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Apple Users Adopting iOS 6 122% Faster Than iOS 5 After Two Days

iOS 5 vs. iOS 6 Adoption

We reported earlier that iOS 6 first day adoption was high, but new information provided to TechCrunch by mobile analytics company Apsalar shows that over time, users are definitely picking it up much faster than previous versions. The company sees a lower overall adoption rate in day one than either Chartboost or Chitika, but the numbers show a rapid increase in user adoption over time.

iOS 6 is an over-the-air update, meaning it’s much easier for people to move from previous versions to this one, so long as they already have iOS 5 installed. And unlike Google with Android, Apple pushes out its updates to all of its iPhone and iPad users at more or less the same time. All of those factors, along with a hype machine designed to build anticipation for new features that roll out with each update, seem to be contributing to a quick move toward platform saturation. Apsalar’s sample pool is considerable, too, with 2.2 million devices for its iOS 5 data, and 6.3 million for iOS 6.

That’s great news for developers, who benefit from having all users of a platform on the same page, since they can focus on developing just for one OS version and drop support for older ones more quickly. Some developers I know who work on iOS have even adopted an approach of rapid obsolescence, so they can retain extra lean development workflows and shorten turnaround times for new versions, and Apple’s increasingly impressive ability to get everyone on the same page should make that kind of strategy even more popular.

One developer is reporting much higher rates of adoption for iOS 6 after 48 hours, at almost 30 percent according to MobileSyrup. Specific numbers are bound to vary, but they’re all telling the same story: people are upgrading, and fast.


Apple Users Adopting iOS 6 122% Faster Than iOS 5 After Two Days

Millennial: Apple Devices Top Mobile Ad Impressions, Expect Lead To Grow With New iPhone

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Millennial Media sent out its quarterly Mobile Mix report for the second quarter of 2012 today, and the number tells a story of rising fortunes for Samsung in smartphones, and of continued success for Apple, with a potential explosion on the horizon for the iPhone-maker when the next version makes its debut. iOS also grew its share of the overall OS picture, but Android still took the lion’s share of impressions overall with 46% for the quarter.

Apple took the top prize for manufacturers, seeing 31.38% (vs. 28.32% last quarter) of overall device impressions, and the iPhone was the top device, with 15.84% (up slightly from 15.10% in Q1)  of the share, compared to just 4.96% for the next closest handset, RIM’s BlackBerry Curve. Still, Samsung also made a strong showing, with eight separate devices in the top 20 overall combining for 13 percent of the pie. On top of that, every Samsung phone that appeared on the list grew its share of impressions when compared to the previous quarter.

The numbers are good for both Apple and Samsung, but maybe more impressive for Apple if only because the company saw growth despite the fact that the current iPhone was essentially stale-dated thanks to widespread anticipation of a fall launch for a new model. But the best is yet to come, since the launch of a new device almost always generates a huge spike for Apple in Millennial’s metrics.

When the iPhone 4S came out, impressions took off, growing 200% in its first week and 1800% once it had been on the market for a full month. Many considered that device an incremental update over the iPhone 4, and the next iPhone promises to be a much more dramatic redesign, so look for an even bigger impact on ad impressions this time around.


Millennial: Apple Devices Top Mobile Ad Impressions, Expect Lead To Grow With New iPhone

YouTube App Removed From iOS 6 Because Apple’s Licensing Agreement Is Over

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Slowly but surely, it seems as though Apple’s mobile OS is being stripped of search giant Google’s influence. Apple’s redesigned Maps application — due to make its debut in iOS 6 — no longer makes use of Google’s map data, and that trend continues with another recently spotted change.

The latest beta version of iOS 6 (that’s beta number 4, if you’re keeping count) no longer includes the YouTube app, which has been a mainstay of iOS homescreens since the original iPhone. Don’t fret too much though, because Apple reports that Google is working on its own iOS-friendly YouTube app for inclusion in the iOS App Store.

The exact reasoning behind the move was initially unclear, but Apple’s official response (courtesy of The Verge) is about as curt as you would expect:

Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.

Of course, a statement as brief as that raises as many questions as it answers. Did Apple try to renegotiate the licensing terms for the app’s inclusion in iOS 6 with Google? Was that even an option?

For now there’s little to go on, but I imagine most users won’t be hurting because of the change especially considering how much better the YouTube mobile site has gotten over the years. That’s not to say anything of the fact that Google is in a better position to maintain the iOS YouTube app — the Android version of the app seems lightyears ahead in comparison and if only a few of those features (the quality toggle, better caching, the list goes on) make the leap to Apple’s platform it’ll all be for the best.


YouTube App Removed From iOS 6 Because Apple’s Licensing Agreement Is Over

HTC One X+ Rumored To Launch On T-Mobile Come September

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Early last week, a screenshot of an internal T-Mobile document revealed the existence of a device perplexingly called the “HTC Era 42,” which promptly caused some T-Mobile fans to drool uncontrollably.

Some speculated that it would be the latest in T-Mobile’s G-series of Android devices and would sport a physical keyboard because of HTC’s track record with the carrier, but now TmoNews is calling it slightly differently. Instead of a brand new, keyboard-toting handset, editor David Beren has managed to confirm “with a small level of certainty” that the device is actually a tweaked version of the HTC One X called the One X+.

