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January 31, 2016

The Best Ways to Monetize Apps

 

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Knowing which monetizing strategy will work best for a mobile app is like trying to figure out what’s in the secret sauce atop your favorite burger. You can see bits and pieces of familiar condiments and spices, but when you try to make it at home, it’s never exactly the same. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, or secret sauce, for monetizing apps. 

As strange or cliché as this hamburger analogy sounds, it’s safe to say that most burger recipes are uniquely their own; and that’s typically the way all successful apps find their way to the top of the charts. Creating a unique app is most certainly the first step in creating a viable monetization strategy—your secret sauce—and your ticket to a wildly successful app. 

If no two apps are exactly the same, it’s logical to assume that no two apps make money in exactly the same way either. There is, however, a good chance that most successful apps use similar strategies, in a variety of combinations, to optimize strengths and dull app weaknesses. Understanding which mobile marketing strategy - or combination of mobile marketing strategies - will be most effective for your brand is a core requirement for success. 

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to monetize apps using popular strategies. Think of these techniques like you would ingredients to the secret sauce on your burger. Ask yourself what works best with your app, and try combinations until you’ve made something delicious…I mean profitable. 

 

Freemium Apps 

It’s a play on words, and it also accounts for 93 percent of all downloaded apps in 2015. Freemium apps are just what they sound like—they’re free. So, in order to use this ingredient effectively, your app had better offer a premium, or upgraded version, for a small fee. 

This strategy only works well, though, when there are clear advantages to the paid version; it also has be to a first-rate, highly useable, and addictive app. If this sounds like your burger, then feel free to say it’s free; but be sure you’ve got a better version of the app available for purchase. 

 

In-app Purchases

Depending on the meat of your app—the genre, if you will—in-app purchases are a great seasoning to add. The trick here is to make a game that’s highly addictive and charge users small fees to enhance their addictive experience with features like profile personalization, game currency, or increased usage. 

Once a user makes the first purchase, he or she is usually hooked. Game apps like Candy Crush Saga made an estimated $630 thousand a day with this technique. You can, too, if you make an appetizing app. 

 

In-app Advertising

Think of in-app advertising like you would an assertive spice blend—use too much, and your burger is ruined. Successful in-app advertising does two things: compliments multiple ad networks and functions within well-designed ad space. 

In other words, in-app advertising should not be the only revenue source holding your app together. Additionally, thoughtful and strategic ad placement is very important to the ad’s success. An occasional banner add at the bottom of your favorite app isn’t so bad; pop-up ads flashing across your smartphone screen every 30 seconds are not the way to go. 

 

Sponsorship 

Finally, sponsorship is a great way to offer products or services most relevant to your consumer. Prominently displayed sponsors will pay for both impressions and clicks if this strategy is implemented correctly. 

The important thing to remember about this monetizing tactic is that what you’re selling, and when, is critical to the user’s experience and general acceptance of the advertisement. 

For example, the RunKeeper fitness app partnered with third party Kiip to showcase products that would appeal most to runners, particularly during times the app was aware the runner had just started or completed a run. Timing is everything, and sponsorship monetization needs that and good products to be successful. 

Building your app’s unique monetization strategy will require some trial and error; but the payout for the time investment can make all the difference in your journey. What’s in your secret sauce?

January 15, 2016

Yahoo Class Action Suit to Go Ahead

 

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Nobody likes going to jury duty, but being part of a class action lawsuit may not be so bad. That’s because “the class” or persons affected by illegal conduct stand to benefit from one or several persons’ efforts to sue on behalf of the group. 

According to court documents from the Northern District of Illinois, Easter Division, as many as 500,000 people stand to gain $1,500 for each unwanted text message received from Yahoo! Messenger, thanks to a 68-year-old woman named Rachel Johnson. 

And that’s no small chunk of change for Yahoo!, which may lose an estimated $750 million if the class action suit goes through. So far, the forecast doesn’t look good for the online messaging service. 

