Apps want to be free

We all love free apps, but they often come with a different price... ads. While these ads are the bane of some people's existence, a recent study shows that most mobile users are fine with it. Flurry Analytics reports that there is a trend toward more free apps. 80 percent of apps were free in 2011; that number has jumped to 90 percent today.

Some might argue that this supports the idea that “content wants to be free”. We don’t see it quite that way. Instead, we simply see this as the outcome of consumer choice: people want free content more than they want to avoid ads or to have the absolute highest quality content possible. This is a collective choice that could have played out differently and could still in particular contexts (e.g., enterprise apps or highly specialized apps such as those tracking medical or financial information).

Flurry shows that the percentage of free apps is increasing. 

Flurry has taken the majority of its data from the Apple App Store because it has been in operation longer than Google's Play Store. 

The average price of apps between app stores was also examined. Not surprisingly, iPad apps tend to be the most expensive. On average, iPad apps are $0.50; compare this to average iPhone app at $0.19, and average Google Play app at $0.06. There is a considerable gap here.

Conventional wisdom (backed by a variety of non-Flurry surveys) is that Android users tend to be less affluent and less willing to pay for things than iOS users. Does the app pricing data support that theory? Resoundingly.

As of April 2013, the average price paid for Android apps (including those where the price was free) was significantly less than for iPhone and iPad apps as shown below. This suggests that Android owners want app content to be free even more than iOS device users, implying that Android users are more tolerant of in-app advertising to subsidize the cost of developing apps.   

Average app price on Google Play, iPhone, and iPad

Flurry is careful to point out that this trend toward free apps is no coincidence. It's driven by data. Looking at the App Store, Flurry was able to identify apps that have gone through pricing experiments - using A/B testing, or looking at apps that have raised and lowered their price over time. The chart below decribes this. "Green" apps were always free, but the "Blue" apps started out as paid and eventually became free. 

As shown, there was an upward trend in the proportion of price-tested apps that went from paid to free. This implies that many of the developers who ran pricing experiments concluded that charging even $.99 significantly reduced demand for their apps.

Apps pricing experiments.

Flurry thinks the conversation should change from "paid apps vs. add supported apps," to "how do we make ad supported apps more interesting and appealing to consumers. 

The report is really quite fascinating. Check out Flurry's full report and Venture Beat's coverage below. 

The (Super) supercapacitor: the future of battery technology?

IOS battery.jpg

Battery life is the number one concern on mobile devices. The problem is that there hasn't been a big battery breakthrough in decades. But, this super fast charging, graphine based, solution might be the answer the industry has been looking for. 

Using simple consumer grade electronics, researcher Richard Kaner (and his team at UCLA) hit DVD disks - coated with graphite-oxide - with light from a DVD-drive laser to create graphine. Quite by accident, they discovered that by charging the graphine for 2 to 3 seconds, they could power an LED for 5 minutes. 

This has the potential to change the entire mobile industry, as people wouldn't have to worry about their devices lasting all day when they could charge them in a fraction of the time.  

Check out the video below. 

Samsung tops Apple in internet usage

Samsung GS3 with Chrome

For years, Apple has taken comfort in the fact that their platform has been the clear leader in internet usage. Apple correlates high browser usage with increased monetization, since iPhone and iPad users are more likely to make online purchases than their Android counterparts. Samsung has now taken the internet usage crown according to data from StatCounter, which has been tracking many different mobile devices, platforms, and browsers for the past year (from July 2012 to Jun 2013).

Nokia was the global internet usage leader a year ago, but lost its place to Apple in February. Samsung took a 25.47 percent share in June, 2013, beating Apple's 25.09 percent, and Nokia's 21.96 percent. (These statistics represent world-wide mobile internet use). 

Also, the Chrome browser is now a leader in world-wide internet usage - increasing its market share from 23.84 percent a year ago to 32.46 percent today. Internet Explorer subsequently dropped from 40.89 percent to 32.46 percent over the same period. 

Now, it's important to keep in mind that browser usage statistics vary greatly between organizations that track such information. (The online browser usage tracker, Percent of the Internet, posts different numbers).

This shift toward Android (more specifically Samsung) and Chrome does make one wonder about the future of mobile monetization. Apple, despite no longer being a world-wide internet usage leader, makes developers considerably more money on its platform than Android. Principally, this is because Android's growth is fueled not by high-end devices, but by low-end ones. Those customers often don't have data plans, and aren't willing to purchase apps. That being said, this shift in statistics might persuade app developers to take Android more seriously - launching more apps on Android first, or simultaneously with, iOS. 


iOS leading in ad share

While the latest reports show that Android continues to make significant headway in terms of global marketshare, this does not translate into ad revenue.  

