Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MeeGo Conference 2010, Dublin part 1 -Nov 29th

By Toni Nikkanen

The MeeGo Conference, hosted by Intel and Nokia 15.-17th of November 2010 in Dublin, Ireland, was a developer event packed with people, technical information, energy, and surprise announcements.
The conference started on Monday, but on Sunday a lot of people had already arrived, and were catered for by various pre-conference sessions – both technical and fun. I already got a taste of the big talent present at the conference, for example I got to see an impressively fast map application for the N900 called CloudGPS made by one developer, Damian Waradzyn. If you have the N900, I suggest you try it out!
Monday was the day of the keynotes, and of the surprise announcements.
The key point in Doug Fisher’s (Intel) keynote, in my opinion, was the MeeGo way of working: Inclusion, Meritocracy, Transparency & Upstream First. To drive home the point of Inclusion, Carsten Munk, the lead developer of MeeGo ARM, was invited as a co-presenter on stage. This was a bit exceptional, you rarely see Intel and ARM standing side by side on stage.
Upstream First deserves special attention. It is a point all projects utilizing open source software should take note of, because it can provide benefits for everyone involved. The idea is that if you are using open source software made by others, and if you make improvements to it, you should submit your changes to the original project. The benefit to you is that you don’t need to maintain your own fork of the software, saving you a lot of work when you want to keep up to date with the latest updates to that software. And as a good side-effect, the whole ecosystem benefits too!
Alberto Torres from Nokia reinforced the developer story with a sure grip. The message: Write MeeGo apps with Qt and QML. That’s it, it’s that simple. And, your apps will work also on Symbian and numerous other platforms, too.
The first surprise was that everyone attending the conference will get a free Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet (powered by an Intel CPU and running MeeGo, of course) on Tuesday. The audience cheered!
After the break, Dominique Le Foll from Amino gave his reasons why going with MeeGo was the right choice for the digital set-top box maker. For them, MeeGo was like a turbo on their software team – thanks to it, they were able to start working on their software already when their hardware was still being designed. Traditionally they have had to wait until finalized hardware, before starting work on the software. This alone cut their turn-around time from 18 to 6 months. Le Foll also underlined the benefits of the Upstream First principle in their work.

The real surprise announcement came during the Q&A session with the MeeGo Technical Steering Group: Valtteri Halla (Nokia) and Imad Sousou (Intel), chaired by Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation. In the middle of the Q&A session, Jim Zemlin called AMD VP of software development Ben Bar-Haim on stage. They announced that AMD is joining the MeeGo project, providing MeeGo support for AMD chips and products. If it was exceptional to see Intel and ARM on stage, seeing Intel and AMD on stage working on the same project was even more so.
Ben Bar-Haim also explained how the Upstream First principle was a major factor in deciding to put their support behind MeeGo.

The day continued with interesting technical and community-related sessions. Of those, I would summarize some interesting points: Wayland is going to become the display server of MeeGo in the future, replacing the aging X11 system. Qt is going to gain Qt Quick Components, which are reusable QML UI components, and also Qt3D, making it easy to create 3D applications with Qt and/or QML. The QML developer story is going to be completed by Qt Quick support in the Qt Designer and with QML Observer (a “QML debugger”).
I also found Dr. Till Harbaum’s session on MeeGo on the Beagleboard inspiring: -"with cheap hardware and powerful software, your imagination is now your only limit!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Planet of Apps conference -November 24th

By Bhavya Siddappa on Planet-of-the-Apps Conference in London, November 2nd-4th.

Teleca recently attended the Planet of the Apps conference in London taking the opportunity to meet with developers, potential customers and to discuss the latest trends in the European applications market.

