Posts tagged mobile
Posts tagged mobile
The Nokia Lumia 900, Microsoft and the Finnish company’s last stand on the mobile wars, has been on sale for roughly a week. Apart from AT&T’s boo-boo, launching on Easter Sunday, and a crippling connectivity bug, the launch seems to be moderately successful, with the Lumia 900 currently topping the charts at Amazon.com and selling out in AT&T’s online store.
Windows Phone forums at Reddit, XDA Developers and Windows Phone Central are filled with happy owners still in their honeymoon period, grizzled Windows Phone veterans and recent converts thanks to Nokia’s very generous $100 credit in their AT&T accounts. They see that $100 overture as a clear signal that Nokia is not Apple (“you’re holding it wrong”) or Google (“huh? You mean you need actual customer support?”). To top it all, the promised emergency patch arrived 3 days ahead of schedule, which is unheard of in smartphone circles.
Nokia was the Apple of its time, with thought leadership in smartphones (they practically invented them), high-speed mobile connectivity, build quality and profitability. They’ve been suffering a very public fall after iOS, then Android, started eating away at the company’s key high-end and low-end markets. Last week, Nokia’s shares were at their lowest since 1997.
The Nokia Communicator 900, regarded as one of the very first smartphones
Still, Nokia was a behemoth. They were professional, reliable, resourceful. That’s what we all witnessed in the follow-up to the Lumia 900 launch, when a connectivity bug left new owners without a data signal.
Nokia addressed the connectivity problem head on, sparing no expense to make Lumia 900 owners happy. In a very public blog post, they admitted something was wrong, apologized, and took steps to correct it. That’s a masterful response to a potentially catastrophic crisis of confidence in their newest and most important product release in years.
[not to mention a PR and marketing campaign that proudly proclaimed that “the smartphone beta test was over”]
The Lumia 900 might not be a huge hit. Windows Phone may be beyond saving at this point. Nokia did, however, rescue their brand in the process. They showed the technology world why they’re not Apple or Google. No matter what happens in the next two years, Nokia will be better for it.
Now if only they made a high-end Android smartphone…
Jovan Johson is an attorney with L.A. firm Johnson & Moo. Like Novy PR, Jovan specializes on helping indie and mobile developers grow their companies from one-man start-ups to successful studios with a global audience.
Stray Pixels asked Jovan a few questions about attorneys, contracts, working with foreign publishers and more. Let us know what you think in the comments!
1. When should indie studios seek out a lawyer?
Indies should probably seek legal counsel once they begin working with others, including artists, programmers, marketers, etc. This will help ensure the terms of their agreement are written clearly and structured properly.
For example, last year my partner and I met with a potential client who produced a song (which, of course, is a form of intellectual property) that turned out to be quite successful. Gross revenue was close to $460,000, costs and expenses were approximately $25,000. Under his arrangement with the recording artist the producer’s share should have been $160,000, give or take.
The producer’s first problem was that he drafted the contract he signed with the artist. The document he came up with was quite detailed but didn’t make any sense. I’m not saying that as an attorney. I’m saying that as someone who reads and writes English. Next, he involved himself with investor-partners who were attorneys. The producer didn’t have an attorney review this second deal either. At the end of the day, he’s probably going to wind up with nothing to show for his efforts. In fact, he may be in debt before the ordeal is over. If he would have retained counsel from the beginning, he would probably have $160,000 in his bank account right now.
Some people think they cannot afford a lawyer. If you’re doing business and want to succeed, you can’t afford not having a lawyer.
2. How are mobile deals structured nowadays? What is the publisher role, for example?
The publisher’s role is to promote the game and sell units. They should provide input on polishing the game and a base level of PR and marketing. For that they receive a percentage of revenue, which may seem high to some developers. However, it’s better to have part of a financially successful game than 100% of one that sells 200 copies.
Some publishers have relationships that help with key placements within the Android Market and App Store, but that will not show up as a contract term.
3. What should developers watch for before signing a contract?
It’s always important that both parties have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Warm and fuzzy feelings are nice but the content of the written contract is what matters.
Some common issues that developers need to understand before signing a deal are:
4. Can working with foreign capital or a foreign publisher affect the way a contract is drafted?
Absolutely. If you plan on dealing with a foreign publisher you may have an issue in terms of choice of law. If the publisher insists on their local law, it’s a good idea for the developer to hire an attorney who is familiar with those laws.
