All posts tagged Apple

BBM Passes 20 Million New Active Users Mark After First Week

After the amazing launch of BBM on Android and iPhone devices, with more than 10 million downloads in the first 24 hours, BBM has now ended its first week with more than 80 million monthly active users, including over 20 million new users on Android and iPhone devices.

During its first week, BBM was the top free overall app in 35 countries in Google Play and in 107 countries in the App Store, and continues to maintain a strong position in key markets such as Canada, the US, the UK, Indonesia and much of the Middle East, to name a few.

“It is great to see so many people downloading BBM, but the true measurement for us is engagement – the connections being made and the conversations in which our BBM community engages. The power of BBM has always been the active, real conversations and interaction that our customers enjoy,” said Andrew Bocking, Executive Vice President of BBM at BlackBerry. “From here on out, we will focus on active users of BBM and will no longer focus on simple download numbers.”

With the BBM community now at more than 80 million active users around the globe, users are connecting on the private social network like never before. This past weekend, BlackBerry was able to remove the virtual line-up so that Android and iPhone users can now immediately download, sign in and start using BBM without having to wait.

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BBM users are enjoying the immediacy and control that BBM offers as they chat with their new contacts – either one-to-one, in multi-person chats or as part of a BBM Group. The delivered and read statuses, as well as the message-in-progress alert, keep people engaged and active in conversations on BBM.  BBM users can also share files such as photos, and voice notes, as well as update their statuses with ease. BBM Groups allows photo, calendar, chat and file sharing for up to 30 people in a user-generated community.

Every BBM user has a unique PIN that helps maintains their privacy, so users never have to give out their phone number or email address to a new or casual contact. BlackBerry ID connects with a person’s PIN, BBM contact list and services to make device switching quick and easy.

The BBM experience will continue to evolve.  In the coming months, BlackBerry will deliver BBM Video calling, BBM Voice calling and BBM Channels – a new community building service to connect BBM users even more broadly – to Android and iPhone users.

Android and iPhone device users can download BBM by visiting BBM.com.

[From BlackBerry Press Release]

Microsoft Takes Over Nokia’s Device & Service Business: What This Means To You

Almost two years after Nokia made the landmark decision to run with Microsoft’s windows software, the phone giants have finally succumbed, and are now in discussions to sell the main arm of its handset business – involving devices and services to the software giants in a deal worth $7.2 billion. This doesn’t come as a surprise to us as we predicted this much earlier. The only expected outcome since Nokia announced the adoption of the Microsoft Windows platform for its smartphone devices has just been played out. And we must say that the script was well-written.

But where does this leave all the stakeholders – device owners, investors, Microsoft and Nokia itself? Some years back, 2007 to be precise, Nokia was the clear market leader in this sector with a huge 40 percent market share. Many may argue that this was before the major advent of Smartphones and at the moment Nokia’s market share has continually shrunk and is now down to just about 15 percent with a meager 3 percent of the smartphone market.

It would not be strange for anyone to wonder out aloud how on earth this ever happened. But with the market volatility and outrageous changes in the IT market, any business which refuses to study the trend and react pragmatically is almost certain take the hit. That could ultimately signal even a total exit from the market as has been seen with major brands take-over sagas and mergers witnessed over the last ten years. Not sure if this is real, ask IBM, Research in Motion (now Blackberry), Dell, HP and Compaq for their experiences.

History Repeats Itself Again?

The interesting thing is that this is similar to the Kodak story. You still remember the famous Kodak film? Most people still do today. Kodak was the leader in the photography film industry with multiple patents and major advantages but the company refused to respond quickly to the changing trends – the emergence of digital cameras and such other instant photo devices. By the time the company woke up to the reality on ground, the market where they once played strongly was fast disappearing and it was too late for Kodak to respond. Kodak never survived the onslaught as a company and is today in history.

