Sunday, July 26, 2009

Layers of fun in Google Maps for mobile 3.2

Enriching Google Maps with layers of additional data (3rd party and user generated) :
  • Wikipedia - Further enriching maps (which today have YP and other 3rd party content providers integrated) with essentially UGC
  • Letting users upload pictures and video content relating to PoIs (in addition for their own PoIs) - Taking UGC and hyper local content to the next level and creating a User Generated Street View
  • Improved search which throws up a lot more hyper local data
  • Traffic incident information for certain cities, giving more insight into the nature of the delay
  • Transit timings in select cities
The other key new feature is the ability to select and save data of interest in a personal maps account (My Maps content accessed from map view with log-in via your Google account credentials) either via Google Maps on the phone or PC and subsequently access the same via either of these channels (PC-Mobile sync).

The above layers can be viewed separately, in groups or all in one view

23/07/2009, effie, Google Mobile Blog

Just as the world itself can be viewed through many lenses, the latest version of Google Maps for mobile allows you to view many layers of information on your map at the same time. Layers make it easier and more useful to find and interact with geographic content, like public transit, traffic (with incidents!), local search results, Latitude friend locations, Wikipedia and more. You can also see your own My Maps content as a layer on Google Maps for mobile. And finally, multiple layers can be combined at the same time to give you a content-rich view of what's around you.




















Layers on the Map: Latitude locations + My Map

Since my wife and I love participating in cycle touring events on our tandem bike, we thought our challenge for this year -- 1500 KM of riding in Audax UK's Super Randonneur Series -- would make for a great environment to test the Layers functionality while on the go.

The first thing we wanted to try was My Maps. This feature on Google Maps on desktop becomes even more useful with the ability to access them from my phone. We're not alone in wanting this -- it's the fifth most requested feature on the Google Mobile Product Ideas page. It was great to trace bike routes and add places to stop on the computer, add the My Maps layer in Maps for mobile with a few clicks, and see them up on my Nokia S60 handset from our bike.




















Next was discovering new places. When frequently (and literally) rolling into new villages and towns, it was really handy to be able to turn on the Wikipedia layer and quickly learn about interesting stuff in the area. We could click on any of the 'W' icons on the map to read more.



And search is improved too! Maps now displays a lot more search results -- shown as small red dots -- making it easy to find the nearest refreshment stop or plan way ahead.



Not only are search results more useful but it's now easier to search in the new version as well. Under Search, you'll find a link to browse popular categories, which helped us avoid the pain of typing on a mobile whilst out on the road (only available in the US and China for the time being).

Completing an Audax ride within time is no use if you don't get to the start on time. Traffic has been available on Google Maps for mobile for some time, but this new release includes traffic incident information for certain cities, giving more insight into the nature of the delay. Around London (and other cities where supported) we might use public transport, so having a map of transit lines with departure times is great. Now I just wish more transit services carried tandems!

To get started with Layers on Google Maps for mobile 3.2, hit the "2" key or select Layers in the menu. You can toggle various layers on and off, and you can mash up combinations like friends' Latitude locations against a planned route. Google Maps for mobile Layers is available now on Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile phones, and will come soon to other platforms. The upgrade is available for all countries where Google Maps for mobile is currently available. To get it on your phone, go to m.google.com/maps. You can read more about this over in the Help Center or check out the release notes for this version.

by Jonathan Dixon, Mobile Software Engineer and Randonneur

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sequoia Capital Buys Early Investor's Stake in Just Dial For Rs 40 Cr

Local search is definitely one area which holds tremendous potential in India. The other key player missing a mention here as it doesn't need funding :-) is Google. They've taken a number of initiatives in the local search segment here including YP listing (Google local) as also IVR/agent and sms based search. Key issue in India is data collation and maintenance as listings are still collected largely by field teams

Just Dial has earlier raised funding from SAIF Partners and US-based hedge fund Tiger Global.

Sequoia Capital India has picked up a stake in Mumbai-based local search firm Just Dial Pvt Ltd for Rs 40 crore (~$8 mn). The Silicon Valley headquartered venture capital firm has picked up a little less than 10% stake from an early investor in a secondary deal. Sandeep Singhal, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India, will join the board of Just Dial.

The investment has been made from Sequoia’s $300 million venture capital fund, which the company raised in 2007. Sequoia manages over $1.8 billion in capital for India investments.

Just Dial earlier raised funding from Asia focused private equity fund SAIF Partners and US-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management. It raised Rs 50 crore from SAIF in 2006, followed by a Rs 77 crore investment by Tiger in 2007. SAIF and Tiger, which hold over 20% stake each in the firm, have also picked up additional stakes in the secondary deal.

Just Dial achieved revenues of Rs 91 crore in FY09, and expects to reach Rs 130 crore this year.

The local listing space has attracted interest from both corporates and investor community. In December '08, internet giant Yahoo acquired a 30% stake in Chennai-based Network Management Co. Pvt. Ltd, which owns the telephone-based directory search service Call Ezee. Another corporate active in this space is Television Eighteen India Ltd (TV18), which acquired Infomedia18 from ICICI Venture in 2007.

Other venture-backed players in this space include AskLaila of Four Interactive (Lightspeed, Matrix and SVB), Sulekha (Norwest, Indigo Monsoon) and GETIT Infoservices (Helion Ventures). The most recent deal in this space was Nexus India Capital's $5 million investment in New York-based classifieds firm OLX, which has a presence in markets besides India like Portugal, Mexico, South America and China.

Though there is competition in the space, especially on the web, but Just Dial is unique in offering services over the phone, said Sandeep Singhal of Sequoia. Its services are available on call, through SMS, and also on internet. Singhal believes that Just Dial has a strong connect with the consumers.

Just Dial claims to have over a 90% market share in the local search space. The firm reaches to 400 million mobile customers across 240 cities and 40 million user on the internet. Just Dial, which was founded by VSS Mani in 1994, caters to over 25 million unique users and over 200 million searches in a year.

The company also forayed into print, but is now pulling out as it didn’t work out. “We did that as we were looking at widening our revenue base, and there were some of our customers who were targeting print ads,” said Mani.