Any deal regarding capital gets complicated quickly because it may be a securities transaction. Most attorneys are NOT capable of reviewing these contracts. Get help immediately if you’re thinking about a deal with capital, especially if it’s foreign capital.
5. Tell us about yourself. Were you always a gamer? When did you decide to focus on indies?
I’ve actually been a gamer on-and-off. Of course, I can remember spending many hours playing Nintendo when I was in elementary school. Same thing throughout high school, college, and after law school. Let’s just say if I get into something, I’m really into that thing. It’s best that I stick to casual games.
One of my brightest friends released a couple of iOS games. He worked with a small team on a handshake deal. This made me wonder about others making games without business and legal assistance. I’ve had a great time working with all of my indie clients. That makes me feel like I’m on to something.
6. Where do you see the game industry in the next 10 years?
I think gaming may go the way of movie studios. That is, large game companies who are financially sound will focus on blockbusters. That leaves a big opening for the indies to produce most everything else.
I also think mobile games will continue eating away at the market share console games have enjoyed for so many years. Game engines like Unity allow for increasingly advanced mobile games. It’s astounding, really. Google and Apple release mobile operating systems at a break-neck pace and developers take advantage of that.
Another advantage mobile developers have is that very few people want to buy a new Sony / Microsoft / Nintendo console year-after-year, but statistics seem to indicate that many people will opt to buy a new iPhone annually.
7. Is there anything else you’d like to say to Novy PR’s clients and readers?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We answer emails and return phone calls. Kamal Moo, my partner, focuses on music and film law and has been around the block. We’re currently working with a fan-funded project, Angry Video Game Nerd The Movie. If you have a creative project in the works, there’s a good chance my firm can provide the attention and advice you need.
Which one, Android or iPhone, do you think is the superior mobile platform and why?
Kurt Elster, Project Manager, EtherCycle:
“I believe iOS is the default winner on the basis that there are literally hundreds of Android devices. Each device has a different hardware configuration. The result is a wide disparity of capabilities across the market. CPU, camera, flash, internal memory, bluetooth, network, screen resolution, and wireless specifications can be vastly different on any two given handsets. To compensate for the diversity of these devices, developers must either abandon devices or develop for the lowest common denominator. The situation is illustrated by Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, who have been forced to officially ignore nearly twenty phones. That’s more than the total number of iOS devices.”
John deGlavina, Creator & Admin, CellPhoneForums.net:
“I’ve reviewed several cell phones over the years, including iPhones and several Android devices. Personally I think Android has the upper hand. Google has managed to get it on lots of devices, many in the past year, across almost every network. In my opinion Apple has suffered greatly by being only on AT&T for the past 5 years. In the meantime other companies have had time to catch up and make better devices powered by Android.”
Rebecca Flora, Idea Generator/Writer, The Art of Words:
“As a confessed Apple devotee, there is no choice but the iPhone 4. Like all things Apple, it performs beyond expectations. I can’t speak for all Android phones, but I had one friend tell me his Android worked just great after he dumped a lot of the manufacturer’s software. Personally, I don’t think dumping software I’ve paid for should be a prerequisite for a phone that functions as promised. Plus, I know that if anything does go wrong with my iPhone, a quick trip to the Genius Bar will likely provide a solution at no additional charge.”
Brad Waller, VP, Business & Affiliate Development, uBuildApp.com:
“The iPhone has to win out due to its uniformity across devices and systems. There are four versions of the iPhone and virtually all (95%) are on iOS3 and above.
As a developer for both, the iPhone is easier to develop for because we only have to plan for one screen size (and two resolutions of images) and I know anything I develop will work for 99% of the iPhone users out there. When we develop for the Android we need to worry about over 80 devices already out there with more than two dozen on the horizon, all having various screen sizes, 4 viable OS versions, and specific device options.
As a user of both, I find the iPhone more intuitive and uniform. Apple’s stringent guidelines make apps work very much the same and make for a better user experience. You can hand an iPhone to a small child or an older non-tech savvy adult and they get it right away. Not so with the Android.”
Rakkhi Samarasekera, Security Solutions Architect, Visa Europe:
“Depends on context. Best phone for hackers the Galaxy S. Best for everyone else still the iPhone 4. It just works enough said”
Alex Shapiro, Marketing Director, CarBuzz:
“A recent study found that women prefer iPhones, while men prefer Android cellphones. I’d argue that each one has it’s place. On a personal preference, I like Androids more. You’re not tied to Apple and iTunes, and the feel is more organic of a community type product.”
Bryant Harris, Founder & CEO, myRete:
“As an App developer, iOS remains the undisputed king.