One would have thought that a major giant like Nokia would have learnt from this similar experience but it seems history is repeating itself again. It now seems that competitors such as Apple and Samsung had read the market almost perfectly and responded quite early to innovations which culminated in their respective chunky smartphone market shares today. This does not mean these other OEMs do not have their own peculiar problems. But they already have acted early instead of waiting to react to market trend changes.

The deed has been done now but I can only help but wonder how differently the outcome would have been had Nokia chosen to go with Android. I am not saying that I have the answer but I have a hunch that the story might have turned out differently especially with all the goodwill the company already possesses in the market. But like they say, all of this is history now. Somewhere in-between, maybe Nokia’s loss is Microsoft’s gain. The software giants had been itching to get a hold of some kind of hardware device production strategy which would complete their value chain. Apart from producing software and licensing it to other OEMs, Microsoft can finally now get to complete the other leg by owning a device to go with it. This has proven to be really advantageous for companies like Apple, and is a bit similar to Google’s latest experiment with the ChromeBook. It adds a flexible edge to device pricing knowing that all the processes can be completed in-house.

So, what does this mean to the ecosystem?

It is clear from the announcement yesterday that Microsoft is only buying the device business – Lumia and Asha brands. In addition, there is a ten-year licensing agreement to use Nokia’s brand on the lower end devices. If this deal finally seals through, it may pose certain restrictions on Nokia. It implies that  we will definitely, at least in the nearest future unless Nokia comes up with a trick, not be seeing any Nokia smartphone again in the market. But will Microsoft be able to deliver the wow experience that is associated with most Nokia’s device? I feel yes in the immediate term but will need to be proven over a long period of time. Also, it is worth waiting to see how customers will receive the idea of a Microsoft Windows phone without the “Lumia” effect. This may ultimately turn out to be Apple and Samsung’s gain as they can capitalize on the confusion in the mind of customers to increase their respective market shares.

But there is still some good news for Nokia fans, the business is left with its licensing patents. Nokia could still make something significant out of that channel right away. Confusing as the agreement between Nokia and Microsoft may sound, the difference between a 10-year license and the 30-month mobile device restriction definitely raises questions too. All in all, Nokia’s shareholders have something to be happy about. We can now sit and wait to see how this pans out as the proposed acquisition deal is subject to standard regulatory clearance, before it can be said to be a done deal. In the meantime, if you are a Nokia fan, enjoy the last set of Nokia devices coming into the market and lastly, do let us know how you think the mobile ecosystem will shape up by dropping your comments below.

[Image via Flickr/Karyn Christner]

Apple Acquires HopStop – A Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur’s Startup

HopStop.com, a mapping application that provides an online city transit guide for people who need to move around in different cities, has been acquired by Apple. Although the specific financial details of the deal have not been made public, the move signals Apple’s attempt to bolster its mapping application offerings.

The acquisition has been confirmed by Apple Spokeswoman, Kristin Huguet, via ABC news, indicating that Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, preferring generally not to discuss its purposes or plans.”

HopStop helps people get appropriate directions, and find the nearest subway stations and bus stops. The application is currently available on Android and iOS devices, and covers over 300 cities. This service has been compared to Waze, a similar application developed in Israel and recently acquired by Google for $1.1 billion.

Developed in 2005, HopStop was one of two U.S based internet companies which raised nearly $8 million, the other one being Tripology. For Chinedu Echeruo, the man behind HopStop, this is not the first time one of his startups has been acquired by an established business outfit. In 2010, another one of his ventures, Tripology.com (an interactive travel referral service), was acquired by Rand McNally.

The HopStop founder attended Syracuse University and Harvard Business School. He has also received a few accolades, including Black Enterprise Magazine’s Small Business innovator of the year and Top 40 under 40 recognition. He founded HopStop after working for several years with the Mergers, Acquisitions and Leveraged Finance groups of J.P Morgan Chase, and at a $500 million dollar hedge fund called AM investment partners. He currently serves as partner and head of the Principal Investing group at Constant Capital – a West African based investment bank.

