Posts tagged 'iPhone'

Facebook not quite “Home” yet on mobile phones

Apparently, Facebook “Home” is not to be, not yet at least.

The Android application launched by Facebook to create an FB overlay on the Home screen of the phone was supposed to be the big bet by FB to control the first touchpoint screen for a smartphone user. But due to poor reviews by initial analysts, Facebook is said to be revamping the FB Home application. The device which was supposed to launch this was HTC One and in US, AT&T was to be the exclusive carrier for this. In UK, operator EE and Orange were planning to launch it. The social network is said to be encouraging the carriers to delay the launch to give the firm more time to create a more palatable user experience.

The battle for the phone user is becoming more intense as time goes by. With smartphones overtaking web users globally, it is of paramount importance for tech firms to own the phone customer and drive more and more smartphone traffic to these firms’ offerings, in order to attract ad revenue and other commerce monetizations.

Without a doubt, Facebook social network application remains one of the top apps on all mobile systems including Apple iOS and Android. But Google, Facebook, wireless carriers and other media are jostling for more and more of user attention on phones as well as real estate on the limited phone screen, which are the next evolution of internet cycle.

Facebook released the following statement on Thursday evening via Engadget: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.”

htc-first-2

HTC First aka “Facebook Phone”  (Photo: Courtesy / HTC)

After extremely disappointing sales of the HTC First, Facebook will reexamine the Facebook Home before expanding its operating system to more phones in more countries.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would’ve rebuilt Facebook as a mobile exclusive app if he had the chance, so clearly offering a solid mobile experience means a great deal to Facebook. In this regard, the Facebook phone was a brilliant idea and makes a great deal of sense — like Google and Android, a true Facebook phone would allow Zuckerberg & Co. to have complete control over the user experience and ad strategy. The HTC First was the company’s first attempt at such a device — Facebook would focus on software while HTC would focus on hardware — but with the phone failing so soon after its initial release, Facebook will need to take a long look in the mirror. 

Failure of the HTC First may be blamed on Facebook’s decision to make Facebook Home features too accessible to other mobile users on Android and iOS, or maybe Facebook will realize that the Facebook Home features were not that stellar to begin with.

Facebook has fumbled on mobile before, when it launched it’s first mobile site using the mobile browser channel – with poor user feedback on that approach, Facebook later changed course and focused on more cleaner mobile apps, but this was much later in it’s lifecycle; Facebook mobile has a history of bouncing back. The early years of Facebook mobile efforts were limited to working on a common mobile website version of it’s platform addressing multiple platforms like iOS and Android with one approach. It later realized that that approach did not augur well and got into building platform specific Facebook apps, which have been superb hits since.

The last note above take one back to mobile site vs mobile app debate, which continues to simmer in the mobile development world. So far, it seems, the Apps are winning with many firms (eg Financial Times) having switched from a common http://m.xyz-firm.com approach to custom mobile apps for each mobile platform. More on this later in this space.

(with extracts and ideas from International Business Times article dated May 24 by Dave Smith)

May 26th, 2013

Map wars

Since the launch of Apple iOS 6, one is seeing major activity in the world of Digital Maps. Both Apple and Google have been duking it out recently on this front. Before the iOS 6 was released, Google Maps was the default map application installed on the iPhones. But map application in recent times has become perhaps the most popular mobile app and hence substantial customer engagement and media sales get initiated with the map experience. The primary fruits of iPhone mapping app were being enjoyed by Google, until iOS 6 came along. With iOS 6 and iPhone 5, Apple decided to take the Map app internal and worked on Apple Maps for this version of iOS, thereby dropping Google Maps as the default Map app on the new iPhone.

In it’s haste to release the Map App along with iOS 6 launch, Apple mapping team seemed to compromise on reliability and accuracy in Apple Maps. The error proved deadly, as the Apple Maps app was widely criticized after iOS 6 was launched, being that rest of the iOS 6 as well as iPhone 5 was much appreciated. Apple Map Apps shows incorrect placement of landmarks and is frustrating mobile users around the world who rely on smartphone maps to guide them around cities.

This resulted in Tim Cook of Apple issuing an apology to Apple customers. Google, with a guilty pleasure, enjoyed the Apple Map criticism. Google has since announced that they are working on a custom Google Maps app for the iOS 6 platform. It is expected to come out before the end of the year.

Why are Map Apps such a big deal after all ? In an App survey conducted by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta, Google Maps was rated as the most popular mobile app. That means that navigation and directions via smartphone maps has become the most key use of these phones. One knew that Mapping Apps were popular and widely used, but who would have guessed that Map App is “the” most popular mobile app out there. Especially Google Maps. Obviously, smartphone users really use this app in their daily movements.

