Archive for the ‘mobile offerings’ tag
With billions of mobile-phone users, the notion that mobile will eventually become the biggest game market of all is inevitable. But predicting when that will happen is the crucial question for game companies.
For CEOs, the shift is like jumping from one horse to another during the middle of a ride. If the current business starts to decline rapidly, then a company will suffer through a financial crunch during the transition. But if the new market grows fast, then the rising tide will help everyone make a graceful transition to the new era.
With the console market looking a little shaky and Facebook starting to slow down, mobile stands before the industry as a potential savior. Growth in mobile titles is one reason why the worldwide game business will grow from $67 billion in 2012 to $82 billion in 2017, according to market researcher DFC Intelligence. But predicting how much of that growth will come from the nascent market in the West is not exactly obvious.
Naoki Aoyagi, chief executive of Gree International, believes that the mobile-gaming battle in the U.S. will be won in the next 18 months. That’s why his company is investing strategically in its social mobile-gaming platform. Others have said Gree is investing too much marketing money per release, but it is investing to establish its presence over the long term.
Jens Begemann, chief executive of Berlin’s Wooga, said that half of his company’s 200 employees are working on mobile offerings while the rest are devoted to Facebook games. Peter Relan, chief executive of CrowdStar, has pretty much abandoned Facebook and is dedicating almost all of his company’s resources to making mobile titles. Mark Pincus, chief executive of Zynga, says that he is investing in mobile, but the mobile-game market hasn’t yet had its “triggering event” where Zynga can reach 10 million users in 90 days with a new-game launch. Which one of them is right about just how long it will take before the mobile-gaming battle is won?
Neil Young (pictured), chief executive of Ngmoco and a corporate officer for parent company DeNA, believes that mobile will become a huge gaming market. He bases that belief on the size of the Japanese mobile social-gaming market where Gree and DeNA have created platforms that generate $4.5 billion in revenues per year. That’s about 10 times bigger than the U.S. mobile-game market.
Japan can be dismissed as an anomaly — the land of crazy TV game shows, full of people who will buy anything — but Young believes the similarities to Western gaming culture are plentiful. The U.S. mobile-game market at the end of 2010 was pretty similar to the Japanese game market at the end of 2006, when Gree and DeNA started to see things take off as people became more and more obsessed with mobile releases. As conveniences arose, such as one-click purchases on phones and the rise of mobile broadband, the “usage curves went crazy,” Young said. In other words, the U.S. is about to become as crazy for mobile games as Japan.
Japan’s share of the global video game market is about 15 percent. If you project into the future, that means the nation’s share of the mobile-gaming market should be about 15 percent as well. And for Young, this indicates that the rest of the worldwide mobile-gaming market will be worth $25 billion to $30 billion in the future.
“We are still very early in the development of this market and industry,” Young said. “There is an undeniable wave of consumer behavior. There’s a tremendous opportunity to ride that wave.”
In Japan, 90 percent of the population subscribes to a mobile-phone service. In Western markets, the population is 10 times larger with the potential for 1.2 billion consumers.
But these numbers should be approached with caution. The U.S. might not turn out to be like Japan since many sources compete for our leisure time. Right now, mobile game developers and publishers are pulling their hair out to make sure that the cost of acquiring a new user does not exceed the lifetime revenue generated from that user. Everybody can pretend that they’re strategic investors, but once they start spending more money to market a game than the money that comes in from that game, they’re going to bleed money. Many companies fear that their competitors will outspend them and shut them out of the marketing machine, leaving them behind in the dust. That fear drives them to spend more money. But it’s no good if the money simply shifts around users from one publisher to another.
This is just one hurdle that has to be overcome before mobile gaming revenue growth turns into a hockey stick. The platform owners like Apple and Google have to make it easier to be profitable on their platforms. Mobile nirvana won’t be so easy to reach. Young believes that the market doesn’t have to be perfect, just attractive enough to get the ball rolling. You don’t, he says, need an absurdly high number of daily active users to make good money from a mobile game.
Facebook games were supposed to be the next big market. For a handful of leading companies, that is true. Zynga, Electronic Arts, King.com, and Wooga are doing well in the space. But a stall in the market has slowed growth, and many of the smaller game developers are having a hard time making money on the social network. The question is whether it will keep on growing, since, as Blitzoo’s chief executive David Bezahler recently told us, Facebook is a great marketing platform, but it’s not a great monetization platform.
“Social games are slowing down, but mobile games are picking up,” said Peter Moore, chief operating officer at Electronic Arts, in an analyst call this week.
Mobile gaming might very well grow. But it could likely hit a wall, slow down, see false starts, and create a bumpy path for game companies to follow. For those who are making big bets on mobile gaming, it might pay to be cautious, conservative, and nimble at the same time. Making money on mobile games is probably the best step toward mobile gaming nirvana.