 

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

According to protections outlined in the TCPA, Yahoo! unlawfully sent Welcome Messages to the plaintiff after she received a personalized message to her cell phone through a feature called Mobile to SMS Messenger Service. This particular feature converts a Yahoo! user’s online text into a mobile message—the process is also called PC2SMS.

After Johnson received the first personalized message regarding a loan, a follow up message was received welcoming her to Yahoo! Massager. Johnson claims she never gave consent to Yahoo! to communicate with her via text, nor did she sign the company’s terms of service agreement. 

Yahoo! told Judge Manish Shah that the plaintiff had, at some point, signed up for one of Yahoo!’s smartphone apps or services, which would have satisfied the terms and conditions required under TCPA. This argument however was “a shot in the dark,” according to Judge Shah, who has ruled that the case may proceed. 

 

A Shot in the Dark 

Yahoo! definitely erred in this case—mostly because its primary argument assumed one piece of information: 68-year-old Johnson must, in fact, have downloaded a Yahoo! app or service to her phone prior to the incident. 

The plaintiff however, did not have a smartphone at the time, and instead had a flip phone incapable of downloading applications from the Internet. Looks like grandma’s resistance to new technology is finally paying off!

 

The Intermediary 

Concerns over what’s called an “intermediary” were raised in this case and may set some unique precedence for similar lawsuits in the future. 

According to court documents, Johnson never signed any terms and conditions with Yahoo!; she did however fill out an online application for a personal loan at CashCall.com. Within the promissory notes of the loan application, Johnson consented to receive phone calls and text messages from an automatic dialing system. Yahoo! argued that the first personalized message granted prior express consent—in this case, CashCall.com is the intermediary. 

According to previous cases, intermediary consent has two requirements: 1) consent given by the recipient to an intermediary, and 2) consent conveyed by the intermediary to the sender. Yahoo! was unable to satisfy these requirements, and the intermediary argument fell short in this case. 

But that doesn’t mean we won’t see more of this shady, backdoor communication. In fact, using this intermediary argument to defend spam and unsolicited text messages could be a slippery slope that sidesteps most of the TCPA entirely. 

Johnson and her class of some 500,000 people are on their way to proving a huge point in the mobile marketing industry; but the industry moves fast and will likely use this court example to ensure the back door stays open. 

 

January 04, 2016

Nintendo Launches First Mobile Game

 

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Nintendo fans can finally celebrate their beloved gaming system on their handsets. In March of next year, Nintendo will launch its first-ever mobile app, Miitomo, a communication focused game interface with customizable personal avatars.

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced its partnership with DeNA, a fellow Japanese company focused on mobile apps and development. Together, the duo is committed to bringing Nintendo’s familiar game style to the handsets of millions of users around the world, as well as launching a new online gaming community. 

In addition to its social focus, Miitomo will also focus on entertainment and include internal mini games and other gasification features. There are even discussions about linking the game to users’ Facebook friend lists so that players can communicate with people already in their social spaces. 

Currently, the only revenue potential built into the free-to-play game is clothing users will be able to purchase for their avatar. 

Despite obvious links to the gaming community, Nintendo hasn’t been on the forefront of handset gaming. The partnership with DeNA has been something Nintendo avoided speaking about as recently as January 2014. 

According to Nintendo’s rep at the time, “Nintendo’s intention is not to make Nintendo software available on smart devices.”

Despite Nintendo’s early resistance, the company has made a few things about the mobile developments perfectly clear. For one, DeNA and Nintendo will only be working on original games specifically optimized for the smartphone experience—that means you’re not going to see Mario or Luigi on your handset anytime soon. 

What’s more, all the existing Nintendo IP will be eligible for development by the new license. So, even though Nintendo says no Mario Cart for the iPhone 6S, it’s possible all of that might change sometime in the future. 

