Monthly Archives: May 2014

Infowatch May – The Teks Newsletter

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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It’s a refreshingly wet end to the month of May. If any of our Indian readers had been complaining of heat and humidity over the past month and a bit – get drenched to your heart’s fill today (as long as the downpour lasts, that is!). Once you’re done, do check out our Infowatch newsletter though – for you would like a concise wrap up of all tech going-ons in this month, right? Here are some of the news bytes from the domain of technology that made it to the headlines in May:

 

‘Roombots’ As Furniture

 

Move over robots, for the ‘roombots’ are here! The latter are battery and motor-powered robotic blocks that can mold themselves in the shape of practically any household furniture. Each roombot measures nine inches in length, and comes with retractable claws. According to Swiss designer Massimo Vespignani, these automated pieces of furniture would be particularly convenient for elderly people.

 

Katniss Everdeen Comes To Your Smartphone

 

Well, this ‘The Hunger Games’-based mobile gaming app has not yet hit the markets – but developer company Kabam has plans to launch it in the third quarter of the year. Mobile experts from Kabam has already got into collaborations with Lionsgate – the banner under which ‘The Hunger Games’ movies are produced – for making a role-playing game, where players would be able to assume the characters of the District Members in the app. Incidentally, Kabam had earlier developed a mobile game based on ‘The Hobbit’.

 

Home Platform From Apple?

 

The WWDC (World Wide Developers’ Conference) starts in two days, and there’s every chance that Apple Inc. will unveil an all-new smart home platform during the event. Either the NFC or the iBeacon technology will be used to pair household electrical gadgets (lights, fans, etc.) with iPhones. The moment you walk in to your room carrying a paired iPhone, the lights in your room will get automatically switched on!

 

Flappy Bird Eyes A Comeback

 

Fans of this mighty addictive mobile gaming application can now rejoice. Don Nguyen, the developer of Flappy Bird, has announced that the name of this game in its revamped avatar will be ‘Flappy Bird: New Version’. The game would have multiplayer features (yay!) – and would probably be available at online stores from August.

 

Mark Zuckerberg Focuses On Charity

 

The man behind Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has donated a princely sum of $120 million for a charitable cause. The money has been given to the authorities of San Francisco Bay Area school – and should go a long way in improving the facilities and infrastructure of the students over there. What Zuckerberg won’t want is a rehash of his much-criticized previous charity act, four years back.

 

Gibson Acquires Phillips’ Audio Business

 

Everyone is talking about the Apple-Beats deal which happened on May – but this acquisition was almost as important (okay, maybe not from the monetary perspective). Gibson Firms, an American music company, has bought the rights for selling all audiovisual equipments of Phillips. The value of this deal was $135 million, and it is expected to strengthen the brand presence of Phillips in the markets of US and Japan.

 

Samsung Galaxy S4 Finally Gets Kids’ Mode

 

The recently released Galaxy S5 already has it, and the South Korean mobile giant has decided to bring Kids Mode to the S4 line of phones as well. This is a welcome piece of news for parents worldwide, who would now be able to let their children use mobile apps for kids on their phone – without having to worry about accidental taps and/or downloads. The Galaxy S4 would also have the Knox 2.0 security suite.

 

Samsung Opts For Tizen OS For Its New Smartwatch

 

There were already indications that Samsung is planning to gradually move away from Android – and the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch has fueled such rumors manifold. The wearable gadget is powered exclusively by the Tizen platform (it’s owned by Samsung) and boasts of voice-based camera features and a music player. It remains to be seen whether Samsung ditches Android for its next line of phones too.

 

Court Orders Google To Let Users Exercise Their ‘Right To Be Forgotten’

 

Following a lawsuit, an European court has issued this directive. The individual users of the search engine can now directly contact the Google authorities to ‘erase’ previously stored details about them on the online space, which are no longer relevant at present. The ruling is in accordance with Article 17 of EDPR (European Data Protection Regulation). Google can no longer dig up unsavory details about people, if the latter don’t want it!

 

Android Phones Again Under Security Scanner

 

If you are a relatively frequent visitor to adult entertainment websites on your Android phone, you might be in for a rude shock pretty soon. A senior professional from Bitdefender has revealed that the Reveton Gang (which launched a mobile malware several years ago) has found an innovative way to frustrate Android-users. The Reveton virus blocks phones as well as computers (via a fake security warning), and asks for a pretty hefty ransom to unlock the devices. The ransomware attacks Android phones and tablets by tracing the IP addresses of the latter. Oh, and the payment channel Reveton opts for (uKash or Paysafecard) cannot be tracked.

 

Salesforce Apps To Be Available On Windows Phones

 

In a bid to strengthen his ‘mobile first, cloud first’ strategy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that most customer-management mobile applications of Salesforce will be present (a long-time competitor of Microsoft in the mobile market) on the forthcoming range of Windows devices. The collaboration would facilitate easier and quicker data integration on users. The deal is expected to make Microsoft a force to reckon with in the domain of cloud computing.

 

Book Publishers Enraged By Amazon’s Power Abuse

 

General book-lovers as well as publishing houses have reacted strongly to Amazon’s distinctly underhand tactics to manipulate buyer-behavior and promote e-books from its platform. The online bookstore of Amazon has even gone to the lengths of raising the prices and wilfully delaying the delivery of books. Hachette, one of the leading booksellers in the US, has directly felt the brunt of Amazon’s antics. There is a conflict scenario between Amazon and individual publishers/guilds in Germany too.

 

End Of Apple vs Samsung – Latest Edition

 

The patent-infringement lawsuit that had been raging over the last couple of months was finally settled in the first week of this month. Samsung Mobile was ordered to pay $119 million to Apple Inc. by a California jury. Although this was a moral victory for Apple, the penalty mentioned in the final verdict is way less than the $2.2 billion the company had initially demanded. What’s more – Apple was also ordered to pay $158400 to Samsung, for infringing a patent regulation.

 

Panic Spreads At eBay

The belief that eBay was a virtual marketplace completely safe from hacker attacks was turned on its head in May. According to Devin Wenig (the head of global marketplaces), hackers managed to access the contact details of a whopping 145 million users worldwide – by using the credentials of 3 eBay employees. The company promptly issued notifications to people to change their eBay login passwords immediately. Thankfully, the payment gateway was not compromised.

 

Springpad To Shut Down Soon

 

Catch Notes and Astrid were note-taking mobile apps that were mighty popular at the online stores, before both of them were pulled down. Springpad, which created quite a buzz initially, is about to follow suit. The app would shut down next month, and users worldwide have been advised to take a backup of their data on another application (e.g., Evernote).

 

Roger Federer Spotted Wearing Google Glass

Google Glass has found a celebrity fan in the form of Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis ace. Federer wore Glass during a practice session with his coach Stefan Edberg – at Mountain View. At the end of the session, Federer expressed that it was indeed interesting to get the ‘Google Glass view’ while playing. Glass has received only lukewarm response among techies and general users till date, and the thumbs-up from Federer can boost its sales in future.

 

Prototypes For The Google Chauffeur Project Are Out

It was confirmed last week that Google is indeed working on creating ‘driverless cars’ in the United States. These cars won’t have brakes, steerings, or fuel chambers – and would roughly resemble the shape of a computer mouse. The maximum speed of these automated, self-driven cars will be 40 km/h. During the Code Conference at LA, Google co-founder Sergey Brin expressed confidence about the success of these driverless vehicles.

 

BBM Protected To Be Launched Soon

 

Blackberry CEO John Chen has already dropped hints that the company would be focusing more on enterprise users, and BBM Protected would be the first update in this regard. This iteration of Blackberry Messenger would allow office colleagues to chat with each other, under a greater security hood. BBM Protected would, of course, retain its general instant messaging (IM) features. Powered by Blackberry 10.2, Protected is likely to be launched in mid-June.

 

Instagram against ‘belfies’?

 

If you like to take selfies and upload them on Instagram, you better be in shape ‘literally’. Meghan Tonjes, a California-based user, had uploaded photos of herself – narrating her tale of weight-loss. To her utter surprise, she found that the picture of her…well, ample…bottom (hence the name ‘belfie’) had been removed by Instagram, for breaching guidelines. Interestingly, the photo-sharing website and mobile app has nothing to say against the large number of skimpily-clad people who upload their selfies every day. Double standards, anyone?

 

Dell Reclaims Top Spot In The Indian PC Sector

 

The reports for the first quarter of 2014 are out, and Dell has emerged as the undisputed leader in the personal computer market in India. Indrajit Belgundi, the director of Dell India, highlighted improved distribution system and better partner support as two key causes behind the company managing to capture an impressive 23.1% market share. In the workstation segment in particular, Dell has a staggering 47.1% share in India.

