Tag: app developer help

MAU vs DAU: How to measure mobile app retention

Mobile app rentention

Generating more downloads and attracting new users to your app can be (and generally is) an expensive business. It’s estimated that a 5% decrease in mobile app abandonment rates can actually increase overall app profitability from as little as 5% to as much as 95% (Bain and Company). While decreasing app abandonment rates can greatly improve profitability, it costs approximately 700% more to acquire a new mobile app user than to stimulate retention with existing users. If you’re running a mobile app development agency, it’s essential that you represent the best commercial and technical interests of your clients. Their success is your success and the best way to maximize the chances of a successful outcome is to focus on mobile app user retention.

Before we go further, here’s a great panel discussion on some of the issues that we’ll be writing about:

When it comes to developing mobile apps for your clients, your contribution won’t end when you deliver them their app. The days of being able to “drop-ship” an app to a client and walk away are over. Clients now expect you to be with them for the long haul, helping them make their app a success. With any clients app you have to ask yourself the question: how sticky is the app? In the same way that digital marketers are concerned with the engagement levels of blog content, videos and reviews (and a multitude of other types of content), app clients are concerned with one fundamental consideration: are my app users coming back for more? So serious mobile agencies are going beyond the design and development of great mobile apps. They are focused on how to leverage more value from those apps on behalf of your clients’. To do that they are increasingly thinking about how to measure retention.

Getting serious with mobile app retention

There’s a bunch of different ways to measure the retention performance of your clients mobile apps. Getting started with mobile app retention is all about understanding the needs of your app client, and each approach will possess its own merits and shortfalls in terms of selecting the right retention methodology. But the important thing is to focus on what matters. Bringing in new users at the top of the funnel via marketing efforts is totally superfluous if the bucket itself is full of holes and the UX of the app sucks. Mobile app retention is all about fixing the bucket, and making sure that the overall UX of your client’s app is adding genuine value to the experience of the user. So always start with the end in mind. It’s all too easy (and costly) bringing users in via paid channels, but getting them to hang around is a different ball game.

The purpose of mobile app user retention

The goal for each of your app clients is to convert each new app user into a paying customer or loyal advocate (depending on the industry sector and purpose of the app). Your job, as a mobile app agency owner, is to help take your clients on that journey. To to this it’s important to keep the purpose of what you’re trying to do clear: focus primarily on retaining the people you’ve already attracted and learn how to drive more engagement and revenue for your clients.
mau-vs-dau

Here’s a short article to give you some ideas on how to improve app engagement.

This will help you to grow a profitable app development agency, built around mobile apps that produce tangible results for your clients.

If your client’s mobile app is churning too many users after a single use, you have a serious problem, purely due to the cost of attracting new users vs. the cost of retaining existing app users. This comes back to the leaky bucket analogy, because the economics of filling the bucket in order to patch it up are incredibly costly and damaging to your client’s commercial welfare. This is why the economics of mobile app marketing will always favor retention over acquisition.  So with this in mind, consider very carefully how and where you invest your clients technical and commercial resources and always keep the end in mind: what does success look like? This is a difficult question to answer, but when it comes to industry benchmarks for mobile app retention, there are some guidelines, which will be covered later in the article. Based on the fact that you can only optimize what you already measure selecting the right retention methodology is the first step in the process.

Each mobile app client will view the science of retention from a slightly different perspective. If you’re developing a mobile game, you’ll live and die by the retention performance of the software on day one. If it sucks first time round post launch, you probably won’t get another chance to fix it. On the other hand, if your client has a B2B app where take-up will be slower, you might need to think about starting to track retention at a much later date, maybe month eighteen. The better you can understand their app, their commercial goals and the journey each of their users take through the app, the better positioned you’ll be to nurture it to success.  In order to choose the right mobile app retention methodology to use, you’ll need to understand which options are available. This is where snapshot retention comes in.

What is snapshot retention for mobile app users?

