Oct 022012
 

When Amazon released the Kindle Fire, many a developer was left wondering why Amazon forked Android and rolled a browser of their own – even though “Silk” is not bad, better browsers exist.

The folks from VisionMobile recently published a very interesting analysis, the key passage of which is below:

Routing the Silk browser’s traffic through its own servers allows Amazon to collect click streams — and not just when the user is shopping on Amazon.


It would make sense to license out the Silk browser to OEM manufacturers of smartphones or other tablets. … the OEM gains an additional revenue stream as a broker of Amazon foot traffic.

Find out more via the URL below:

http://www.visionmobile.com/blog/2012/09/the-kindelization-of-tablets-part-2-the-silk-strategy/

Aug 012012
 

For someone who has been in the mobile industry since the times when apps cost 10$ a pop and were sold from ESDs, the Freemium model has always been a bit confusing. Long-term follower Nicola Peluchetti has now shared two very interesting articles which should help shine a bit of light on the topic.

Freemium has run its course
Post number one, coming via GigaOm, provides an overview of pros and cons of the Freemium model. It is ideal for all those who are interested in the history of Freemium apps, and also want to decide whether the model makes sense for their products.

Three Steps from Paid to Freemium
Story number two hits us via Betable.com. They have a talk with a Monetization expert from Rovio who explains the actual steps needed to create a successful freemium app – hit it when you have decided that Freemium fits your business concept.

Any interesting links to share?

Jun 192012
 

So far, I have been a big fan of Steve Ballmer – he has, largely, shown a very good understanding of developers and licensees. However, this is written in past tense – marvel at the device below.
mssurface Microsoft Surface tablet   committing suicide, one by one

I do not see it as my job to comment the specifications. The device has a much more significant impact which will be felt all over the world: it is likely to alienate all, literally all, licensees which Microsoft still has.

You must keep in mind how past product launches were handled by Steve Ballmer – when Windows Mobile 6.5 was announced at the MWC, a TON of licensees were on stage at least shortly. Microsoft’s policy was easy: we build the OS, you do the rest.

Past anti-competitive practives of Microsoft have taught Microsoft’s partners a significant license: it is totally insane to run against a vendor where MSFT is successfully active.

The effect of this is clear: Android, and possibly even Symbian or webOS might soon get a lot of extra attention as vendors look for new platforms where they can rebase their devices.

After having largely damaged its market share in Windows Phone, they are likely to do the same in the tablet and maybe even notebook spaces – in short, the market has just heated up a lot.

What do you think?

May 072012
 

First of all: I am fully aware that Microsoft’s MVPs are not entitled to speak on behalf of the company. However, tradition tells us that MVPs tend to stay in line with corporate, as they do want to be re-nominated to keep getting the (significant material) benefits.

A German MVP in the XNA segment has now aired some interesting statements on his German blog (here). Given that we have an abundance of German speakers on team, here is the most interesting stuff he had to say.

He starts out by analyzing the financial situation of Nokia, which, well, is not too good – the firm has lost 1.34 billion Euros in 2011. This, however, already includes a payment from Nokia.

Here, the German text first:

Davon sind in 2011 bereits 0.180 Milliarden Euro geflossen (für 1 Million verkaufte Nokia Lumia 800).

In this number, a payoff from Microsoft is already included. MS paid Nokia 0.18 billion Euros for the one million Lumia devices sold.

He then goes on to explain why Android would be a less sensible choice:

Sollte Nokia es 2012 schaffen 10 Millionen Windows Phones umzusetzen, was durchaus schaffbar sein sollte, dann bekommen sie von Microsoft die Restzahlung von 1.8 Milliarden Euro und sparen auch noch mal 100 Millionen an Lizenzgebühren für einen entsprechenden Android-Absatz ein

Should Microsoft be able to sell 10 million WP7 devices in 2012, they would get an additional 1.8 billion Euros from Nokia. In addition to that, they would also save 100 million USD of license fees Android licensees must pay to Microsoft.

He has a nice extra bit of financials which we cannot quote here as we would be over the legal limit for quote lengths – find out more here:
http://mitohnehaare.de/2012/04/30/android-lumia-nokias-rettung/
===>Translated by Google Translate

May 032012
 

Everyone is aware of the Carl Zeiss optics and the N-Series success. First deployed on the most successful phone of it’s time, the N73, this partnership was an instant hit. It has been seven years since then, and the optics have improved considerably, with the Nokia 808 Pureview latest member of the family.