 

With the launch of iPhone 6 in the horizon, Apple has announced that it would fix all lingering bugs in iPhone 5 handsets – in a bid to keep buyer loyalty levels intact. Speculations about the probable features of iWatch are on – while the news of Facebook working on a video-chatting app to trump Snapchat also featured among the tech highlights of May.

 

 

As has become the norm for practically every month now, a slew of new smartphones hit the market in May. Among them, the LG G3, the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Micromax Unite easily made the most headlines. Blackberry is pinning its hopes on its budget smartphone, Z3, to bring about a mini-revival. In India, Moto E has become immensely popular after its launch in May (Flipkart reported that the phone is ‘out of stock’ thrice).

Okay, that’s about it regarding the going-ons in the world of technology this month. Now for a brief look into what we – the Teknowledge mobile app development team – had been up to. Two new mobile applications – News Feed and FitTube – were launched in May. The former is a real-time newsreading app, offering custom feeds from multiple internationally recognized news agencies. FitTube, on the other hand, is a personalized fitness and exercise/workout application (developed for our Australian client Amanda Smith). Fitness videos on YouTube can be directly downloaded on the app. We are happy to report that FitTube has managed to break into the top-100 apps in Australia, within a couple of days of its launch.

Teknowledge on Pinterest

As far as online presence is concerned, it was a more than decent month for us. A Pinterest profile has been started (http://www.pinterest.com/teksstudio/), while our Behance profile (https://www.behance.net/teknowledge) now has nearly 600 project appreciations. The number of our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TeknowledgeMobileStudio) followers is growing too.

Story Time For Kids - shortlisted for mBillionth Award

So, that was all that the cake named ‘May 2014’ was all about. Now for the icing – our mobile storytelling app, Story Time For Kids, got shortlisted for the coveted annual mBillionth Award South Asia this month (final results are pending). Fingers crossed, we would be able to report more such great news next month.

 

If you have any tech update that should have featured on this list, feel free to add it in a comment. Until next time then – enjoy June!

 

The Apple-Beats Deal: What, Why & How?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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In what was Tim Cook’s first major corporate takeover deal, Apple announced its formal acquisition of Beats Electronic on May 28. In what follows, readers will be brought up to scratch with some of the nitty-gritty of this deal.

After purchasing NeXT and getting back co-founder Steve Jobs onboard (way back in 1997) Apple had not really spent big money on any major acquisitions. That was until the day before yesterday though – when it splurged $ 3 billion to buy Beats Electronic. We would here look at all the aspects related to the high-profile Apple-Beats deal, which had been in the news for several weeks:

 

  1. What does Beats do? – Beats is not only a high-end headset maker, contrary to what many consider it to be. The company has two divisions – Beats Electronic and Beats Music. The former is into making high-end speakers, headphones and accessories. The latter, on the other hand, offers seamless music-streaming services. Apple has bought them both.
  2. How much is the deal worth? – Out of the overall $3 billion worth of the acquisition, Apple is paying $2.6 billion upfront. The rest of the amount will be paid out in the form of stocks later. While these figures are barely a fraction of Apple’s total cash reserves – they are more than Beats’ average annual earnings.
  3. A long-standing corporate relationship – The deal might have finalized only yesterday – but Apple and Beats were reportedly in sync with each other for nearly a decade. Jimmy Iovine, the CEO and founder of Beats had visited Apple (along with several other companies) at the turn of the century, when digital music was beginning to make a mark in the worldwide markets. Apple has a long history in offering classic blends of technology and sophistication in their products (think, the iPod), and that had impressed Iovine a great deal.
  4. How will Apple benefit from the deal? – No one comes even close to the total number of music file downloads from iTunes, the store has nearly 50 million listeners for its free radio service, and most music-related iOS mobile apps are wildly popular. So, why did Apple need to acquire Beats? Eddy Cue, the chief of iTunes store, pinpoints the customized playlist option that Beats offers as the key reason. For all the enormity of Apple’s song collections, it could not provide a customized album-listening experience to people till date. Beats will fill up this requirement.
  5. Is this Apple’s first acquisition for a long time? – In terms of the volume of money changing hands, it is. However, Apple has been actively acquiring companies in the recent past – with as many as 27 firms bought in the 2013-14 fiscal year alone. According to CEO Tim Cook, acquiring Beats was an addition to a strategy that Apple has been following for some time now. In fact, he termed the Apple-Beats deal as a journey ‘from dating to marriage’!
  6. What will happen to Beats’ headphone business? – This is not yet completely clear till now. One thing is for certain though – Apple does not have any plans to pull the plug on the production of Beats headphones in the foreseeable future. Within a relatively short time span (half a decade or so) Beats has managed to capture nearly 61% of the market, and it does not make any sense in stopping this almost-certain source of steady revenue. Of course, it would be a mistake to assume that Apple has acquired Beats for only its headset business. The Apple earpads are horribly bad, but they hardly make a dent in the company’s overall prosperity.
  7. Hasn’t the Apple-Beats deal come a bit earlier than expected? – It has. Initial reports and rumors suggested the deal would be announced formally at the World Wide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), that kicks off on the 2nd of June. Professional software makers and mobile application developers feel that Apple brought forward the deal date by a few days, simply because the company has a lot other things on its roster at the WWDC. Interestingly, the final acquisition value ($3 billion) is about $200 million lower than what had been estimated at first.
  8. What happens now to the founders of Beats? – Iovine and Dr. Dre (the co-founders of Beats) have maintained that they always wanted to work WITH Apple. Thanks to this acquisition – it seems that they will now be working FOR the company. Dre and Jimmy will have to commute from LA to San Francisco and back frequently, since Beats will be continuing its operations as a standalone company.
  9. Taking the fight to Spotify – While Apple theoretically, of course, can launch music-streaming services – Tim Cook has ruled out the implementation of any such plans. Instead, with the support of Beats Music, Apple Inc. would find it easier to break into the market segment dominated by Spotify till date. Interestingly, this was not one of the motives that Cook or any other Apple executives stated. All that they harped on was how eager they were to work with the ‘incredible’ people of Beats.
  10. Will the deal be profitable in the long-run? – Unless something drastically goes wrong, Beats should start adding to Apple’s already considerable revenue figures from October or November this year. The headphone company recorded a mighty impressive 30% hike (in the first quarter of 2014) over its $1.1 billion earnings last year. Over time, the percentage of Beats’ contribution to Apple’s revenue is expected to increase.
  11. Were the Beats co-founders always interested in the music industry? – According to Doug Morris, the CEO of Sony Music, this wasn’t the case. Jimmy Iovine was the one who was interested in making high-end headphones, while all that Dr. Dre wanted to do was open a sneakers-manufacturing company! If Iovine had not managed to convince Dr. Dre for starting Beats, there would have been no deal!
  12. The shaky ground of digital music industry at present – Although the total music downloads from iTunes recently crossed 36 billion, a closer look reveals cracks. Eddy Cue has already highlighted the rapidly dwindling number of music records being launched at the online store. The number of new music-related mobile apps at the store has gone down slightly too. In such a scenario, the curation-oriented business model that Beats follows is likely to serve as a channel for revival of digital music. If things go as per plans, a free version of Beats might also be on its way pretty soon.

Jimmy Iovine had already tried to collaborate with HTC to revolutionize the face of mobile music, but that strategy fell flat on its face. Undaunted, he and Dr. Dre has now got into a deal with Apple, that would make digital music qualitatively better and technologically more nuanced than ever before. There’s no point in speculating whether Steve Jobs (not particularly known for his spending habits) would also have gone for this acquisition. The Apple-Beats deal is confirmed, and if the surge in the valuation of Apple’s shares after the announcement is any indication, it might prove to be a really smart move.

 

16 Great Splash Screen Examples For Mobile Apps

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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It’s better to not have a splash screen at all than have one that looks dull and boring – that seems to be the general consensus among app designers. Wasting the precious few seconds that an app requires to load does not make sense though – and a good splash screen can use this time effectively, just like the following do.

When a user launches an app, the latter takes a few seconds to load (ideally, this time should not be more than 10 seconds). This time is generally utilized by most app developers for displaying a splash screen. Although there is a school of thought that splash screens tend to make an app ‘seem’ slow, there is no way of doubting the impression that they can potentially have on app-users. The key is to prepare a nice and interesting blend of pictures, symbols, colors, and other visual branding elements – to keep people from feeling bored (that’s right, even a few seconds of staring at a blank mobile screen can be boring!), as the application loads. Here are a few elegant and well-designed splash screen examples:

Agent PC

The splash screen on this mobile app focuses chiefly on increasing the familiarity of the company logo with users. The bright orange background is eye-catching, and the logo has been cleverly put right at the center. The glowing effect around the logo is an interesting addition too.