Just Dial plans to now focus on offering local information through online and technology enabled services. For starters, it’s planning to launch its classifieds pages by first or second quarter of next year, which Mani says “will be mother of all classifieds.” It’s also planning to foray overseas with local search in the US.

Monday, July 20, 2009

OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?

The OSM community seems to be gaining ground. Would be interesting to see when this gathers pace in emerging markets where maps as a category is relatively new and where relevance is still being established. I guess we will go through the same phases as did most of the developed world though probably a little faster due to the landscape being very dynamic in these markets - Map data build out by established companies -> UGC coming in as vendors open up to go hyper local and making an increasing contribution -> Maps built by the community.

Its like Wikimaps but with some degree of moderation so as to have useful yet free map data available.


13/07/2009, Ludovic Privat,TechCrunch
OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?

Over the last week-end the OpenStreetMap (OSM) community gathered in Amsterdam for their annual conference called State of The Map. Several hundred participants from all over the world gathered for three days packed with conferences, which included for the first year a “Pro” users day. The attendance this year – twice as big as last year – is showing the momentum of a community that so far has been pretty much under the radar of the GPS and LBS industry. Created in 2004 with the idea to build a free, worldwide digital map, OSM is now over 130,000 participants (they were 100,000 in March) with an accelerating growth.

As a result, the map database produced by the community is growing at a fast pace. In May there was over 33 million kilometers of roads in the database. European capitals such as Berlin, Amsterdam, London and many others have been mapped to a level of details that is in many place far superior to Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ. As an example, a few months ago some German volunteers mapped the Berlin Zoo to a unique level of details, quickly followed by the Amsterdam Zoo from Dutch volunteers stimulated by the German example. In Italy a crew of OSM fans spent a few days at the roman ruins of Pompeii to map the entire site.

This map data is not only offering great details but also a greater freshness of the data. Each modification made to the map is available pretty much in real-time. For example, near our office in Paris a hospital is currently getting demolished and rebuilt. An OSM volunteer has already removed most of the footprint of the demolished buildings which are likely to remain there for a very long time on the Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ databases.

OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?
But the coverage is even more visible in places where commercial mapping companies have little or no presence. Photo sharing website Flickr – who, owned by Yahoo!, is supposed to use Yahoo! Maps based on commercial data – has started to rely on OSM for a number of capital cities across the world, stated Aaron Cope, a representative of the company during a keynote at the conference. It first started in the summer of 2008 when Flickr was lacking a decent coverage of Beijing for the summer Olympics games (280,000 pictures have been geotagged on that map). Since then Flick added maps tiles from OSM for covering 18 cities such as Cape Town, Tehran, Kabul or Baghdad.

What about coverage, accuracy and quality control?
When talking about crowd sourcing the same question is coming again and again: what about accuracy and quality control? In that area quality comes with volume and time. Just like Wikipedia, quality comes through an iterative process.

Today many areas, even in Western Europe, are not mapped, especially where there is little population density. But the exponential growth of the OSM community is likely to make these territories shrink at a fast pace in the next two to three years. In addition to that, hardcore OSM volunteers, for a large part geospatial and IT professionals, are developing sophisticated tools to verify and improve the quality of the data and to highlight missing attributes.

As OSM gets more momentum public and private sector entities are also likely to enter the game not only in using this data but also in contributing back to the community, creating a virtuous circle and further accelerating this growth.

OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?
OSM and public sector
As the quality improves local public entities are indeed starting to use OSM data rather than commercial datasets in exchange of which they are not only donating some proprietary data but also maintaining the OSM set in the long run. Speaking at the conference, James Rutter, a GIS professional working for Surrey Heath Council (UK), explained how his Borough is currently switching to OSM data - instead of Ordnance Survey - to save taxpayer money. Another example is Traveline, a government funded organization which is providing travel data to public and private organization across the United Kingdom, who donated its database of 350,000 UK bus stops to OSM, said one of its representatives at the conference.

In the United States the 2010 census will be a bonanza for OSM (like for other map data companies). This census will provide a complete and accurate address database of the US population based on GPS measurements and this data will be free to use. This means OSM will have a nearly perfect address dataset of the whole US population next year.

In France local OSM volunteers have reached an agreement with the French Minister of Economy which will allow them to use (under certain restrictions) the very accurate French cadastre data; half of it is already vectorized and easily accessible online.

Looking at private companies using OSM data, they are also thinking at developing innovative tools to give data back to the community, for example through GPS tracks anonymously gathered from their users, in the same way TomTom users are contributing to building and updating the Tele Atlas map data.

OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?
OSM is also starting to gather a professional GIS community building and selling tools and services based on this dataset with companies such as Cloudmade, Geofabrik, Logiball or Cartotype. These companies - which provide geospatial platform, conversion tools, map rendering systems – are one of the most important factors in growing the credibility of OSM data in the professional LBS market.

Shall commercial dataset vendors fear OSM?
At the OSM conference companies such as TomTom/Tele Atlas, NAVTEQ, and AND were present which signals the interest of the commercial map vendors for the “free” map community. Does it mean they shall fear OSM? Until today the free OSM data has not been a big threat for commercial map vendors, probably due to the lack of awareness and the good marketing made by these vendors.

However, for location-based service providers whose target is urban users in Western Europe and not using advanced features such as turn by turn navigation, OSM data is probably the best choice today. Unlike using free maps from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, LBS companies are completely free in terms of map rendering and customization and can use on-board map storage as much as off-board for their mobile apps. Offering on-board maps is the key highlight of an application called OffMaps (€1.59), it is the number one paid app downloaded in the navigation category in the German iPhone App Store.


OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?
Is it good enough for turn-by-turn navigation?
The biggest concern for commercial map maker is turn-by-turn navigation, licenses from which they are making much of their money and charging a high premium in comparison to basic map display used for applications such as local search. Last week on the Apple App Store, a German developer launched Roadee, a turn-by-turn navigation application based on OSM data. The software selling for €1.59 is now number two in the navigation category in Germany. While the routing is a bit primitive it is a sharp contrast in pricing with the €70 to €90 charged by NAVIGON or Sygic for their applications.

Turn-by-turn navigation using OSM data is also raising interest from academics. Last week the Department of Geography of the Bonn University released a demonstration product for 3D navigation with OpenStreetMap in Germany. Using both OSM data (building footprints transformed in 3D blocks models) and free digital elevation models from NASA, this proof of concept does convince about the potential of OSM in that area.