A press release was “released”  by Nokia showcasing the strengthening partnership.

Espoo, Finland – Nokia and Carl Zeiss today announced that the exclusive partnership between the two companies, which has resulted in some of the industry’s best camera smartphones such as the Nokia N8 and the Nokia 808 PureView, has been extended.

The Nokia 808 PureView, which starts rolling out in May, combines high-performance Carl Zeiss optics with Nokia developed algorithms and a super-high resolution sensor to set a new standard in high-end smartphone imaging.

"Carl Zeiss was a crucial partner in the creation of the first PureView experience," said Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices. "The benefits of our ongoing collaboration will be more PureView innovation and further advancements in smartphone imaging in the coming months and years."

Michael Kaschke, CEO, Carl Zeiss AG: "When joining forces with Nokia in 2005, we wanted to push the boundaries of mobile photography. Looking back at seven years of successful partnership, we are proud of the innovations and outstanding products created in this shared journey. Today we are celebrating the extension of our collaboration with a new technology that sets another real benchmark in this sector."

But we beg to differ. If we see the light of events in the past few years, Nokia seems to rely more on the EDoF for it’s phones. In fact, more phones have been released by Nokia having the EDoF technology rather than Carl Zeiss optics.

Carl Zeiss has Sony as it’s partner for the DSLR range and Nokia for the smartphone range. It had also made some ground with a few smartphones from Sony Ericsson. But with Sony and Ericsson going their separate ways, and Nokia focusing more on the EDoF technology for bulk of it’s device, we see the future of this partnership grim. On the long run, it could be more profitable for Zeiss to focus all of its work on Sony, cutting off supply to Nokia completely.

Nokia can and will, however, continue to leverage the Zeiss brand in some of it’s  smartphones, but the number would be dwarfed by the number of phones released with the EDoF lenses, and we continue to be skeptic about the nature of this press release.

What do you think?

Apr 162012
 

Moody’s, a large rating agency, has just reduced Nokia’s financial rating, and maintaining a negative outlook (as in: it will become worse).

As a reply, Nokia has now sent out the following press release. As always, highlighting is added by yours truly:

Nokia notes today’s announcement from Moody’s, reaffirming its investment grade credit rating. Earlier today Moody’s downgraded Nokia’s long-term credit rating to Baa3 and maintained the negative outlook on the rating. Moody’s stated that its investment grade rating is backed by Nokia’s strong liquidity position and capital structure.

Nokia’s financial position remains strong. As of March 31 2012, Nokia had gross cash balances of EUR 9.8 billion, and a net cash position of EUR 4.9 billion.

Cash conservation remains a priority for Nokia in the current transition. We are making progress with our previously announced targets to reduce non-IFRS operating expenses by more than EUR 1 billion in Devices & Services, and to reduce non-IFRS operating expenses and production overheads by EUR 1 billion in Nokia Siemens Networks.

“Nokia is quickly taking action. Nokia will continue to increase its focus on lowering the company’s cost structure, improving cash flow and maintaining a strong financial position,” said Timo Ihamuotila, Nokia’ Executive Vice President and CFO.

Nokia will report its first quarter 2012 results on April 19, 2012.

Let’s put this crystal clear: your company is loosing market share due to unwanted handsets and bad management, and all you do is reduce the prices and be more effective? To me, this sounds a lot like a plane heading into a mountain – if Nokia would be piloting it, they would probably slow down rather than climb.

Of course, Microsoft has an almost unlimited amount of money to keep the N folks alive – but is this really what Nokia’s future should be?

What do you think?

Jan 202012
 

An article from Forbes – inaccurately titled How China Ate Android – is currently making circles all over Nokia employee’s Twitter streams.

It contains the following passage, which is highlighted by the Nokia folks:

How is it possible the mid-tier Android vendors cannot eke out revenue growth with that kind of global Android unit explosion still going on?

The most likely explanation is the rapid expansion of the low-cost Android phone vendors, particularly ZTE and Huawei. I

Sadly, they fail to read on – as it contains the following passage, also:

… they are also eyeing other device segments. ZTE’s Windows model Tania is debuting in the UK at the monthly contract rate of 10 pounds – half of what the Nokia 710 will cost.

If you ask me, Nokia would have fared best with a proper version of Symbian – with Android being the second best. The reason for this has been outlined here before: while Windows Phone 7 is a nice platform, it is, by design, unsuitable for creating high end phones.