Some of the key takeaways form the conference were
- The mobile phone is the one device that most people don't leave home without and this will not change any time soon. Everyone across the value chain is starting to realize that the power is in hands and there is a huge revenue and market waiting to be concurred
- Mobile advertising is now starting to deliver on the promise it has held for many years. Retailers are starting to take mobile advertising much more seriously and the platforms are providing better services to support them.
- Applications are taking many forms, Free, Paid, Widgets, “Super apps” etc
o Super Apps are always on proactive notification, integration with native apps, contextualized, social, connected, efficient and that change user behavior.
- It’s not a two horse race - the market is very regional with Apple and Android strong in Western markets and Nokia remaining very strong in emerging markets.
- Retailers are now taking their mobile strategies very seriously. Everyone is doing something in mobile even if they don’t have a detailed strategy.
- The more advanced retailers are pulling their mobile teams back in to their main line business functions in order to make mobile a core part of their business.
- Monetisation options are increasing with a strong focus on in app payments and operator billing to enable great market reach.
- Community, Community, Community, building stand alone apps is unlikely to be enough. Users now expect great social networking and community services.
- RIM and Palm are trying to fight back by offering better developer services. RIM is trying to make a play on “Super Apps” around RIM OS 6.
- MasterCard may be first with a focused mobile payments strategy

Keynote talk on Delivering Differentiated Apps and Maximizing Revenue with BlackBerry: by Tyler Lessard
Starts by saying, ”Super apps” are applications that people use every day, as opposed to disposable ones. They are launching “InApp” payment, but believe that the future is most likely free apps with added features purchased within the app. They are connected with operators to open operator billing, enabling customers without credit card to access the services.
Advertising is become a big part of their offering and analytics are becoming a full part of the platform. BBM will be soon open to developers in order to support building a social platform. RIM will have right device to support Adobe technology. BlackBerry PlayBook is delivering a high end internet experience. They didn’t want to take phone platform to make a tablet so they went for a full fledge high end computing OS – That was the move of buying QNX.

Building applications that utilize location-based services: by Raimo Van from Layar
“We’re adding experience on top of your world”. The Layar ecosystem is composed of 3 parts: Publishing on your computer, a Discovery Browser and a Player Browser. Just as Youtube, they decided that the player should be available for developers to integrate it in their apps. Challenges are on the side of sensors, integration and testing, android porting. They have 1m + users worldwide. Concluded by saying, “don’t be an app, be a platform/browser don’t do it alone!”
Powering Communities to create an index of the real world: by Jan-Joost Kraal from eBuddy
eBuddy apps are on iPhone and Android. While discussion their case study they shared that they use in app ads. The click through rate is higher on a native app than on a browser version”. For mobile advertising funding model, a lot of traffic is needed. Discoverability/Findability is an issue, so they changed their name to ‘eBuddy messenger’ because people search for ‘messenger. HTML5 looks like a good opportunity but they are lacking the distribution channel.

Partnering with social media to achieve profitability: by Romain Ehrhard from Tellmewhere
“Use the social network to kickstart your community, Make sure that you still remain independent from the social networks, you never know what happens”. Branding is important so the tip was “Don’t have localized name, fails to work for internationals.”

Build vs Buy? – What will lead to long term commercial success?: by Dave Addey from Agant
Do you really need an app, or do you just want one? Apps are there to kill time. If you have a great idea and you know it makes sense, go for an app, but just do it well. They think that iOS is the best platform: stable, appstore, being long time in the business and are established platform.

Apps vs Browser: by Mark Curtis from Flirtomatic
Currently it is very hard to make browser compete with app because; Touchscreen UI brings expectations of Sideswipe, Pinch and expand and Access to key functionality like camera, gallery, GPS but Google has an answer “HTML 5”.

Both need to capture attention in noisy market and advertising works but hard to sustain. Viral on mobile not yet as effective as web. Browser search becoming very cost effective, but the question is where is app search and not to forget Mobile App Security is still a concern.