Exactly what that plus refers to is still a mystery, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from doing its usual thing. In this case, the cause for that additional + may be the inclusion of NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3, a detail anonymous sources passed on to AndroidAndMe earlier this year. What’s more, the rumor also alleged that the device in question would run a stock version of Ice Cream Sandwich instead of HTC’s Sense-ified take on the OS — something that should please all those avid Android tweakers surfing T-Mobile’s spectrum.

That T-Mobile’s version of the device would get the Tegra treatment doesn’t seem like much of stretch either, considering the issues that manufacturers have had getting quad-core chipsets to play nicely with LTE radios. That issue seems to be clearing up (take a look at Samsung’s quad-core LTE Galaxy S III), but T-Mobile won’t have to worry about that network technicality until next year anyway.

There are still more questions than answers at this point, but we may not have much longer to wait. The leaked screenshot pegs the Era 42 with a September 26 release date, and if there’s actually something to it, HTC will probably come knocking with invitations soon.


HTC One X+ Rumored To Launch On T-Mobile Come September

The Apple / Google / Facebook Message War Starts Now

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We’re on the cusp of a global conflict that will see the three most powerful consumer Internet companies fighting to win control of interpersonal communication. The war will pit Facebook’s unified Chat / Messages / Email vs Apple’s cross-device iMessage system vs. Google’s Gmail / GChat / Hangouts. If one emerges as the definitive victor, it could sway the future of digital human interaction.

Read on as we survey the battlefield, review the weaponry of each company, and assess who could win the epic message war and the fortune that comes with it.

Last week we saw Facebook fire the shot of this war when it changed everyone’s profile contact info to display their @facebook.com address and hide their previously selected Gmail, MobileMe, or other email addresses. Why? To box out Google and Apple. Even with natural advantages like a firm grip on identity and the social graph, plus the fact that it works across both iOS and Android devices, Facebook still felt like it needed to attack.

We’ve likely reached “peak SMS” — next year fewer text messages may be sent than this year due to the rise of data-based alternatives. Now is the time for one of these three messaging platforms to take the place of SMS.

Preparing For Battle

Over the last few years, the three combatants have been scrambling to arm themselves for the coming message war. Movement has sped up over the last few weeks, though, indicating we could soon start seeing peace treaties broken and heavier assaults launched.

Facebook

In November 2010, Facebook unified its messaging platform so instant Chats, asynchronous Messages, and email sent to the newly offered @facebook.com addresses would all flow into one inbox. In some ways this was great for users because if someone sent you a Chat and you were offline or immediately left your desktop, you could view it in your Messages inbox from mobile.

Similarly, if you sent someone a message but they were currently online, it’d get delivered as a chat. You could voluntarily set up a Facebook email address, but few people did and that wing of the service stalled. Then in April, Facebook began assigning email addresses to everyone.

July 2011 saw a partnership with Microsoft’s Skype that allowed Facebook to add video chat capability to its platform. It also acquired and re-skinned Beluga as Facebook Messenger in August 2011 as a standalone app to break direct communication out from its bloated primary app. Facebook Messenger doesn’t do voice or video just yet but you can bet it’s on the way.

In Facebook’s arsenal are the world’s largest social graph, mobile’s most popular apps, massive time-on-site across devices, a deep understanding of who we’re closest to, and a thriving ad platform to monetize it all with.

Identity is key to messaging because it lets people connect just by name, allowing the best communication medium for the job be selected as the specific contact information falls into the background. It does not own the hardware or the OS, but it can float as a layer across devices which is why Facebook may have the most powerful war machine.

Google

Meanwhile, Gmail continued gaining popularity while Gchat (formally named Google Talk) became a preferred instant messaging system for professionals who thought themselves too mature for AOL instant Messenger or IRC, and didn’t want to be frequently interrupted with small talk chats from distant Facebook friends. In September 2010, Google acquired group-chat and organization app Plannr.

Then Google launched Google+ in June 2011 with its stand-out feature Hangouts, a real-time group video chat service that also offered some collaboration and synchronous media consumption options. It also turned Plannr into Google+ Messenger. Now as GigaOm reports from last week’s I/O conference, Google is merging Hangouts, Talk, and Messenger into a single unified messaging platform that could allow text, voice, and video chat across devices.

Google’s strongest asset is its diversity. It owns Android, the mobile OS that’s locking down the long-tail. It’s working with Samsung to build hardware and also owns Motorola now. It’s got a fair amount of cash, which can’t hurt, plus a presence in social networking that can tie Android and Chrome OS together. Most importantly, it controls Gmail, arguably the winner of the last communication war that was fought for email.

Apple

FaceTime launched in June 2010 as Apple’s mobile video chat service, but at the time it required both conversation partners to have the latest iPhone. With time, Apple has expanded FaceTime beyond mobile so users of its desktops and MacBooks could video chat too.

