Francisco Kattan

Insights on the Mobile Ecosystem

Posts Tagged ‘Qualcomm

In Hindsight: What Went Wrong with Adobe Flash in Mobile

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[This is a repost of my guest article at Vision Mobile's blog]

Ever since Adobe announced that it will stop developing Flash for mobile browsers, the blogosphere has been buzzing with a broad range of sentiments including “I told you so” by critics, disbelief by Flash developers, Monday morning quarterbacking by analysts, and even a petition for Adobe’s CEO to resign.  Check out also the Occupy Flash and Occupy HTML manifestos from the opposing camps. Flash is one of those topics that attract very emotional responses from both its passionate developer community and its very vocal detractors. Although I am generally an Adobe supporter, I will put emotion aside and summarize, in hindsight, what went wrong. For full disclosure, I am a former Adobe employee, but this post is based only on publicly available information.

HTML5 did not kill Flash. Steve Jobs did not kill Flash. The death of Flash was caused by a time bomb planted inadvertently by Adobe many years ago.

Although Flash for mobile ultimately died because Adobe did not adapt fast enough to post iPhone changes in the ecosystem, the seeds for Adobe’s failure were planted earlier on. To understand what went wrong, let’s first review what happened before the iPhone and how those events set the stage for what happened later.

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Written by Francisco Kattan

December 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm

The Mobile App Store Landscape 5 years Ai (After the iPhone)

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[This is a repost of my guest article at Vision Mobile's blog]

2009 was the year of the app store wannabes.  Following the remarkable success of the Apple App Store, OEMs, mobile platform vendors, mobile operators, and traditional aggregators either created new app stores or repositioned their existing offerings as app stores.  There are now between 24 to 32 app stores depending on who is counting (see Distimo’s app store report and the WIP App Store Wiki for reference), and more stores are surely to follow.  However, key questions remain about how the app store landscape will emerge after the current period of hysteria subsides and the dust settles.

- Are we going to see many app stores on each handset?
- Will app malls emerge to host multiple app stores within?
- Will operator stores gain critical mass?

[Or will we see a "no app store" future as proposed by Matt Millar via the comment thread?]

Andreas Constantinou wrote an excellent article that defines the app store building blocks and predicts a “dime-a-dozen” app store future.  I will build on this post, but will offer an alternative view of how the landscape will evolve.

It’s a Winner-Take-All Contest

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Written by Francisco Kattan

January 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

How to Merchandise Your App 2 Years Ai (after the iPhone)