Weesh

This one stands out due to its smart yet informal nature. UI/UX designers from mobile app companies should note how the loading progress of the application is displayed on this screen – lending it a dynamic feel. The image used is practically child-like, with the wordplay in the caption (‘make a weesh’) adding to its charm. Understated, but interesting!

JackThreads

If you like to play around with the texture of mobile app splash screens, this would be the perfect example for you. The jet-black background has only the app name and the caption at the center, but never looks too plain. The tagline used on the screen also gives users a notion of what the app in particular, and the company in general, is all about.

Evernote

The Evernote mobile application has legions of users – and the splash screen does its bit to keep people interested. The lively green color of the background has an immediate drawing-in effect, with only the app-symbol (not even the name) being displayed. The makers have put in a collage of icons in the background, which, in a way, promotes some of their other smartphone applications.

Forkly

On first sight, the splash screen of the Forkly app might remind you of a blackboard. It’s a deliberate ploy on the part of the mobile app developers to use chalk effects on the screen – and this strategy does lend a ‘different’ feel to Forkly’s startup. The font and background texture contrast well. The tagline chosen is informative without trying to be too clever.

Zaarly

The collage of images, featuring happy faces, is the high point of the splash screen of Zaarly – a mobile buying application. A one-line text is enough to let users know what to expect from the app, and the logo (in the stylized ‘Z’) is seamlessly displayed. The blue background ensures that all the photos are easily viewable.The trademark sign indicates that the makers are aware of their intellectual property rights as well!

Vimeo

A dedicated video app should have an interesting introductory screen, and Vimeo does not come up short in this regard. The simplistic, colorful illustrations on the splash screen makes it almost look like a mobile app for kids. The choice of colors is very smart, and the overall display has a sort of warm, welcoming effect. Short and sweet would be the best way to describe this screen.

Blip Me

The developers of the Blip Me application has played around with fancy text styles – and to good effect. The wooden texture (on the lower portion of the background) is particularly innovative, as is the way in which the space between the two words is utilized. It’s an Android app that operates almost like a walkie-talkie, and people can get an idea about that directly from the screen.

Popset

This group image-sharing application is somewhat similar in its functionality to our very own ‘Speedy Snap’ app. What’s noticeable in this splash screen is the different texture used for the title of the app. The light background complements the text and the rather playful logo nicely. There’s a quietly efficient feel about this one.

Cloudee

Newbies from iPhone app development companies can take a cue from Cloudee, to get an idea of how to create splash screens that are in sync with the nature of the concerned applications. Cloudee facilitates quick and easy video-sharing on the cloud network – hence the name – and the splash screen displays images of nice little clouds. The color is varied, to prevent any sort of monotony. The way in which every cloud overlaps the one next to it is worth noticing too.

Coaster

The great thing about this drink-buying Android and iPhone app is its simplicity and subtle elegance. The gradient color beautifully changes from purple to blue – giving the screen a cool ‘pop-out’ effect. Nothing except the name of the application is displayed at the center, while at the bottom there is a punchline (admittedly, it looks like a line out of any teen movie!). If the tagline had been something a bit more imaginative, the screen would have been truly outstanding.

Weather of Olympus (WOO)

If you like to get weather updates on your mobile, you might have already tried this popular Android application. Its splash screen has a bright yellow hue – but what’s more interesting is the icon at the center, which immediately piques the interest of users. The gradient and texture are uniform, and load time is relatively short.

Nike+ Running

Nike correctly assumes that anyone who is not familiar with the famous ‘tick’ sign of its logo is practically living in the Stone Age. It does not bother putting the brand name on the mobile splash screen – and focuses on enhancing the display effects instead. The red background is the perfect contrast with the white logo at the center. Also of note is how the mobile app designers have showcased running tracks in the lower portion of the screen.

Lift

Lift is promoted as a mobile coaching app, and its splash screen is nicely indicative of its overall functionality. The punchline ‘Unlock Your Potential’ both intrigues as well as motivates users, as they wait for the app to load. The white vertical stripes combine very well with the light blue color. The choice of font for the app-name deserves a special mention as well. It’s elegant, without coming across as too frivolous or difficult-to-read.

iSpice

There are plenty of cooking apps created by mobile companies across the world – so why does iSpice stand out? The most important factor would be its splash screen, which has the image of an interestingly curled up red chilli! On the two sides, different spices are displayed – one of a light and the other of a dark shade (which works wonders as a contrast). iSpice is all about ‘spicy’ cooking, and launching the app immediately gives smartphone-owners an idea about that!

Lemon Wallet

The reviews of the Lemon Wallet app are not uniformly positive, but its splash screen is nothing short of awesome. The feel of an actual leather wallet is captured in the screen, via the stitch displays and the overall texture. The logo – bright, large, and clear – sits proudly at the center, with the name and the tagline of the app beneath it. Our ‘My Budget Tracker’ application has a somewhat similar look and feel in its splash screen.

 

When it comes to professionalism and neat efficiency, few mobile app splash screens can rival that of the Paypal application (note how the name is embedded in the screen). FlipBoard and National Parks would win brownie points for the lively themes in their startup screens. Among location-based mobile applications, LocalHero and Pocket Navigator (that’s from our own portfolio) offer contrasting, yet equally interesting introduction pages. We offered some handy tips on splash screen designing sometime back, and together with these examples – they should serve as really handy references for creating smart, interesting startups for your mobile apps.

 

AppBoard Tuesday – How To Minimize Risks Of App Rejection At iTunes?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Another week, another Tuesday, and time for another edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). By the way, have you ever wondered why we don’t bring out our internal newsletter on the first day of the week? Well, Mondays are when you might be feeling a little ‘blue’ (c’mon, who doesn’t feel a bit of ‘Monday Blues’?) – so Tuesday is a much better option to get your attention to the stuff we share in our ABTs.

Okay, enough of the starters – now for the main course. This week, we will be discussing an issue that every mobile application developer lives in mortal fear of – the risk of their apps getting rejected at Apple iTunes. According to CEO Tim Cook himself, around 30% of all the submitted apps are rejected every week, simply because developers fail to meet specific guidelines. We won’t be talking about the more evident causes of such app-rejection, like presence of bugs/malware and a high frequency of app crashes. Instead, readers will be acquainted with other, often overlooked factors. Be wary of these issues, before submitting your app:

 

Usage Of Apple’s Copyrighted Images

 

Apple Inc. has a wide range of bright and stylish user-interface components, pictures, buttons, and similar stuff – which you might feel would look just perfect on your app. If you happen to pinch and upload a copyrighted image though, your app is almost certain to get rejected. The designers at Apple are creative, but they don’t like their creations being randomly used by others.

 

Mentioning The Names Of Other Platforms

 

Like Teknowledge, there are many other companies that are into cross-platform mobile app development. On iTunes though, you must never mention that your app is ‘also available on Google Play Store’, or any other platforms. Apple, understandably, hates it when the names of its rivals are mentioned in its store – and your app might face a swift rejection as a result.

 

Note: This is not an iTunes-exclusive regulation. On no online store should you ever mention the other platforms your mobile app supports. Publish such information on your website, social media pages and press releases instead.

 

Use Of Apple Product Names

 

Have an app (let’s say it’s name is ABCWorld) fully customized for iPhone 5? Don’t make the folly of naming it ‘iPhone ABCWorld app’. In general, avoid the temptation to use the names of any Apple product in your app name. Remember, terms like ‘iphone’, iPad’, ‘iPod Touch’ and the like are trademark properties of Apple. App developers have no right to use them for commercial purposes.

 

Submitting Apps That Save Data On Users’ Devices

 

With the release of iOS 5.1, Apple has categorically debarred any app that saves data on the devices of users. The latest iOS smartphones and tablets have iCloud support, and your app is not supposed to abuse the space available here. Create the application in a way that, the Local Storage and the device cache is used for data-storage. Saved data should never have any overwrite option.

 

Using Only The iOS Simulator For Speed Testing

 

No matter how beautiful and innovative the splash screens of your apps are, no one would wait for minutes for it to load properly. On the iOS simulator, an app should load within a maximum of 15 seconds. However, that’s not all what you  need to consider. Test the speed of the app on slightly older iOS device models as well, and make sure that the load speed is high enough on them as well. Not everyone has the iPhone 5S – and you need to offer great user-experience to those having older phones too.

 

A ‘Beta’ App Never Gets Approved

 

All iPhone app developers have felt that the review process at the iTunes store is too stringent. Let’s be fair over here though – why on earth would Apple want to showcase a mobile application that is unfinished? Submit only the final, pre-tested version of the app, and do not put in words like ‘preview’ or ‘beta’ in its name. At times, naming a new app ‘Version 0.9’ can spell its doom!