 

What the Future Holds

In some ways, it feels like Nintendo is testing the waters before it dives straight into the mobile game world. Depending on how things go with Miitomo, the company may gain some much-needed confidence.

However, all of this raises interesting questions about the success of one gaming platform and its potential success crossing over into new territory. Can Nintendo make a successful game for handsets? Or will it regret the discussion to cross over if Miitomo doesn’t play out to plan?

Nintendo fans should be open-minded come March of next year. They may not get exactly what they’re expecting, but it could be something better.

December 27, 2015

A Brazilian Judge Banned WhatsApp... and Another One Un-Banned It

 

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Last week, in a dramatic turnaround, a Brazilian judge reversed his decision to suspend messaging app WhatsApp, overturning an order from a lower court. The original ruling saw the service banned for 48 hours, but only lasted 12 hours before appeals court judge Xavier de Souza rescinded it. 

De Souza’s decision was a result of the app’s huge user base in Brazil, amounting to around 100 million people. The judge ruled that the inconvenience of such large-scale interruption to service outweighed the initial suspension order, which was imposed after WhatsApp failed to share user data during a criminal case.

“Considering the constitutional principles, it does not look reasonable that millions of users be affected as a result of the company’s inertia to provide information.”

In Brazil, more than nine out of ten Android devices are installed with WhatsApp, making it the most popular app in the country. But the firm ran into trouble with the judicial system after a drug trafficking case in Sao Paolo, during which WhatsApp was cited as the mode of communication used by the city’s notorious criminal gangs. The company was asked by the prosecution to release messages between traffickers, but failed to comply, despite two separate court orders.

WhatsApp insists it was unable - rather than unwilling - to comply with the escalating requests. On August 7th, after failing to supply the data requested for the second time, a judge ordered local phone companies to deny access to the app for 48 hours. 

Congressmen (who are known to be among the many professionals to use WhatsApp as part of their work) joined the chorus of disapproval regarding the suspension. There was international outcry when the suspension appeared to affect users even beyond Brazil’s borders, with hundreds of Chilean and Argentinians took to social media to complain about interruptions during the 12 hours the ban lasted.

Facebook, who owns WhatsApp, finally waded into the row when CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement claiming to be “stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.”

In the face of overwhelming opposition from every corner of society, including senior politicians, the suspension ultimately proved untenable, and service was resumed as soon as the ruling was overturned.

December 18, 2015

Five Festive Apps to Make You a Better Christmas Shopper

 

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You can’t giftwrap them, but apps still make a great gift for Christmas. Check out our top six apps and see if you can bring a little something different to the table this year…

 

Shpock

The self-styled “boot sale and classifieds app” puts the emphasis squarely on secondhand goods, with categories including home and garden, leisure and games and baby and child. Shpock’s USP is its focus on local transactions. Think of it as a virtual car boot sale, where you can make offers, ask questions of the vendor and even haggle a bit.

 

Etsy

As well as providing a handy Christmas countdown clock, Etsy’s app covers all your gift-shopping needs, with a particular focus on homemade items. If you want to shop online but avoid sending generic presents to creative family members, this app is your festive friend.

 

Gift Professor

This free app helps you decide what to get for those tricky friends and family members who are particularly hard to shop for. Gift Professor connects you with two thousand online merchants, suggesting several ideas based on answers you give to questions set within the app. It takes minutes to proffer a range of suggestions, and allows you to easily save them so you won’t accidentally give the same gift to that hard-to-please loved one when their birthday rolls around.

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is another perennial favorite in the arty, crafty, homemade mould. It’s also the go-to app for anyone who likes to get super organized for the holidays. Planning a pre-Christmas party and want some new recipe ideas? Check. Struggling with the right gift for your creative niece? Pinterest will more than likely solve your problem. If you’ve never used it before, now’s the time to start pinning away, and with a recent update allowing you to buy directly from clickable pins, gift-buying with Pinterest is more convenient than ever.

