing today’s app developers. New app versions are expensive to make, especially in light of the proliferation of devices.

App developers have long had to grapple with an overwhelming number of connected devices. Flurry counted 331 different models of smartphones and tablets that developers would have to code for if they wanted make their apps available on about 90% of devices.

Too ambitious? If developers can content themselves with only 50% of devices in use, the programmers would still have to make versions for 18 different models. And the complexity doesn’t stop there; developers must also adjust apps for different operating systems. For instance, any iPhone 4 user could be running iOS 4, iOS 5 or iOS 6.

But iOS still represents fewer phone and operating system combinations than does Android . And fewer combinations means less development work and testing for cash-strapped programmers.

Flurry also found an even bigger incentive to make an iOS app rather than one for Android: More people will use the apps, and more often.

“Device models running on the iOS platform average 14 times the number of active users compared to device models running on other platforms,” Mary Ellen Gordon, a Flurry analyst, said in a blog post.

In other words, one iPhone user is worth 14 Android users  , based on how frequently the apps get used.

And even when Flurry isolated Samsung, the most popular Android device maker, one iOS user was still worth seven Samsung users.

Manufacturers will continue to make new devices in the hopes of standing out from competitors. The last year alone has seen the explosion of the “phablet ,” a phone the size of a small tablet. And the operating system mix of old and new will grow even more complex.
So much for the whiz kid  with a quirky, brilliant app idea, like 14-year-old Robert Nay who created Bubble Ball.

“Putting all of this together, we expect a future in which app developers are less frequently individuals with a creative idea and a laptop, and more frequently companies designed to develop, produce and distribute apps at scale,” Flurry said.

Yahoo Killing Message Boards Site and Other

Yahoo
Yahoo announced in a Friday afternoon blog post that it’s killing seven products from its line of consumer offerings.

The doomed products include Yahoo’s BlackBerry app and Sports IQ. The BlackBerry app will still be available to users who have already downloaded it, but support for it will cease. The Yahoo Message Boards website is also set for shuttering, although users will still be able to access message boards for individual properties such as Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance. Yahoo avatars will no longer be supported either, while the Yahoo Clues beta product, Yahoo App Search and Yahoo Updates API round out the list of casualties.
All the changes take effect April 1, except for the Yahoo Updates API, which will stick around until April 16.
“Ultimately, we’re making these changes in an effort to sharpen our focus,” Jay Rossiter, Yahoo’s executive vice president for platforms, wrote in the blog post announcing the changes. “By continuing to hone in on our core products and experiences, we’ll be able to make our existing products the very best they can be.”

Twitter Outages = Snow Day On The Internet

Twitter
Why the schadenfreude, you might ask? Why take delight at the misfortune of others? Well, let me be clear. I have endless compassion for the brilliant engineers at Twitter. They’ve built something unbelievably powerful, and it’s a testament to their talents that it runs at all. But I think the human users who spin the wheels of that real-time interruption machine could use a break every once in a while.

When Twitter is down, it’s like a Snow Day on the Internet.

I understand that most people can and do use Twitter by choice. That’s a very good thing. As an intentional hobby, Twitter is immensely valuable. Just dipping into the stream can provide an hour’s or a day’s worth of news, humor and even friendship, if you keep your Twitter feed tidy enough. “Twitter is my rosary,” my word-hero Erin Kissane once said.

Haters As A Leading Indicator Of Success

Hater
The only thing worse than dealing with haters of your company or product is not having any at all. The product without haters is destined for ignominy and failure. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that your product’s success is positively correlated with the volume of venom directed at it.
But first, let’s define a “hater.”

There’s valid criticism, and then there’s hate. A hater, according to Urban Dictionary, feasts upon schadenfreude: “A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.” Jealousy factors heavily into a hater’s temperament.

  • Quality
  • Entertainment
  • Interesting
  • Amazing
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Yes, jealousy. After all, no one hates a loser. That company with 1% market share? No one bothers to expend energy trashing it. Not seriously, anyway.

Brand Marketers Totally Miss Social Media Influencers

Any illusions that marketers have gotten this whole social media thing down pat will be blown away by the latest findings from Technorati Media’s 2013 Digital Influence Report, which suggests that for everything the media spends across social platforms, the most desired influencers aren’t even being reached.