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I want to write about merchandising apps in the mobile ecosystem, but first let me say that we need a new way to measure time in mobile.  The launch of the iPhone changed the ecosystem so dramatically that any discussion of how the mobile ecosystem works must specify Ai or Bi (Afer or Before the iPHone), in a similar way that historians use BC and AC to date historical events.
As an example, how you merchandise a mobile application today is radically different than any time Bi.   And this is what I want to post about.
At CTIA in San Diego I attended and spoke at the #wipjam event and I found the discussion on merchandising apps most interesting.   It was led by Mitch Oliver from Qualcomm with many developers sharing their experiences, and I thought it would be good to share with other developers looking to go mobile.
Before the iPhone (Bi):
Operators had a virtual monopoly on application distribution.    If your application could get on deck with an operator, this was half the battle. Investing in additional marketing helped, but was not required if your app got decent deck placement.  Because the operators had very limited shelf space, they did not take chances with “hit or miss” long tail developers.   So they pretty much stuck with proven, larger developers with a recognizable brand.    If your app did not perform (often because it was hard to discover), out you went.  Your livelihood depended not on consumer choice, but on the operator team responsible for programming its deck.  The programming team allocated valuable deck placement based on their own view of how an app would perform or in many cases based on behind the scenes deals.   Worse yet, developers had to make a signficant investment without any assurances of ever getting on deck (including hefty per handset certification fees).  This model left the small developers – often the more creative ones – out of mobile.  Small developers did have an opportunity to work with publishers  (or aggregators) who had reserved shelf pace for their catalogs with the operator –  but this model required the developer to share a signifcant portion of the revenue with the publisher, making it financially unattractive.
As a result, Bi, the most creative developers focused their energies on the desktop and the Web. The operators had squandered their monopoly position to distribute mobile apps and had stiffled innovation.   There was pent up demand, however, by brands, content owners and developers to exteand their reach to mobile open the doors to a new model.  Enter the iPhone.
After the iPhone (Ai):
One year Ai, Apple launched the the App Store. Now, 85,000 apps and 2 billion downloads later, the app store has redefined the model that is now being copied by many other app stores:
The App Store made the playing field even so small developers can get on deck as easily as the big guys.
The App Store eliminated the need for middle men (publishers or aggregators).  Small developer have a direct path to market.
While there are stil some nuances in the process (Steve does not like apps that compete with Apple’s own apps), the process is pretty smooth.
The programming team is gone, orther than for programming the carrousel (very important to get on) and for blocking competing apps that Steve does not like.
Developers get to price their own applications. Amazingly, Bi operators insisted in setting the price for apps as if they knew more about the developers’ customer.   More importantly, developers get to tweek pricing based on real time feedback.from their customers.
The app store eliminated certification fees
Introduced free apps.  This is a model that Lithuania based Getjar pioneered with it’s traditionally geeky audience of beta testers, but the App Store made it mainstrem.
OK, so the iPhone made it much easier to merchandize applications, right??   Think again.   The iPhone simply created unlimited shelf space.   If you app is one of 85000, how do you stand from the crowd?   Obviously if you can get on the carousel of promoted apps, you’re golden.  But this requires magic as the there not written rules. Now that Big Brother operator is not picking the winners with simple deck placement, you need to compete on your own merits and merchandise the old fashion way.   Here are some recommendations for developers:
You have to do your own marketing.   You can’t rely on the app store provider to market your app or on consumers disovering your app based on deck placement.
Know your audience and figure out where they hang out so you can reach them.  For example if you are trying to reach the social generation, use social media.  Developers at #wipjam reported great results from these efforts.  And it’s incredibly cheap.  Use Facebook, Twitter, and the bloggosphere as your CRM system.
If you deploy a free app with the objective of later upgrading your customers to a premium app, ensure the free app stands on its own.  Don’t just put out a demo or significantly crippled application.  Your objecitve is not to upgrade every free user.  Free users give you free marketing.  Many will never upgrade and this is OK.   But many will tell their friends, post on facebook or tweet about it.
Invest in an in-app analytics tool such as Motally.  This will help you get immediate usage feedback as you tweak your application.
Trial and error pays.  It is very hard to predict what consumers will want.  Don’t spend your life savings on a single app.  Instead develop quickly and try it out on the app store.  If consumers adopt it, update the application quickly and often.   If it does not fly, move on to the next one.
Cross Promote your app.  Look into App Treasures.
Port your app to the Palm Pre.   Unlike the iPhone, the Palm Pre is hurting for good apps.  You have a much better chance of getting noticed.  If you can get disovered on the Pre, you’ll get a ripple effect on the iPhone and other stores.
Getting on deck is not enough.  You must market your app via other channels!   Viral, facebook, blogs, twitter.
The launch of the iPhone affected the mobile ecosystem so dramatically, it reminds me of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.  Creative developers are now free to express their innovation pursue their

I want to write about merchandising apps in the mobile ecosystem, but first let me say that we need a new way to measure time in mobile.  The launch of the iPhone changed the ecosystem so dramatically that any discussion of how the mobile ecosystem works must specify Ai or Bi (After or Before the iPhone), in a similar way that historians use BC and AD to date historical events.

As an example, how you merchandise a mobile application today is very different than at any time Bi.   And this is what I want to post about.

At CTIA in San Diego I attended and spoke at the #wipjam event and I found the discussion on merchandising apps most interesting.   It was led by Mitch Oliver from Qualcomm with many developers sharing their experiences, and I thought it would be good to share some of the learnings with developers looking to go mobile.  Some of you not interested in the details may want to skip to the recommendations below.

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Written by Francisco Kattan

October 9, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Is BREW Dead? Lessons learned.

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A while ago I attended Fierce’s Mobile Operating System Debate webinar and could not help but notice the dismal future of BREW as a platform for mobile application development.  As illustrated on slide 5 (see presentation from webinar referenced above), iGR found that ZERO percent of existing mobile developers surveyed planned to develop for BREW in the future.  We could debate the specifics of the data in the survey, but it is clear that BREW is losing developer mind share rapidly (while Apple, Google and RIM are all gaining share, as confirmed by iGR’s survey).

To make matters worse,  just yesterday Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s CEO, announced that Verizon (BREW’s biggest supporter) will be putting its weight behind the Java platform as part of its new effort to open its network to application developers.   Could this be the final nail in the coffin for BREW?  It’s not clear, but please voice your opinion via the poll below.  In any case, what is most important is to understand the key lessons learned from the BREW experience:

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Written by Francisco Kattan

June 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

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