Maps are also used for the most cutting-edge of phone applications, that is Location-Based Services or LBS. LBS refers to finding businesses nearby and guiding customer traffic to those businesses. LBS also enables local advertising and shopping. LBS is key aspect of SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile – a concept referring to convergence between local commerce, mobile phones and social shopping.

Maps also facilitate searches now – Search is more relevant if locational aspects are added to it. Search Advertising has been a revolutionary concept and LBS makes Search even more relevant.

When the iOS 6 Apple Maps app faced ridicule, Tim Cook suggested that iPhone customers download Bing or other Map Apps from App Store. Google, of course, had not planned a iOS 6 compatible Map app, until it realized that iPhone users were clamoring for the Google version, after having experienced the cloogy Apple Map App. Apple Map flap has caused many a casualty at Apple office – with many execs including one of the most senior execs, Scott Forstall, being asked to leave. Just today, Apple fired another manager in charge of Map App.

With the Apple Map app mess, other mapping programs have gained eg Embark and Bing Maps.

Mapping wars are front and centre in the smartphone evolution, the various map providers need to check their coordinates in this new war.

November 29th, 2012

Ford and Chevrolet route cellphone apps into navigation systems

Ford’s Telenav solution and Chevrolet’s MyLink are adapting cellphone map/navigation applications for safe and convenient use inside vehicles as a way around costly in-dash navigation systems. The $25-a-year Car Connect app allows Android phone users to feed their driving instructions to the screen of Fords equipped with Applink. The Chevy Spark uses the BringGo app to integrate iPhone or Android cell phones. The use of such cellphone app links might make the integrated navigation system option obsolete, John Quain writes.

(via Smartbrief for Apps)

October 22nd, 2012

Apple iPhone 5 is here : CellStrat opinion

As if you have not heard enough about iPhone 5 already, here is more of it :)

Apple announced iPhone 5 on Sept 12th. The other big thing that happened that day was Quantitative Easing version 3 announcement by US Federal Reserve – one wonders, it was a synchronized announcement – just kidding.. Certainly, some market analysts have said that iPhone 5 may do more for US GDP growth than Fed’s QE3..amazing..

Well, intentional or not, both the announcements have a dramatic impacts – QE3 will accelerate the stock market rise around the world, fuel more inflation etc. Apple announcement will lead to Apple maintaining it’s hegemony in the smartphone ecosystem. I know, I know, some of you are on side of the table which is less than enamoured by the new iPhone 5. However, our take is that the ecosystem of Apple is much too strong and still underestimated by most. The vertical integration of iTunes, Macs, iPhones, iPads, licensed content in there, seamless charging via iTunes, cross-device synch capabilities are so intense and so transformational in the tech world, that few can match up with Apple prowess over the marketplace. Apple ran out of online inventory of iPhone 5 in one hour of opening the sales..validation enough of a huge pent-up demand out there.

Lack of NFC or some other popular features, now commonplace in other smartphones, will not deter iPhone 5 in creating breakthrough success once again for Apple sales. What most people fail to realize about Apple is that it does not usually toe the line created by others – it creates new models which, in many cases, become the benchmark over time. Coming back to NFC, Apple did bundle a feature called Passbook in the new iPhone 5 – a loyalty and coupon management feature – this is not payment enabled but it could evolve into a Digital Wallet. Many leaders like eBay, Square, Paypal are making do without NFC in Mobile Payments and quite successfully at that. It is likely that NFC may never become the mainstream mobile payment tech if Apple and others listed here do not push it.

As to what Apple iPhone 5 does pack, it has a laundry list of neat features :

LTE (4G capable), Thinner, Lighter, bigger screen (4 inch diagonally), all new Apple-designed A6 chip, better retina display, improved camera (although megapixels remain at 8 megs), enhanced HD video recording, 5 rows of icons on the screen, improved Siri assistant, new lightning connector, new Apple mapping app, better iCloud integration, 700,000 apps, new iOS 6 OS, Passbook loyalty feature, the list goes on and on.

To view all iPhone 5 features, click here.

As far as we can visualize, we still feel demand for iPhone 5 will be back-logged and people will go gaga over this device the world over. Apple mobile leadership is far from being threatened, not until they make major blunders or others truly can provide a neat vertically integrated ecosystem. So far, we see only Amazon as being anywhere close to providing the vertical ecosystem with Kindle platform. Samsung tried but it is missing many major components for creating a complete ecosystem, music partnerships to begin with, among other things. Google does not try as their focus is entirely different – to monetize via search engines on Android devices.

