Архив за месяц: Апрель 2012

Rovio: Angry Birds Space Downloaded 50 Million Times In 35 Days

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Rovio to Houston. The Mighty Eagle as landed. Big time.

Rovio just took to Twitter to announce that its latest Angry Birds installment, Angry Birds Space, was downloaded 50 million times in 35 days. As the company brags, that makes Angry Birds Space the fastest growing mobile game in history. People clearly cannot get enough of flinging upset birds at moderately evil (or perhaps, misunderstood) pigs.

Angry Birds Space launched on March 22 with much fanfare. Rovio had been on a sort of media tour, hyping the gaming to astronomical levels. And for good reason. It had been a full year since a new Angry Birds game hit. Angry Birds Rio launched on March 22, 2011. Rovio had to hype not only the new title, but also the franchise. But, 35 short days later, Angry Birds Space hit the record books, shattering previous benchmarks.

Rovio isn’t going to wait another year this time around. In an interview with TechCrunch Mr. Angry Bird himself, Peter Vesterbacka, promised four new games yet this year.


Rovio: Angry Birds Space Downloaded 50 Million Times In 35 Days

Research: $1.5 Trillion In Mobile Revenues In 2012, U.S. Accounting For 40% Of All Smartphone Sales

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The mobile industry will reel in more than $1.5 trillion in revenues in 2012, with 28 percent of that, $400 billion, attributable to mobile data, according to new research out from analyst Chetan Sharma.

He notes that within the revenues expected for mobile data, non-messaging revenues led by apps, mobile web browsing and streaming media have finally overtaken those of traditional messaging like SMS as smartphone usage continues to grow. Non-messaging, he says, will account for 53 percent of the total: in other words, some $212 billion will come from apps, music and video streaming, games and mobile web browsing.

Still voice is still accounting for a huge part of the value in mobile, and “OTT” services provided by third parties — be they Apple or others — are still only a small piece of the pie:

Sharma’s report also notes in the U.S. smartphones now account for 69 percent of all mobiles sold — the highest rate with the global average at about half that, 32 percent. He notes that some operators are even more bullish than that and expect 90-95 percent of all sales to be smartphones this year (O2 in the UK led that charge last year as you can see in the slides below). In the meantime, the adoption rate will lead the U.S. finally to be able to claim that more than half of all consumers will own smartphones. The U.S. is also, overall, accounting for about 40 percent of all smartphone sales worldwide.

The total worldwide base of mobile subscribers now stands at 6 billion, and while it took 20 years to reach the first billion, the speed at which this has accelerated is pretty remarkable: Sharma notes that it took only 15 months for that number to go from 5 billion to 6 billion.

As you would expect, a lot of the growth now is coming from developing countries but still the numbers are astounding. He notes that together China and India are adding 75 million new subscribers every quarter to the global base, and points out that China alone already has 1 billion mobile subscribers, the first country to reach that milestone, and that India currently has the highest subscriber growth rate.

But India may, at best, be an opportunity for the future rather than today. Sharma points out that India monthly ARPU is an “anemic” $2.50. “Even with a signficant subscriber base, there is going to be a general lack of opportunity in the market for the next couple of years relative to other markets,” he writes.

In contrast, the early adopters of Japan have helped that country remain in the lead for mobile data usage, with some 60 percent of ARPUs attributable to data. And because the U.S. has nearly the same proportion, but is significantly bigger, it is currently leading the world in terms of data revenues as well as overall ARPU revenues.

Still, the tide is turning: A number of emerging nations are now in top 10 mobile nations by subscribers, he says. They include Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico, while Korea, UK, Italy and Germany “have dropped off or slipped in rankings.”

Patents. Although we’ve had a lot of noise about patent acquisitions, purchases and lawsuits around internet and (specifically) social media patents, Sharma points out the mobile continues to lead the field with patent applications, and that mobile companies are filing more in the U.S. than in Europe — on average 1.7 times more. He notes that in the U.S., the biggest patent holders are IBM, Microsoft and Nokia. In Europe they are Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia and Samsung. Nokia also appears in the list for top-three device patent holders, along with Samsung and Sony. And among carriers, AT&T, NTT Docomo and Sprint lead the charge.

That gives pause for thought about what Nokia has and what kind of value the company holds, beyond the cash that has been mentioned several times in the last week as ratings companies continue to downgrade the company.