 

Creating An App With Extremely Limited User Appeal

 

Apple wishes that all iOS apps should have a mass appeal (okay, our My Budget Tracker is not meant to be as popular as Angry Birds!). If you develop and submit an application that caters to the needs of an extremely small niche of mobile users – you would be, in essence, toying with the risks of rejection. It’s not always possible to come up with apps that everybody would be interested in – but it is advisable to widen the set of potential users as much as possible.

 

Using Third-Party Payment Channels

 

Users should have the option of purchasing an iOS application through their iTunes account, and there must never be any other alternative ways. Do not include links on any of your app pages/screens, that lead users to a third-party payment gateway (for digital subscriptions as well as in-app purchases). Even biggies like Dropbox got banned from the Apple store – simply because it had flouted this regulation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that providing more purchase options would add to users’ convenience. If your app gets booted out, no one will get to see it!

 

Implementation Of Private APIs

Apple cares for the confidentiality of the information stored in the iOS devices of users’ – and hence this regulation. If your app calls an external framework, private API, or a coding library – there are chances that it will pick up (without the user’s content) information from the smartphones and tablets in which they are installed. Avoid using such external, private APIs – the authorities at Apple do not like them at all!

 

Excessive Vibrations

While there has been no official statement about the maximum permissible level/duration of vibrations in iPhone apps, it is always better to err on the safer side. There have been many cases till date where apps that generate excessive vibrations (mostly at the time of sending notifications) have been disapproved by Apple. In general too, people won’t like apps that would cause their phones to vibrate all day long – so what’s the point?

 

Developing Apps That Are Bandwidth Killers

 

If your all-new snazzy app places too much strain on the available mobile bandwidth of prospective users, Apple won’t take too kindly to them. Applications that have .ipa images of size more than 50 MB have practically minimal chances of approval. You need to remember that there are many users who have limited cellular data plans on their devices – and your app would be either too slow, or completely non-functional for them. Keep a close tab on the megabytes of data downloaded, every time your app is launched (during the mobile app testing phase). If it hogs too much of data, don’t bother submitting it to iTunes before doing the necessary modifications.

 

Not Bothering To Ask For User Permissions

 

Apart from ensuring that your app remains functional even when the network connectivity is weak (or absent) – this is yet another factor you need to consider. On all iOS 6 devices, Apple has made it mandatory for apps to ask for users’ permissions for accessing the information stored in their devices. Even when such permission request is denied, the app needs to remain functional. If the app you have submitted crashes whenever someone does not allow it to access personal information, it won’t be approved by Apple. Rest assured.

 

Presence Of Adult Content In Apps

 

Right from the app name, to the on-page content and links present in it – if anything is even vaguely suggestive of porn, iTunes will refuse to take a second look at the application. In early-2010, Apple cracked down on all apps that had sexually provocative names and/or functionality. At Google Play Store, you can use a third-party marketplace to showcase adult-themed Android apps. On iTunes, there is no chance of doing the same.

 

Apps Created For A Short Time-Span (Usually, an event)

Apple wishes all iOS applications to deliver value to users over a long time-span. Apps that are specifically developed for lotteries, sweepstakes or any other form of one-shot contests violate this – and hence, are generally rejected at the first go. If you have come up with an app that only promotes a short-duration event, don’t expect it to find favor at iTunes.

 

Make sure that your products do not have the same (or are not too much ‘inspired’ by) the existing applications at iTunes. Do not submit an app that has the look and feel of a mobile website. Be careful while implementing all the human interface features. We’ve learnt these little tricks to get iPhone apps approved at iTunes without any hassles – and we hope that other app developers would be benefited by the above pointers too.

 

And with that, it’s time to wrap up the fourth edition of AppBoard Tuesday. Next week, we will be covering yet another relevant issue related to mobile apps. Do feel free to suggest any topic that you wish to be addressed through this newsletter. Oh, and keep in mind – on the 31st, ‘Infowatch May’ will be out. Till the next time, stay zapped with…you know it by now…apps!

 

The Worldwide Mobile App Market: Facts & Figures

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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The mobile app-making industry is a highly skewed one – with around 25% of all developers accounting for over half of the revenues from the online stores. Such other fascinating trends and insights from the mobile app sector have been presented in what follows.

In 2008, Mary Meeker, a tech analyst from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, had predicted that the usage of mobile web would overtake that of static internet (i.e., via computers and laptops) by 2014. Going by the tremendous increase in the usage of smartphone applications across the globe, Meeker’s prediction seems well on its way towards being realized, pretty soon. We here present some interesting facts and data from the global mobile app market:

 

  1. Nearly 60 billion total downloads from iTunes – Apple iTunes has witnessed growth at amazing rates, particularly since 2010. The total number of app downloads from the store stands at a shade below 60 billion at present – with more than 800 applications being downloaded every second (on average). Music and gaming apps have emerged as the most popular, with the former registering a growth rate of 66% over the last 3 years.
  2. Free apps rule the roost – This is one of the key reasons why mobile app development companies are increasingly focusing on creating free applications with in-app advertisements. Industry experts have projected that the total number of free app downloads would reach 254 billion by the end of 2016. On the other hand, the total number of downloaded paid apps would be somewhere in the region of 13.5 billion by the same period.
  3. Increase in cross-platform mobile usage – While accessing the web on mobile devices is a trend that has caught on, people are yet to start using smartphones and tablets as the ‘only’ medium to use the internet. As per latest reports, almost 60% users were reported to be utilizing personal computers as well as as mobile handsets to connect to the World Wide Web. The number of ‘mobile-only’ web users has remained fairly static (although significant) during the last few quarters.
  4. Burgeoning popularity of gaming apps – Across countries, gaming apps seem to have caught the fancy of all smartphone-users. In countries like Spain, South Korea and China, the amount earned from the download of mobile gaming applications vary in the 55%-60% range (out of the total revenues of online app stores). In the Apple iTunes store, games make up 18.3% of the total download count, with education and business apps coming in at the second and third positions respectively.
  5. App development is not necessarily a profit-earning profession – Even if we discount the 18% of mobile app developers across the globe who have no wish to earn money through their apps, this observation remains true. According to a VisionMobile report, around ⅔rd of all app developers earn less than $500 per application (which is considered to be the threshold income level in this sector). Around 53%-54% of iOS and Android developers actually lose money (in varying levels). In comparison, HTML5 developers generally earn more.
  6. Mobile app market to touch $25 billion – Over the last couple of years, the mobile app industry has witnessed annual growths in excess of 60%. This, in turn, has pushed up the total value of the sector to above a whopping $25 billion. With a 65% share, iOS applications mint the most money, with Android apps (27% share) coming in at second. Interestingly, it has been projected that tablet apps would become more popular than smartphone apps by 2018.
  7. Mobile apps easily outperform mobile web – Researches have proved that this is virtually a no-contest. In 2013, people spent an average of 29-30 hours per month on using mobile apps. During this period, the time spent on accessing mobile websites was a measly 3 hours and a bit. What’s more – as apps are becoming more popular, the interest in mobile web seems to be receding, albeit at a slow rate.
  8. Rise of in-app purchases – Since only 7% of the apps showcased at the online stores are paid, developers have been forced to think up alternative ways for earning from their products. The dominant trend in this regard has been the proliferation of in-app purchase options. By the end of next year, at least 3 out of every 10 mobile app downloads will offer in-app purchases to buyers. Not surprisingly, the revenue share through this channel has jumped from 10% (in 2011), to a touch above 40% at present.
  9. India has emerged as a major player – No longer can any doubts be expressed regarding the prominence of India in the worldwide mobile application development sector. The country presently has well over three lakh app developers, and the total value of the industry is expected to reach an all-time high of $626 million by 2016. At present, more than 100 million mobile apps are downloaded on a monthly basis in India.
  10. Parents regularly search for mobile app for kids – Not only have kids and teens from around the world caught up by the app juggernaut – parents too seem to have realized that mobile applications are good for their wards. The tendency of looking for age-appropriate apps is more among parents of girls (74%) than those of boys (63%). For those in the 3-7 age group, educational apps for kids are the most popular, while teens in the 12-17 age range prefer music and social networking applications more.
  11. The iOS vs Android debate – If you consider revenue figures, iOS is the clear-cut winner, while from the download share perspective – Android comes up trumps. An overwhelming 75% of total app revenues accrue from Apple iOS applications, while the earning figure from Android apps hover around 20%. However, when it comes to total number of downloads, Android enjoys numero uno position – with significantly more than 50% of market share.
  12. Apps as a tool for mobile marketing – The usage of specific company-branded mobile apps has received a boost in the last year too, with around 26% people presently using such applications. While mobile marketing still remains dependant on search, there is little room for doubt that apps have also started to make their presence felt in this domain. They offer corporate houses a quick, easy and customized way to connect with prospective clients.
  13. More downloads do not automatically imply greater success – A well-promoted mobile application will have handsome initial download figures. That, however, does not necessarily mean that it is a big hit among users. A Localytics study has revealed that, around 1 in every 4 downloaded apps are never used more than once by users (this metric has remained steady over several quarters). Experts on iPhone and Android apps, hence, need to consider factors other than total download figures, to gauge the success (or otherwise ) of an app.
  14. Social networking is far from being the top app category – Given that Facebook is, by far, the most popular mobile app amongst US-users, this comes as something of a surprise. At iTunes, social networking apps make up less than 2% of the total number of downloads – which puts this category well below entertainment, sports, music and business apps. The figure is somewhat similar at Google Play Store and Blackberry App World too.