German GIS specialist Logiball, which provides engineering tools for navigation data, has released a version of its Global Navigation Data Suite (GND), compatible with OSM data. When asked about the quality of the OSM data for in-car navigation, Roger Mueller, managing director at Logiball said: “this dataset has been initially built by pedestrians or bicyclers, so they were not really concerned about map attributes for in-car navigation. Therefore they are problems in the data for example no mention of separate lanes to turn right or left. However, the fast pace of the community makes me believe that we will see major improvements moving forward.”

OpenStreetMap: the free map data revolution?
If not yet on turn-by-turn navigation, OSM is now able to compete on some of the territories where commercial map providers were so far the only available resources. For these mapmakers the consequence is twofold: first they will have to adapt their business models and second their mapmaking technologies.

Last year TomTom and Nokia invested a total of $12.5 billion to buy Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ. In the light of the OSM growth one might have questions about the return on this investment moving forward. With regards to mapmaking technologies, as an example NAVTEQ was spending in 2007 almost $400 million to develop and maintain its map database. For how long these levels of investment will be sustainable for commercial mapmaker is a big question mark today.

OSM Challenges

If OSM has been building some serious momentum, the community also has challenges to overcome. To map the whole world the OSM community will have to continue to grow at a steady pace, which means to enroll many more “casual mappers”. To make it happen OSM will need more user-friendly tools than what is available today. Being able to update the map on the fly on GPS-enabled mobile phones is for example a much needed feature. Even more important, OSM will also have to provide immediate rewards to its members in letting them search and browse more easily the map they create.

So far on www.openstreetmap.com most of the accent has been put on building the dataset rather than displaying it. Unlike other well known “mapping portals”, such as Google Maps, MapQuest and others, the online web version of OSM is not user friendly and lacks features and speed. To get hooked into the community the next generation of OSM volunteers is likely to expect more. The board of the OSM foundation will have to drive this change carefully in making the community both attractive to the long time hardcore map drawers and the new, more casual users.

Despite these challenges the future looks pretty good to OSM. As Peter Scheufen - CEO of LBS startup Skobbler, and former CEO OF NAVIGON - told us at the conference: “OSM? This is the future!”

Announcing the AdSense for Mobile Applications beta

Google moves in to quickly monetize mobile apps which has been monopolised in large measure at least for the iPhone by the likes of AdMob.

25/06/2009, Google Mobile Blog

You don't have to be a mobile expert to see how smartphones are revolutionizing our daily lives. Lower prices, faster network speeds and unlimited data plans mean that people often reach for their cell phone rather than their computer when they are seeking information. As a result, mobile applications have become more and more popular, helping people find music, make restaurant reservations or check bank balances — all on their phone.

We want to contribute to the growth of these mobile applications, which is why we're happy to announce our beta launch of AdSense for Mobile Applications. After all, advertisers are looking for ways to reach potential customers when they are engaged with mobile content, and application developers are looking for ways to show the best ads to their users. We have already had a successful trial of this service with a small number of partners, and are excited that we can now offer this solution to a broader group.

AdSense for Mobile Applications allows developers to earn revenue by displaying text and image ads in their iPhone and Android applications. For our beta launch, we've created a site where developers can learn more about the AdSense for mobile applications program, see answers to frequently asked questions and sign up to participate in our beta. Advertisers can also learn about the benefits of advertising in mobile applications.

We're excited to open up this beta to more developers, and look forward to offering new features for our mobile advertisers and publishers in upcoming releases. We also want to say a big thank you to the partners who worked with us on the trial stages of this project including Backgrounds, Sega, Shazam, Urbanspoon and more.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Microsoft launching its own streaming music service

The services battlegrounds seem to be converging - Apps, Maps, Music and Messaging till now

Microsoft to Challenge Pandora, Last.fm Later This Month

Marshall Kirkpatrick / July 13, 2009

Microsoft is planning on launching its own streaming music service by the end of July, Emma Barnett reported today in the UK Telegraph. A Microsoft exec told Barnett that the service would likely resemble Spotify, a popular European music startup that combines ad-supported free streaming music with a premium ad-free subscription option and the ability to purchase songs by download. A long list of glowing reviews for Spotify was well rounded-up by Jennifer Guevin at CNet early this year. We suspect there is some chance the service could be built on top of the technology of another music startup, Seeqpod.

Can Microsoft find the right balance of monetizing music without being over-bearing, enabling multi-platform use without being confusing and satisfying millions of mainstream users without being boring? Those seem to be the looming questions.

Peter Bale, executive producer of MSN, told the Telegraph that the new music service could tie in to the company's XBox gaming and entertainment system and would leverage knowledge acquired through the Zune experience.

Could Seeqpod Be Under The Hood?

It's possible that the new project is being rolled out quickly because it's built on acquired technology. This Spring there was widespread speculation that Microsoft had acquired failed but awesome MP3 search engine Seeqpod. Seeqpod did a great job searching for media around the web and offered an API that developers liked quite a lot - but the company got slammed by repeated lawsuits. Seeqpod argued that it was only indexing media files that other people were posting, not posting them themselves. That kind of argument tends to hold up best when you are big enough for music companies to look the other way. Surely Microsoft wouldn't be so bold, would it?

Bale says the new Microsoft music service will compete based on scale and quality of product. If it can simply deliver more variety than Pandora or Last.fm do, that alone will make it a viable competitor for many users.

One year on, in-app advertising going strong

In-app advertising going strong

Californian gadget shop Apple will celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of its App Store on Saturday, July 11, and the party’s still going strong.

Mobile advertising platform AdMob, which claims to deliver adverts to around 40 per cent of the world’s iPhones said that 31.4 per cent of its almost eight billion ad requests worldwide over the past year came from Apple handsets [including the iTouch] and 18.6 per cent of those came from the iPhone.

With regards to AdMob’s user base, 28.4 per cent of all 282 million ad requests in the UK came from iPhones, while in the US, iPhones accounted for 25.7 per cent of 3.8 billion ad requests.