[Photo credit: Dean Takahashi]
Business reviews site Yelp has today made a stronger second impression on Wall Street with its Q2 2012 statement, its second earnings report as a public company. The company handily beat expectations by posting $32.7 million in revenue and a smaller-than-expected loss of $2 million, or $0.03 per share, for the quarter.
In Q2, Yelp’s first full quarter since listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the company grew revenue 67 percent year-over-year. Wall Street was anticipating revenue of $30.53 million and a loss of $0.06 per share.
Yelp grew monthly unique visitors to 78 million in the quarter, showing 52 percent year-over-year growth. The company also increased its massive reviews repository to 30 million, up 54 percent from the same quarter last year. Yelp mobile apps, meanwhile, were used on roughly 7.2 million unique mobile devices, the company said in its earnings release.
“Yelp’s second quarter performance highlights the underlying power of our model,” CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement. “By focusing almost singularly on cultivating rich, authentic local content, we have created a unique platform that is rapidly becoming the de facto local search engine for connecting consumers with great local businesses.”
Stoppelman, in a call with investors and analysts, indicated that Yelp is only partially monetizing its mobile offerings through ads displayed on its mobile website. He said that click-through rates are higher on mobile and mentioned that adding advertisements to Yelp’s mobile apps is a high priority for the company.
Yelp went public on March 2 and received a very warm welcome from investors, despite only bringing in $83 million in revenue for all of 2011 and posting a $16.86 million loss for the year.
The stock has fluctuated between $14 and $31 on the market since its debut. Shares were temporarily buoyed by the news that Apple would include Yelp checkins in its iOS 6 maps application. Analysts, however, have maintained a “hold” recommendation for Yelp’s shares for most of its tenure as a public company.
In the first quarter of 2012, Yelp made $27.4 million in revenue but posted a net loss of $9.8 million.
Yelp shares closed down nearly 6 percent Wednesday, but are trading up significantly in after-hours trading.
Photo credit: Yelp/Flickr
Filed under: social
Like the union between Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, we universally acknowledge the correctness of the match and wonder what took ‘em so long.
Zencoder’s services make video encoding two to ten times faster than similar offerings. Zencoder also holds the keys to Video.js, an open-source HTML5 video player.
In a word, Zencoder’s magic is just the kind of voodoo Brightcove was looking for.
The acquiring company helps large and small video content producers to push their vids to the web using HTML5 rather than Flash. Brightcove also has live, on-demand, and mobile offerings.At the end of last year, the company claimed 3,872 customers around the globe, including such big fish as Aol, Macy’s, Oracle, Honda, Showtime, Bank of America, and The New York Times.
“We believe the Zencoder acquisition will advance Brightcove’s position as a leading cloud platform provider that not only provides rich, end-to-end solutions for digital content publishing and distribution, but also offers scalable standalone building blocks for developers to build custom systems,” said Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire in a statement on the acquisition.
“We are happy to have the Zencoder team join the Brightcove family and help drive innovation and expand our platform-as-a-service offerings.”
However, don’t think this means Zencoder is getting shut down nor its technology being shuttered.
“This is not one of those deals,” a company rep stated on the Zencoder blog. “Brightcove has acquired Zencoder as a business, to operate as an independent product line, and is committed to continuing the mission of Zencoder: creating the best suite of API-based media services in the cloud.”
Zencoder was founded in 2007 but got its sea legs in the Y Combinator winter class of 2010. It took a modest $2 million round of funding in April 2011. The company’s ten-person team is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif.
Brightcove, on the other hand, went public in February with a $60 million IPO. The company reported very nearly $20 million in revenue during its first earnings call, and it’s been particularly targeting dual-screen apps — that is, applications for using a tablet as a peripheral device for a television.
Top image courtesy of Alex Kosev, Shutterstock
Face.com’s CEO has shrugged off rumors that it is being acquired by Facebook for up to $100 million when we asked. But the addition of its facial recognition tech to Facebook’s mobile apps could make sure friend tagging continues as the social network’s user base shifts away from desktops.
In fact, about 45% of users of Face.com’s app KLIK end up sharing their photos on Facebook, which shows how popular mobile facial recognition could be.
For the record, Face.com people are keeping their cards close to their chest. Face.com’s CEO Gil Hirsch flatly tells TechCrunch: “We have nothing new to announce or share at this time.”
But even while Facebook has been pushing a lot of fancy new enhancements to its mobile offerings (its Camera mobile app being the most recent) there are still a surprising number of features that have yet to be covered by the company.