 

Experts feel that, in the next few years, the big breakthrough would arrive in the domain of mobile retail transactions. The total value of mobile payments has been projected to reach $720 billion by 2017 – a more than three-fold increase over the 2013 figure. Mobile web has not quite gone beyond the usage of static internet yet – but such a scenario is more than plausible within the next two years.

 

25 Categories Of Smartphone Users: Explained Through Memes

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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It’s Friday afternoon, and most of you probably already have one eye on the upcoming weekend, right? Let’s not get into any serious tech topic here, just when you are thinking about catching ‘Godzilla’ at the theaters, hitting a nightclub (c’mon, it’s Friday Night!), or looking forward to simply sleeping away the next two days. But hey, we are a mobile application development company – so how can a blog post of ours be filled with run-of-the-mill jokes and gags? It won’t – but we will put a smile on your face by categorizing all smartphone users in the following categories. Let’s see if you can identify with any of them:

The ‘Oh-So-Lonely’ Smartphone User

 

(S)he will spend the weekend playing single-player games (which can be anything from Solitaire to Card Shark) on his her smartphone. To add some spice, (s)he can even try texting him/herself. In most cases, these smartphone users are proud of the fact that mobile handsets are their best (and probably only!) friends.

 

The ‘Sleepyhead’ Smartphone User

 

These poor dears can’t really be blamed. They’ll party hard till late night, return home in the wee hours of Saturday morning, put their smartphone in silent mode, and drop on the bed like drooping daisies. Their dreams of sleeping till Saturday noon will be quashed though – simply because they had forgotten to silence/put off the phone alarm too. At 6:00 am, the device will rudely awaken them – and they will remain sleepy throughout the Saturday.

 

Note: Some are more fortunate – their sleep is too deep to be disturbed by phone alarms!

 

The ‘Know-It-All’ Smartphone User

 

Well, they don’t really know everything about everything, but they sure know how to use their smartphones to cover up their knowledge deficiencies. Try telling something to them during a weekend gossip session – and they will immediately flash out their fancy iPhone/Android phone, launch the internet, and prove (at least try to!) that you are factually wrong.

 

The ‘Too-Many-Contacts’ Smartphone User

Most smartphones offer unlimited contact lists – and these users would use this feature to store the numbers of as many people as they can. Confusions would soon ensue, as they end up sending text messages, WhatsApp messages and BBM pings to the wrong persons. And as they say, a wrong message in the hands of a wrong person can spell DOOM!

 

The ‘Misled’ New Smartphone User

 

From iPhones and Android handsets, to even Windows Phones and Blackberry (to a much smaller extent though) – every smartphone platform has hardcore fanboys. A new buyer can get influenced by the biased opinions of his/her buddies, and later find that his buying-decision was not at all correct. Imagine a weekend traveler having to rely on the grossly inaccurate Apple Maps!

 

The ‘Creative’ Smartphone User

 

These lot have to be applauded. They will come up with new, entirely original (at most times) and increasingly intriguing ways to use their mobiles, without compromising on their own convenience. Instruction manuals don’t have any meaning for them – they will use their smartphones in exactly the way they feel like.

 

The ‘Always With Charger’ Smartphone User

 

A smart set of people. They know that a smartphone laden with scores of mobile app won’t offer great battery life, and are forever ready to pull out the phone charger at every opportunity. A bit of frustration might creep in though – after all, it’s plain sad if your phone battery dies quickly after a full night of charging.

 

The ‘Absent-Minded’ Smartphone User

 

To give credit where it’s due, they are very agreeable in nature. The problem is, they are not always aware of what they are saying ‘yes’ to – particularly if they have the latest smartphone model in their hands. There are loads of gaming apps launched by mobile app companies every month – these users have them all, and keep playing even when there’s ice in the car or fire in the house!

The ‘Oh, dear! Can’t Use’ Smartphone User

 

Someone from up above are not pleased with these people – and hence, these troubles. Imagine the chagrin of a teenager, all set to show off his/her flashy new smartphone to friends – only to be stymied by the fact that (s)he can’t unlock the screen. Repeated tries later, and confidence levels having taken a nosedive – (s)he has to trudge to a local service center, and get the stupid, malfunctioning (or should it be non-functioning?) device repaired.

 

The ‘Laggard’ Smartphone User

 

They are perennially late to jump on the latest smartphone bandwagon. Those from this group depend on rumors and hearsay for deciding on which model to buy – and ultimately end up spending money on an almost outdated device. Think about someone buying the Samsung Galaxy S2 instead of the chic, new S5 – and you’ll get the picture.

 

The ‘Superhero’ Smartphone User

These self-professed superheroes are nothing but addicts of mobile adventure games. In a virtual world, they perform all sorts of deadly stunts with consummate ease – and unfortunately, feel that they can do the same in the real world too. Sense arrives only after a fractured limb or any other form of serious injury. This is precisely why mobile apps for kids do not generally have any form of dangerous actions depicted in them.

The ‘Forever Comparative’ Smartphone User

 

Blackberry fans view iPhone-users as too flippant, Android fans view Blackberry as a piece of fossil, iPhone fans think of Android-users as wannabe geeks…and the argument continues. The moment (s)he catches up with you – (s)he will take the slightest cue on arguing that his/her smartphone is way better than yours. It’ll be an absolute blessing if you have the same model though – the, the two of you can jot down the minus points of all other mobile OS platforms together.

 

The ‘App-Addict’ Smartphone User

 

If you say ‘What is a smartphone without regularly updated mobile apps?’, no one will agree with you more wholeheartedly than these people. Even when their mobile battery is about to breathe its last, their first concern would be to auto-update their apps (and ensuring that the battery gets exhausted even sooner!). Not calling home, not texting to parent – it’s only about those ‘more-precious-than-life’ apps.

 

The ‘Wifi Hunter’ Smartphone User

 

At restaurants, at home, while walking across the driveway – these people will keep checking whether their smartphone has free wifi access. If yes, they will do a bit of quick browsing – or else, they’ll keep looking. They believe (correctly) that the mobile web network should not be overburdened, and if wireless connectivity is available anywhere – it simply MUST be used. No wonder most places have started using password-protected wifi resources.

 

The ‘New’ Smartphone User

 

Ah, our sweet moms and dads – migrating from the first time from their out-of-fashion Nokia handsets to sleek smartphones. Tasks as simple as typing out a text message or putting the phone on loudspeaker seem more challenging than rocket science to them. Try calling them up or strike up a SMS conversation with them – and you’ll easily detect how awkward they are with smartphones.

 

A quick disclaimer – There are many elderly people who use smartphones with absolute elan. We aren’t talking about such quick learners here.

 

The ‘Not-In-Sync’ Smartphone User

We don’t often realize this, but smartphones have a mind of their own. Just because someone has downloaded a cool music app from a good mobile apps company does not mean (s)he will be able to enjoy just the songs (s)he likes. It might very well happen that the phone’s favorite tunes are different from that of the user’s. In such cases, the former’s wishes prevail. Nearly always.

 

The ‘Overprotective’ Smartphone User

 

Alternatively known as snobs. They will show off the snazzy new mobile devices they have recently bought – but all hell might break loose if you even touch the phones without their prior consent. It’s not actually a fault – they indeed believe that their pricey smartphones can be handled in the best manner only by themselves.

 

The ‘Follow The Fad’ Smartphone User

 

They love the feel of new smartphones – and they wish to enjoy the feeling every few months (or even weeks!). Every time there’s a buzz about a new smartphone being launched, they are the first to pre-order it. Factors such as price, technical specs, longevity take a backseat – as only one concern takes precedence: to own something no one else yet has.

 

The ‘Prankster’ Smartphone User

 

From friends to parents , no one escapes the brunt of his/her jokes. At times, these pranks are so uncannily practical, they take the other party by surprise. Many relatively serious confessions have taken place during mobile conversations – by people who have fallen for pranks being played on them.