Planet of Apps Europe 2010, Day 2 , 3rd Nov 2010 “Conference Day 1”
This conference had a look at how apps have changed our lives, meet some of the creators behind them, and figure out just how big a business they really are.
Rory Jones, from BBC News opening remarks focused heavily on Google's smartphone operating system, with references to Adobe's Flash player and bit of favoritism towards Apple's strategy galore.
Russ Shaw from Skype delivered a keynote on “App or Die - How to be a success in the growing pps market”: Started off with good news, mobile video calling is coming to wide variety of platforms. By the end of 2014 mobile apps market will be worth more than $70 billion. The statistic shown by him was impressive, 4.6 mobile subscribers worldwide vs 1.5B PC users, so why make apps for netbooks if we have such huge mobile customer base? Skype is connecting the eco-system but their major challenge is moniterising. By partnering with Verizone they prove that they are not competitors for Networks but plan to bring in more innovation in network.
Tom Daly from Coca-Cola “Creating the business models of the future”: Gave an impressive answer to all those who want to know “Why bands should step into mobile apps space and how it would benefit them”. It was very clear that Coca-Cola pays attention to culture and market trends and they use mass media to connect to their fans. Key words of their business model were “Sharing, Connecting, Distributing and Amplifying” and they could make all this possible with mobile applications. Apps must empower storytelling so brands win the hearts & minds of consumers. Concluded by saying the revolution is just started, jump in & play well before it’s too late.
Derek McManus from Telefonica 02 UK was on the stage to answer the question, “Why and What carriers need to do to attract developers”. Stated that developers mindshare is become the hottest commodity in the mobile business. As he proceeded unlocking about developer mindshare he predicts that in US half of the market will be smartphones by 2014 and Android will be winning on.
Rethinking on developers perceptions he suggests that beauracy needs to in control, market must be transparent, complimentary to needs & is fundamentally fair. They wish to empower developers to do things differently, to lead decision making and give what they wish. Developers basically need connectivity to market, money for their efforts and community support for which they established 02 Litmus in 2009. Summed it up by saying “We have lots to do and we have started on our journey by forming new relationships, engaging and building learning, supporting monetization and encouraging collaboration.”

Panel debate: Establishing the future of mobile advertising: No more a debate where everyone agreed that Mobile advertising has emerged as an integral part of any brand’s marketing campaign today.

Current trends:
- Brands have started fan club communities and sponsoring sections of mobile Internet portals
- In-game advertising is increasing
- Pre–call ad inserts, ad caller ring-back tones (CRBT) as well as video ads on the mobile phone are gaining traction
- LPA – Location Point Advertising that’s what user expect on their mobile

Mobile advertising is a win-win proposition for all the stakeholders including consumers, brands and telcos. Customers can avail of some great opportunities, discounts, prizes and much more. The panel summarized by saying - Although the market seems relatively small now, the potential for growth is inarguably huge.

Panel Discussion: How brands can use apps to distinguish themselves in the marketplace
This panel session was made up of a number of enterprise companies such as British Airways, Last Minute.com, Deutche Post, Trader Media Group, Virgin Atlantic, and explored how they are currently addressing the mobility challenging. While all the companies are deploying mobile services, mainly to consumers, and view it as a key part of their future strategy, it was clear that they are facing significant challenges in dealing with the number of platforms they need to deploy on in order to achieve a high level of market reach.
Several key themes came out during the panel session.
· iPhone, Symbian and Android are the key platforms that these companies are focusing on first.
· Some are using HMTL/web services in order to try and achieve wider market reach.
· Mobility is being folded back in to the core marketing / web strategy instead of being a small separate team doing its own thing – a clear sign that the importance of mobility is growing.
· Companies are using a mix of internal and external resources today but most believe that as mobility becomes more important that will make greater use of outsourcing.
The panel was chaired by our own Andrew Till.

Henri from Facebook was interviewed by Jemima Kiss from the Guardian: It was a very interesting presentation. Facebook is said to be the “3rd largest country” and its popularity is touching the sky. As per statistics 60% traffic is on m.facebook.com and touch.facebook.com and they have 150 million monthly active mobile users of Facebook. People were comparing Google with Facebook, but the question was why as we haven't seen any search features on Facebook. Features like tag your friend, virtual currency, create events and check out has taken them to be on the top of the Social Networking sites. The most Retweeted tweet on twitter for this talk was
“When I'm opening fridge I can see Facebook. #planetapps. One day Facebook will be everywhere. I don't know if it's OK for everyone”.
Will Apple continue to remain the dominant platform that developers choose?: The panel seemed very much biased toward Apple platform. They forgot to take the statistic for 3Q 2010, Symbian had 37% of the smartphone market, Android was second with 25% (it was at 2% 18 months ago), and iOS in third place with 16%. RIM (Blackberry) was next. Windows was losing.
iPhone is higher quality, the Android has more features and is more open, which allows it to appeal to a greater number of people. Andrew Till took over the show by saying, the idea question “Android/iphone/BlackBerry/WinMobile7/Nokia – Which platforms should developers target?” was never discussed.