So – for now, it is Apple’s world to rule in the mobile arena, until somebody else “does an Apple” on them.

September 17th, 2012

Bank Transaction made easy Mobile Apps for Smart Phones

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s largest foreign bank recently unveiled a suite of Mobile Banking Applications for three platforms – Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. Citibank’s latest move enables both its credit card and bank clients to access their accounts and complete a range of banking transactions using their preferred smartphones.

“Technology has made banking services omnipresent. Our investment in these platforms is in line with our commitment to continue to drive innovation in the banking industry, where we already enjoy a strong track record of success,” quoted by Sergio Zanatti, Consumer Business Manager for Citibank in the Philippines.

 “This launch bolsters our claim that Citi services are available to our clients anywhere and anytime, now through whichever communication channel they prefer – be it landline or mobile phone, smart phone or Internet,” added Zanatti.

The Mobile Apps allow bill payments, fund transfers, even Rewards points’ redemption.  But Zanatti expects users to welcome the new features that include instant access to Citibank offers, exclusive dining and shopping deals in nearby establishments or at a specific location, as well as bank branches and ATM locator in the Philippines and around the world.

Zanatti said, “We expect clients to be very excited about the real time offers that we can quickly upload and share with them using these Apps.  We are investing in the latest technology to deliver relevant offers to our clients and when they need them”.

To download the app on Android phones, go to the Marketplace application and search for Citibank Philippines. Select Citibank PH from the results list then click download. Once successful, the Citi Mobile icon will appear on the phone’s home screen.

For iPhone users, go to App Store and search for Citibank Philippines. Select Citibank PH then click install. The Citi Mobile icon appears on the home screen after installation. This can also be installed in the iPod Touch.  All Citi Mobile Apps are free to use and download.

Zanatti said as newer technologies were rolled out, banking becomes highly accessible and increasingly flexible for everyone. “Citi will be providing customers with the latest technology as we continue to enhance and facilitate service. We want to be the leading digital bank, here in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world.” 

(Source: BBC)

March 29th, 2012

2012 will see the surge of M2M

2011 saw a lot of excitement over M2M (machine to machine communications) and the Internet of things. That it might also be looked back upon as the year when mobile telcos came to terms with the fact that they wouldn’t and couldn‘t control (monetize) the smartphone and its apps may not be coincidental. M2M is seen as a long-term revenue earner for mobile telcos and a natural fit. They are not going to let this one slip away without a fight.

Why now? Mostly because the cost curves for the necessary embedded modules are going in the right direction and there’s a rising realisation of the scope and value of large scale M2M deployments. That in turn is leading to more optimistic forecasts from market watchers and more excitement in the telco camp over the number of potentially connected devices out there to be joined up and the revenue to be made. According to the wireless analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of cellular network connections worldwide used for M2M communication was 47.7 million in 2008. The company forecasts that the number of M2M connections will grow to 187 million by 2014.

New findings from ABI Research show that operators are offering incentive deals to application developers to stimulate the uptake of the M2M market.
US mobile operators AT&T and Sprint have recently struck deals with wireless embedded module vendors to provide modules for M2M application developer partners at discounted rates.

Small but useful concepts are being developed by both small and big players in India and some that I came across included mobile devices that are connected to tablets through wifi or otherwise over a long distance and being used for monitoring temperature in pharmaceutical manufacturing units in Uttrakhand region of India; similar such devices are being tested to keep a watch on patients/ old age people in hospitals/ old age homes; same devices with little tweaking can be effectively used in defense storage and research too; systems have been developed to control lighting in various parts of buildings or complexes with controlling capabilities through android and iPhone apps over tablets etc.

I believe 2012 is going to be the starting year for increased usage and developments of M2M based systems.

(Ref: Excerpt from telecomtv)

January 2nd, 2012

Indian e-commerce – nuances and challenges

Everybody and their grandma in India now knows that Indian e-commerce market is set to explode – it is expected to go from current 7 billion dollar (of which 6 billion is online travel alone) to 40 billion by 2015 – ie in 3-4 years.

In view of this, dozens of new ecommerce startups have launched in India and some of them are increasing market share at a breakneck speed. Some of these include Flipkart, Snapdeal, Exclusively.in, yebhi.com, babyoye.com, myntra.com and several others from large brands as well as startups.