 

Delivery Status

Shopping in-store has one notable advantage over shopping online: knowing where all your gifts were once they’d been paid for (at the back of the closet, away from small prying hands, if you’re my mother). Delivery Status has capitalized on this gap to put comprehensive tracking capabilities in the palm of your hand. It supports more than 30 delivery services, including FedEx, UPS and DHL, enabling you to keep track of their progress, count down the number of days until a package arrives, and even label individual packages in app so you won’t forget what each parcel contains. 

 

December 03, 2015

The Best Mobile Safety Apps on the Market

 

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More and more of our social and business lives are conducted through a single mobile device, with everything from banking and personal identification details to music and photos stored or accessed from our smartphones.

The increase in convenience is beyond question. But with growing convenience comes increasingly pressing security issues. Much like our houses, smartphones represent a one-stop shop through which criminals can extract financial gain at our expense. Just as you wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, it’s unwise to take a laissez-faire attitude to your online security. Fortunately, the market has responded to demands for better cyber security with some excellent apps designed to safeguard your digital world. 

According to a survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 2.1 million phones were stolen in 2014; a further 3.1 million were reported lost (this is important: a found phone is easier pickings for fraudsters as they don’t have to risk the additional crime of property theft). 

Security breaches come in many forms, from viruses to adware to outright device theft. To help you avoid becoming a statistic, we’ve compiled a list of the best security apps out there, each one performing a different primary function:

 

Bitdefender

Available for Android, Bitdefender is one of the best free security apps around but, as with most security suites, you’re better off avoiding unnecessary risk and plumping for the premium version (with annual subscriptions starting at $14.95). On-demand scanning is so quick you’ll hardly notice it - even with a dozen apps running in the background, Bitdefender completes a full device scan in around 6 seconds. Undoubtedly one of the fastest antivirus apps out there, Bitdefender is also pretty good for maintaining the security of your device regarding theft. The app keeps a close eye on your SIM card and sends an alert to a trusted number should the card be replaced. 

 

LastPass 

One of the most lauded password manager tools on the market, LastPass for Android lets you save all usernames and passwords and syncs them as much or as little as you require. The premium account is recommended for anyone wanting to sync access across unlimited devices, including laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. The account itself is protected with multifactor authentication, and it guides you through the process of creating truly secure password protection that you don’t need to remember.

 

Avast

Avast is a security app that lets you control your mobile device remotely through a web portal. The key functions are remote locking, location or wiping, and it also sets off an alarm that actually, literally announces “this phone has been lost or stolen” - at a very loud 96dB! Pretty near and instructive, although there is an option to change the alarm to your own sound files if you can think of a better option. This phone finder is the ideal complement to the password management and cybersecurity apps covered above.

With so many different ways for nefarious chancers to steal or hack your phone, it’s wise to put in place a comprehensive range of security options. The three suites covered here are just a small example of what’s available. Browse the market for options that best suit you, but make sure you’re protected.

 

November 13, 2015

Mobile Marketing Trends in Southeast Asia

 

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Is Vietnam the “land of opportunity” for mobile marketers? It appears so. Apple’s iOS9 was released this past September, resulting in worldwide ad-blocking conversations—but not in the Southeast Asian country. Why? Mobile marketing is “still being defined” in Vietnam, among other reasons. 

According to a recent study by Opera Mediaworks, Android ranks supreme in Vietnam. Vikas Gulati, Opera Mediaworks’ marketing director for Asia, says this is due to ad-blocking “never taking off” the way it did in the rest of Asia and most other parts of the world. 

"Android’s default browser, Chrome, does not accept ad blocking plug-ins like what Safari is able to do now," Gulati noted. "On mobile devices, content is mostly consumed within apps compared to mobile browsers. Apple’s ad-blocking feature only covers ad blocking on its own mobile browser, Safari."