Snapshot retention is a specific method of measuring the retention rates of mobile app users. It refers to a retention methodology that’s based on a snapshot of time of mobile app user activity. This is one of the best places to start if you’re trying to figure out the easiest and most basic way to measure retention rates for your app clients. Start off thinking about your client’s business goals and what they want to achieve. If the launch of the app is being run in parallel with an expensive marketing campaign, and the goal is to generate paying customers quickly, you’ll need to snapshot different time periods. The first day will be essential, but it won’t provide the full picture and help to identify if the app is sticky. This may only become clear after several days or weeks (or possibly months and years), so it’s essential that you work out the best way to measure each snapshot of app user retention in terms of time. But what matters, is that when you’ve decided on the right time frame, you’ll end up with one very concise way to express mobile app user retention as a single metric (or ratio).

The MAU vs DAU ratio for mobile app user retention

The MAU vs DAU ratio is a great example of a snapshot metric, whereby the DAU’s and MAU’s are simply the number of unique mobile app users who engaged with your client’s mobile software during a specific time period. A DAU, or daily active user, measures the number of unique app users in any given one day time period (often you’ll be referring to the performance of your client’s app for the previous day). An MAU, or monthly active user, measures the total volume of unique mobile app users, who are active in any given month or thirty day timeframe. This will typically be a rolling thirty-day time window whereby you can glean performance insight not just by each calendar month, but also by a fixed or ‘windowed’ thirty-day time period.

mau-vs-dauOnce you have your MAU vs DAU metrics for a given timeframe, calculating mobile app retention rate is just a simple process of developing a ratio of DAU’s to MAU’s. Instinctively, when it comes to working with your app clients, this should represent the proportion of monthly app users that are active on a single day. Clearly, when it comes to enhancing the performance of your client’s app, the job is to increase the ratio, ensuring that you maximize the proportion of MAU’s who are liable to actively interact with their mobile app on a single day. Once you have the data, you’ll be in a position to make recommendations in terms of changes that can be made to the app, in order to cause a greater proportion of users to interact with the software on a regular basis. What you’re striving to achieve, is a ratio of one, because this means that every single mobile app user who engaged with the app in the last month, is active again on any chosen day.

Again, getting this part right will depend on the type of app your client has. Different apps will have different DAU/MAU benchmarks. It’s all to do with what the expected frequency of use should be. If it’s an app that is to do with something the user will do every day, then you’d expect the engaged user to be using the app daily. A diet tracking app for example. If it’s an app that you’d expect less frequent use, a restaurant booking app, then monthly may be the expected use frequency. It’s about setting the right benchmark use for the individual app. Irrespective, it’s essential to continually track the DAU/MAU ratio, to make sure its getting better and not worse. A falling ratio is a good lead indicator that things need addressing.  Rule of thumb, for most mobile apps, 0.20 DAU/MAU is considered to represent decent level of engagement. So generally speaking, if 20% of MAU’s are interacting with the app on a daily basis, this is good. Another option is to consider using a DOD (or ‘day over day’) retention metric.

What is day-over-day (DOD) retention for measuring mobile app performance?

DOD retention is much like the MAU/DAU ratio, but provides a detailed snapshot metric. With DOD retention analysis of mobile app user behavior, you simply establish the ratio of the app users who are active today and yesterday, relative to the number of app users who were only active yesterday. This retention measurement ratio symbolizes the proportion of users who are liable to use your client’s app regularly in a short timeframe. In order to calculate this ratio, you establish the number of users who were active yesterday and today, and divide by the total number of users who were only active yesterday.