Thomas Schulz, AdMob’s managing director for EMEA, recently told telecoms.com that in-app advertising is where all the action is taking place at present. “A lot of the ads we’re doing on the iPhone are running in applications because, in the iPhone world at least, apps have a big chunk of the traffic,” he says. “You have more visually appealing models like trailers, revolving canvasses. You occupy the page and you can link to a click to call or a map, whatever you want. What we’ve seen in terms of click through on these ads on the iPhone is a multiple of what we’re used to because the ads are more appealing.”

Revenues are also higher than the norm, Schulz says. “There’s a very wide range but, in general, it’s definitely making more money. It generates more money for the publisher, that’s for sure.”

And despite heavy competition in the application arena, the numbers are still good. Around five per cent of iPhone apps in AdMob’s network had more than 100,000 active users in May 2009, 14 per cent had between 10,000 - 100,000 active users, and 27 per cent had between 1,000 - 10,000 active users.

Google, which is making its presence felt everywhere currently, is taking on the likes of AdMob with its own strategy for in-app advertising. Last month the web giant opened up the beta version of its AdSense platform for mobile applications.

AdSense for Mobile Applications allows developers to earn revenue by displaying text and image ads inside iPhone and Android applications.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Indian Telecom Services Worth $8.2B in Q1

The impact of fierce competition in the mobile services sector is hitting India's average revenue per user (ARPU) numbers.

July 14, 2009 | Ray Le Maistre


India's service providers generated 404.4 billion Indian Rupees ($8.24 billion) in revenues during the first three months of 2009, an increase of 2.6 percent from a year earlier, according to a new report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) .

India ended March this year with 391.76 million mobile lines and nearly 38 million fixed lines in service, giving a total of nearly 430 million, and an overall teledensity of almost 37 percent.

The disparity between urban and rural coverage is clear in a breakdown of the country's teledensity numbers. In urban areas, the teledensity stood at 88.66 percent at the end of March, while the rural teledensity stood at 14.8 percent, perhaps explaining why some startup operators that have yet to launch their services are focusing on rural areas.

Of the country's mobile users, 297.3 million (75.9 percent) were using GSM services, while 94.5 million (24.1 percent) were on CDMA networks. The majority of the total mobile subscriber base -- 282 million (72 percent) -- were in urban areas, while the remaining 109.7 million (28 percent) were in rural areas.

The impact of fierce competition in the mobile services sector is hitting India's average revenue per user (ARPU) numbers.

In the dominant GSM services sector, ARPU fell from INR220 ($4.49) in the previous quarter (to the end of December 2008) to INR205 ($4.18) for the first quarter of this year, a decline of 6.8 percent.

In the CDMA sector, ARPU fell from INR111 ($2.26) to INR99 ($2.01), a decline of 10.9 percent.

In the still-struggling fixed broadband sector, DSL is the dominant technology. India had just 6.22 million broadband (downstream bandwidth of more than 256 Kbit/s) users at the end of March 2009, of which 5.36 million were DSL users and 474,000 were hooked up to a cable broadband service. A further 244,000 were connected to an in-building Ethernet LAN, while 42,000 were lucky enough to have a fiber-to-the-building connection.

HTC Releases Third Android Phone, Sporting New Look And Flash

Phones increasingly going very social with the integration of social networks and having a single view of all your connections (sms, email, social networks, calls, photos, etc.) with your social graph (contacts). As we have seen in the INQ phones (Skype and Facebook phones) on the 3 network, increases internetand in particular SN usage and consequently stickiness for the phone.

Jun 24, 2009

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has released its third Android phone, the HTC Hero, which has been picked up by France Telecom’s UK carrier Orange, as the first Android device in its portfolio of phones, the companies said today.

The Hero also sports the smartphone maker’s new user interface, HTC Sense. The UI, which has been two years in the making will be used in all forthcoming HTC devices, and according to the company, will help set it apart from its competitors. Sense, for example, does not organize the phone’s interface by application, but rather by a person’s contacts. Instead of digging through various applications, all communications with a contact—whether through Facebook, Flickr photos, text messages, emails, or call history—are all organized in one view.

[Extract from the HTC Hero Press Release - Today, staying in touch with the people in your life means managing a variety of communication channels and applications ranging from phone calls, emails, texts, photos, status updates and more. HTC Sense takes a different approach by integrating these communication channels and applications into one single view enabling you to stay closer to your important people. With HTC Sense, friends Facebook status updates and photos along with their Flickr photos are included along side their text messages, emails and call history in a single view.]

The HTC Hero is just one of a number of Android phones launching this summer. HTC’s new interface, however, gives a hint at the level of differentiation that handset makers can achieve with the operating system. One thing that the HTC Hero is also able to support is Adobe Flash, the technology that runs much of the video on the internet today, and has so far been conspicuously absent from the iPhone. Adobe has said it is still “committed” to bring Flash to the iPhone, though it needs help from Apple to do so.

Orange UK plans to begin selling the phone in July, when it will be available to customers for free on to a 2-year £39.15 ($64) monthly plan. The plan includes 1200 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, as well as unlimited internet access. The Hero goes on sale later this summer in Asia and will be available in the US by the end of the year.

Phones Go Social: Sprint Launches Samsung Exclaim And HTC Snap; AT&T Adds Moto Karma

Jun 23, 2009

The success of the “Facebook phone,” built by INQ, has not been lost on either carriers or handset-makers, which are starting to introduce copycats into the market.

The beauty of the INQ phone is that it commoly drives three to four times more traffic than smartphones that cost three to four times more money. The only phone that comes close is the iPhone. This week both AT&T and Sprint have announced new phones from HTC, Samsung and Motorola that tightly integrate social networks. However, it seems carriers have failed to learn that it is not just about the phone, but also the data plan. The INQ, which is offered by 3 UK, provides a lower cost data plan for unlimited access to Facebook, but not all data services, bringing the overall cost of the device down. Neither AT&T or Sprint are offering a price cut. In fact, AT&T is requiring at least a $60 a month plan for the Motorola Karma, which prohibitively high for a feature phone.

—Sprint’s HTC Snap: The HTC Snap is technically a smartphone and comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. The social part is a feature called the “Inner Circle,” which allows people to prioritize emails from the most important people. Not matter what email account the person contacts you from, the messages will be viewable in the same place. The phone will cost $150 with a two-year contract. Release.