Maintaining momentum as the serial entrepreneur, Echeruo has yet another venture in the offing. According to a YouTube video, this new idea is focused on small businesses in Africa and would be a “crowdsourced business in a box”.

This serves as inspiration to developers all over Africa; nothing defies a product that finds the right need and fills it.

Afrinolly Launches First African Entertainment App For Blackberry 10

African entertainment app MTN Afrinolly announced the release of its Blackberry 10 App for Blackberry Z10 and Q10 last Thursday at the Blackberry 10 official lunch in Lagos, Nigeria a few weeks after just announcing the Afrinolly app for iOS. With over 2 Million Downloads across its various existing versions namely Android, Blackberry, Nokia Symbian, Nokia S40 Series, Java and Amazon Kindle, Afrinolly is the most downloaded African entertainment app built in Africa.

Winner of the Google Android Developers Challenge 2011 in the entertainment category Afrinolly allows you to watch trailers of movies produced in the African movie markets, most especially Nigeria’s Nollywood. You also get to watch African music videos, African comedy online, Bollywood trailers and full length Nollywood movies on your Smartphone.

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Taking advantage of the new Blackberry Menu the user interface of the Blackberry 10 version is rich and different because the Blackberry 10 OS screen resolution allows for the apps new home screen where most viewed Trailers, Celebrity and Music Videos are celebrated plus News headlines.

The app is Compatible for both Blackberry Z10 and Blackberry Q10. Afrinolly have seen a progressive growth rate in terms of downloads across Africa and we are excited that this Blackberry 10 version would allow more Africans with taste for the super smartphones to enjoy the app.

Download Afrinolly for BlackBerry 10 here

#InCaseYouMissedIt: Afrinolly Officially Launches An iOS App

African entertainment app Afrinolly has announced the launch of its iOS App for iPhone and iPod Touch after just announcing that the Afrinolly app has crossed the 2 Million ‘download’ mark across its various existing versions: Android, Blackberry, Nokia Symbian, Nokia S40 and java.

Winner of the Google Android Developers Challenge 2011 in the entertainment category Afrinolly allows you to watch trailers of movies produced in the African movie markets, most especially Nigeria’s Nollywood. You also get to watch African music videos, African comedy online, Bollywood trailers and full length Nollywood movies on your Smartphone.

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The user interface of the iOS version launched today is a bit different with a new home screen where most viewed Trailers, Celebrity and Music Videos are celebrated. The app is Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for the iPhone 5.

Afrinolly have seen a progressive growth rate in terms of downloads across Africa and we hope that this iOS version would allow more Africans in Diaspora to enjoy the app.

You can download the Afrinolly app for iOS here.

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About Time Apple! The iTunes Store Has Arrived Nigeria

Yes! It’s at apple.com/ng

developing…

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The Playground Is Not Open

For all the anxious Nexus fans who’ve endured the nail-biting wait for Google’s latest flagship device, today must be an exciting day. They can finally satisfy the urge to give Google their money in exchange for the awesomeness of the Nexus 4. While I’m definitely not the type of gadget freak who stands in line overnight to buy a phone, I must confess that I’ve never wanted a gadget as much as I want Google’s Nexus 4 right now.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join in the excitement, because I can’t buy it. Not because I can’t afford it, but because according to Google, devices on Google Play are not yet available in my country. And it’s not just devices. The Google Play content/devices ecosystem  is closed off to most of the world, with the exception of a few countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

If you aren’t located in any of those countries, you might have thought that the games and apps are all that there is to the Google Play. Not so, as it turns out. Using some sort of geographic feature restriction, Google has made it so that most people have access to only about a fifth of the actual content available. In addition to apps and games, there’s movies and TV, music, books and magazines. You just can’t see them. Okay, you can see them if you peer through the window, but that’s it. Until such a time as Google deems fit, the playground is not really open, you’re stuck on the outside looking in.

Why they aren’t available in the first place is a troublesome question. I’ve scoured the web looking for definitive answers, but have come up mostly flat so far. I’m thus forced to resort to educated conjecture.