The new report points out a huge disconnect: only 11% of corporate social media budgets are devoted to advertising on blogs and influencer sites. But fully 86% of the influencers these corporate brands are trying to reach are using blogs as their primary publishing platform.

Brands And Advertisers: It’s All About Facebook

The mismatch is pretty clear in Technorati Media’s report. Typically, just 10% of the total digital marketing budget is devoted to a social ad strategy. Of that slice of the pie, 57% gets tossed at Facebook ad buys, 13% at YouTube and another 13% at Twitter’s sponsored tweets. Just 6% is spent on influencers and 5% on blogs.

Why Can’t Johnny Write? Don’t Blame Social Media

Books were my best friends, when I was growing up. I read all the time, but wrote little. It wasn’t until I hit my teens that I began to write regularly for fun. None of it was very good, but I had, thanks to countless hours between book covers, learned a little something about structure, grammar, even spelling. This made me a better-than-average writer for my age and someone who peppered his conversations with big words (mostly because I loved the sound of them).

My teenage children read less than I did when I was their age. The two of them spend hours on their phones, ingesting viral content or chatting on Facebook, while I spent my time with books and TV.

Despite the generational shift in reading habits, my children are above average writers (although this could be because their parents have writing backgrounds). I’m actually surprised their writing isn’t worse.

Mobile Apps In The Enterprise: 7 Essentials

Mobile devices have become the world’s steady companions that we take anywhere and use everywhere. A recent forecast by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2014, 1.7 billion mobile devices will be accessing the Internet – and a steady diet of online content. Widespread smartphone and tablet adoption is giving birth to a new ecosystem of mobile apps. Apple with its iTunes App Store is currently the gold-standard of the mobile experience, and it enables distribution to millions of users. In early 2013, Apple announced that users had downloaded an astounding 40 billion apps from its App Store, with almost half of that total logged in the last year.

The rollout of smart mobile apps yields numerous benefits not only to consumers but also for the enterprise. Mobile apps for business must offer the expected, Apple-easy download experience, but the enterprise requires quite a bit more for apps to be successful and risk-free. Many companies are struggling to manage the proliferation of mobile apps and connect to business content.

Here are seven critical areas for enterprises to address as apps multiply through the mobile enterprise ecosystem.

1. Not Point Products: Using An Enterprise Mobility Platform

The basic foundation of the mobile enterprise begins with deployment of the devices – employee and corporate-owned — along with a portfolio of productivity apps. The goal is simple: The user downloads an app and starts using it. All onboarding, app registration and bootstrapping is done by the enterprise mobility platform — the server strings, logon information or certificates are pushed to the user’s device automatically.

2. Configuration: Based On Roles And Responsibility

Deployment and configuration policies have to go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, enterprise workers want to be able to use any device and any app, accessing content without any roadblocks. Ideally, if an employee has an iPhone or Android phone provided to them, they will immediately have the secured content and correct business apps configured based on their roles and responsibilities (finance, HR, sales, etc.).

3. Deployment: Cloud vs. On Premise

Enterprises have a choice of where they get content and apps. They can come from the cloud, be stored on premise, or in some hybrid combination. This piece of the mobile equation doesn’t have a correct answer, but IT has to remain keenly aware where each component of mobile content resides and (most importantly) who has authorized access.

4. Beyond MDM: Managing Devices, Apps, Content And Things

IT must maintain control over how mobile devices access corporate information: At the very least, IT has to be able to turn off the device, content or app if the mobile hardware is lost or stolen. A key component of that is creating lockable configuration and security policies. Mobile Device Management (MDM) software helps IT centrally manage, secure and deploy mobile data, applications and devices, including tablets and phones. The journey continues beyond MDM to Mobile App Mgmt (MAM), Mobile Content Mgmt (MCM) and eventually takes you on the journey to securing not just devices but every machine in the Internet of Things.

5. Security: At Every Stage In The Lifecycle

A Symantec study calculated that the average annual cost of mobile breaches for an enterprise business was $429,000. Security has to be part of the fabric of mobile throughout the enterprise. It must be integrated into the initial mobile strategy – and into each subsequent stage in the mobile lifecycle. It must be nimble and designed for the post-PC era of mobile computing.