—Sprint’s Samsung Exclaim: The feature phone comes packed with “tiles” for MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, which allow you to launch the applications with one click. The phone also has a full Qwerty keyboard that slides out from the side, in addition to the typical numeric keypad that slides out when the phone is vertical. The phone will cost $80 with a two-year contract. Release.

—AT&T’s Motorola Karma: The phone is short and squat, and comes with a slide out full Qwerty keyboard. It emphasizes text messaging, instant messaging and provides access Facebook and MySpace from the homescreen. The phone will cost $80 with a two-year contract, and a minimum voice plan of $40 and $20 a month data or messaging plan. That plan at the minimum will cost $60 a month, which seems a bit high for a feature phone.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Facebook’s Offical User Count Now 250 Million

An amazing run and growth continues at a scorching pace. Its more the viral effect which is carrying the momentum now and the need to be there as everybody you know is there.

The interesting part is the stickiness of the community with Facebook retention rates even at this scale continue to be 70+

by Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch on July 15, 2009

It was only three months ago that Facebook announced that it had reached 200 million users worldwide. Today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social network has passed 250 million active users. And back in January it was just 150 million.

Facebook has been accused of under-counting users in the past. According to comScore, Facebook had 316 million unique visitors worldwide in May, but not all of them necessarily had accounts.

No matter which way you slice it, adding 50 million users in three months is nothing short of amazing. Most Websites would kill for a fraction of that growth. How long before Facebook reaches one billion, and can it beat Twitter to that milestone?

The Meteoric Rise of the App Store

Jordan Golson, GigaOm | Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Apple, in the current second era of Steve Jobs, doesn’t “invent” products. Instead, the company generally takes existing ideas and massively improves upon them. The digital music player, smartphone, online music store and cell phone application store all existed in various forms at other companies before Apple decided to get involved — and turn those industries upside-down.

The App Store is just the latest game changer to come out of Apple’s Cupertino labs, and it has been a smashing success. The company today announced that 1.5 billion applications have been downloaded, with the latest 500 million downloads coming since just April. Approximately 65,000 apps are available for more than 40 million App Store-capable devices (the various forms of the iPhone and iPod Touch), and 98 percent of iPhone users have downloaded at least one app. AdMob founder Omar Hamoui thinks the App Store will be a $5 billion business in two years, though it looks like a relatively small number of apps will capture the lion’s share of that revenue — of course, like any consumer industry, advertising helps. Some even think the iPhone is the hottest gaming platform out there; the rate at which downloads are growing would excite any investor:

picture-2

Success breeds competition, though, and a number of Apple’s rivals are bringing their own wireless app stores to market:

Only one of these, Android, seems to be getting any real traction, though none are anywhere close to the size and depth of the Apple App Store. Google is having success mostly because it’s Google, and it is the only company that can come even close to matching Apple’s hype machine with developers. At the end of the day, though, Android is just a hobby for the company, and it will never be able to match Apple’s marketing prowess.

Apple might latch onto other people’s ideas just to improve on them, but the company does so with fantastic success. Because Apple doesn’t launch products until they are ready, the massive hype is quickly followed by a real product that is totally unique to the marketplace. Meanwhile, competitors announce products before they’re finished, and when they finally ship, they remain inferior to Apple’s offering. Of course, with 40 million devices — and with users who download way more apps than their non-Apple using counterparts — it’s a circle of growth that will drive the App Store, and the iPhone/iPod Touch ecosystem, into further stratospheric heights, as will the new subscription and micropayments potential of the changes in iPhone OS 3.0. The company would be well-served to continue coming up with new App Store features to drive further growth.

Two years ago, I predicted Apple would be bigger than Google. It happened in less than a year, though more because Google lost value than because of Apple growing exponentially. I noted that the iPhone was the weakest of Apple’s three “tripod” legs: Macintosh, iPod, iPhone. Now, with the iPhone and App Store growing so quickly, it may soon eclipse the Mac as Apple’s greatest revenue generator. It makes sense that the company changed its name to Apple Inc.

148 Apps: 7/14 app distribution

iPhone app downloads top 1.5 billion

Given 40 mn iPhones + iPod touch devices this averages to 37.5 app downloads per device in the last 12 months.

65,000 apps and more than 100k developers in the iPhone developer program. Phenomenal by any yardstick

Next milestone for Apple probably lies in the monetisation it derives via advertising from the apps given over 60% of them are free today

iPhone app downloads top 1.5 billion

US vendor Apple said Tuesday that iPhone users have racked up more than 1.5 billion application downloads in just one year.

The fruit flavoured firm said that its App Store now boasts more than 65,000 apps available to consumers in 77 countries and more than 100,000 developers in the iPhone Developer Program.

The success of Apple’s app store model has prompted many of the firm’s rivals to imitate its strategy, with the firm now offering a direct channel for application developers to target over 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

“The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

Not to be outdone however, GetJar, which was running a mobile app store when Apple’s was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, announced that it has reached the 500 million download mark.

The announcement perhaps demonstrates the marketing power Apple has at its disposal, but also shows how the launch of the iPhone App Store has raised awareness about apps in general.

GetJar hosts nearly 50,000 mobile applications available in more than 200 different countries, and shed some light on what’s hot in the app space at present.

The company has facilitated nearly 17 million downloads of the Opera Mini web browser; over 16 million downloads of eBuddy instant messaging; 14 million downloads of Nimbuzz mobile messaging; 10 million downloads of mig33 mobile community; and over 5 million downloads of Google Maps for mobile.

And while mobile advertising has so far proven something of a slow burn, in 2009 the industry’s hottest talking point has been application stores and how mobile advertising may take a technological leap, in terms of user interaction.