On content side, I suspect Google must have their hands full trying to broker all kinds of international licensing agreements with content creators/owners. From what we know of Spotify’s experience with such, it must be really hard work. The fact that even the few countries with enhanced Google Play access have it in varying degrees is an indicator of how content licenses work/don’t work across various geographic regions –

Google Books are available in Australia, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Magazines on Google Play are currently only for sale to users in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Movies and TV are available  to users in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Spain. Certain features are restricted to the US.

Google Music is available only in the United States.

On the devices side, a Quora user suggested that Google might not be too eager to get Nexus devices into regions that don’t have full Google Play access. His logic is sound. Like Amazon, Google doesn’t make money on their hardware, but hopes to profit by initiating users into an ecosystem where they can maintain the lead in search, sell advertising, and monetise content. It wouldn’t make sense to send devices manufactured at cost to places where they wouldn’t make a lot of money. Concerns about their ability to satisfy what has proved to be overwhelming demand for Nexus devices might also be a reason to limit availability. And that doesn’t even take the shipping and fulfillment headaches that necessarily come with international orders  into account.

Devices on Google Play are currently available only in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK, and US.

But that’s not all. If you plan on leaving any of these countries for a place where the Google Play service is limited, you’d better take delivery of your device or make sure your content is offline before you do. If not, your Google Play stuff will become unavailable for as long as you’re outside of the supported geographies. From the comments on this Hacker News thread, you can buy a Google phone in San Francisco and not even be able to look up your order the next week when you are in India.

Compared to Apple for instance, I’m somewhat disappointed in Google. Despite being notoriously aloof where emerging markets are concerned, Apple maintains an online presence in most countries and has begun to enter into partnerships with local retail players and offers official support and extended warranties via authorised resellers. I can pick up any Apple device on a whim at nearly any gadget store in Ikeja. No problems whatsoever with iTunes, it just works. In fairness, Google’s content ecosystem hasn’t been around for as long as Apple’s or Amazon’s, but I find it distressing nonetheless.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. If I really, really want a Nexus 4, I could always import one. I could ask a friend or relative located in a supported region to buy and ship to me. No friends or relatives abroad? Well, there’s services like Truebranches, Orderbay and Bringitbay that can help. Basically, they are international procurement services that help Nigerians shop abroad. Of course both options are more expensive, mostly due to shipping costs, but hey, an option is an option.

Despite the clamour from Google fans worldwide, the only evidence that Google acknowledges the situation are found deep in support documentation and in the error pages that show up when you try to access the restricted content. The company likes to say the playground is open — a disingenuous statement where most of the world is concerned. However, there is nothing to be done but wait and hope that it won’t be long before the rest of us can join the cool kids in Google’s playground.

[padlock image via Flickr/Marcus Schopke, photoshopped by me]

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Lumia 920 And 820: The Nokia #WP8 Series – Camera, Maps, Music, Apps

I have been so excited about the new Window Phone 8 but never discussed my excitement for the Lumia series especially Lumia 920. Lumia 920 is a phone I have been dreaming of since it was introduced by Nokia. The PureView was exciting because of its camera but it looks like Nokia is ready to change the game with the Lumia.

The latest Nokia Lumia phones and Microsoft Windows Phone 8 create an unbeatable combination for apps. The new Lumia 920 and 820 smartphones feature dual-core processors, clear black displays, near-field communications (NFC), and much more.

The camera on the new Nokia Lumia is so cool and worth a separate mention. The superior PureView imaging technology in the Lumia 920 and Carl Zeiss optics in both devices are accompanied by unique Windows Phone 8 platform APIs that will help developers create better camera apps with the ability to control ISO and other parameters, offer multi-frames capture, get direct access to sensor data, apply special effects to live previews, and record HD quality video. One can also turn an app into a lens application — and let users launch the app straight from the camera’s viewfinder. How cool is that?

In addition, the new location APIs is powered by Nokia map data (even offline). They will let you choose color schemes, cartographic models, and views with map controls; add turn-by-turn directions to your apps; and enjoy background location processing.