The constraints and limitations of snapshot retention for measuring mobile app performance
Helping your clients succeed and nurturing their apps to success, it’s going to be important establishing a mechanism for measuring mobile app users. Some of the methods detailed in this blog post represent a good starting position and will increase your client’s chances of success in mobile. As always, your ability to track the right data points will depend on your ability to garner the right information, and this means having a robust analytics platform. You must always ensure that this has been considered at the front end of your client’s project. You need to think about developing a clear and concise series of KPI’s and understand in detail how snapshot retention can bolster performance over time. But snapshot retention metrics are relatively simple in their nature, and do possess certain drawbacks and constraints:

  • These techniques will determine all mobile app users who are active only during a certain snapshot, regardless of when their first touch point was with your clients app
  • This provides very little or no distinction between mobile app users who are completely new to the software, and habitual mobile app users who could be considered as advocates or evangelists
  • Determining the cause of why specific data patterns appear in the analytics can be extremely difficult and understanding how to improve mobile app performance and knowing what to do can be ever harder.

That said, having the data that helps you build insight into how the app is performing at least arms you to ask the right questions and dig for the solutions.

How to avoid an unhealthy DAU/MAU ratio

So you’ve spent months, designing, developing, testing and polishing your client’s mobile app and it’s now ready for launch. You’ve established your KPI’s and key measures of success. You’ve also integrated an analytics package that enables you to track mobile app retention performance. Now what?

mau-vs-dauThe classic mistake to make when launching a new mobile app for your client is to focus on creating a bloated MAU ratio. If you accompany the launch of the app with an integrated marketing campaign, you’ll likely see a huge spike in activity in the first day or two after launch. Adopting this type of ‘Hollywood or bust’ approach, whereby you rely solely on the success of an initial marketing flurry, is liable to result in failure and an unhappy app client.  Getting this process right requires time and making sure you know when to bring new users in at the top of the funnel. The best time to bring new users in at the top of the funnel, is when you know that your bucket is fixed, and you’ve maximized the probability that the greatest number of users possible will use the mobile app on a regular basis.

The problem is that all too often, an impressive MAU metric is viewed as being a positive thing. What tends to happen, is that users who were acquired as part of a ‘Hollywood or bust’ style marketing campaign, will possess a significantly higher churn rate than other mobile users. The fact of the matter is your client does need a large MAU metric. Your client wants the type of mobile app user who isn’t just a passer by. Your client wants the type of app user who discovers the software and sticks around because the features contained within the app are delivering something of value to them. The net effect of this type of marketing approach, is usually a weak DAU/MAU metric and the key to solving this problem lies in relentless and pragmatic approach to measuring and refining the onboarding and in-app experience. What’s more, an initial burst of marketing activity will impact the MAU metric within the first thirty days, but it wont explain what’s actually happened or why. So a good MAU metric on its own is a vanity measure and one that offers very little insight into whether the app is succeeding or not.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best way to approach this problem on behalf of your app clients is to tread a careful line between mobile app user acquisition and retention. Yes, you need to bring users into the app in order to test if the bucket has holes, and this involves marketing be it paid or organic. But the trick here is not to over invest in marketing that is ultimately the equivalent of pouring water in a bucket full of holes. You need to pour in just enough water, without over investing; in order to get the right data to inform how you fix the UX issues associated with your client’s app.

If you’re a mobile app agency looking to bolster the retention performance of your client’s mobile app (or apps), Kumulos can help. Our Mobile App Agency Platform comes with integrated app Analytics to let you measure engagement and Push Notifications to manage engagement programs. This lets you offer your clients App Engagement Services that helps drive the right outcome for your clients and get apps on retainer, so you build reliable recurring revenue streams for your business.

You can sign-up here today to learn more.

MAU vs. DAU AND MORE

OK, so we’ve told you about MAU vs. DAU, but what about when you have MORE questions about your mobile app business? No worries – we’re here to help. That’s why we’ve started a FREE business webinar series to help out mobile software development agencies.

The webinars are intended for Business Owners, CEO’s, Sales & Marketing VP’s and Commercially minded CTO’s. They’re 100% business focused, so they’ll give you ideas on how to drive more retainer based income for your Mobile App Development Business.

Feel free to look at some of our past webinars, or take a gander at some of our upcoming sessions. These webinars are popular and seats are limited, so be sure to register early.