The large screens, touch interfaces and advanced functionalities such as accelerometers that are now found on top tier smartphones have certainly captured the imagination of the industry. A small section of the global user base has also proven itself to be enthusiastic for these developments and this has led to suggestions that the future of mobile advertising must be bound inextricably with the future of the application model of mobile internet usage. Advertising will do better, runs the theory, when it appears within applications rather than simple on web pages.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

India Added Half a Million New Customers Per Day in Q1 09

Another rocket of a quarter. India seems well on its way to its target of 500 mn mobile subscribers by 2010. What would be a worthy target now would be 100 mn active mobile data subs at the end of the same period from the 25 mn or so today

Cellular-News

July 9, 2009

­We have seen some extraordinary growth in India in recent times, but the Q1 09 gain was truly spectacular: the quarterly uplift of 44.9 M was equivalent to almost 0.5 M new customers a day. The previous Indian and world best was Q4 08's 31.6 M. At the end of the quarter, the total Indian customer base stood at 391.6 M. Penetration was 34.5%, which indicates that there is plenty of potential for further growth in the market.

Subsequent monthly figures showed the customer base rising to 414.7 M at the end of May. Monthly net additions dropped away slightly compared to Q1 09, which saw two 15 M+ months, but with both April and May seeing 11 M+ net additions, the slowdown was hardly dramatic.

The key driver of growth was Reliance, which saw an astonishing 11.32 M net additions in the quarter as it launched GSM services in several new regions. This was not only a record for Reliance, it was also the highest figure ever seen in India. However, the Q1 09 bonanza was by no means a one-man show. In fact, every one of India's seven largest networks scored a personal best. Bharti added 8.3 M, Vodafone 7.8 M, BSNL 5.9 M, IDEA 4.7 M, Tata 3.4 M and Aircel 2.4 M.

Bharti remains the clear market leader with 93.9 M customers at the end of Q1 09. In second place, Reliance has moved well clear of Vodafone thanks to its bumper quarter, finishing with 72.7 M customers to Vodafone's 68.8 M. At the end of 2008, by contrast, Reliance's lead was just 0.4m. The battle for fifth place has also calmed slightly, with IDEA increasing its lead over Tata to 3.8 M, having been 0.3 M behind a year earlier. At the end of the quarter IDEA had 38.9 M to Tata's 35.1 M.

In terms of proportionate growth, the total market saw an uplift of 50.1% in the year to 31st March 2009. Despite its Q1 09 performance, Reliance was not the fastest growing of the top seven, this honour going to Aircel which saw a 74.2% annual gain. Second was IDEA with 62.0% ahead of Reliance with 58.7%.

Posted to the site on 9th July 2009

Social networking driving mobile data boom

More substantiation of why communities are important and how mobile phones will likely drive the growth of social networking over the next 2-3 years. This is also precisely why the likes of Facebook worry Google.

Only option for service providers without active communities with traction is probably to partner to leverage this engagement on account of the high entry barrier to building new communities of scale given that users have already invested in their social graph elsewhere.


Forget music and video downloads, social networking is driving the growth explosion in mobile data usage, analysts said today.

Around a third of young adults (those under 36) regularly access sites such as Facebook and Twitter from their mobile phones, suggesting that operators should keep working with trusted web brands to fuel internet usage.

The stats came from industry researcher CCS Insight, which noted that the 16 to 24 year-olds are often cited as the most vibrant segment of the market, but when it comes to buying mobile content, it’s those over 24 who are doing the spending.

“Over 24s have more disposable income and, unlike their younger counterparts, don’t automatically assume content is free,” said Paolo Pescatore, head of mobile content at CCS.

The researcher carried out a survey of more than 1,000 adults between 16 and 35 years old, and concluded that because the phenomenal growth in mobile phones and internet usage have collided with spectacular results, networks are going to have to think carefully about how they charge for mobile internet access.

Those under 36 love social networking via the mobile and expect to pay for it, however, younger adults expect mobile content—especially music and videos—to be free. Moreover, one third of the survey respondents said they’d like the bandwidth-hungry BBC iPlayer on their mobile phones.

This leaves operators in a predicament. “The challenge operators face is balancing demand for these services with the bandwidth they consume—particularly as applications such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Skype become more popular,” said Pescatore.

“The web is revolutionising the way people use mobile phones. Forget music downloads and video—social networking is what people want. Media owners and operators will have to find new ways to make money from their assets,” he said. “Operators are relying on mobile internet usage to fill the revenue gap as profit margins fall. This report shows they need to keep working with trusted web brands to fuel demand.”

Coincidentally, UK mobile operator O2 said Monday that it has forged an agreement with Twitter allowing users to receive free SMS alerts from Twitter. The deal follows up existing agreements from Facebook and Bebo and takes effect from August.

As part of the deal, Twitter will be heavily promoted on O2’s Active portal and will likely be expanded to Telefonica’s other operations.

O2 said that over a million customers per month now access social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook using O2 Active, bolstered by hundreds of thousands of iPhone users who have downloaded social networking applications.

“We believe that mobile will soon become the most popular way of accessing social networking sites, giving real time access to tweets and status updates wherever you are,” said Antony Douglas, head of content at O2.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Location, location, location: but only if it's free

The LBS model is essentially likely to remain free as with most other online services with monetization hopes lying largely on advertising

Posted By TelecomTV One , By Ian Scales.
13 July 2009

Location-based service (LBS) subscribers and revenue numbers are set to double this year - despite the drop in phone sales - and that augurs well for the strong emergence of more services over the next few years. But carriers shouldn't see flashing dollar signs: users will expect to get location for free with the value realised through innovative, ad-funded services.

Apps using location are starting to capture the mobile user's imagination as they appear on the burgeoning base of smartphones. LBS encompasses a broad range of services, from navigation or child-tracking, says Gartner, to the more subtle use of location with digital shopping coupons or consumer goods price comparison.

As a result, says Gartner, LBS subscriber numbers are expected to leap from 41 million in 2008 to 96 million this year, while revenue is expected to double also - from about US$1 billion to $2 billion. It's growth from a small base, but impressive in a recession nonetheless.

But before operators get too excited Gartner warns that they'll have to get real if they want to participate in the bonanza.

Location can be derived in a number of ways - from cellular networks, from Wi-Fi access points or via free GPS satellite signals. GPS chips are increasingly being included at the top end of the smartphone market but will likely become standard as smartphones creep 'downmarket' and the cost of GPS integration becomes vanishingly low. Access to LBS will therefore be a "must have" for many mobile users because of the 'cool' apps.

But LBS works best when more than one location source can be used.

GPS alone is unreliable and virtually unavailable indoors, so given a choice, an application designer would like to use GPS and cell location together to improve the accuracy of the application.

