Ask any mobile developer: getting smartphone users to pay for apps isn't easy - and it's only going to get harder, according to analyst IHS Screen Digest. Developers need to turn their attention to making money from in-app purchases, which it said are on the rise.
The analyst said the freemium business model, where apps are free at the point of download but charge a fee for new content, will soon be the dominate smartphone apps business model.
IHS Screen Digest reckons in-app purchases will rise to account for well over half (64 per cent) of total app market revenue in 2015, up from just over a third (39 per cent) last year, while revenue from in-app purchases will swell to $5.6bn in 2015, up from $970m in 2011. The data comes from its Mobile Media Intelligence Service.
"Smartphone users overwhelmingly prefer free apps to paid apps, as we estimate 96 per cent of all smartphone apps were downloaded for free in 2011," said Jack Kent, senior analyst, mobile media for IHS, in a statement.
"In 2012, it will become increasingly difficult for app stores and developers to justify charging an upfront fee for their products when faced with competition from a plethora of free content. Instead, the apps industry must fully embrace the freemium model and monetise content through in-app purchases."
By the end of the third quarter of 2011, free-to-download apps already represented close to half (45 per cent) of the top-grossing US iPhone apps, according to IHS Screen Digest, as well as almost a third (31 per cent) of the highest-earning US Android Market apps. The analyst calculates that a substantial majority (68 per cent) of the top-grossing US apps featured some form of additional content or functionality unlocked by an in-app purchase. Read more...
Browser ID offers a decentralized system for user identification and authentication along the same lines as OpenID. To use BrowserID users first have to create an account with Mozilla. After this users would be able to use the technology to enter websites that support BrowserID simply by entering their email address.
Emails between Apple, Adobe, Intel and others are making them look bad as the US Justice Department mounts a case against them for setting up "anti-poaching" deals in which they allegedly agreed not to hire each other's people away.
The emails are part of the Justice Department's evidence in its class action suit that accuses the tech firms of agreeing not to steal each other's staff so that they could artificially lower employees' wages by killing competition.
The defendants, who also include Google, Pixar and Lucasfilm, are trying to get the case dismissed on the grounds that there was no conspiracy between them all, the agreements were all just separate deals that made no reference to each other.
A redacted document filed with the court before the scheduled case management conference on January 26 details evidence of emails and phone calls between the defendants organising the anti-poaching and anti-bidding-war deals.
The DOJ claims that in May of 2005, Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen emailed Steve Jobs forwarding an internal email from Adobe's senior VP of human resources about the recruitment of Apple employees. Read more...
Google's fourth-quarter revenue climbed 25% from a year earlier but was less than analysts had expected, pulling its stock price down 9% in after-hours trading.
Google's revenue for the three months to Dec. 31 came in at $10.58 billion, up from $8.44 billion a year earlier, the company announced Thursday. Subtracting commissions and fees paid to partners, revenue was $8.13 billion, below the consensus analyst forecast of $8.41 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
Its net income before one-time charges, at $9.50 a share, was also below the consensus estimate, which called for $10.50 a share.
Google's shares dipped 9% in after-hours trading, to $583.48 at the time of this report, as investors reacted to the news. Earlier, Google's stock ended the regular trading day up 1%, at $639.57. Read more...
Holiday sales of new tablets and e-readers have catapulted e-book borrowing at many of the nation's libraries, raising the question of how libraries can keep up with demand -- especially when some publishers still balk at e-book lending.
The demand for e-books at some major public libraries more than doubled so far in December and January compared to a year ago, causing frustrations for e-book users and librarians alike.
"Demand for e-book borrowing has definitely gone up...dramatically recently," said Laura Irmscher, collection development manager for the Boston Public Library, the nation's oldest with a central library and 26 branches. She said e-book borrowing demand at the Boston libraries more than tripled in December, compared to December 2010. For the first half of January, more than 700 people a day tried to borrow an e-book, or added their name to a long waiting list for some of the more popular titles. Read more...
Microsoft's results for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2011, were pretty much in line with what industry observers expected. But two items caught my eye, and they both fall in the category of good news for Microsoft and its shareholders.