So, perhaps because nature abhors a vacuum, we’re now getting a full whack of reports of what the company might buy or launch to make up for that, including today’s Face.com news that Facebook is looking to buy mobile/PC browser company Opera and hiring ex-Apple hardware engineers to work on its own phone. (Btw Opera is also giving a similarly no-news line: “Everything I’ve read has been news to me,” one Opera person told me.)
We may just, quite possibly, be in the middle of a Facebook news bubble and that half of what we are reading about Facebook and mobile may never come to pass — or could take ages to come to fruition: Buffy the Android slayer is reportedly still six to 12 months away going by the timing in the AllThingsD post from November. And this is not the first time we’ve heard that Face.com is in the Facebook acquisition line.
But, if you swallow that large grain of salt, there is a huge amount of sense in the social network looking at beefing up its mobile arsenal with companies like these, which offer features that Facebook currently does not, and therefore offer the promise of getting mobile users to spend more time on the social network — something that is a concern for the company.
At the moment, Facebook’s popular photo tag suggestion feature does not work from mobile, only on web uploads on PCs; on mobile, users can tag by starting to type a name for tagging options to appear, a spokesperson notes to us.
Face.com meanwhile offers facial-recognition software both for PC-based and mobile usage, with the key being that it covers mobile.
These include facial recognition, facial-friendly photo filters and a location-based photo network — all services you could see sitting naturally in Facebook’s existing services.
Face.com tells us that Klik had over 100,000 downloads of the app in the first three days — signs of stickiness and popularity.
Equally interesting, Face.com also offers an API to integrate its technology into other apps. (One company suggested for an integration: Path.)
The API functionality could come in handy as Facebook looks at more ways of extending its functionality and touchpoints outside of its walled garden, especially since an Android version is likely to come soon from Face.com.
Opera, last week’s acquisition rumor, offers a similar promise of covering new ground for Facebook.
In its case it’s about a web browser — which, as others have reported, would be an essential feature if Facebook were to launch its own mobile platform.
That would be to compete against the likes of Android from Google and iOS from Apple in smartphones. But having web browsing capabilities could also help Facebook make more of a push in the lower-end feature phone space — an area where it has already made advances with services like Facebook Zero and its acquisition of Snaptu to improve the feature phone experience to target users in developing markets.
Coincidentally, Opera pushed itself as a “social mobile” company in February, when it launched the Opera Mini Next browser, offering “Smart Page” social media sharing features specifically for feature phone users.
Opera says it has some 200 million users of its browsers today, but if its social functionality that Facebook is after, there may be others worth watching, too. For example, the social mobile browser company Rockmelt, which has raised nearly $40 million from Andreessen-Horowitz, Accel, Khosla Ventures and others, currently offers an iOS app.
In the meantime, Opera has seen a little lift in its fortunes since the rumors broke last week: today its share price appears to have been its highest in a year, rising by 24.4 percent and closing at €5.70 a share.
[Additional reporting by Josh Constine]
Cloud-based HR software company Workday has launched the latest version of its suite with an emphasis on mobile access through HTML5 web apps, the company announced today.
Workday competes with SAP and Oracle in the professional software and services realm. With more than 280 customers ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 50 companies, it is trying to come up with new ways to deliver and implement core human resources software like payroll, financial management, and human capital management. Now it will expand its already strong mobile offerings for the increasingly out-of-the-office workforce.
“So much change is happening in the mobile space right now, and we want to be part of that,” Workday CTO Stan Swete told VentureBeat. “The HTML5 app will let you do almost everything you can do in the native app. … The native apps are always improving too.”
The company plans to launch three big software updates this year, with its sixteenth overall version going live for all customers during the next week. The company will add HTML5 apps to the mix that will make its service accessible to all mobile devices, even if the user hasn’t downloaded a native Workday application. Workday notes that the updates include:
New Look and Feel: Workday 16 features significant enhancements to the mobile experience for the iPhone, iPad and other leading smartphone devices. A redesigned landing page delivers a sharper look and feel with more sophisticated navigation.
Workday for iPhone: New enhancements include Organizational Swirl, Workfeed activity stream, time-off balances, requests and approvals, and analytics.
Workday for iPad: Workday 16 delivers Anytime Feedback, time-off balances, requests, and approvals.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Workday was founded in 2005, has more than 1,000 employees, and has raised an eye-popping $250 million to date. It last raised a staggering $85 million round led by T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley, Janus Capital, and Bezos Expeditions, the investment company led by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The company will almost certainly go public this year.
You can see a few more of Workday’s latest HTML5 and native mobile implementations below:
Photo credit: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock
Real estate search company Trulia is adding to its mobile lineup today with the launch of Trulia Rentals for iPhone. The app joins its Android rentals-only counterpart, which launched back in September. Like the former, the new iPhone app will also offer a dedicated view of nearby rentals, including property details, photos, as well as other neighborhood rental info, including where restaurants, schools and other points of interest are located.