Key take away by the end of the day was:
- Google TV, an android adaptation that puts regular television and the Web in one user interface--stole the show, complete with support from some of the consumer electronics industry's biggest players.
- Smartphones market is very fragmented, HTML5 is the best answer to this issue.
- Cool Meego Devices: Set Top Box, Netbook, Tablet interacting together by Intel. Intel SDK looks like was made for crash reports and AppUp Center integration on Atom devices.
- The best way to promote your app is to build a good app
- Metro UI is amazing and hopes apps will be as good as on iOS

Planet of Apps Europe 2010 Day 3 ; 4th Nov 2010 “Conference Day 2”

Our lives are increasingly relying on mobile phones not only as phones but also as devices for obtaining information and conducting transactions—be that buying movie tickets or checking flight times. Apps have brought in a new revolution in the world. Thus this was one another day where all the delegates were trying to explode the opportunities in this space.

Opening remarks by Dr Windsor Holden from Juniper Research: The explosion in the number of mobile phones and associated services is here to stay. In fact, innovations in this piping hot field are taking everyone by storm. Powerful and innovative applications in this handy device have resulted in an all new ball game.

Using apps to get consumers to consume content on their mobile by Emma Lloyd from BskyB: Great Sky presentation. Lots of cool announcements for Sky users. Sky Sport News looks promising on iOS for both iPhone and iPad. It will be available soon on android and BlackBerry. Sky Sports have 2 million downloads so far. Driving mobile content consumption is the key lesson to be learnt from their success story.

Panel Debate: Is the music industry prepared? Android music app “Shazam” success actually put an end to the debate. In today's mobile world, it's all about music thanks to falling mobile Web access prices and new music download services. Mobile music is not just the next big thing. It brings together the digital home with the mobile data revolution. Those who enjoy music on their home computer will be able to enjoy this content anywhere, anytime on mobile handsets, smartphones and converged devices.
Challenges in terms of user interfaces, ease of operation, open file formats and sound quality. The panel summarized by asking operators to offer a wide range of the best music phones and unlimited data plans that give subscribers a full range of choices for accessing their music. Low-cost access and choice will bring the power of the mobile Web and music phones to their full revenue and lifestyle potential.

Mobile and the future of publishing by Juon from Pearson: They are facing an explosive growth in eBooks % of consumers, that means there is a lot of opportunity, challenge and a call to work with developers closely. Today there is a transformation from newspapers to multiplatform news. Happy with the grand success of US pilot; first-ever complete social studies curriculum on ipad. Says “It’s not the end of Books, Papers or reading, this is a challenge/opportunity for; new devices, new content experiences and new business models. Very soon it’s gonna be an era of e-reader, tablets with dual displays. Concludes wit an interesting line “There is no OLD Media vs NEW Media, There is the BUSINESS of digital media”.

“Paid vs free apps” by Ilja Laurs from Getjar: Shares his thoughts on the most effective method of monetising the apps market by giving an example of most successful app ‘Angry Birds”. It’s a free app on Apple market and for android it’s free with Ad support. Shared few Monetization Models; Advertising, subscription, pay as you use, free to use – pay to service, freemium and eCommerce i.e Virtual goods.

Debating how best to promote your app: The quick tip from the panel was when advertising app, you want to be where your potential customers are – online. Internet marketing offers you many ways to spread the word and boost your sales, even on a small budget. Few key mantras to promote apps in the market ;

– Make a Youtube video, choose app name and price app wisely, create some outstanding app icon, integrate social networking APIs and finally advertise and market the app via Facebook, twitter and blogs.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Droidcon London 2010 –The Report Day Two -November 20th

By Bhavya Siddappa, Technology Evangelist, Teleca Bangalore

Droidcon London 2010 – Day Two 29th Oct 2010
It was more of traditional conference the second day. Main topics were App´s, User Experience, Android development in general and a little about marketing. A great day too, read on!