The more than 120,000 Windows Phone 7 apps are made available on Windows Phone 8, so the investments you have made in the platform are safe and protected. In fact, your app will be even more accessible to the user, thanks to three customizable LiveTile sizes and the ability to push notifications to the lock screen.

And because Windows Phone 8 shares a kernel and driver model with Windows 8, you can easily extend your development reach. For example, you can create games and apps that run on both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 using a common code base and tap into native APIs for the best performance.

Last but not least, Nokia has introduced new Music APIs. They let you tap into the Nokia Music offering and add value to your app with free music-listening and event-discovery.

Lumia 920 and 820 will be unveiled in Nigeria with a Press Conference to be organized by Nokia on 20th of November and OTEKBITS will be reporting live from the event and hands on will also be aired on OTEKBITS soon after the launch.

[image via technobuffalo.com]

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The iPad Mini: Old Wine In A New Wine Skin. Who Cares?

Apple is phenomenal. They are remarkable in the way they target their users. They have just released the iPad mini which is the same number of pixel with the second generation iPad – still currently being sold as a lower-cost option to the fourth generation iPad with retina display.

The Apple haters are out there. They can troll from now till tomorrow but that is not going to stop the Apple faithfuls from going out to buy (if not queue up for) the iPad mini, which in turn will result into further huge profit for Apple.

The iPod, iPhone and iPad are the top products that are helping Apple make so much money and return large returns to their shareholders.

Apple is going to sell millions of the iPad mini and those who have been in the 7” tablet space for a while are going to be scared to bits. I suspect Galaxy Tab or Note will take the most hit. The way Apple positions its products is very unique. They make the product look so premium, well designed like a piece of art, even when there’s hardly anything new in it.

If I decide to pick a tablet today, it is going to be a battle between the Nexus 7 32 GB and the Mini iPad 32 GB. I find the 9.7” iPad to be too large for my liking and a little bulky. It will be too obvious when holding it in the public. I am someone who uses public transport a lot and spend huge amount of time when moving around with buses. The 7” tablet is ideal for reading in the public without being too noticeable like a 10 or 9.7.”

“Habits take time to develop and you can’t just break it in one day”

The reason someone who has been in the Apple ecosystem is going to tilt more towards the iPad mini than the Kindle or Nexus 7 is the strength of the ecosystem and the apps that they have been so used to. Habits take time to develop and you can’t just break it in one day. The experience on an Android Tablet is different from that which is obtainable on an Apple tablet, so are the apps.

Others who are going to be showing interest in the iPad mini are those who have long admired the iPad, but only held back because of price. There are those using the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire (or the HD version) today, because they are a cheaper version of Apple’s iPad. These once are more likely to be the in line to buy the iPad mini. The core Apple haters and bashers, who won’t want to be caught with any Apple product would not be found buying this new iPad. The iPad mini isn’t really new or spotting new specs and functionality. Apple themselves said it is a reduced iPad with the full iPad experience. “There’s less of it, but no less to it.”

The Price

It is no longer news that Apple products are pricey. Apple isn’t ready to change that any time soon. This is pretty obvious in the pricing of the iPad mini. Tim Cook was caught saying; “iPad mini is a fantastic product; it is not a compromised product like the 7” tablets.”

The iPad mini starts at $329 USD for the Wi-Fi only version, with 16 GB of storage; the 32 GB is $429, while the 64 GB will be $529. Cook went on to say, “the iPad mini is the same number of pixel with the iPad 2–still currently being sold as a lower-cost option to the Fourth generation iPad with retina display.”- Arstechnica.com. The same processor (chip) A5 Chip is in the iPad 2 and the iPad mini. The Chip in the retina display iPad is Dual-core A6X with quad-core graphics.

iPad mini is going to be using nanoSIM for the Cellular/GSM version. iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular is priced as follows; the 16 GB will be $459, 32 GB $559, while the  64 GB will be $659. The iPad 3 is gone, replaced by the 4th generation model at $499. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD  is $199 for the 16 GB model and $199 for Nexus 7 8 GB model. In my own view, the iPad mini is going to be competing with the iPad 2 at this level. The iPad 2 will be selling at $399 (Wi-Fi only).