According to Kevin Bostic, writing in Apple Insider, iOS ad share continues to grow, and Android has actually lost ground. Between May 2012-2013, iOS ad share increased from 59 percent to 64 percent, while Android dropped from 41 percent to 36 percent over the same period. 

iOS ad share, May 2012/2013

This is good news for Apple, since higher ad monetization means that developers will be more likely write apps for the iOS platform first. 

Mobile web traffic continues to grow

We all know mobile web traffic has grown substantially, and continues to grow. But, nothing portrays this growth better than a nifty infographic from PC Tricks Blog

Rise of the mobile web

Highlights from the chart: 

  • 15% of all web traffic already comes from mobile devices.
  • 74% of mobile users said they were more willing to visit a site if it was mobile friendly.
  • 96% of mobile users have been to a non-friendly mobile site. 
  • 67% of mobile users said they were more likely to purchase goods from a mobile optimized site.  
  • 84% of respondents use mobile devices to help them shop in brick and mortar stores.  

Apple and Google make gains in US, Android still dominant globally

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

The mobile sphere is never boring thanks to the fierce competition. There are some important updates in the mobile OS market today. 

Greg Sterling, writing in Marketing Land, reports the latest news from comScore regarding the US mobile market. Apparently, 59 percent of American cellphone subscribers own a smartphone - with Pew and Nielsen reporting numbers as high as 61 percent. Apple is still the top phone maker, with Samsung coming in second. Android claimed the top spot for a mobile OS, with Apple in second place. Both Apple and Android saw gains during the quarter, but HTC, Motorola, and LG all lost market share.


Top OEMs

Top platforms

Platform marketshare does not reflect mobile browser usage, however. Below is a breakdown of usage among all the major platforms in the US for the same quarter.

  • iOS: 54 percent
  • Android: 40 percent
  • BlackBerry: 2.2 percent
  • Windows Phone: 1.2 percent
  • Other: 2.6 percent

Apple Insider reported that the iPhone 5 accounted for a whopping 75% of all 4G (aka LTE) web traffic in the US and Canada for "newer" smartphones.

Globally, Android seems to be dominating, which will not help their anti-trust search case in Europe, says Ingrid Lunden writing in Tech Crunch. 

Google-powered smartphones, running Android, accounted for more than 70% of sales in the region’s five biggest markets of Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — part of a wider, global trend of Android continuing to consolidate its leadership position in smartphones
Although smartphone penetration is slowing down in developed markets like Europe, Android’s does not appear to be: that 70.4% of sales is nearly 10 percentage points higher than it was a year ago (61.3% in the three months that ended May 31, 2012).

These figures come from the consultancy firm Kantar. However, the figures do not differentiate between Android variants - namely forked devices that do not have access to the Google play store and ecosystem. 

More information on US and global mobile market share in the sources below.

An Android for "low-end" phones

It's possible that Android will be put on a "crash diet." Jeff Chiu, writing in Quartz, says that Google might try to drastically reduce the hardware requirements for its newest OS (codename Key Lime Pie), to better position itself in emerging markets. Doing so would also help reduce the level of fragmentation present on the platform.

The result would be a version of Android that requires just 512 megabytes of memory (RAM). That’s half as much as the current version of Android needs. Since early 2012, many owners of older Android phones have been unable to upgrade to the current version of Android because their devices have too little memory. That’s one reason Android is so infamously “fragmented,” with the majority of Android phones in the world currently running on “Gingerbread,” a version of the operating system that was first released in 2010.

Link to the full article in the source below. 

Minimal, colourful, flat.

iOS7 Control Center

iOS7 Multitasking

With their announcement of iOS7 on Monday, Apple has embraced a flat and minimalistic user interface, which has been long touted by Android and Window Phone. 

John Koetsier (of Venture Beat) writes about the changes in iOS7, and compares them to Apple's past design choices.

The latest version of iOS is the culmination of Apple’s six-year journey with iPhone, and that journey mirrors the changes that successfully brought Apple back from the brink of death in the late 1990s. The product that saved Apple was the iMac, and Steve Jobs threw it like a grenade into the the computer industry. Where the industry was grey, iMac was color. Where the industry was separate pieces wired together, iMac was unified and singular. Where the industry was opaque, iMac was translucent. 
But the original iMac was also a little childish — a little young — before it became the singular objét d’art that it is today. And like iMac’s 15-year transition from fruity to elegant, iOS has now crossed the user interface Rubicon from Microsoft Bob to the Bauhaus — from decoration to design.
Versions 1 through 6 were Apple’s mobile juvenilia; iOS 7 is Apple at the zenith of its design zen.

Koetsier's summary is quite excellent. Check out his full article in the link bellow.