“HTC Is Dying And Running Out Of Options”

Yours truly, over at Business Insider – HTC Is Dying And Running Out Of Options:

HTC, the one-time king of the Android phone makers, is on a downward course with few options left to correct itself.

Last November, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson wrote that HTC was the biggest tech business disaster in 2012. Things have only gotten worse for the company since then.

Snapchat releases major update

Matt Alexander:

Snapchat doesn’t seem to have gained much traction in the core technology community, but, outside of it, I rarely come across a friend who hasn’t used it on a regular basis. From fleeting shots of lunch to videos sharing concert experiences, Snapchat has quickly found its way into my daily life in a truly good  way.

While I disagree with the point about the core technology community not adopting Snapchat – every software engineer my age that I know uses it as does everyone at the Business Insider office – I agree with Matt’s main point: Snapchat is taking the world by storm because it’s just so damn easy to work into your life.

You don’t have to worry about wording your status just right or framing the picture or choosing the right filter because in ten seconds it’ll be gone. Some people don’t like that because they want to be able to look at their chats later. I find it freeing because it lets me stay in the moment.

Google Play Game Services to Add Google Plus Integration

Google announced today that they’re bringing a new suite of services to Google Play that will allow Google+ integration for mobile games, including leaderboards, achievements, cloud-saving, and matchmaking. The free SDK will allow developers to add these services to games released on Android, iOS, and web platforms, save the matchmaking system, which is Android-only for the time being.

Via Polygon:

Greg Hartrell, lead product manager for the Google Play game services, told us that the strategy was both user and developer focused. “It’s user focused in the sense that we’re trying to reach out to the largest number of users,” Hartrell said. “And for developers, they want to maximize the size of the audience and the quality of the audience. Both of those things drove that decision.” They also drove the decision to offer the services outside of the company’s Android ecosystem.

If you read any of my posts, you know that I’m a big fan of making good things widely available. Nobody I know uses Google+, but the fact that these services will be available on Apple devices through downloaded apps is intriguing. It’s the equivalent of Sony finding a way for the next Xbox to somehow include Blu-Ray support without Microsoft okay’ing it. Apple doesn’t have a stake in Facebook, sure, but having your mobile competitor’s social network potentially be featured in your proprietary game offerings is amusing, at least.

MinoMonsters Seeking Expansion to Multiple Platforms

MinoMonsters

Ever hear about MinoMonsters? It’s one of the top 50 grossing apps available for iOS, but its Pokemon-style antics haven’t quite reached its full potential audience due to only being available on Apple devices.

That could all change, as GamesBeat reports that MinoMonsters (the company that named itself after its flagship game) has acquired Playcraft Labs in an effort to bring MinoMonsters to multiple platforms.

This means that we could very well see Minomonsters on Android in the near future. While it’s odd to think of the mobile platform as mobile platforms, it’s now the reality of the marketplace, and releasing games on Android as well as iOS is all but necessary to see full market penetration. I say this as someone who recently picked up and spent money purchasing items for Punch Quest after its Android release last week. Had it stayed solely on Apple devices, I never would have bought into it, and wouldn’t be enjoying myself so much.

Making your game available to more people is just good business, and with Playcraft’s help, more people might know what a MinoMonster is before the year is out.

BBM Comes to Android and iOS

Chris Welch for The Verge: 

BlackBerry has just announced that its hugely popular BBM messaging service is going multi-platform: it will be released for Android and iOS as a free app this summer. BBM will support iOS hardware running iOS 6 and above; the Android version will be compatible with version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.

This move is far too late for BlackBerry. Multiple journalists noted on Twitter that this is a move that would perhaps have best been made about four years ago.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins noted that BlackBerry is making this move now as “a statement of confidence”. Apparently they’re so confident in BB10 that they no longer need BBM to be an exclusive-to-BlackBerry service in order to attract users. I highly doubt that’s the case. It’s probably more a case of getting the spotlight back on BlackBerry and getting users using their products again.

Cynicism aside, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of apps BlackBerry cooks up for both Android and iOS.

 

CNET puts words in the mouth of Intel CEO, then hides it

CNET, yesterday:

Intel CEO Paul Otellini last week said touchscreen PCs could debut at prices as low as $200 in the coming months. At the time, he didn’t specify what operating system those products would run.

But Dadi Perlmutter, Intel executive vice president and chief product officer, told CNET on Wednesday that notebooks priced at the $200 level will predominantly be Android products running on Intel’s Atom mobile processor. Whether Windows 8 PCs hit that price largely depends on Microsoft, he said.

CNET last week, originally:

Windows 8 touch laptop prices are headed south. Way south, according to Intel executives.

The price of Windows 8 touch devices, including laptops, will sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory. These new “innovative” designs will be based on Intel’s upcoming quad-core “Bay Trail” chip, Intel executives said today during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

CNET last week, updated:

Touch laptop prices are headed south. Way south, according to Intel executives.

The price of Intel-based touch devices, including laptops, will sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory. These new “innovative” designs will be based on Intel’s Atom chip, Intel executives said today during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

CNET’s update note on that article:

Updated on April 19 at 1:05 p.m. PST: adds discussion about inexpensive Android devices. Updated throughout.

The editors at CNET did a pretty good job of covering up that fact that their writer basically quoted the CEO of Intel saying something he totally didn’t say.

Facebook Home as a first step to making an operating system

Matt Drance explains how Facebook is using Home to enter the operating system game at its own pace:

Facebook has loudly and confidently entered an arena it has no prior experience in, and has set a clear path to expand its influence at its own pace. Facebook Home will provide a halo effect to current Android users that warms them up to a full-blown “Facebook phone” in the years to come. It gives Facebook the experience, confidence, credibility, momentum, and time to build a better and broader mobile experience than they would have been able to build otherwise. It’s as prudent as it is ambitious.

From everything I’ve heard from or about Zuckerberg, this seems like the kind of move he would make. Small step -> Collect data -> iterate -> more data -> big step.

iOS Uptake Ridiculously High

Unity Technologies Blog:

iOS uptake is crazy high: 98% of the market has iOS version that’s not much older than one year.

It’s unsurprising to learn that Android uptake is much, much lower. If there’s something Apple does extremely well, it’s getting people to update their systems. I seem to recall OSX uptake is at a similar level.

The blog post from Unity also notes how much more popular iOS is in the Western world and shows Android’s dominance in the East. Not surprising, but it shows just why Apple is targeting countries like China (even issuing apologies because of state-run media). The East is Apple’s route to world domination – in mobile operating system terms at least.

You can enjoy the raw mobile stats, too.

Dan Frommer thinks there’s a market for a Facebook phone

Who’s Going To Buy The Facebook Phone?:

But that’s hardly the entire phone market. It’s actually only a fraction of it.

What about those millions of people who have bought Android phones — and some iPhones, probably — who don’t really care that they’re Android phones, or even smartphones? The types of people who, every couple of years, go into the Verizon or AT&T shop and walk out with whatever newish thing the store rep says they should buy? (All those people who buy Android phones but don’t really show up in usage logs.) Or even first-time smartphone buyers? My guess is that many — most? — of these people are Facebook users, and could easily see some utility in having Facebook features highlighted on their phones. And — bonus — Facebook’s software looks good. Much better than the junk that ships with typical low-end Android devices.

Boom. Done. Easy, defensible purchase, assuming the price is right.

Some people just don’t give a shit about the things that nerds do. Plenty of people my age use their phones for only Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Will the HTC First do well? Probably not, but I don’t think Facebook should stop trying.