However, all the eeking and squeaking mainly takes place in the mid-range area. High-end Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note have little to fear from Chinese manufactutrers – they prefer the cushier mid- and low-range markets to the cold winds faced in the profitable, but challenging high-end market.

Let’s quote Winston Churchill: “I am not a person to be prodded. If anything, I am the prod”.

Sadly, Nokia has all but given up that position. So, better invest in impact dampers – and get aquainted to that prod…

Jan 122012
 

Even though I know that it is a sign of bad taste to kick a looser, Nokia’s recent announcement re the Lumia 900 was too surreal – had I read it three years ago using a fortune teller, I would have wanted my money back.

But, well…after X lines of blah blah describing ‘yet another WP7′, we get this:

- A partnership with EA to bring over 20 of the world’s most popular games to the Windows Phone marketplace, coming first to Nokia Lumia devices.

The comedy of this becomes clearly visible if you think about past hit devices like the N95…tbat device managed to truly stand out from the crowd with advanced hardware and software.

Such devices could also be built with with Windows Mobile…but Windows Phone 7 is not intended as a platform for market defining products.

Right from the start, Microsoft promised its developers ‘a level platform’, one where all devices behave the same. This policy is enforced aggressively towards developers who, for example, are banned from selling typing trainers which would require a specific hardware QWERTY keyboard.

And, in a world of desktop Linux, Microsoft is well advised not to suck up too much to a manufacturer. Keep in mind that convergence is pushed forcibly in the TV space by Samsung, LG and – probably – soon Panasonic, who are now starting to produce smartphones again in order to complete the offering portfolio.

If Microsoft would coddle up to Nokia too much, I could very well envision aggressive reactions from LG or Samsung. So, no exclusivities for you…

P.S. This is NOT an Anti WP7 rant. WP7 is a great operating system…the concept of “unified platform” is great. But this is not what Nokia needs – a Boeing 747 is not a bad aeroplane because it cannot drop nuclear bombs, it just isnt a nuclear bomber…

Dec 272011
 

samsung construction The Usurper   or   Why Samsung buys Sonys LCD shareWhen it comes to Samsung, most other mobile companies do not get the motives of this firm. Still today, I can hardly restrain my laughter when thinking about how Nokia accused Eldar Murtazin about “being sponsored by Samsung” – bollocks, the company just happens to be everywhere.

The BBC now reports the following:

Samsung Electronics has agreed to buy out Sony’s entire stake in their liquid crystal display (LCD) joint venture.

The Korean electronics maker said it will pay Sony 1.08tn won ($939m; £600m) in cash for its stake.

The move comes as Sony has been restructuring its TV business, which has been making a loss for the past seven years.

This report nicely fits into the Samsung picture – it is a little-known fact that the company offers, among other things, building services. In fact, the picture to the left of this story shows the Petronas Towers…which were, incidentally, built by Samsung.

Samsung’s management takes an extreme long-term view on many industries. For them, an investment makes sense even if it takes 10 years to pay off – especially if it gives you control over the competition. Let’s take a look at that.

If we look at past reviews, Samsungs products consistently stand out due to the extraordinarily high display quality. Furthermore, the devices tend to be very affordable – the launch price of the first-generation Wave (bada phone) can almost be called dumping.

All of this is made possible by a very unorthodox trend: anti-outsourcing! If you make the stuff other manufacturers have to buy, it gives you more leeway – selling an LCD to yourself at production costs is an entirely sensible decision as long as the end product makes money.

Of all firms in Mobile, no one has perfected this approach to the extent Samsung has – what do you think?

Image: Wikimedia Commons / SomeFormOfHuman

Nov 292011
 

When CNET got their hands on Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 800 to be precise), they were simply awestruck by the balance the platform had to offer. The UI was, well, slick, but was a lot less clunky, as per CNET.

According to the article:

The king is dead

Until not so long ago, that meant Apple. But something insane has happened. Something that we simply wouldn’t have countenanced just three short years ago.

One company makes a beautiful, intuitive, elegant interface, and the other makes a dated, clunky interface. But now it’s Microsoft showing off the thing of beauty, and Apple that’s behind the times. Microsoft is the underdog and Apple is the monolithic, restrictive monopoly. Has the world gone mad?

Sure, the iPhone and iPad interface is still slick and simple. But the shine is gone — iOS 5 looks almost exactly the same as iOS 4. Android showed what you can do when you can truly customise the look and feel of your phone, with its flexible home screens, handy widgets placing information right at your fingertips, and the capacity to alter any feature you like.