But if carriers charge users a fee per month for the use of cell-based location services they will rapidly lose customers because users will find free (if slightly less reliable) service options using just theGPS.

Gartner points out that in North America and Western Europe, the share of users taking advantage of free services is approximately 10-15 per cent but will grow to 40-50 per cent in 2013 driven by the more compelling and useful applications it expects to see come to market via the application download stores in the next 12 to 18 months.

North America is the largest market today, due to mobile carriers' strong efforts in navigation services and family-safety solutions. In Western Europe, navigation is currently the most used application, followed by local search and "friend finder."

Japan will continue to see steady growth as GPS has been required by law in mobile phones since 2007. In Asia/Pacific, during the summer Olympics, location services were for the first time offered in China which is now an advertising-based solution and free to the user.

Subscriber growth will hinge on "free", says Gartner, and mobile operators’ initiatives to open up their network application programming interfaces (APIs) to third-party developers will help them to compete.

Phones increasingly going Social

Phones increasingly going very social with the integration of social networks and having a single view of all your connections (sms, email, social networks, calls, photos, etc.) with your social graph (contacts)

HTC Releases Third Android Phone, Sporting New Look And Flash

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has released its third Android phone, the HTC Hero, which has been picked up by France Telecom’s UK carrier Orange, as the first Android device in its portfolio of phones, the companies said today.

The Hero also sports the smartphone maker’s new user interface, HTC Sense. The UI, which has been two years in the making will be used in all forthcoming HTC devices, and according to the company, will help set it apart from its competitors. Sense, for example, does not organize the phone’s interface by application, but rather by a person’s contacts. Instead of digging through various applications, all communications with a contact—whether through Facebook, Flickr photos, text messages, emails, or call history—are all organized in one view.

The HTC Hero is just one of a number of Android phones launching this summer. HTC’s new interface, however, gives a hint at the level of differentiation that handset makers can achieve with the operating system. One thing that the HTC Hero is also able to support is Adobe Flash, the technology that runs much of the video on the internet today, and has so far been conspicuously absent from the iPhone. Adobe has said it is still “committed” to bring Flash to the iPhone, though it needs help from Apple to do so.

Orange UK plans to begin selling the phone in July, when it will be available to customers for free on to a 2-year £39.15 ($64) monthly plan. The plan includes 1200 any network call minutes, unlimited texts, as well as unlimited internet access. The Hero goes on sale later this summer in Asia and will be available in the US by the end of the year.


Phones Go Social: Sprint Launches Samsung Exclaim And HTC Snap; AT&T Adds Moto Karma

, mocoNews.net Jun 23, 2009

The success of the “Facebook phone,” built by INQ, has not been lost on either carriers or handset-makers, which are starting to introduce copycats into the market.

The beauty of the INQ phone is that it commoly drives three to four times more traffic than smartphones that cost three to four times more money. The only phone that comes close is the iPhone. This week both AT&T and Sprint have announced new phones from HTC, Samsung and Motorola that tightly integrate social networks. However, it seems carriers have failed to learn that it is not just about the phone, but also the data plan. The INQ, which is offered by 3 UK, provides a lower cost data plan for unlimited access to Facebook, but not all data services, bringing the overall cost of the device down. Neither AT&T or Sprint are offering a price cut. In fact, AT&T is requiring at least a $60 a month plan for the Motorola Karma, which prohibitively high for a feature phone.

—Sprint’s HTC Snap: The HTC Snap is technically a smartphone and comes loaded with Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. The social part is a feature called the “Inner Circle,” which allows people to prioritize emails from the most important people. Not matter what email account the person contacts you from, the messages will be viewable in the same place. The phone will cost $150 with a two-year contract

—Sprint’s Samsung Exclaim: The feature phone comes packed with “tiles” for MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, which allow you to launch the applications with one click. The phone also has a full Qwerty keyboard that slides out from the side, in addition to the typical numeric keypad that slides out when the phone is vertical. The phone will cost $80 with a two-year contract

—AT&T’s Motorola Karma: The phone is short and squat, and comes with a slide out full Qwerty keyboard. It emphasizes text messaging, instant messaging and provides access Facebook and MySpace from the homescreen. The phone will cost $80 with a two-year contract, and a minimum voice plan of $40 and $20 a month data or messaging plan. That plan at the minimum will cost $60 a month, which seems a bit high for a feature phone.

FLO TV To Cut Prices To Boost Mobile TV Usage

Jun 24, 2009

Qualcomm’s service FLO TV has never really taken off. Not only does the mobile TV offering—priced at $15 a month and up—compete with free video increasingly available on cellphones that can stream it, but its reach is limited to a few devices from AT&T and Verizon. According to the nytimes.com Bits blog, Qualcomm is hoping this will change when it starts selling the service direct to consumers later this year, when it also plans to cut the price of the service.

Currently, AT&T and Verizon sets the price of FLO TV, which is often bundled with other video services to boost the entire cost of the package to $25 and up a month. FLO TV’s head, Bill Stone, hired earlier this year, acknowledges this is too expensive. FLO TV plans to drop the price down, “probably less that $10 a month” for an annual plan. It is also considering one day passes—priced at perhaps $5 a month, while month-tom-month subscriptions may cost around the $10 mark.

Other plans include to increase its distribution selling a gadget the size of a keychain that would receive TV signals over the air and send them over WiFI to smartphones, including the iPhone, Blackberry devices, and other smartphones without a built in TV receiver. The company is also looking beyond cellphones to other gadgets that could be embedded with a receiver.

As for “why anyone needs linear TV in an on-demand age”, Stone tells Bits, “Live will always exist. If the Laker game is on now, I want to watch it now.” As for current networks, they wouldn’t be able to handle “millions of people” watching video at the same time.

Ericsson Launches Hosted App Store Service

Ericsson said it can help set up the developer community, and manage their access to a carriers API’s, as well as handling the consumer transactions for the carrier and developer. , mocoNews.net
Jun 29, 2009

It’s not just carriers and handset makers jumping on the application store craze. Telecoms equipment maker Ericsson has released a hosted app store aimed at carriers who don’t want to build their own. In May, Qualcomm announced a very similar service in the form of Plaza Retail.