 

The ‘Always Out Of Space’ Smartphone User

 

The ones who are always too eager to download every app released by leading Android and iPhone app development companies. They will fill up the internal memory of the phone in about 3 days, get external microSD cards, and won’t take long to fill that up either. In the end, you’ll hear them whining about how nothing useful can be stored on their phone!

 

The ‘Forgetful’ Smartphone User

 

They are not absent-minded in general, they are not new smartphone users – they have simply got hold of a handset that has too many complicated features. Making the store attendant explain all the features and button functions is all very nice – but it is (naturally!) mighty difficult for them to remember everything, after a couple of days. The result? An embarrassed face in front of friends and a frantic search for the user-manual.

 

The ‘Frustrated’ Smartphone User

Everything they try to do with their smartphone is only just off the mark – or so they feel. They get irritated when ‘lol’ changes to ‘LOL’ by autocorrect while typing, when the video streaming of a live match is just a little slow, and other such trivial matters. Oh, and don’t even ask them about the experience of trying to tap on small-sized links!

 

The ‘Forever On Facebook’ Smartphone User

 

Living life out of the spotlight is simply not an option for them. They might or might not have enough balance to talk on phone, but are always logged on to Facebook – and forever sharing details on where they are at, what they are doing, and tagging other unfortunate people with these posts. They are generally big fans of asking questions on Facebook too. Who bothers asking actual human beings nearby – when there is FB on mobile?

 

The ‘Selfie’ Smartphone User

 

Almost everyone has one of these people in their friends’ circles. Irrespective of whether the time is appropriate or not, they will jump at the chance of capturing their own images by the front camera of their phones (which often come out to be hideous or weird or plain uninteresting) – and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter. If the mobile camera malfunctions for a day or so, they go into bouts of depression.

 

Quick trivia: Do you know ‘selfie’s’ cousins ‘welfie’, ‘helfie’ and ‘selfeye’? If not, contact a selfie-addict, now!

 

The ‘New-Age Student’ Smartphone User

 

Thanks to lightning-fast internet access on smartphones and zillions of free educational apps for kids, smartphones have replaced textbooks for many contemporary teens. According to them, what’s the point in buying books or spending a day scouring through library catalogs – when all the information can be obtained in an instant on their phones. Ask them anything, and they will be ready with the answer – provided that their phones have web connectivity.

 

There is also the group of ‘rude smartphone users’ – who will enjoy the safety that distance automatically provides, to hurl abuses and insults via text messages through their smartphones. For the ‘neurotic smartphone user’, not finding their handset for even a couple of minutes is nothing short of a nightmare. They say that the choice of mobile phones tell a lot about our personalities – and how we use smartphones reflect on our characteristic traits too!

 

Have a great weekend, everyone…

 

The Flipkart-Myntra Deal: Looking Beyond The Figures

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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In what was the biggest corporate acquisition in the history of the Indian ecommerce sector, Flipkart completed the takeover of Myntra – an online fashion shopping portal – yesterday. From capturing a larger market share and staying ahead of other competitors, to combining business synergies – there seems to be a host of advantages for both parties from this deal.

It’s the business acquisition deal that has been in the news for many months now. The deal was finally done and dusted yesterday – with Flipkart taking over Myntra for an estimated sum of $300 million. According to Sachin Bansal and Mukesh Bansal – CEOs of Flipkart and Myntra.com respectively – the deal has every potential of generating additional business synergies of the two hiterto competing shopping portals. The acquisition was formally completed yesterday, and we here take a look at some vital aspects about it:

 

  1. Largest ecommerce acquisition in India – With Myntra being valued at more than $300 million, this deal is easily the biggest ever acquisition in the Indian ecommerce sector. The actual price of the takeover is yet to be confirmed, but it is likely to be upwards of Rs. 2000 crores. Mukesh Bansal himself is going to make a cool Rs 430 crores (might be slightly more).
  2. Need to stave off competition – Flipkart has not issued any official statement on this, but clearly it was getting worried about the growing competition in India. Well within a year of opening retail operations in the country, Amazon has garnered a mighty impressive overall sales value – and could have posed a serious threat to Flipkart’s leadership position in the near future. Snapdeal, a domestic rival company, was also catching up fast. The acquisition offers Flipkart a more solid base to stay ahead of its rivals.
  3. Myntra will continue to operate independently – Although the Flipkart-Myntra deal is a 100% takeover, there will be no immediate merger of the two companies. Mukesh Bansal will be moving over to the Board of Directors of Flipkart, and would head the fashion department. All other employees of Myntra are likely to be offered stock options. An initial public offering (IPO) might be announced, but not within the next few weeks.
  4. Huge growth potential of the online retail sector – Ecommerce in India is a $600 billion sector, with trends suggesting a rapid increase in this value in the next few years. In fact, out of the 160 million web users (approximately) in India, only around 20 million shop online. Flipkart and Myntra have joined hands to tap this ‘addressable’ market more effectively. The two companies will together have over 52% of the total market share – and as the sector grows further, revenues will soar too.
  5. Mutual benefits on offer – Flipkart might be the present leader in online retail shopping in India, but it does not come close to rivalling the fashion apparel collection of Myntra. According to experts, more than 30% of the income of average Indians go towards buying fashion apparel. The takeover, hence, would give Flipkart automatic access to this potential revenue source. Myntra, on the other hand, would benefit from the technical expertise of Flipkart (right from backend operations, to packaging and delivery). Together, they can become a much stronger brand than each on their own.
  6. No exodus of employees – Most mergers/takeovers between software agencies, mobile app companies, and other firms in the tech domain are accompanied with a mass exit of employees from one or both companies. The Flipkart-Myntra deal is not going to be anything of the sort though – since both companies have the same set of principal investors, Accel Partners and Tiger Global. Since Myntra would remain an independent entity, it can hire and expand its own workforce as well.
  7. $100 million being pumped in – Amazon is not going to challenge the superiority of Myntra in the fashion apparel sector – and this is something the owners of Flipkart wish to build on. Sachin Bansal has categorically stated that Flipkart intends to go really big on its apparel collections on sale. As an initial thrust, $100 million will be pumped into this department, with more cash forthcoming as the business expands.
  8. Successful track record of acquisitions – Having two major common investors has not only blocked off risks of loss of manpower – it has also helped both Flipkart and Myntra approach the deal with greater confidence. Previously too, Flipkart had taken over Letsbuy, while Shersingh had been bought by Myntra (both with the backing of Accel Partners). These deals worked out perfectly, and chances are high that this $300 billion acquisition will also reap rich rewards over the long-run.
  9. Following the Alibaba model – Six years back, Sachin Bansal and his team were a fan of the Amazon model of business growth, but not any more. After several visits to China and interactions with business heads over there, he has come to the conclusion that the overall online behavior of customers and the market size makes the option of following the Alibaba growth model more sensible. With the Chinese ecommerce giant also in the news for an upcoming IPO in the US, it will be interesting to see what further inspirations Flipkart can take from its strategies.
  10. Technological synergies – Online shopping in India has come a long way from sitting in front of computers and buying products. To target the burgeoning volume of mobile web users, both Flipkart and Myntra have their own mobile apps. As the two come together, they would have more consumer data to analyse than before – and their apps and online promotional drives would become more effective. Better segmentation, targeting and positioning of products means only one thing. Higher sales!
  11. Cutting down on losses – For a site like Flipkart, which has a daily visitor count in the range of 3.5 million, the concept of ‘loss-minimization’ does not immediately come to mind. However, the fact remains that – in 2013 alone, Flipkart lost out on around Rs. 282 crores (something that was sidelined by the high overall revenue figures). The scenario with Myntra was the same, albeit on a lower scale. The acquisition deal will help the companies to chase big margins now, instead of only revenues.
  12. Lesser domestic competition and more choice for customers – While the Indian ecommerce market is large enough to accommodate startups, the Myntra takeover will reduce unhealthy competition among the companies. Already, portals like Jabong, Snapdeal and Naaptol are competing with Flipkart for grabbing the eyeballs of prospective buyers. Since Flipkart’s relatively sizeable fashion department will be merging with Myntra’s apparel collection – all the sale proceeds would accrue to a single entity. Myntra will remain the fashion leader, while Flipkart will continue to head the country’s online retail sector.

 

The impending entry of Walmart is yet another probable cause for Flipkart to loosen the purse strings for taking over Myntra. The two companies will remain operating their own websites – with no immediate plans for complete consolidation. Flipkart launched its fashion division a couple of years back – and it seems that Sachin Bansal and his team has understood that this is the sector which would keep its dominance in the Indian market intact!