I seem to recall an old story, when the only smartphone OS of the time, Symbian, was bashed by everyone. People wanted behemoths of phones. They worshipped a large screen and a powerful processor, only to realise that the duo would eat battery faster. They demanded an app store like no other, only to trial a few apps and then delete them and move on to the next.

Nokia was undeniably the game setter, Apple was the game changer, Android was the turmoil that uprooted everyone, and yet RIM et al were wondering what just happened. This proves the age old proverb – The only thing which is constant is change.

Source

Nov 182011
 

According to the latest news, EU has adopted a resolution against SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of “infringing” websites by US authorities. According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger “the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication.” With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act .

The MPAA and the RIAA are the forefront runners when it comes to trying to push Congress to pass the SOPA bill. Some of the companies supporting the SOPA are

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Autodesk
  • AVEVA
  • AVG
  • Bentley Systems
  • CA
  • Cadence Design Systems
  • CNC Software – Mastercam
  • Compuware
  • Corel
  • Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation
  • Dell
  • Intel
  • Intuit
  • Kaspersky
  • McAfee
  • Microsoft
  • Minitab
  • Progress Software
  • PTC
  • Quark
  • Quest
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Siemens PLM Software, Inc.
  • Sybase
  • Symantec
  • TechSmith
  • The MathWorks

While the EU has taken more logical and sane steps than it’s counterpart in the west, we still have to see what happens if SOPA bill is passed in the US congress.

Green MEP Philippe Lamberts quoted

Net neutrality and open Internet — a core principle on which the internet was founded — is increasingly coming under threat, both in E.U. member states and beyond. The Greens are calling on the European Commission to enshrine net neutrality and the rights of internet users in European legislation, and on Commissioner Kroes to end her ambiguous stance on this vital issue.

SOPA bill guarantees breaking the back of the Internet and the ISPs. While the internet would be killed in it’s own way, throttled internet traffic will be a major catalyst in the chaos – for both ISPs and consumers.

We urge you to join EFF (www.eff.org) to fight this war.

Update – It seems those goons have hired some hackers to take down the EFF website.

EFF fown thumb EU takes a solid stance, will not support SOPA

Nov 172011
 

Call this a rant post if you wish to, but that would not alter the truth. Symbian, the undisputed and the **only** true smartphone OS is giving Apple fanboys a good spanking on their bottoms, and the blogosphere simply doesn’t care.

First let us consider this snippet from News.com.au

Apple sold 17.3 million iPhones powered by iOS software during the quarter. It’s market share actually slipped to 15 per cent from 16.6 per cent a year ago.

Surprisingly, even Nokia still sells more smartphones than Apple, handing over 19.5 million using its Symbian operating system in the third quarter.

Gartner principal analyst Roberta Cozza quoted

Apple’s iOS market share suffered from delayed purchases as consumers waited for the new iPhone.

Nokia was the overall leader in overall mobile sales in the third quarter although its market share slipped to 23.9 per cent from 28.2 per cent a year ago.

Apple fanboys will definitely argue that iPhone stats are due the iPhone 4S launch. They were waiting to buy the new iPhone. But this simply that means more people willingly bought Symbian phones, which is a dead platform, rather than an upgrade to the already established iPhone. Given the rumors that Apple pays media enough to sing glorious songs about Apple products, no such thing ever happens with Nokia. And yet we see the difference.

Given the market size and Nokia’s reach, most analyst firms drop Nokia altogether from their studies. Can someone answer why? There are very few instances when Nokia, and Symbian, have been considered in studies. This is totally unethical on the analyst’s part.

What comes as a bigger surprise that only a couple of sites have mustered the courage to publish this story. While the heavyweights keep mum. I call this a shame.

Nov 032011
 

Beware, if you are planning to manufacture a tablet that is quadrilateral (read as rectangular) in shape, has buttons or touchscreen of a good finesse, then you might find Apple lawyers knocking at your doors.

The same happened with a small company called NT-K. It is a Spanish company making elegant, four smooth edged, touch tablets. Well Apple thinks this is a violation of their intellectual property and their ingenious designs.

Apparently, I fail to understand why an ergonomically sane company would make a device with  sharp corners. This could well harm the owner. But if we believe Apple, then the universal right to make such gadgets that don’t harm the owners reside with it. Hell what, even if your touch  is as good as their, and your UI as slick as theirs, you are a criminal to be damned for all eternity.