In any market place you have supply and demand. Android provides plenty of demand, but the state of the development platform for Android is such that supply will continue to be weak, with most budge constrained app developers steering clear.
In particular here is a list of items Android lags on:
— No credible In App Purchase/micro payment strategy. Google checkout doesn’t count, no one uses it.
— No consistent DRM (Digital Rights Management) story. Why would I take the time to build something if anyone could easily decompile what I wrote, possibly change it or even re-release it under their own name with some minor tweaks
— Android will never be the quality gaming platform that iOS is. No console game is written in Java, forcing game developers who create the premium console titles to rewrite the games if the want to deliver them for Android. As such, no one does.
As far as I know no one is making any reasonable money on Android Apps, at least not compared to a similar iOS app. Until that changes Android is more or less a great ‘potential’ market, but not one currently with pursuing.
iOS on the other hand just has the annoying review process and associated restrictions. But there’s millions of eager and paying customers to help make developing for iOS worthwhile.”
DJ Skee, professional DJ & media personality, Skee.TV
“I think that although the iPhone is aesthetically more pleasing by using a closed platform, the advantages of Android and its openness are truly the future. As we are seeing in the controversy with Wikileaks, openness in this day and age will always beat closed systems. In addition, the ability for anyone to create apps without restrictions or worrying about approval will lead for far greater innovation. The current numbers are pointing to this fact, and I just picked up a new Nexus S that I love.”
James Pikover, Tech Journalist
“Android and iPhone (more specifically, iOS) are both great platforms, and both completely opposite. The superior platform is iOS, though not for long. The simplicity of the hardware and the limited number of devices (only a handful of nearly identical iPhones and iPod Touches, plus now the iPad) is so much simpler than the dozens of Android phones, each with a different processor, screen size, available memory, et al. Fragmentation is really Android’s Achilles heel.
Still, Android is growing faster than anything else. The latest Galaxy S phones are stunningly fast. If companies consolidate their Android models, they’ll easily overtake Apple. And because the updates to Android are so much faster, both with hardware and software, it’s only a matter of time, even if Apple starts making iPhones available on Verizon.”
Most will agree that there’s no stopping Android; the little green robot is now the sales leader in the U.S. and, according to ComScore, sits at 23.5 percent in market share (about 1 percent behind the iPhone). On the other hand, Apple’s prodigy is a formidable opponent — not only a pioneering product, but a mature one at that. Many of Android’s shortcomings (to be addressed in another post) are non-existent on iPhone.
According to a newly-released survey by Discover Financial, among holiday shoppers scoping out smartphones to give as gifts, 44 percent say they plan to purchase an iPhone for a loved one. Coming in a close second, 42 percent will buy a smartphone on the Android platform, and falling a little shorter behind, 34 percent say they’ll buy a BlackBerry.
Although the comments we received lean heavily towards the iPhone, this survey and others clearly show that Android has the momentum for now.
We freely admit the iPhone is a more mature platform. On the other hand, we’re fans of the flexibility of Android, of its many hardware iterations and enthusiast-friendly approach to mobile computing. In the end, both platforms will probably co-exist, even if Android ends up on top in absolute numbers.
Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!
If you’re into PR for games, go right ahead to Gamasutra for The 7 Deadly Sins of PR for Mobile Games.
And if you REALLY like it, please help me promote it via Tumblr, Twitter & Facebook :)
In that particular blog post, you’ll find images like this:
So go right ahead.
Before becoming an Android
fanboy advocate, I used to own a Sidekick II. In fact, it was my first smartphone. I loved it for several reasons:
Made by Sharp in Japan, the Sidekick II introduced me to smartphone-like features at a time when a cheap smartphone seemed like a distant dream. The anytime/anywhere rush of Wikipedia at my fingertips is still fresh in my memory; I can still remember the “thunk” sound from the screen snapping into place. I spent real money to get real apps and games for my Sidekick II — years before Steve Jobs dreamed of an App Store.
BEFORE THE SIDEKICK
I was a Nokia man once. I admired their reverence for a clean, logical interface. And the fact that those cell phones were built like tanks. Lost a trusty 8260 at gunpoint in the streets of São Paulo. Got another one the very next day.
After moving to the U.S. in 2004, I was naturally forced into a pre-paid plan and a boring clamshell phone built by LG or Samsung. Once I obtained a Social Security card through UCLA, I signed a contract and… Got into yet another clamshell phone. I seemed condemned to go from dumbphone to dumbphone. Until the Sidekick II, that is.
IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES
That Sidekick II helped me win countless verbal arguments while testing Call of Duty 3 (Spiderman vs. Batman, Werewolves vs. Vampires, take your pick). It let me play games at the doctor’s office — games in color with actual sound effects and music. It had a usable calendar and even took pictures in glorious VGA.
On the other hand, the little machine could NOT play MP3s (bummer!) or videos of any sort. The GPRS Internet was dog slow — not even mobile-optimized sites loaded quickly. Non-mobile sites would sometimes not load, period. Gizmodo, Engadget, Wired? In your dreams, baby.
But in all honesty, what was a Sidekick worth from 0 to 10? A solid, surprising 7. The Sidekick II exceeded my expectations and redefined what I could expect from a phone. However, I bought it late in the game — around mid 2005 — so it was obsolete in more ways than one by then. My fault, really, but I still paid dearly for it (again, in more ways than one).
SIDEKICK AND KIN, BROTHERS FROM ANOTHER MOTHER(?)
It’s hard to believe the Kin was built by the same guys behind the Sidekick. It actually had less features than its older sibling - now how did THAT happen? Both catered to same audience; while the Sidekick produced a series of hit phones, the Kin produced ads where hispters clumsily demonstrated what sexting is all about.
On the other hand, Android owes a lot to Danger (the talented folks behind the Sidekick’s operating system), so I owe a debt of gratitude to them as well. There would be no Android without Andy Rubin — and he learned the ropes while working at Danger. While Microsoft allegedly ran Danger to the ground, Android caught the ball and ran with it.
MY NAME IS LUIS LEVY AND I USED TO OWN A SIDEKICK II
Then I bought a phone with Windows Mobile 5. And then, after much suffering, I finally saw the light.
End of line.
It’s amazing how quickly Android evolved. Updating this post for June 2010 — it was originally written in Dec. 2009 — is actually a lot more work than I expected :)
Like in Stanley Kubrick’s classic, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, certain life-changing events cannot be stopped or ignored. You simply need to accept the fact that the world will eventually end thanks to a madman strapped to the back of a nuclear bomb.
You can’t ignore market-defining gadgets like Apple’s iPhone either. However, if the growing pains of iPhone game development are cramping your style, you still have a choice: Android. This blog will tell you why in 3 easy steps:
Without further ado, let’s now take a quick look at the origins – and development – of Android.
Congrats! It’s a robot
Android was born a Linux-based operating system and announced to the world Nov. 5, 2007 as core component of the Open Handset Alliance. Google’s idea was to supply a top-of-the-line OS for free in order to expand the reach and penetration of web-savvy smartphones.
After all, mobile Google searches = more ads = more $$$ in Google’s pockets.
The OS evolved quickly: from the messy, unpolished 1.0 release — 0.8 really — to Android 2.2, which includes features like official Apps2SD, wireless tethering and a 2X to 3X performance jump.
If you remember 2008, the first cell phone powered by Android was the HTC Dream, sold on the U.S. as the T-Mobile G1 (I own one, BTW. I call it a collectible, but it’s really obsolete by now). By October 2009, there were only four Android-powered phones in the U.S. Today, all major cell providers in the U.S. sell Android phones — even AT&T. We’re talking multiple models per carrier, high-end, mid range and low-end. Android is everywhere.
As of June 2010, Android is now seen as the lone adversary to Apple’s iPhone. A famed comScore survey has 17 percent of those currently in the market for a cell phone thinking Android, versus 20 percent for the iPhone. That’s an eye-opening number. Among tech connoisseurs, many see Microsoft quickly fading into obscurity with the obsolete Windows Mobile 6.5, Symbian stalling, RIM keeping their territory on the corporate side of things (and expanding to certain consumer segments) and Android going for Apple’s throat in no uncertain terms.
Despite the impressive growth, many fail to see Android as just another gaming platform, like the Nintendo DS and now, iOS4 (iPhone / iPod Touch) before it. If you see it as a platform, you’re taking the first steps to make the best of it – and maybe even make money.
If the iPhone is over-crowded and Apple’s approval process sucks, why not give Android the old college try?
iPhone: King of the World
The iPhone. It transformed the industry in a way just matched by the first Macintosh computer back in 1984. It dazzled techies all over the world at MacWorld 2007, when Steve Jobs himself made the now-classic pitch “an Internet communicator, an iPod and a phone.” A gorgeous cell phone simply (and aptly) named iPhone.