 

Alibaba IPO – Get All The Facts Related to the Biggest Public Offering Ever

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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If you think you are updated on all the latest Wall Street news but do not have much idea about the IPO announcement by Alibaba, you have not been paying attention. Don’t worry though – in this discourse, we have highlighted some salient points about the company, its owner, and of course the IPO.

Every year, hundreds of companies go public on the US stock exchanges. In 2014, already more than 80 companies (including a fair share of tech firms) have filed for their initial public offerings (IPOs). So, why has the upcoming IPO by Alibaba Group Holding – a Chinese e-commerce company – created such a buzz in the Wall Street circles? Let’s look at the reasons:

 

  • Alibaba is big – No, scratch that – it’s huge. In fact, Alibaba makes US e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay look miniscule in comparison with its own scale of business. The company reached a total sales volume of almost $240 billion in the last year. For the same period, the transaction volume on Amazon was about half, and that on eBay was only about one-third.
  • Jack Ma founded Alibaba – And by now, it is evident that he has a big money-spinner on his hand. The stupendous popularity of Alibaba in China (it practically wiped off eBay from the Chinese markets) has raised the net worth of Ma to around $12.5 billion. A self-confessed Elton John fan, Jack Ma is known to be the owner of a pretty big charitable trust as well. A perfect businessman, who can definitely taste success in the US markets.
  • Potentially humungous sale value after day one of trading – When Facebook raked in $105 billion in value on the first day after going public, few would have thought that it would ever be possible for any other tech firm, consumer agency, or mobile app company to surpass that figure. Alibaba, however, seems poised to overtake that figure – and set a much higher benchmark. According to Wall Street analysts, the valuation might even touch $200 billion.

  • How big will be the IPO? – Although in its IPO filing, Alibaba has mentioned that it is going for a $1 billion listing, the hype around the company is likely to push this figure much higher. If the present trends persist – the value of the listing (on either NASDAQ or NYSE) would be somewhere in the range of $17-$20 billion. The IPO record set by Visa ($17.9 billion) can well be under threat.
  • Sources of revenue – Given the sheer volume of Alibaba’s annual earnings, it is only natural to wonder what its principal business channels are. The Taobo marketplace and its sister shopping portal Taobo Mall are the principal sources of revenue for the company – contributing for almost 85% of Alibaba’s yearly sale proceeds. Cloud computing, international infrastructure and international commerce also come under the domain of activities of Alibaba – albeit on a smaller scale.
  • Yahoo might emerge as a big winner – Say what you will about Marissa Mayer’s acquisition strategies, this is one instance where her planning has clicked, big-time. Yahoo currently owns approximately 40% of Alibaba’s total stocks, and the payoff when the latter goes public will be a really large figure. It would be fascinating to see how Mayer uses these funds to strengthen her bid to make Yahoo a solid competitor of Google in the online search and mobile sectors.
  • Aliplay will get a significant boost – It’s not yet known for sure how Alibaba will manage Aliplay – its mobile payments channel after the IPO. One thing is for certain though, it will make massive inroads in this segment too. At present, over 70% of all mobile financial transactions in China are conducted via Aliplay, which gives a fair idea of how dominant the channel is in the mobile sector. Third-party app development companies might suffer.
  • Jack Ma already has plans for post-IPO growth – Ma had created Alibaba in 1999, and over the years, has gained more than adequate experience on how to grab a foothold in a new market. He has already bought stocks from American companies like 1stDibs, and forked out nearly $4 billion to take over a cable television company and a mapping agency. When Alibaba started buying shares in instant messaging app Tango and retail shopping website Shoprunner – it became clear that it has plans to replicate its e-commerce success in the US markets too.
  • The Single’s Day success – The buzz that Alibaba can outperform its counterparts in the United States was confirmed on Single’s Day (the Chinese version of Cyber Monday) in 2013. The total sales figure at Alibaba during that 1-day window was a stunning $5.75 million. This was about two times of what all the US retail companies managed to haul in on Cyber Monday, together.
  • The classic rags-to-riches story – Oh well, Jack Ma was not quite poverty-stricken before Alibaba was founded – but you get the drift. He reportedly had to arrange for $60000 from his close friends to launch the money-minting ecommerce site. The hefty initial investment from Yahoo also helped. If Ma had not managed to come up with Alibaba, he might well have become a small-time professor in English. After all, that was his initial career ambition!
  • The profit margins have kept increasing – Unlike many other Silicon Valley companies, the margins of Alibaba have not shown any form of decline over the years. In 2013, the margin was almost 67% – well over the forecasts of business analysts in China. At $3.8 billion, the adjusted EBITDA figure of Alibaba Group Holding is exceptionally high too. The success story has every chance to continue after the IPO.
  • Will Alibaba’s performance live up to the hype? – That, quite literally, is a million-dollar question. For all its financial strength and business prominence, Alibaba’s foray in the US won’t have history on its side. This year alone, all the four Chinese companies that have announced IPOs in America have flopped badly – with Weibo (billed to be China’s answer to Twitter) being the most noteworthy among them. There have been security concerns about Alibaba’s online business in the past too. Whether Yahoo will be able to remain sustainable without being propped up by Alibaba (in the long-term) also remains a question.

If all things go well, Alibaba Group Holding looks set on its way to challenging Walmart for the position of the biggest retailer worldwide. Jack Ma had once revealed during an International Herald Tribune interview that  his company’s name was derived from the name of a popular Arabian Nights story (‘Alibaba and the Forty Thieves’). When this company goes public in the US, it will probably account for more than the combined business of Amazon and eBay – and that will be quite a sensational story.

 

So, is the Alibaba IPO indeed worth the hype?

 

Very much so!

 

AppBoard Tuesday – It’s Not About Mobile Apps This Time!

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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It’s stiflingly hot outside, there’s a lot of work-pressure, and it’s understandable if you have not had the time to check out what some of your colleagues had been doing last week. In this edition of AppBoard Tuesday, we’ll be bringing our mobile app development experts up to date with…nopes…not the latest apps – but with our Story Time department. That’s right – no apps this time, we are going to talk about kids’ books this week.

Story Time printed books are now available

So, What’s New?

Around The World In 80 Days cover

The team’s the same, the Story Time mobile app for kids is still doing great at iTunes and Play Store – but things have progressed a lot beyond that. You may or may not have noticed (ideally, you should!) several colorful storybooks – paper ones, not your digital e-books – lying about at office. Those are the Story Time books, released earlier this month. For everyone outside Teknowledge reading this – yupp, the books are up for sale!

 

What Titles Are Available?

Puss In Boots cover

To start off with, the Story Time team has gone with eight popular classic fairy tales. The following books are available at present:

 

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Simon In Space
  • Aladdin
  • Alibaba and the Forty Thieves
  • The Jungle Book
  • Puss in Boots
  • Around The World In 80 Days
  • Peter Pan

 

Trivia question here – Can you name the authors of these stories?

 

What Format Are The Books In?

The Jungle Book cover

 

They are colorful, they are glossy, and they are very high on quality. Two out of the eight books are in hardcover (‘Aladdin’ and ‘Alibaba and the Forty Thieves’) are in hardcover – while the rest are in classy paperback format. After all, kids will be handling them, and the Story Time team has made sure that the books do not get damaged easily!

 

Where Can You Get The Books?

Story Time books are available on eBay

 

If you are a part of the Teks mobile app developers’ team, hop over to the Story Time desk (if you don’t know where that is, shame on you!) – and check out the storybooks. External readers can buy books online directly from eBay. The team is also working on creating a dedicated ecommerce website which would serve as a great online bookstore. It’s not quite ready yet – but it will be in a few weeks.

 

What’s The Price?

Aladdin cover

 

Aha, the question that every buyer (of everything – not necessarily books!) are most concerned with. Although it’s not printed (yet) on the book covers, each of the Story Time books are priced between Rs. 120 to Rs. 175. Purchase these books online, come over to our office and grab a couple – the price will remain the same. Oh, and for our internal members – there are cool discounts. After all, you are family!

 

Reaching Out To Kindergartens & Play Schools

The Wizard Of Oz cover

If you were wondering why the Story Time team was coming in rather late at office last week – there you have the answer. Our content creators and UI/UX designers had been off to a 3-day promotional drive at Park English School, Kolkata. There were storytelling sessions, contests, chocolate distribution, and stalls had been set up for the display of the books to kids and their parents (after all, the latter decides to buy or not!). You will be pleased to learn that the response among the little ones was overwhelmingly positive – and sales were, to put it mildly, above expectations. There are quite a few similar programs scheduled at other leading junior schools in the city over the next few weeks. Wish the Story Time team luck!

 

What’s Special About These Books?