Excellence in the Android User Experience: Romain Nurik from Google
Presented on how to create applications with great UX and great UI and extended his talk with Android design tips with some additional info on giving users great first impressions, and some new prototyping and asset generation tools that have become available.
Android User views: Ilicco Elia from Reuters Mobile
The App Store is not about the app, it’s about people, it’s about the edge that people believe they will get from the app. In-app purchasing is seriously lacking.
Growing the value of the application network: Christophe Francois form Orange
It was great to see Orange committing so many people and so much time to Android. Orange focusing apps: Orange TV with premium events, Connectivity & customer care, News, radio, Orange Map.
Creating Killer Location apps: Alex Housley from Rummble
Location is not a feature, it’s one element of context. Friend finders have been done to death, similarly, there will be opportunities working with existing big players in location “Where there’s a number there’s a game…”.
Android & CouchDB: Aaron Miller from CouchOne
CouchDB is a non-relational database (NoSQL) that stores JSON documents. Instead of queries, create “views” that allow fast lookup by keys. DB is highly durable. Good at multi-master replication and can easily write to any server. Its really powerful on a phone as it can sync with a server or with another phone and can have multiple DBs on net syncd to a single DB on phone.
Monetize your apps in emerging markets: by Chua Zi Yong from MoVend
He discussed the concept of marketing your apps to emerging markets. For a lot of people in emerging markets the phone is the only access to the internet, social networking, and gaming/entertainment device. He had some interesting statistics on mobile phone payments. Asia Pacific accounts for $62.8 million in mobile phone payments and the rest of the world only accounts for $45.8 million. The market for mobile app revenue is estimated at $135million for 2009 and at $4 billion for 2010.
Market is extremely fragmented; An Android market does not exist in certain countries. Tip: Try to get your application pre-loaded onto a phone and target what specific users like.
Android has a “dude” problem: by Belinda Parmar from Lady Geek TV
When surveyed only 5% of women said Android for their next phone, 57% said an iPhone. BUT… more women than men bought smartphones in the last 6 months. Forrester did some market segmentation on women gadget owners:
37% self sufficient, tech savvy
35% neutral, little engagement, low willingness
28% opportunity
Women feel overwhelmed and confused by choice of Android devices. They are twice as likely to have never downloaded a single app as it don’t see most of the apps as relevant to their lives. They want apps to solve a problem, to answer a question.
Recommendation: solve a problem, entertain, don’t educate
Turn good ideas into great apps: by Reto Meier
Shared more details on deadly sins & glorious virtues for android applications. Same Google IO 2010 talk & slides were repeated.
Android beyond the phone; Tablets, eReaders, and more: by Karl- Johan
Dell Streak uses mDPI resources but has much bigger screen. Android dual screen displays and e-Ink displays behave completely differently. Custom device manufacturers are really keen to have apps on their devices. They’ll expect a 20-50% markdown, but no need to pay app store fees. ViewSonic ViewPad 7 now available in the UK for £399: Having 800x400px display and runs Android 2.2 and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPRS & 3G.
The Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform: by Qualcomm
Qualcomm is taking on a new role of being the link in the ecosystem, ensuring that there are great apps for the ecosystem. They want to make sure that apps work well. Snapdragon is a system on a chip for ARM-based CPU, GPU, rich multimedia, GPS, 3G, Camera, power management.
Android reuse models: by Mark Murphey
He discussed some of the ways in which we can reduce lots of android developers reinventing the wheel everytime we need something. There are a few methods that a developer can use for distributional: Souce Code, As an Application, as a jar or Library.
Libraries can be used to solve problems for people who want free and paid versions of the app, and don’t want to maintain two versions of the code. He went on to discuss that we need a place to collect code to reuse and mentioned building a community website for this purpose, also saying “I can’t write a website to save my soul, I ain’t doing it!”

Future of Android panel
Ewan MacLeod moderated the panel:
Questions faced by the panel:
We’re still on the dream phase for Android: consumers “only buy one Android device”… Will consumers retreat to “something familiar”?
Nokia is still a big player but no longer biggest in all mobile developed countries
Android has challenges with fragmentation
One challenge for Android is capturing lower end, but high end phones will trickle down
Breadth of Google’s web services provides a very strong disincentive to leave
Google is encouraging OEMs & operators to fight amongst themselves to get great user experience
If I was your fairy godmother, what would you wish to change in Android?
-A decent automated testing framework on a range of devices
-A working billing infrastructure
-Developers making sure that their app manifests include clearly defined API access and permission
-Google to be a little more open about what they’re aiming at and what they’re not, to provide some reassurance
-Better way of getting hardware acceleration support

Teleca Stand:
We had lots of android developers coming to our stand and wanting to know more about Teleca offerings. The following demos just didn’t fail to amaze them:
-TI Dual Display on Android
-Android ported on Freescale Imax 53 board
-MeeGo phone
-AIM app totally based on Open Source.