After the iPhone launch, nothing was ever the same in the mobile industry.
We all talk about the iPhone’s staggering library of more than 225,000 apps. It’s a big number and the reason why so many flock to the iPhone. Furthermore, Apple turned the iPhone into a successful gaming platform, reversing the trend seen in previous products (other than the ill-fated Pippin, the Apple II was the last “gaming friendly” Apple product).
Everyone and their uncle LOVES to buy games for their iPhone. It’s a convenient, fun process. And a profitable one as well: Apple has made billions on the iPhone’s surprising gaming capabilities. It helps that a powerful GPU is included in every iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4 and even iPhone/iPhone 3G are at-least 3D capable (in the 3 to 4 million polygons range). As Sony’s PSP Go flounders and the DS ages gracefully, millions of would-be gamers – casual gamers – and even the core crowd have flocked to Steve Job’s favorite offspring.
However, like everything in life, gaming on the iPhone has its dark side:
There’s no “quick fix” to any of these problems. Apple is rebuilding the App Store and iTunes, but can do little to “limit” new releases, other than vetoing bad games on technicalities. In regard to a physical keyboard, the iPhone will never have one: that’s just not the way Apple does things. Piracy can be combated with in-game downloads and DRM, but not all developers are willing to go this far.
As profitable and popular as the iPhone is, its flaws still mean death to hundreds of indie developers vying to make a living on high-quality iPhone games. It’s a tough place to be right now, with no clear solution in sight.
The Android Invasion Cometh
I mentioned before that my G1 aged quite suddenly due to Android’s furious evolution. It’s true; the 528 MHz processor & 192MB of RAM can barely keep pace with browsing the Internet, having Twidroid open in the background, the occasional podcast playing off DroidLive and a phone call. It freezes from time to time or simply hangs on the “Home Screen of Death” – when your icons take 10 seconds to suddenly – and magically – appear after hitting Home.
When all is said and done, I still like Android. I like the fact that any app can be installed on the phone, either from the web or from the Android Market. I like the trusting, Linux-like “you can do it” approach taken by Google on the OS’s design. Most of all, I like playing games on my phone.
But games are still not Android’s forte. Let’s remedy that:
Make games for Android before it’s too late
There are thousands of well-intentioned, free games on Android. Sadly, many of them are not very good. The OS’s saving grace are the many classic console emulators – paid emulators – embraced by those in need of a healthy dose of hardcore gaming.
The lack of quality games is my main argument for developers to embrace Android. Less competition. Did you hear that? Around 70,000 apps, total, instead of 250,000. Think of the possibilities.
Make sure your games run on T-Mobile’s handsets. They’ll be easier to buy and probably lead to better sales
Android detractors complain, with reason, that buying games on the OS is much harder than it should be. Google Checkout is cumbersome to the point that many simply never buy games, clearly no match for Apple’s seamless iTunes billing. Things are slowly changing, though: T-Mobile now allows sales to be added directly to each customer’s monthly bill. This is why app sales on T-Mobile handsets are about to explode – including those with next-gen phones like the Samsung Vibrant.
Start development NOW. Storage is a non-issue with Android 2.2
Another negative of Android development is the limited storage for games. Yes, we all know that having only 256MB for storage – like the Droid – is a joke near the iPhone’s 800MB-ish Myst port. We can all agree that’s a big flaw in the architecture of the entire system. Here’s why Google did it this way: they were afraid of piracy. They decided to prevent apps from being fully installed to the SD card to prevent users from doing the same thing they do on the iPhone. You can put most of your files – the large texture packages, sounds, etc – on the SD card but not the entire app. And you’ll suffer a performance penalty as well. Fear not, my friend: official Apps2SD functionality is now a reality with Froyo (Android 2.2). You should have started developing your game like, yesterday.
Approval on Android will make you sleep better at night
Google’s approval process is painless when compared to Apple. Even if you ignore all my other arguments, this one is a no-brainer.
3D kicks a** on Android
And finally, 3D performance. The GPU on next-generation Android phones (Motorola Droid X, Samsung Galaxy S) will have a similar (or superior, in some cases) performance envelope than the current GPU on the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4. We’re talking more than 90 million polygons per second. We’re entering first-gen Xbox territory here with hardware antialiasing andOpenGL ES 2.0. You’ll be able to push the envelope like never before — in a cell phone no less.
It’s a tough world out there. I’m not suggesting ditching the iPhone. Nothing further from the truth – developers should embrace both.
Comment away :)