Alibaba cover

You might be thinking about what’s so special about the Story Time books – and what sets them apart from other similar books for children, right? Fair enough, little readers won’t find Jim Carrey smiling ‘The Mask’ face (or similar such ho-hum fun stuff) in the storybooks. What they’ll get is an opportunity to give expression to their creative side. Every book is bundled with loads of interactive activities and fun games/trivia. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the Story Time books yet – here’s a teaser of what they contain (in addition to the stories, that is!):

 

  • Aladdin – Treasure Hunt, Coloring games (who won’t love to paint Abu and Genie?), Crossword puzzle, Word games, Spot-the-difference and Quiz questions. Kids can get into the shoes of Aladdin (metaphorically, of course!) and jot down their own story. For the little fans of paper art, there’s origami instructions for creating wombats too!
  • Simon In Space – One of the more informative storybooks in our online book catalog. As kids will read about Simon and Toby zooming through space, they’ll find fun facts and tidbits about each planet in the solar system. Reading fun meets general knowledge in this book.

 A shout out to all of you: How many moons does Venus have?

  • Puss In Boots – It’s the story of the classic talking cat – and the Story Time team decided against putting in any additional games and activities in this book. The illustrations and the story-narration are more than enough to keep young readers hooked though.
  • The Jungle Book – Mask-making. Something that children from practically every age-group would enjoy. The book comes with an innovative two-in-one readymade mask (one side’s a tiger, the other is a bear). All that kids need to do is follow the three-step instructions provided next to the mask.
  • The Wizard Of Oz – Meet the characters – right from Dorothy and Toto, to Scarecrow and Tin Man. There are several fun facts about the original book – by L. Frank Baum – in the Story Time publication as well. After all, children should know about the main classics too!
  • Around The World In 80 Days – Kids can become Phileas Fogg, and frame their very own unique stories. There are coloring games, treasure hunts, word puzzles, crossword, spot-the-difference and message-decoding challenges. Oh, and readers can make their own origami fan as well.
  • Peter Pan – Five fun facts about Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. For the origami lovers (yes, the Story Time books focus on fostering creativity in kids), there are step-by-step instructions to make a Peter Pan hat (with feathers and all!). Of course, children can also color Peter – in shades of their choice!
  • Alibaba and the Forty Thieves – Along with Aladdin, this was one of the biggest draws at the interaction program at Park English school. The book has captivating pieces of information on Arabian Nights, along with a slightly tricky treasure hunt.

Got the gist by now? There is no way in the world that a kid will feel bored, if (s)he is handed these books. They look nice, the stories are interesting, and they get readers involved!

 

Are The Stories Same?

Simon in Space cover

 

Almost, but not quite. The Story Time team has revamped each of the fairy tales in a bid to make them more engaging. The essence of the stories are, of course, the same – but there is a fresh new feel about each of them. If you thought that the Story Time Android/iPhone app for kids was good, you will love these storybooks too (by ‘you’, we mean ‘you’ and ‘your kid’!).

 

Spread The Word

Peter Pan cover

 

The initial response to the Story Time books at kindergartens as well as on eBay has been good, but the sales have not yet set the world alight. We are confident that things will pick up within a matter of weeks (c’mon, it has only been a few days since the printed books arrived) – and it would be great if each of our mobile app developers did their bit to spread awareness about these books. Write about them on your Facebook and Twitter timelines, tell about them to your friends – and recommend them to parents of young ‘uns. To all those who are planning to buy these books online, do give us a feedback. We promise to come up with many more books in future!

 

That’s about it for this week’s AppBoard Tuesday. As promised, we have not mentioned any mobile app in this edition. We’ll make up for it next time around, of course. Till then, stay zapped with…not apps this time…but storybooks!

 

Android KitKat – Too Many Problems To Become Really Popular?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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After nearly eight months of its release, Android KitKat is yet to become even half as popular as most of its predecessors. This clearly suggests that not all is well with the Android 4.4 platform, and its further updates. We here present some factors that have stood in the way of a faster adoption rate of KitKat.

An official report released by Google in March highlighted a slightly strange scenario. While Android Jelly Bean was still being used by nearly 65% of mobile-users, the adoption rate of version 4.4 (Android KitKat) had barely touched 2.5%. The popularity of Ice Cream Sandwich (v. 4.0) and even Gingerbread (v.2.3) remained way higher than that of KitKat. Given the excellent initial reviews the latter got from experts, there must surely be something wrong with its usability? Let us here pick out some common problems with Android Kitkat:

 

  1. Poor video-streaming properties – This is a problem that has been voiced particularly by owners of the latest Google Nexus handsets. Once the OTA update for KitKat is installed, the speed and/or video playback almost invariably go down. There have been reports that certain Kitkat-powered Nexus 7 devices even fail to render 60 fps videos. High-end Android phones should offer seamless video-streaming properties – and Jelly Bean is streets ahead of KitKat in this regard.
  2. Connection drops – Using KitKat on Moto G handsets has not been a pleasant experience for users. After thorough analysis, experts from several mobile app development companies found that the frequency of call/connection drops was unnaturally high on these phones. After being upgraded to KitKat, several handsets tend to automatically switch over to the Airplane mode. That adds to the inconvenience of users.
  3. Unstable wi-fi support – Reliability of wireless connectivity – a high point of the Android platform – has suffered after the arrival of KitKat. According to reports, the platform often aborts wi-fi networks, which adds to the overall consumption of carrier data. Many users who have recently upgraded to KitKat have been facing problems to connect with wi-fi networks at home too.
  4. Adverse effects on battery life – Smartphones in general, and Android devices in particular, do not offer long battery back-up. With Android KitKat though, battery reliability has hit an all-new low. People using KitKat on various phone models have registered complaints that, after charging, the device battery gets fully drained within as little as three hours! The time taken to recharge a handset has also become longer. Mobile app developers do suggest using Battery Calibration for getting a bit of extra battery juice – but wouldn’t it be better if Google found a way to get rid of this problem altogether?
  5. Does KitKat make devices slow? – It does, if the available evidences are anything to go by. Right from downloading a file and listening to music, to typing on virtual keypads – everything requires a ‘longer-than-average’ response time, on mobiles running on Android KitKat. Smartphones are meant to offer high-speed functionality to users – and people have not taken kindly to the troublesome screen lags of KitKat phones.
  6. Typing has become problematic – Even for long-time Android fans, this has come as a shocker. Installation of the KitKat mobile OS has become almost synonymous with bringing forth typing problems to a device. The virtual keypads become less accurate and appear cluttered – with the touch features being far from satisfactory. Composing even text messages or group chat messages often become troublesome, long-drawn affairs. Such issues never cropped up in Android Gingerbread or Jelly Bean.
  7. Non-compatibility with older apps – Another problem that has been most commonly noticed in Nexus 5 and 7 devices. After a person upgrades his/her phone, the existing apps on the device either become too slow, or require manual updates, or become prone to random crashes. Analysts from Android and iPhone app companies have confirmed that applications that use external microSD cards were the worst affected by the KitKat update. The file manager system is also made a lot more confusing by Android’s latest version.
  8. The heat factor – While there are users who have not faced this problem, most Android-users feel that installation of KitKat leads to devices getting heated up much quicker than usual. That, in turn, increases the chance of phone crashes, software problems, and other related issues. Even on Android 4.4.2, this problem has persisted. Smartphones do become warm with prolonged usage (long voice calls, for example) – and KitKat has apparently accelerated this issue.
  9. Lock screen problems – If you own a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 (powered by KitKat), you have probably already faced lock screen troubles. The screen often freezes when users swipe to open the camera app, or activate home screen widgets. While adjusting the lock screen settings is an option to remove such problems, it would have been better if the screen and the phone dialer offered more user-friendliness in the first place.
  10. Presence of a camera bug? – Once again, an indication that Google Nexus and Android KitKat simply do not go well together. In fact, there have been reports that Google is working on a special software fix to iron out this camera bug. The malware tends to put extra burden on the phone’s battery resources – which, in any case, are not very strong. Let’s just hope Android Silver won’t have so many problems as the Nexus series of phones.
  11. KitKat makes home screen customization difficult – If you are trying to remove a widget or a mobile app from the home screen of a KitKat phone – be prepared for a bit of a struggle. You will be able to navigate to the ‘X Remove’ screen – after which there is every chance that the display will freeze. Better customization had been the key factor behind the edge that Android enjoys over iOS – but the arrival of KitKat has not strengthened this advantage at all.

Reports have also come in from Android-users all over that the KitKat platform messes up the default contact list syncing features of handsets. There have been cases where the speakerphone has become automatically activated on phones running on this version. There is a buzz about the Android 4.4.3 update which will soon be commercially available. If Google ensures that it would have none of the above problems, KitKat might finally be able to challenge the popularity of Jelly Bean. Till then, it will remain a mild disappointment!