Apple launched iMessage in October 2011 as an SMS alternative for iOS devices that also sends photos and other media. iMessage will link desktop and laptop computers to their mobile brethren when Apple adds it to OS X Mountain Lion. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple integrate FaceTime directly into the cross-device iMessage platform, though how email could feed into it is less clear.

Even with mountains of cash, Apple may be the underdog. It has no social network, and in fact relies on Facebook to bring social to iOS and the App Store. It could control messaging to some extent for all of its device users. But not everyone can afford them, and that means its users won’t always be able to contact friends through iMessage.

The Spoils Of War

So by next month, Facebook, Google, and Apple will each have their own robust messaging platforms featuring some combination of support for cross-desktop and -mobile communication; real-time chat with text, photos, voice, and video, syndication to email, and SMS delivery as a backup. Whichever of these features they don’t have, they’ll likely buy or build.

Everyone else in the messaging space, like Microsoft’s GroupMe and all the free SMS startups should prepare to pivot or sell to one of the three warring factions. You’re not gonna win.

What’s at stake is the control of perhaps the most critical stream of them all — direct communication. Content is surely important, especially because it creates massive engagement and time on site that creates a host for advertising. The ambient intimacy of Facebook, Google+, and Twitter let us feel closer to a huge number of distant acquaintances and thought leaders through the indirect communication of content feeds.

People love content, but people need direct communication. Who you communicate with on a daily basis and via what medium are vital signals regarding where people sit in your social graph. Whichever company owns the most of this data will have better ways to refine the relevance of their content streams, showing you updates by the people you care about aka communicate with most, and showing ads nearby.

Through natural language processing and analysis, whoever controls messages will also get to machine-read all of them and target you with ads based on what you’re talking about.

Communication channels will likely host that advertising too, making the winner of this war even richer. You might not get highly obtrusive mobile spam straight from marketers, but their ads could be appended at the end of your incoming messages.

At least expect ads mixed in between or shown around your Facebook or Google messages, the way Gmail shows ads right above your inbox. Apple meanwhile would use control of communication to bolster hardware sales by making the latest improvements only available on its latest devices.

The stakes of the message war are huge, so these three companies will fight hard. They’ll spend huge sums, form alliances if they have to, and make aggressive moves that could endanger the user experience to win. We’re already seeing it happen. And if one company does come to rule messaging, it could reduce the impetus for innovation and permit abuse. I like to think these companies are better than that, but some argue “whoever wins, we lose”.

Update: To clarify, “winning” this war could mean controlling the bulk of the market share, not necessarily 100% of it. There will likely continue to be scrappy startup alternatives, even one that disrupts this whole war, and none of the big guys here will totally give up if they “lose”.

But a disrupter would likely have to turn down huge acquisitions bids. And if the big messaging platforms don’t talk to each other and one gains an obvious lead (and I think one will), network effect will kick in, that “winner” will continue to grow its share, and it will dominate messaging.

Fire The Missiles

Facebook knew it was going to take a major PR hit for hiding the real email addresses and replacing them with its own @facebook.com addresses on the profile contact info of every user. The change could have been done more subtly with a slow roll out or with some token, quickly-sped-past notification to users.

Facebook got a late start on email, especially compared to Google, and many users haven’t changed their email contact info since Facebook launched its addresses. It needed to increase awareness about @facebook.com addresses, and it didn’t want @gmail.com and Apple @me.com addresses on everyone’s profiles. Making the change without notifying users was certainly bad for the user experience, but Facebook did it anyway.

So what will Google and Apple do to retaliate? Google could prevent people from listing their Facebook profiles in their G+ About sections, and that won’t do much damage. It could compete with Facebook Messenger by pre-installing its own unified messenger app in the place of a standard SMS app on Android devices, and integrating that app with Chrome OS. Apple could refuse to integrate Facebook any deeper into iOS, or scale back Facebook’s presence and double-down with Twitter.

Those probably won’t be enough to deter Facebook, though, and it could go on to win the message war or at least dominate it.

The Aftermath

Apple may very well foresee its coming loss or at least a prolonged battle. It and Facebook are relatively complementary, while both are fighting fiercely with Google on several fronts. So rather than pour resources into a losing battle, Apple might find some way to play nice with Facebook.

This could come through a bridge between iMessage and Facebook’s messaging platform. The ability to iMessage Facebook friends you don’t have the phone number of could increase the Apple product’s worth, and give iOS users a way to message with their Android-toting friends.

Meanwhile, Google may lose this war outright. The day it started building Google+ rather than partnering with Facebook, it may have bitterly resigned to losing both the war for identity and the war for messaging. It will have to try to win the post-PC mobile war without owning messaging, which could be difficult. Now more than ever, Google Glass and self-driving cars are looking like the company’s future. The wars for wearable computing, and especially artificial intelligence are still Google’s to win.

Mark Zuckerberg probably calculated the risk of Facebook’s aggressive change to visible contact info, and assumed his site could swallow lost trust from a few million angry tech news readers. It’s still THE social network, and a few days of complaints won’t change that. This isn’t friendly competition. It’s the war for messaging, and wars have casualties.

[Featured Image Credit: TechCrunch’s illustrator Bryce Durbin]


The Apple / Google / Facebook Message War Starts Now