Well let us get back to the topic, According to FOSS Patents,

Apple accused nt-k in November 2010 of "copying" the iPad and went straight for a customs ban. As a result, Spanish customs seized shipments from China containing nt-k’s Android-based tablet. The little company temporarily appeared on an EU-wide list of product pirates, but worst of all, after some correspondence between the two companies, Apple also brought criminal charges on December 9, 2010 (as it had previously threatened in writing).

The Spanish company’s blog suggests that other small companies got a similar treatment from Apple but gave in. nt-k, however, didn’t want to be bullied and decided to defend itself vigorously. Another company doing so against Apple is a small German device maker named JAY-tech.

This makes very clear that Apple uses it’s might,  not to create fair competition, but to subdue the smaller fish with sheer force.

What makes Apple’s lawyers insanely retard is

…In the meantime, the criminal lawsuit progressed, and based on the first-instance ruling, Apple’s charges were dismissed because the judge didn’t conclude that there was "sufficient justification" for a criminal case.

Even a blind imbecile knows when criminal charges are put on people, let alone corporations.

Well, NT-K, after kicking Apple lawyers right in the hemorrhoids, is now demanding compensation. It is asking for compensation for monetary damages, losses that NT-K has suffered, and the “moral damages” Apple has inflicted upon them and the whole small time OEMs.

We are hoping that other firms will take a cue from NT-K and will solidify their stance against Apple.

Oct 052011
 

Due to a little bit of restructuring at Tamoggemon H.Q. (yours truly now manages the newssites again), we are slightly late to the Amazon Kindle Fire party. Nevertheless, the statement below – currently shown to all visitors of Amazon.com – deserves notice:
kindle fire letter Amazon Kindle Fire   or   pricing tablets right

In addition to this, we also have the following leaked sales data from CultOfAndroid (said to be on par with the iPad):
kindle fire sold out Amazon Kindle Fire   or   pricing tablets right

What this means for the tablet market is clear: lowering prices is key to mass adoption of tablets.

Keep in mind that the form factor is not new – tablet PCs have been around for ages, and, at prices of above 2000 USD; were bought by those who needed them for business. The iPad lowered the price and made the devices accessible to style-conscious customers; the stunts by Palm and Amazon now make the devices become mass market tools.

This is due to one factor: a tablet can not replace a PC, notebook or smartphone. It, instead, is a “supplementary device” used for a few minutes a day. Pricing the device to hit this market segment will be key…

Sep 262011
 

bada opensource Open source   or   the fake silver bulletEven though I originally wanted to write something about the BlackBerry for quite some time, the ever-famous myth of “open source solves everything” IMHO needs debunking more urgently.

The reason for this hits us via the Wall Street Journal, who claim that Samsung is to open-source its bada platform shortly:

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE) plans to open up its homegrown mobile software platform to outside developers and device makers next year in a bid to kick-start growth in the operating system and reduce its reliance on Google Inc.’s Android in the increasingly litigious smartphone and tablet computer business.

Samsung “is planning to make Bada software an open source platform next year,” a person familiar with the situation said, adding the South Korean firm has no plans to buy a software company.

Having seen a similar trend with various companies in the past, it is difficult to decide what Samsung wants to achieve. Given that Hutchison Austria has advertised bada as an “open source OS” in the past, it is entirely possible that Samsung wants to provide its developers with better debugging facilities similar to the source code sharing which has led to the Windows 2000 source code leak. This would be a smart move, making work a lot easier for its partners.

On the other hand, however, we could see a IT manager lemming reaction: when threatened (like the critter on the left), go open source. Then, expect to seee Linux number 2, with thousands of developers flocking in to develop for you. This trend has been visible with various companies, (almost) all of which have failed.

If Samsung expects to save development costs, this is a failed concept. Just because an OS is open source, it will not be developed – MeeGo is the best example. Finally, let’s let a former Symbian honcho speak his feelings:

The culture within Samsung is too secretive to make this work: in my view they would raise expectations they couldn’t fulfill, which is worse than not open sourcing in the first place. We saw quite a bit of that with Nokia too. Samsung would need to create an internal open source mindset and culture, while building an open source eco-system. We all have seeen with Nokia that this does not work, if you are under time pressure. In fact it is becoming increasingly clear that in fast paced markets, you can only build an open source project if you already have an open source culture. There are many examples: look at Eucalyptus vs. OpenStack in the fast moving cloud space. Even if you have an open source culture, you are disadvantaged if you are not perceived to have one (or perceived to have less of a track record than your competitor): see KVM (RedHat) vs. Xen (Citrix).

What do you think?

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Frode Inge Helland