But Indian ecommerce is not like that in the West – where online credit card payment and cheap shipping are the order of the day. India has presented these online commerce vendors with its own unique challenges – eg. :

  • COD : customers are reticent to use credit cards online. COD or Cash on Delivery is the preferred method for payment for most online sales.
  • Free Shipping : Indian online customers do not want to pay for shipping – as a result, Indian ecommerce vendors have to bite the bullet on shipping as well.
  • Categories for online shopping : Indian customers so far are mostly interested in online travel purchases – but when it comes to other products like toys, baby products, household items, books, music CDs and such, physical stores still take more than 99% of the customer pie. Of course, now electronics, books and apparel are some products gaining traction in online sales.
  • Where are the profits ? : Of course, it is well known that most India ecommerce startups are taking a loss on online sales – just to grow market share. One expects a market shakeout on this sooner or later and only the strongest (and well funded) ones will survive this fight to the top. We feel that the shakeout will begin to happen over the course of next year with several pulling the plug on their ventures or being bought out by other stronger ones.

Above list highlights some major challenges for the Indian ecommerce players. Enter Indian Jugaad – or Indian version of “make it work somehow“. New services like Gharpay and chottu.in have been launched to tackle the COD cash collection challenges, as well as product delivery in some cases. These services are building networks of collection agents in various circles or cities and provide Cash on delivery collection services as well as product delivery for the major vendors like Redbus.in, Myntra and Flipkart. Within months of launch, these services have signed  up many leading online vendors as customers.

Well – one has to admit – when it comes to India, it is all about “Jugaad Karo“. In India, if there is a problem, there is always a “Jugaad solution” lurking somewhere – it is upto creative entrepreneurs to find such gaps and exploit them to make new ventures.

December 14th, 2011

The Indian Web and Mobile Markets by the numbers

(excerpted from GigaOm Pro article at http://t.co/20B9JVyo)

Katie Fehrenbacher with Gigaom is traveling with Geeks on a Plane in India. She writes following stats provided by Google CEO Rajan Anandan to the Geeks on a Plane group :

Rajan Anandan on Indian internet scene : “We’re probably in 1996 in the U.S. in terms of the Internet market in India.”

Here’s the stats from Anandan’s deck. India has:

  • 1.2 billion people
  • The 9th largest economy in the world, with $1.7 trillion GDP
  • 600 million people below the age of 25
  • 22 languages
  • 250 million in the consuming class — these are the folks that buy e-commerce
  • 900 million mobile accounts, with 600 million unique mobile subscribers (many people have more than one account)
  • 30 million PCs — it’ll be a mobile broadband world
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU) is $3
  • 100 million Internet users, and 120 million Internet users by the end of 2011
  • By 2015 there will be 300 million to 400 million Internet users
  • 37 percent of Internet users access the web from home, 27 percent from an Internet cafe, 22 percent from an office, 3 percent from school
  • There are 50 million mobile data subscribers
  • 5 million access Internet only on the phone
  • In 2010/2011 e-commerce emerged as a $7 billion market, with $6 billion of that going to online travel
  • By 2015 the e-commerce market is expected to be $40 billion
  • 67 percent of e-commerce customers by electronics and cell phones. 18 percent buy apparel.
  • 15 million 3G mobile subscribers
  • Broadband is 250 kbps to 500 kpbs fixed line
  • The use of smart phones will grow 52 percent CAGR
  • There are 37 million Facebook users
  • Google Plus use is bigger than Twitter use
  • 23 million unique users on YouTube India
  • There will be $1.3 trillion in online ad spend in 2011
  • The English Internet will not scale beyond 200 million, says Anandan
  • 159 million read Hindi newspapers and 31 million read English newspapers
  • There will be a massive tsunami toward vernacular content on the web, says Anandan
  • 70 percent of non-travel e-commerce is “cash on delivery” (no online payments, buyers pay cash when goods are delivered)
  • This cash on delivery market has a 30 percent return rate
  • Web 1.0 and 2.0 are happening at the same time in India, says Anandan.

Some Internet sites that have found success in India:

Thanks to Gigaom for the above post.

December 14th, 2011

Book Review : “India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam

“India Inside : The Emerging Innovation Challenge to the West” is a new book authored by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam, renowned professors at the elite London Business School. The book is published by Harvard Business Review Press and released in Nov 2011.

This book is about the “invisible” innovation which India today provides to a multitude of corporations and entities around the world. The book starts with questions like “Where are the Indian Googles, iPods and Viagras?” and “Can Indians innovate?”. Valid questions but which make slight of the fact that innovation is much more than consumer facing direct innovation. Indian ingenuity is enmeshed in so many products other multinationals make – likes of GE, Microsoft, IBM, AstraZeneca, Intel, Motorola and many others.