Ad-blocking app downloads didn’t gain much popularity among iOS users in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand, even when Apple was touting its ad-blocking options heavily. Experts say it’s not a huge concern among the Vietnamese; rather it’s limited to “tech-savvy users” only. However, some sites, such as popular Vietnamese movie sites hayhaytv.vn and hdviet.vn already feature ad-blocking detectors. These sites are encouraging users to disable ad blockers before they watch a video or continue to browse. 

Gulati has also noticed a shift in Vietnam from banner and traditional pop-up ads to sponsored content, native advertising, and in-feed video ads.

"Advertisers and publishers are looking to offer more seamless experiences for their users," said Gulati. "They’re looking at rich media, videos, and more targeted and relevant ads. All these changes are happening right now, and the industry is working together to find the balance between monetization and user experience."

 

What the Study Said

A joint study by Epinion and OMD found that while the potential for mobile marketing in Vietnam is significant, mobile marketing practices “have a long way to go.” For example, most Vietnamese marketers use SMS to engage with their target audiences. The study also found that only 25 percent of Vietnamese smartphone owners purposely clicked on “interesting” mobile ads compared to some 40 percent of smartphone owners in the rest of Southeast Asia. 

Limited ad viewability standards in Vietnam, coupled with the “desire to reach the masses,” has resulted in a need for more mobile ads, according to Alan Cerruti, CEO and co-founder of Happiness Saigon. 

"CPC and CPM or even CPD [cost-per-duration] are largely popular metrics from media agencies," he said. "These are seen as tangible KPIs, and so brands and clients will continue to agree for ads to pop everywhere and anywhere either as mass or as targeted buys. Hence, the demand for mobile display and mobile video ads is huge right now, because that's where Vietnamese consumers are spending their time."

Whatever else, mobile video is “exploding,” according to Fetch founder James Connelly, and marketers need to take advantage of it sooner rather than later. 

“Marketers need to become more conscious of creating the right type of video content useful for a mobile device,” he said in a recent interview. “The 30-second TV ad doesn’t translate well when most ads are being played without sound and in portrait.” 

November 06, 2015

Roaming Charges Have Been Scrapped in Europe

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The extra costs associated with using a mobile phone in European countries other than the one you live in are to be scrapped. The ban on data roaming charged, agreed by MEPs in June after years of negotiations, has been passed into law, and will take effect from 15 June 2017.

Roaming charges are currently added to phone bills when users browse the web, make calls or send text messages while abroad. Once the ban kicks in, tourists traveling within the EU won’t notice any difference between the cost of mobile connectivity at home and abroad. The move was described by former vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding as “a victory for consumers.”

It’s been a long road for anti-roaming campaigners, as EU member states voiced concern about the potential financial impact on their domestic telecoms providers. A proposal for a roaming ban to take effect this year was scrapped after negotiations stalled. 

The overall ban will be preceded by a ‘phasing out’ process to lessen the burden on operators and allow time for the infrastructure to adjust.  

As things stand, operators can charge tourists up to 22 cents (around 14 pence) per minute for outgoing calls, five cents for incoming calls, six cents per text message and 20 cents per megabyte of data. That’s in addition to their regular tariff. As of April 2016, the costs will be reduced to five cents per minute, two cents per text message and five cents per megabyte.

The impending ban has been welcomed by consumers and campaigners, especially advocates of net neutrality, who broadly oppose unregulated tariff-setting for electronic communications. Under the new telecommunications law, operators will be required to treat all web traffic equally. For net neutrality advocates, the ban on roaming charges is another victory in the fight to keep the lines of digital exchange as open and free to the widest number of people possible.

 

November 05, 2015

India's Smartphone Market is Booming

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With a billion-strong population and a growing economy, India is an increasingly significant market for mobile developers. Homegrown companies are vying with bigger players from China and South Korea to bring mobile devices to a market primarily concerned with budget technologies (although that too is changing, with one in three mobile devices a smartphone). 