In addition, the app will offer new property listings sent out via push notifications, the ability to save search, and a feature that connects you with a broker or landlord right from within the app.
The now profitable Trulia says it’s seeing the rentals market really pick up as of late. This seems to coincide with a housing trend in tech hotspots like San Francisco, in which entrepreneurs are simultaneously being encouraged not to buy a home, and yet, also can’t seem to find one. For those looking to rent, the idea is that you’ll need to be first, and fast, grabbing a place before others know about it.
That’s where a few of the new app’s features can help. The push notifications offer immediate alerts about new rentals in the area, while color-coded listings are organized by time-on-market, allowing you to spot the newest (less than 24 hours old, indicated by green), as well as those that have been viewed (grey) and those older than 24 hours (in black). Yes, 24 hours is old.
You can also configure your search using your own personal criteria so that the notifications you receive are relevant to you, then jump into the app to beat everyone else to the property. Searches can be filtered by monthly rent amount, property type, number of beds and baths, and square footage.
This week we got the news that both Twitter and Facebook will be offering similar advertising approaches to their mobile offerings. Marketers love the idea but are we approaching a kind of breaking point where consumers might start to react negatively to the sheer volume of ads?
A recent report by Upstream and YouGov gives us a lot of data which they were nice enough to put into a neat infographic. It doesn’t paint the prettiest of pictures for advertisers especially in the mobile space.
Pictures are good for Fridays so enjoy.
Duo Security uses your phone as a second line of defense to keep your accounts from being hacked. Why might you want that kind of protection? For starters, some online accounts are so important you want to make doubly sure that you are the only person accessing them. A strong password is a good line of defense, but attacks from Anonymous and other hackers have made it clear that your passwords aren’t always safe.
Duo Security uses passcodes, sent to your smartphone, feature phone, or even a landline, to add an extra layer of security. When you go to log in into a Duo Security supported account, you enter your credentials plus a Duo Security passcode. For iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices, Duo Security has a free app called Duo Push. The app sends a login request to your phone with your account details, and by tapping the accept button, you can log in to your account.
If you don’t have a Duo Push-supported smartphone, the Duo Mobile app will generate a random passcode for you to enter online. Feature phone users can get texts with passcodes, and landlines can receive a call to authenticate themselves. If you’d rather avoid the entire phone process, Duo Security provides hardware tokens that generate passcodes.
Duo Security faces competition from RSA SecurID, PhoneFactor, and even Google, which launched its two-factor authentication service for every Googler earlier this month. SecurID and Duo Security’s mobile offerings are nearly identical, though Duo Push is supported by more mobile devices and sends login details to your phone for context.
Duo Security will use the funding, amassed from Google Ventures, True Ventures, and Resonant Venture Partners, to grow its team, develop new technology, and conduct mobile security research.
The company is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was founded by Dug Song and Jon Oberheide. Duo Security’s customers include Tumblr and Toyota.
I remember my freshman year of college. It was a tiny campus, but I still found myself looking for classes and wandering through a maze-like library for most of the first year I was there. At the time, my phone wasn’t much help to me, but now that smartphones are taking over the market, Modo Labs is ready to help college students spend even more time on fiddling around on their phones.
The company today made the latest version of its Mobile Campus Solution available, which is meant to give Universities the ability to create a mobile platform for their students. The platform will work on mobile web, iOS, and Android, just to make sure no one’s left out.
Students will be able to access Learning Management Systems, course catalogs, schedules, announcements, materials and grades from the courses module. Athletes, sorority girls, and other sports fans will be able to check out scores and game-related information via mobile, while book worms will have access to a library module, offering up locations and various resources.
The platform — built on Kurogo Mobile Optimized Middleware — will have “live update” functionality for on-campus transit, as well as dining information and a photo hub.
As of right now, over 150 universities including Villanova and Boston College are using mobile offerings powered by Kurogo.
The acquisition will be used to further Shopify’s mobile commerce initiatives. While all Shopify stores already include mobile optimized storefronts and checkouts, the acquisition of S3 will bring over 20 new mobile-focused engineers to the Shopify team to continue developing mobile offerings for merchants.
Shopify’s web-based platform allows anyone to set up a store in moments, add items to sell, upload images, add tags and group items, and integrate PayPal or other credit card processor for payments. Storefronts and shopping carts can be customized and the platform assures security for all transactions. Today, the ecommerce platform has over 20,000 active online stores in 80 different countries.
for example, Angry Birds uses Shopify’s platform for e-commerce sales (and a sizable portion of Angry Birds online store’s sales are made through a mobile device, says the company). Shopify recently raised $15 million in new funding.