We got people to our stand interested in joining Teleca as developers as we are globally looking into hiring many hundreds.
And, our presentation: We had proposed a Talk on “Dual Display” but due to the board overheating the demos for the presentation did not perform thus we couldn’t deliver the talk. Delegates approached the stand to know why the talk was cancelled, as we explained they were fine in just understanding the architecture for Dual Display.
The best compliment was when one of our partner companies with a booth next to ours, also dedicated appreciations of Teleca’s work to the bunch of attendees. It’s was indeed a proud movement.

Finally lots of interesting questions we got from the attendees:
- What can we expect from Teleca in MWC 2011?
- What kind of work are we doing in Automotive space?
- When are the dual display android devices coming in the market?
- Which will be the number one platform by the end of 2011?
- Is Teleca planning to get into products ?
- Are we working on CRM, ERP modules for mobile devices?

It will be an interesting next 3 months to show what we actually are doing on the above.

Droidcon London 2010 –The Report Day One -November 19th

By Bhavya Siddappa, Technology Evangelist , Teleca

Droidcon, a series of great events for the Android developer community. It is big , open, interesting and very encouraging and Teleca participated with our own Droidbooth and a planned presentation.

Droidcon, London, Day One 28th Oct 2010, First day, with unplanned, unprepared bar camp-style presentations had a nice range and quantity of low level programming tips and higher level business tips in such a short space of time. It was fun to see Android fans carrying Android Tattoos with a smile.

Sony Ericsson gave few tricks on Android UI: Advising developers not to do long running tasks in the UI thread, to use Handler & Service classes for longer lasting processes and to use Toasts to show quick popup status.
Location Services by Cloudmade, they will support Android later this year with a Maps SDK, based on OpenStreetMaps. Map data comes as you need it and is stored locally on device. Location-based advertising is related to a network that finds highest value ads from other networks. No one in the audience was able to say they were making money from LBS. A device centric comment was that GPS on Android is still seen as a battery hungry.
Another Interesting thing was to know that Motorola went to use Skyhook instead of Google location API on Android, the way they would get data for their customers WiFi location. Google forced them to switch back to Google location and Skyhook now suing Google!
RESTProvider : Carl from Novoda spoke on how to make a RESTful API available as a Content Provider. He also demonstrated Unit testing of android classes without emulator.
App Analytics from Capptain: Demonstrated combining in-app analytics with CRM. SDK is available in Android and iOS. It has new analytics capabilities like how long users are spending in each screen of your app, real-time analytics — can monitor where people are in your app right now, crash logs with device, firmware, etc details.
Git on android ; A guy from who works at the guardian walked through all the problems he came across when trying to use git on android and how using open source goodness he could simplify a lot of trouble by simply extending pre-written code and even create work arounds for troublesome bugs.
Meta-Market Model; Mark Murphey´s talk tied in very nicely with problems regarding using alternative markets. He created a brain storming session on the market problems and what can we do as a community to help improve this. Some of the good problems highlighted were: Comment spam, Not enough screenshots, Analytics, Refund policy too lenient, Downloads don’t work.
Market is a closed club, OEM’s who don’t agree to the rule book don’t have access. And simply creating an app store for each carrier/OEM etc. isn’t a viable solution which Mark summarized with a brilliant quote: “those who complain about fragmentation you ain’t seen nothing yet”.
So he came up with an idea about having a single open feed of android applications that all the market applications can hook into. So this would work as some sort of extended atom/rss feed (just add namespace) with open access which could benefit from the standards introduced and the maturity of the software already written. This sounds like a great idea but will obviously need a large amount of momentum to succeed. Mark said that instead of us complaining at Google to fix the market we should fix the market problems ourselves.

Day ended with a nice Tip from Tech hub:
“Devs aren’t always design focused, should assume users are complete idiots and don’t understand anything.”

So a great flow of insider tips to keep the hard core Android community abreast. More on day two next.