In a nutshell, Microsoft's reported record sales for the holiday quarter of just under $21 billion. Earnings hit $6.62 billion, down from $6.63 billion the previous year. Sales for the Business division (most prominently Office) were up 2.8 percent from the year-earlier quarter. Server and Tools sales were up a very healthy 11 percent from the year before, and Entertainment (primarily Xbox and Kinect) soared as expected, at 15 percent above the holiday season in 2010. Read more...
Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), the lead sponsor of the controversial Protect IP Act (PIPA), today criticized the "knee-jerk' reaction of fellow senators to this week's protests against the bill, and vowed to press forward with it.
In response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) decision this morning to delay a scheduled Jan. 24 cloture vote on PIPA, Leahy said he remains committed to dealing with the problem of online piracy.
"I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid's decision to seek consent to vitiate cloture on the motion to proceed to the Protect IP Act," Leahy said in a statement. "But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem."
A cloture vote is designed to overcome a filibuster of a bill by placing a limit on the amount of time the Senate can consider the measure. Read more...
Is Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) real? A new study suggests it may be — and that its effects can be seen in the human brain.
The study asked those between the ages 14 and 21 questions about how their internet use had negatively impacted their lives. Many of these questions run parallel to those that help diagnose an alcohol or drug problem: "Have you lied to your family members, therapist, or others to hide the truth of your involvement with the internet?" "Have you taken the risk of losing a significant relationship, job, educational, or career opportunity because of the internet?" Researchers followed up with questions to the subjects' friends and families. Read more...
To all accounts, the new iBooks Author app -- now available in the Mac App Store -- works as expected. It allows people with little or no training to create picture books, textbooks, and other interactive ebooks, using a simple, iLife-style interface reminiscent of a "Garage Band for ebooks."
Anyone with an Intel Mac running Snow Leopard or later can use the app to write, publish, and sell their ebooks through Apple's iBooks store. And anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch can buy and read the ebooks, and use their interactive features like 3d models and built-in quizzes. College textbooks sold through the app are supposed to cost about $14.99, with free updates and revisions, and publishers including McGraw-Hill and Pearson have already signed up for the program according to ABC News' Ned Potter.
So what's the problem?
People, including lawyer Dan Wineman, are starting to note the extent of the lock-in with the iBooks program. Especially iBooks Author, which Wineman says requires you to sell your books only through Apple's iBookstore.
As he notes, it's not a technical limitation. You can email the book to yourself, and it would open in the iBooks app on your iPad. Someone could technically open a store online and sell iBooks she created, or Amazon.com could add them to its storefront. What prevents them from doing so is the language in iBooks Author's End User License Agreement, which says that "If you charge a fee" for your iBooks, you can only sell it through Apple's iBookstore.
How the lock-in happened
Schools are already dependent on only a handful of big textbook publishers for their course material, in much the same way that four music labels dominate the United States' music industry. Just as Apple managed to dominate digital music by becoming those labels' biggest retail channel, it can now scoop up the textbook market by providing the digital publishing outlet those textbook publishers lacked.
Efforts to provide free digital textbooks already existed, like MIT's OpenCourseWare, but largely haven't made a dent in the textbook publishing world.
Apple in education
Beyond locking writers into using a single bookstore, the larger issue may be one of trusting one company with all electronic textbooks. If iBooks can only be created on a Mac and viewed on an iOS device, where does that leave schools and students with Windows PCs and Android smartphones?
Apple has already made the controversial move of promoting its retail stores as school field trip destinations. Requiring students to purchase an iPad just to buy textbooks would give the company an even longer reach into public educational institutions.
Just how much do you trust your spouse or partner? Enough to share passwords? For some, passwords are the final frontier of privacy not only in financial matters, but in social media and email correspondence. But for others, there are no secrets when you're in a relationship — even risking the potential payback should a break-up sever the happy union.
The New York Times tells us about an "intimate custom" writer Matt Ritchel says is happening between teens in love: "sharing their passwords to email, Facebook and other accounts." The desire to be one even extends, the article claims, to couples creating identical passwords and letting each other read private emails and texts. Read more...