Full slide deck here:


Research: $1.5 Trillion In Mobile Revenues In 2012, U.S. Accounting For 40% Of All Smartphone Sales

Nokia Considering Selling Fancy-Pants Vertu Line

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Reuters is reporting that Nokia is exploring selling the Vertu phone line to holding company Permira for $264.26 million, freeing itself from the difficult process of selling phones no one wants to people who should know better. Nokia called Vertu a “non-core asset.”

It’s odd that Vertu has been kept on life support for so long. Nokia has sold the underpowered, gem-encrusted phones since the turn of the century, depending on expensive cases to jack up the price on what amounts to a low-end Symbian phone in a pretty shell. Nokia has been trying to liquidate the company since 2011

Watchmaker Ulysses Nardin also sells a similar luxury phone, the Chairman, which is equally baffling.


Nokia Considering Selling Fancy-Pants Vertu Line

LG To Pull Away From Windows Phone’s Loving Embrace, Refocus On Android

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Sure, Windows Phone is still but a baby alongside Android and iOS, but the platform shows promise. Woz likes it. And the fact that it’s backed by hardware partners like Samsung and Nokia says good things, as well.

But it would seem that LG, coming off of a few quarters in the red, has decided to back away from the platform.

LG reportedly told the Korea Herald that the company would be focusing on Android handsets going forward, since “the total unit of Windows Phone sold in the global market is not a meaningful figure.”

Of course, the platform is way late to the game and shouldn’t necessarily be expected to come in and change the mobile landscape overnight. Yet, the fact that Nokia has put so much of its weight behind the OS should say something about the potential of the platform, as well as the huge differences between the companies.

Both LG and Nokia have had a rough past year. Nokia saw its lowest market share in 14 years, in fact, but despite the fact that change is scary and risky, it’s better to take a chance on something new when you’re down and out than to repeat the same formula.

The Nokia Lumia 900 doesn’t really compete very well on paper, but Windows Phone is its saving grace. The OS is engaging and different, and that can go a long way in a world where iOS and Android have been dominating for so long.

LG, on the other hand, has decided to go back to its original plan, even though a fresh new OS on a few solid pieces of hardware could be the beginning of a refreshed LG.

It’s too early to tell if Windows Phone will be the third mobile ecosystem, but Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has faith in it, and so do I.

[via WP Central]


LG To Pull Away From Windows Phone’s Loving Embrace, Refocus On Android

Microsoft Makes $300M Investment In New Barnes & Noble Subsidiary To Battle With Amazon And Apple In E-books

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Barnes & Noble has found a new, major partner in its fight to get an edge over Amazon and Apple in the market for e-books and the devices being used to consume them: it is teaming up with Microsoft in what the two are calling a strategic partnership, name yet to be determined.

It will come in the form of a new subsidiary of B&N that will include all of its Nook business as well as its educational College business. Microsoft is making a $300 million investment in the subsidiary, valuing the company at $1.7 billion in exchange for around 17.6 percent equity in the subsidiary.

The news leaves the door open for B&N to eventually spin these off into a separate business altogether — or even sell them to Microsoft. And it leaves a load of questions about what B&N will do next with the Nook, which is currently built on a forked version of Google’s Android platform.

The new company, referred to for the moment as Newco, will contain B&N’s digital business, as well as its College division. While Microsoft will take 17.6 percent, B&N will own 82.4 percent of the venture.

This is a key way of getting more content on to the Microsoft platform — specifically e-books content to ensure that its Windows 8 tablets will be able to compete not only against the best-selling iPad but also the Kindle Fire from Amazon, along with the rest of the company’s e-readers. The Kindle Fire has stolen a march among Android tablet makers and part of the compelling offer is not only the low price ($199) but also the fact that it contains so much content, including seamless access to all of Amazon’s e-book offerings.

This is also a progression — a very big one — of the funding etudes that Microsoft has been making to developers to make sure they are making apps for Windows Phone. It’s a way of getting more content on its two mobile platforms — which, it can be argued, may have come too late to the market. The first product to come out of the door of Newco? A Nook application for Windows 8, the companies say.

And given that education has been one of Apple’s bigger pushes this year, and the obvious and close links between education and e-reading, it’s not too surprising to see that B&N has also put its College division into this subsidiary.