In the face of local and regional competition, one company comes out consistently on top. Samsung remains the industry leader as we enter the final quarter of 2015. During Q3, the electronics behemoth cornered 23.2% of the market; its nearest competitor was local brand Micromax, which rose one percent to 17.7%. 

Such impressive growth in India only emphasizes the current stagnation in saturated markets like China and the United States. During Q2, smartphone sales showed a 44% year on year growth, and some analysts predict that, by 2017, India will overtake the United States as the world’s second biggest smartphone market. 

The reason Samsung has stayed in pole position is their flexibility and willingness to create a wide range of devices, each catering to then specific demands of regional markets. Mostly known in the west for the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, Samsung’s biggest sellers in India are the Galaxy J, a mid-priced device that retails at around $190, and the Galaxy A, which is priced towards the higher end, starting at around $480. 

It’s this wide-ranging approach to innovation, taking into account all budgets and needs, that really separates Samsung from Apple in the global marketplace. Indeed, Apple had a marketshare of just 1% in India (which still accounts for a not-to-sniffed-at 1.7 million devices). 

Not that Samsung can or should rest on their laurels. The aforementioned Micromax, and Indian company, is shifting more than 100,000 mobile phones each month, and prides themselves on even more diversity than Samsung, developing 30 different designs in a single year. This gives them different price points for different parts of the market, not dissimilar to the way automobile brands have multiple models for various price segments.

Apple are unlikely to shift towards this model. It goes against their brand image as the exclusive top dog, dripfeeding updates to their devotees - and ramping up the marketing assault each time. Diversification is not on the cards. Which suits Micromax, Samsung et al just fine.

October 26, 2015

Samsung Launches Second Tizen-Powered Phone

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Samsung Electronics has recently unveiled the second smartphone powered by its own Tizen operating system. This phone is priced slightly higher than its predecessor, the Z1, and offers better hardware, a faster processor, a higher-quality screen, and improved cameras. The improved design is noticeable right off the bat, with the back featuring a curve on both edges like the one we saw on the Galaxy Note 5. This should help with handling, while also giving the phone a premium look. The Samsung Z3 will go on sale in India, an emerging smartphone market.

 

Lower Price Point

While this second Tizen-powered phone is higher than the first version, it is still selling for a relatively low price. Samsung hopes to continue competing with Apple and Google to capture a larger share of premium phone users with its latest models. The Z3’s low price will attract buyers in markets like India, where smartphone use is still considerably low. The previous Samsung smartphone has done very well there, while other companies find themselves with lower user rates.

 

Tizen Powered 

Samsung is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones. The company has launched other products powered by Tizen this year, including the Gear S2 smartwatch and premium televisions. Samsung needs to attract more smartphone users to the operating system in order to gain more third-party developer support, analysts say. 

In a recent article on CNET, Samsung said that it eventually wants Tizen to be in every type of device, a move that would help it gain independence from Google. Setbacks and delays have slowed its arrival on smartphones, though. Samsung's OS does power its Gear S2 smartwatch and several high-end televisions that the Korean company released earlier this year.

 

Specs

The specs of Z3 show a display that is a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM. The rear-facing camera is an 8-megapixel, while the front camera is a 5-megapixel unit. Internal storage can go as high as 128 GB (by adding a microSD), but the standard is only 8GB. The phone sports a 2,600 mAh battery and supports Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode.

 

Security

The latest smartphone will be protected by the Samsung KNOX security suite.

The KNOX security suite is designed with the safety of users in mind, especially for the public sector. A top level of safety and confidentiality is ensured, which makes the phone highly compatible with tasks of the police, banks, government departments, and hospitals. Users love Samsung Z3 for supporting version 1.0 of KNOX on Tizen. While the hardware of the phone is decent for a low-tier device, the safety suite embedded in the handset adds value and makes the phone a viable option for many countries. With the security of personal information being so important to users nowadays, this Samsung phone is even more desirable to the target audience.