With all the information above, it’s going to be difficult for most people to consider the fine print. All they want to know is that this is a smaller iPad and it can do this and that and boom! They’re going to pick it. Let’s see what will happen two months after Apple starts shipping the iPad mini. Is it going to be a huge success?

Will you be picking an iPad mini? If yes, why? If no, why?

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Nigeria: Who Takes The Crown, As OEM Tussle For Mind Share?

Nigeria has become a hotbed of competition for the smartphone makers. The king of the Smartphone space has been BlackBerry for a while now. This is a space that Nokia’s Symbian use to dominate. Symbian slide and lost the position to BlackBerry.

Despite the struggle BlackBerry is going through in the US and European market, their market share in Nigeria keeps growing. Blackberry has been introducing developers to the developer kit for the BlackBerry 10 and they are betting on it as the strategy that will put them back in the smartphone war that is currently being dominated by Apple and Android.

On Tuesday the 25th of September 2012, BlackBerry held a conference in Lagos to further state to the public their commitment to Nigeria and as such they are rewarding fans with BlackBerry Experience outlets in the country. That wasn’t all. They also made a commitment that Nigeria, as well as South Africa, is going to fall into the tier one category of countries that will be getting the new BlackBerry 10 come January 2013.

Samsung, Nokia, HTC and hosts of other OEMs use Microsoft’s Windows Phone Operating System (OS). Microsoft has been working hard to become the third ecosystem globally after Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. In their global move to make all this possible, they have included Nigeria among the markets that is having access to the Windows Marketplace.

What I find shocking while at the Co-Creation Hub is the Microsoft team presenting the Windows Phone 8 and the Windows 8 OS, mentioned that Windows Phone has never been launched in Nigeria. This means that any Windows Phone you see in the Nigerian market today are grey phones—phones that are brought in by users themselves or by unauthorized users.

Are we ever going to see Windows Phone being sold in Nigeria? The Microsoft team revealed that customers should expect Windows Phone to be officially available in Nigeria by Christmas.

While the consumers of smartphones await the launch of Windows Phone in Nigeria officially, Microsoft has been preparing the developers and helping them with training and tools that can make them publish apps and services to the Windows Marketplace. The developers are excited and expectant.

While being excited, the developers entertain fear and some scepticism. If Windows Phone has never been launched in Nigeria, the apps they are building for the platform means they are placing a bet on the future—believing that Many Windows Phone will be sold. Some of them were of the opinion that it is far more wise and profitable to make apps for feature phones and smartphones that are already in the market and enjoying some huge patronage.

In this same space, Tecno, a Chinese company has flooded the Nigerian market with its phones and it has sold lots of units. Unlike the Knock off phones that imitate popular brands like Samsung and Nokia, Tecno is a genuine brand that is making affordable phones for folks in emerging markets.

Tecno isn’t just snapping Nokia shares in the feature phone market, but they have also started Making Android phones. I once held the Tecno T3 in my hand, which is one of their Android phones. I’m yet to see the other one. At only N15,000 [$ 95 USD], you can get a Dual SIM Tecno T3 Android smartphone. That’s cheap, even cheaper than the Samsung GALAXY Pocket.

With all these players in the mobile phones space, it is obvious that this isn’t a game for the boys. Besides Android powered devices, makers of Windows phones, have a tough challenge ahead of them in introducing that platform to the Nigerian market. The Nigerian developer may be excited, but one can’t say if Nigerians would leave BlackBerry, the popular Nokia Phones and go for a Windows Phone.

No doubt, the ever wielding Nigerians, will continue rocking their Blackberry phones. They never bothered about the release of the iphone 5.

Will the BB10 help RIM rapidly grow its market share beyond where it is already?