Microsoft, too, has been courting the education market — inking its biggest-ever cloud-services deal in the education sector earlier this month. Nevertheless the pair have a long road ahead of them. In January, Apple noted that there were already 20,000 educational apps for iOS and that there were already 1.5 million devices deployed in schools, numbers that will inevitably have grown in the last 4-5 months with the launch of the new iPad and numerous initiatives to spread the tablet in the educational sector.

And there is a legal twist to the deal, too: the two companies say they have definitely sorted out their patent litigation now: “Moving forward, Barnes & Noble and Newco will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products,” the two write in the release below. If Microsoft doesn’t use this as an opportunity of possibly persuading B&N to swap over to Windows 8 for a version of the Nook, it will also give it a very interesting inroad into developing more for Android.

As for B&N and the future of these products… this deal looks like it could potentially pave the way for B&N to spin off this business into its own standalone operation, if not into the waiting arms of Microsoft itself — long speculated to be looking at ways of gaining a stronger foothold in the area of mobile devices to better implement its bigger strategy. The idea of a subsidiary was something that B&N had first floated back in January, when it noted that it was weighing up how best to separate its digital business to “maximize shareholder value.”

There are many more questions — such as what this could mean for the company’s broader strategy for growing the market for the Nook (international being a key push that the company has yet to make, apart from some baby steps); and how well, exactly, those products are doing for the company: IDC puts the Nook’s share of the tablet market at just 3.5 percent.

The company is holding a conference call on the deal later today and we’ll update as we learn more.

Full press release below.

New York, NY and Redmond, WA (April 30, 2012) – Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) today announced the formation of a strategic partnership in a new Barnes & Noble subsidiary, which will build upon the history of strong innovation in digital reading technologies from both companies. The partnership will accelerate the transition to e-reading, which is revolutionizing the way people consume, create, share and enjoy digital content.

The new subsidiary, referred to in this release as Newco, will bring together the digital and College businesses of Barnes & Noble. Microsoft will make a $300 million investment in Newco at a post-money valuation of $1.7 billion in exchange for an approximately 17.6% equity stake. Barnes & Noble will own approximately 82.4% of the new subsidiary, which will have an ongoing relationship with the company’s retail stores. Barnes & Noble has not yet decided on the name of Newco.

One of the first benefits for customers will be a NOOK application for Windows 8, which will extend the reach of Barnes & Noble’s digital bookstore by providing one of the world’s largest digital catalogues of e-Books, magazines and newspapers to hundreds of millions of Windows customers in the U.S. and internationally.

The inclusion of Barnes & Noble’s College business is an important component of Newco’s strategic vision. Through the newly formed Newco, Barnes & Noble’s industry leading NOOK Study software will provide students and educators the preeminent technology platform for the distribution and management of digital education materials in the market.

“The formation of Newco and our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the NOOK business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,” said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “Microsoft’s investment in Newco, and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business.”

“The shift to digital is putting the world’s libraries and newsstands in the palm of every person’s hand, and is the beginning of a journey that will impact how people read, interact with, and enjoy new forms of content,” said Andy Lees, President at Microsoft. “Our complementary assets will accelerate e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices, enabling people to not just read stories, but to be part of them. We’re at the cusp of a revolution in reading.”

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have settled their patent litigation, and moving forward, Barnes & Noble and Newco will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products. This paves the way for both companies to collaborate and reach a broader set of customers.

Newco,

On January 5, Barnes & Noble announced that it was exploring the strategic separation of its digital business in order to maximize shareholder value. Barnes & Noble is actively engaged in the formation of Newco, which will include Barnes & Noble’s digital and College businesses. The company intends to explore all alternatives for how a strategic separation of Newco may occur. There can be no assurance that the review will result in a strategic separation or the creation of a stand-alone public company, and there is no set timetable for this review. Barnes & Noble does not intend to comment further regarding the review unless and until a decision is made.

Additional information will be contained in a Current Report on Form 8-K to be filed by Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft will host an investor call and webcast beginning at 8:30 A.M. ET on Monday, April 30, 2012. To join the webcast, please visit: www.barnesandnobleinc.com/webcasts.


Microsoft Makes $300M Investment In New Barnes & Noble Subsidiary To Battle With Amazon And Apple In E-books