Globally Segmented Innovation :

As Western firms have outsourced large parts of the IT and research work to their Indian divisions and R&D labs, the skill profile of the Indian worker is increasing and firms are increasingly entrusting them with higher-end tasks. In this regard, the authors talk about the Skills Ladder concept – which says that when one creates an army of talent at the bottom of the product development pyramid, it is likely that innovation leaders emerge from this lot and remain in the geography where they are situated – as such, one can say that, thanks to Western outsourcing, a huge no of Indian engineers and innovators are being trained and are likely to boost the local innovation ecosystem via new entrepreneurial ventures or contributions to domestic economy.

In short, there is a talent shift to Asia from the Western hemisphere, which in turn will lead to accelerating growth and innovation in that part of the world.

Outsourced R&D :

For multinationals, Indian service providers like Wipro, Infosys, Tata and HCL are conducting outsourced R&D in labs all across India. Wipro pioneered the concept of outsourced R&D with it’s innovative Product Engineering Services division or PES starting way back in early 80s. Infosys products like Finacle and others like i-Flex have become global leaders in banking and finance. Outsourcing of R&D to India-based outfits creates talent pools in that part of the world and self-perpetuates further innovation and increased western investments.

Process Innovation – An Injection of Intelligence :

Indian call centers are often staffed with folks who are normally more qualified than a mundane call center job. This has caused the so called “injection of intelligence” into the mundane call center and BPO processes – processes which the Western world had written off as commoditized and boring. As a result, call center outsourcer 24/7 is injecting analytics-driven market intelligence into customer service calls and interactions – thereby increasing web / phone consumer loyalty and conversion rates. Higher qualified Indian talent is converting routine BPO processes into more strategic higher-value initiatives for western clients, thereby increasing ROI on outsourcing even more.

Management Innovation – The Global Delivery Model :

Infosys and other Indian IT firms have pioneered the global outsourcing and cost efficiencies which can be achieved in large projects. Saving costs and making the process faster, leaner and efficient is certainly innovation in it’s own right.

Visible Innovation – Frugal Engineering :

The emerging Asian middle class is known to demand and desire Western style products at cheaper cost. The Indian concept of “Jugaad” - or an ability to make do with less resources and still get things done, is now finding acceptance as a strategy in global Boardrooms. Tata Nano (and more recently Aakash tablet, I might add) are changing the debate of value vs cost. Developed markets are fascinated by Indian creations like Tata Nano and are studying such models closely to see how a quality mass market product can be developed at such a lower cost.

The authors also acknowledge the India’s innovation challenges eg slow bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure, lack of capital and population’s risk-averse nature. However, the Indian innovation train has started and few can turn the clock back now. As such, authors provide recommendations to both Indian and Western firms as to how to leverage or face the oncoming Indian innovation onslaught. We highly recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about the India’s growth and innovation story.

CellStrat Book Rating : **** (4 out of 5 stars)

December 1st, 2011

Tablet owners more active m-commerce users

Last one year has seen a large number of e-commerce and deal site ventures getting funded in India and worldwide. Thus most of these companies are spending good amounts on online marketing etc. they are not leaving any stone unturned and thus adopting mobile and tablet friendly sites and apps too. My friend also bought an iPad2 recently and gifted to his wife to give her an entertainment mode beyond iPhone without imagining that his credit card expense will sky rocket as a result. Within in a week of gifting the tablet, he started seeing purchase alerts from his credit card company in denomination between 99cents to $5. He had to go back and ask her to stop playing so many paid games that she picked up new craze for, since she has got hold of the tab. My friend had never seen his wife purchasing through her iPhone before. No wonder m-commerce has increased and will increase further as all kinds of tablets will penetrate all stratas of society.

Increased tablet adoption could be the push that mobile commerce needs to get off the ground. Data from Ipsos indicates that tablet ownership leads to greater mobile purchasing, perhaps due to an improved shopping experience on the media-rich devices. According to Ipsos, tablet owners shop via mobile devices on a more frequent basis and spend more than smartphone owners.

Ipsos also presents a group of consumers called “dual owners”—those who own both tablet and smartphone devices. Dual owners, Ipsos determined, conduct m-commerce purchases twice as often as those who own only smartphones. Dual owners, on average, made more than 20 mobile purchases over the past year.

November 18th, 2011

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