6. Interoperability: Take A Cross-Platform Approach

In a mobile enterprise, all devices, apps and cloud services need to recognize each other and be able to share content. As we deal with a combination of HTML-based mobile-Web apps and device-native apps, three key factors contribute to interoperability.

First is cross-platform support. Most enterprises will have to cater to Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and BlackBerry.

The second factor is backend connectivity: While all mobile users will run Tripit, for example, against the same hosted backend, your enterprise apps needs to run against your company’s backend systems. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) app needs to access your customers in your CRM system. A Leave Request app has to run against your own enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Third, enterprise apps must adhere to your company’s information technology security standards. Employees will access your corporate data from the open Internet, and you need to safeguard your business data.

7. Mobile Apps: Buy And/Or Develop Your Own

Mobility starts with the app creator, which could be an individual developer, a customer who wants to develop an app, a partner or an internal development team. Many larger organizations will benefit by designing their own apps for mobile-enabled business processes. These mobile solutions can tap into different applications and workflow tools using dashboards to monitor everything from sales to the health of the entire business in real time.

Internet, Keep Your Damn Hands Off My Rom Coms

On
Watch
The tech world is often misunderstood as hard and cold. Movies about the internet have commonly fallen into the sci-fi and dramatic genres. Romantic comedies just don’t work for us web-dwellers because we’re all robots and we have no feelings, right?

Nope. There’s nothing Meg Ryan and a little soft focus can’t warm up. Take these tech-inspired romantic comedies (rom coms) and warm up your cold, bionic heart.

Facebook Gets More Simpler, More Complicated

Here’s the first thing you may notice about the new Facebook — the word “Facebook” doesn’t appear anywhere on it. Just one blue-on-white, lowercase “f.”

It’s indicative of a couple of things — first of all, Facebook is so famous it doesn’t need to use its full name any more. Secondly, the company has a new religion: make the design as clean as possible. Remove all unnecessary pixels (and yes, the company talks about it in pixel-level terms). Get Facebook out of the way of your Facebook experience.

“We wanted to remove all the chrome from Facebook,” software engineer Chris Struhar told Mashable after the event. And he wasn’t talking about the Google browser. (Indeed, folks at Facebook were strenuously avoiding any usage of the G-word Thursday, possibly because of the design’s similarity to Google+.)

Struhar was using a web nerd term to describe the chrome fins on the Facebook car: the details, the frames, anything that wasn’t Facebook stories and pure, gorgeous white space.
Of course, if you were paying attention to the details of the News Feed event, you’ll notice the paradox here: at the same time Facebook got simpler, it also got more complicated.

Instead of two options for how to sort your News Feed — “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” — Facebook now offers a dizzying seven options.

You get regular old News Feed (the equivalent of Top Stories, sorted by the Facebook algorithm), “All Friends” (headed up by a photo with a selection of friends in it), “Following” for the Pages and public figures you follow; “Photos,” “Groups,” “Games,” “Music” and your old friend “Most Recent.”

In fact, you get even more options than that. Click on “see all” and you’ll be able to view your News Feed by your location, or only people you follow at your work place, or only people in your high school, and so on.

All in all, I counted 20 ways to view my News Feed. Your mileage may vary.
How much of this will you use? It’s a fair question. In talking to Facebook employees who’ve been playing around with the new design internally for months, I’ve heard much the same thing: their browsing habits didn’t change.

If they preferred the passive browsing of the “Top Stories” algorithm before, they’re not really drilling down into the multiplicity of News Feed options. If they were the kinds of Facebook users who set up dozens of Lists before, then those kinds of options are closer to their fingertips.

10 Actionable Trends For Mobile Marketers In 2013

It is almost silly to think that in 2013, many enterprises are still struggling with mobile strategies. The fact of the matter is that enterprises can sometimes be just as big, slow and bureaucratic as the Federal government. That can also be true for the enterprise marketing departments that are, ostensibly, supposed to be ahead of the curve of the rest of the organization.

Research firm Forrester has identified the top 10 trends that enterprise marketers need to know in 2013, and the actionable responses they should take to prepare a multi-year mobile strategy to push their companies into the future. The key takeaway? It’s time to invest resources in mobile – including time, money and people.