Ericsson’s head of service delivery platform solutions Ida La Spisa told Telephony Online that one of the aims is to give carriers a wider range than Apple’s App Store. The platform won’t be confined to a single device, instead carriers will be able to tailored the app store toward a number of devices and operating systems, allowing both users of both smartphones and feature phones to tap into it.

La Spisa also said that carriers will be able to use of their exclusive subscriber knowledge—such as data and location information—to give their stores an edge, including more targeted advertising within the apps. Ericsson said it can help set up the developer community, and manage their access to a carriers API’s, as well as handling the consumer transactions for the carrier and developer.

Report: One Billion People In Emerging Markets Have Cellphones, But No Bank Accounts

Mobile financial services in emerging markets is clearly a huge opportunity the only riders being the myriad of legislation that needs to be addressed and the trust factor that would need to be associated with the provider

by , mocoNews.net
Jun 15, 2009


The market for mobile financial services in emerging markets is on track to surge from zero to $5 billion by 2012, according to a study conducted by the U.S.-based microfinance policy and research center CGAP and the GSMA, a wireless trade association.

While people in emerging markets have used cellphones for some time to conduct business, it’s been fairly disorganized. There’s well known stories of people trading wireless voice minutes to pay for food or other services. Now it appears that there’s a more organized way of mobile banking coming to emerging markets, like Kenya and other African countries. Yahoo Tech News reports that in Africa only one in five people have bank accounts, mainly because its pricey to have branches in areas where people live off a few dollars a day. But in emerging markets overall, the number of people that have a cellphone is already reaching about 1 billion.

By the end of this year, CGAP expects more than 120 mobile money implementations in developing markets. The report, which will be released next week at the Mobile Money Summit in Barcelona, also says operators have incentive to roll-out banking services because in addition to an uptick in revenues—about $1.10 in average revenue per user—they could save up to $2 billion lowering churn.

Most iPhone Users Are Older Than You’d Think

Interesting and particularly the 55+ segment size which exceeds the 18-24 segment

by Tameka Kee, mocoNews.net
June 11,

imageWith all the the iPhone 3G S mania, Nielsen thought it might be a good time to dig into just who the “typical” iPhone owner is, finding that they’re not just the young, early adopters one might expect. Of the roughly 6.4 million active iPhone users in the U.S., the majority (53 percent) are over 35 years old. There are even more users over the age of 55 (17 percent) than in the 18-24 year-old age bracket (13 percent).

iPhone owners are also more affluent than the typical AT&T subscriber: 40 percent have household incomes of $100,000 or more, in contrast to just 19 percent overall. (Which makes sense, since the phones and their plans cost more—but also in light of the fact that the majority of users are older and likely better off financially).

Qualcomm’s FLO TV Is Back On Track; Lighting Up More Markets After Digital TV Transition

Seems like broadcast mobile TV is getting back on track after the initial euphoria but subsequent slow traction for DVB-H and MediaFLO

by , mocoNews.net
Jun 10, 2009

imageQualcomm’s FLO TV, which broadcasts TV to mobile devices in the U.S. through its major partners AT&T and Verizon Wireless, said it is on track to reach its goal of covering 100 major markets and more than 200 million potential customers nationwide by the end of the year.

The company was delayed when the government decided to put off the transition from analog to digital TV signals. FLO was waiting for spectrum that was going to be freed up from that process. The new deadline is June 12, and today, the company announced that immediately following the transition this Friday, it will go live in 15 new markets, including Boston, Houston, Miami and San Francisco, and will expand in existing markets, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC.

By the end of the year, the company will have launched another 39 markets, serving another potential 60 million customers. Earlier this year, the company said in all, its broadcast TV service was covering 68 markets, making this a major expansion—and pushing it past its goal of serving more than 100 markets.

With a nearly nationwide network in place, the company will have the strength to seek out new distribution deals, and secure new vendor relationships with hardware makers. Currently, it’s partners, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, don’t have incentive to roll-out a nationwide advertising campaign if only a portion of its subscribers can sign up for it. Likewise, it wasn’t prudent for FLO TV to do that either, and sell directly to consumers. However, those barriers come down with more reach. Bill Stone, FLO’s president said in a release: “With this national coverage, we are poised to take on the next level of consumer engagement by bringing the FLO TV service to customers on multiple entertainment devices beyond the mobile phone.”

Also in the release, FLO reminded us that it has teamed with Audiovox to be the exclusive supplier of in-vehicle units that will work with a car’s existing video equipment. Passengers will be able to watch FLO TV in their cars.

Report: The Android Paradox: As Adoption Grows So Does Fragmentation


This is definitely a challenge Android will have to address. What has made Apple so successful is the ability of developers to quickly and cost effectively develop for the iPhone given that's its a single platform in use across their devices


by Dianne See Morrison, mocoNews.net
Jun 3, 2009

Last week at its annual developers conference, Google’s senior director of mobile platforms, told the audience that at least 18 Android-based phones and as many as 20 would be available for sale by the end of the year. It was a sign that Android was getting some serious traction. But while this was a welcome milestone for the OS, IMS Research analyst Chris Schreck said that the fragmentation that could arise from the widespread adoption could end up being its biggest threat.

Specifically, Shreck said that one of Android’s features that appeals to handset makers and mobile network operators is that its license agreement from the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) doesn’t require changes made to the code to be contributed back to the open source community. This was done to allow companies to incorporate their own intellectual property into their Android phones—and thereby differentiate their products from their rivals—without forcing them to share their IP with other OHA members.

“The flip side of that coin,” said Shreck, “is that it also allows for multiple versions of the platform to exist independently of each other.” As more handset makers strive to build differentiated cellphones, more “platform variants” emerge.

IMS predicts that Android has the potential to take a significant share of the smartphone market, and certainly by 2014, the platform could ship on over 43 million handsets. But for Android to achieve this, Schreck said, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and the OHA will have to deal with the fragmentation issue.

Schreck added that a fragmented Android platform would result in compatibility problems for Android applications and would ultimately push the cost of continued development of the platform to individual handset vendors and mobile network operators, rather than the OHA as a whole. Said Schreck, “Such increased development costs and a fragmented application portfolio would make competing with other open source platforms an uphill battle for Android.”