Among its points Forrester says that “the role of mobile marketing manager will emerge.” We are beginning see these types of roles crop up in companies across the world. Whether it is the “VP of Mobile” or the mobile-only IT guy, enterprises are starting to fraction certain parts of the workforce to specifically deal with mobile issues. Cost conscious enterprises may not like to see their workforces become even more fragmented and specialized, but the fact of the matter is that mobile is like a weevil, ingraining itself into the infrastructure of enterprise protocols. Ignore it at your peril.

“Mobile on the cheap is over. Implementing the complex technology to make the most of mobile opportunities requires a new vision of how to interact with customers, significant changes in culture and competencies across business and IT, and more investment,” wrote Forrester analyst Thomas Husson. 

What it comes down to is this: enterprises and marketers need to address multi-year use cases for smartphones and tablets, hire and organize their workforce to take advantage of the opportunities and restructure the corporate organization chart to give those people the power to make actionable decisions. Ideally, these types of changes would have started two or three years ago or before. If your enterprise is just starting to figure out how mobile is changing your processes in 2013, you are well behind the ball.

See the chart from Forrester below. What is your enterprise doing to take advantage of the Mobile Era? Let us know in the comments.

BlackBerry Z10 review: a new life, or life support?

BlackBerry is about to enter the battle of its life, and as you’ll see in my review of its new flagship phone, the Z10, it’s using everything in its arsenal to win. Maybe win is the wrong word; perhaps victory for BlackBerry right now is something more like not losing everything. Because if you’ve been following this story, you know that everything is what’s at stake.

The company is coming back into the game with force, that much is clear. Its new touchscreen smartphone is the serious contender BlackBerry has been claiming it would be, packing in the specs, software prowess, and services to take on even the most entrenched players in the game. This isn’t a feint or a half-step, it’s a long bomb with all the blood, sweat, and tears behind it you would expect from a company that’s lost a significant piece of its value (to say nothing of its market power) over the last handful of years. But there are those entrenched players, and consumers as well as enterprise customers have proved fickle in the face of changing technology. The fans have gone or are going — can the Z10 win them back?

This isn’t just about a single phone or a single OS, it’s about BlackBerry’s fight to stay afloat. Can the new phone along with BlackBerry 10 put the company back in play, or is this too little, too late? Read on for my full review and find out.

Make Better Presentations With the Instagram for Pitch Decks

“Hey, I really enjoyed making this PowerPoint,” is one of those things nobody says. Haiku Deck aims to change that with its iPad app for making and viewing presentations.

Before addressing the pain point of bad PowerPoints, the founders of Haiku Deck were part of TechStars’ inaugural class of entrepreneurs in Seattle. Their initial idea didn’t fly but it was their experience on the ground, pitching to various investors or partners, that led them to the idea for Haiku Deck.

“We were almost never finding ourselves [pitching] in a conference room,” says Haiku Deck co-founder Adam Tratt. The app now has been downloaded 250,000 times, with more than 100,000 decks made by users.

Despite the introduction of tools including SlideRocket and Prezi, the process around creating and presenting slides hasn’t changed much in 20 years. It involves a lot of Google searching for images, resizing text and on occasion, adding animations that will make your audience chuckle, at least the first time. What you end up making is often nothing to boast about — it gets the point across, but can look jumbled or be hard to read for your audience.

Tratt looked to his past product experience at Microsoft (working on Office) where he became familiar with an important statistic about feature usage: 80% of people use 5% of product features. Often, full-featured software gives people “too much rope with which to hang themselves,” he explains.

That’s why Haiku Deck, much like the poetry format haiku, has a strict framework.
“99% of the world is not a designer.” Tratt notes most people know something looks good when they see it, but cannot pick out a color palette.

The app comes with five “themes,” or templates (with 11 more for purchase). Finding images is a no-brainer — the app actually allows you to input relevant Creative Commons images, with attribution included, as soon as you type in a slide title or body text (you can also upload your own images).

The charts included in Haiku Deck are also unique. In a time when data turns heads, bring it into pitches is crucial, but the numbers themselves don’t always tell the story. Haiku Deck offers three types of charts: bar chart, pie chart and statistic chart. For example, in the bar chart, you would drag the bar to the correct number, say, 80 — and then add a label for each bar. It’s the kind of gesture action you expect when using a touchscreen.

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