Why App Developers Should Be Paying Attention To The Middle East

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Here at Kumulos we talk a lot about trends in mobile and in particular back end as a service. The markets in the US, Europe and Asia and how they’re driving the mobile world. Emerging markets in India and China are the next wave, ready to break on us at any moment. But there’s another market in the middle of all this that’s got huge potential and numbers. Where? The Middle East of course.

You may or may not know it, but the Middle East is a hotbed for mobile right now. The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest smartphone penetration percentages in the world at 62%:

mobile back end as a service trends

If you look at the graph you’ll see that that’s a substantial amount more than the US and Europe, whilst a little better, isn’t doing much better.  There’s also some interesting numbers that show that mobile users in Egypt use their smartphones for shopping much more than those in the west. How much  more? 80% of smartphone owners say that they’ve used their phone for shopping, compared to 62% in the US and 56% in the UK. Google also have noted that mobile advertising is more effective, with 90% of users surveyed saying that they have noticed adverts and many had also clicked on them.

The demographic in the Middle East that are using smartphones are overwhelmingly young, more than 72% of smartphone users are under 34 and more than 60% are male. When surveyed over half of respondents said that they wanted a smartphone as their primary electronic device, citing the portability and flexibility of the devices as their main reasons.

It’s also reported that in many of the more affluent countries in the area, having more than one smartphone is so common that phones outnumber people; this is an especially prevalent thing in Saudi Arabia apparently.

So with all this evidence out there, why are app developers ignoring this location? Get out there and start bringing your app development skills to the table and tap into this under reported but eager market.

Google Enters the mBaaS Space with Mobile Backend Starter, Mountain View

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Google are a company that seem to be on an ever expanding quest outward in the tech world. They are slowly bringing together a host of disparate but connected services under the one multi-coloured banner of Mountain View. For some this may seem like a slowly growing monopoly attempt, but for the majority of us it only spells good things. Gmail has long established itself as one of the best email clients out there, and Google’s cloud services have managed to separate themselves from the herd of other providers by being as useful as they are simple to use, mostly.

With that in mind, Google have recently announced that they are moving into the Mobile Backend as a Service market. The logic here makes sense, Google make Android, so why not also use the tools they’ve made to support app development on the OS? This move also manages to put Google into competition with Facebook, who recently acquired mBaaS providers Parse (UPDATE 2017: We all know what happened there.) in a move that continues to fuel rumours Facebook wants its own app-space and maybe even its own phone. Although after the dismal fail that Facebook Home has been, those rumours are sounding less and less likely.

Google have described their mBaaS solution as: “a one-click deployable, complete mobile backend that allows you to reap the benefits of a cloud backend with none of the headaches. It provides a ready-to-deploy, general purpose cloud backend and a general purpose client-side framework for Android.”

Alongside the new Android Developer Studio IDE that Google also announced at I/O, it seems that Mountain View is wanting to capture app developers and get them sitting firmly inside the Google camp by providing them with a range of services that are, usefully, all in the one place and can talk to each other well. They want to make the Android app development eco-system developer friendly and, in some ways, nurture them so that the next generation of high quality apps can be on Android and not iOS.

They’re not alone in this space though, mBaaS is becoming big business, and at the moment Google’s foray into the space is not exactly as well equipped as some of the big players in the area and if they want to stay competitive, they’re going to have to push some new features out there, and fast.

iOS and Android Are Not In Competition Says New Flurry Report

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It’s one of the biggest business battles of the modern mobile age. iOS versus Android, the two mobile titans in a constant struggle for dominance over the market, their power so absolute that other competitors are relegated to picking up the scraps of whatever they leave behind and occasionally nipping at their ankles. And it seemed like recently Android was making tracks towards becoming the winner in this battle.

At 70% market share in device numbers, Android has become a powerhouse in terms of user numbers. The numbers are difficult to track exactly, but the most recent reports point to Android having some 564 million active devices across the globe now. iOS has also grown, but Android’s growth has just outstripped it in recent years But the latest report from Flurry paints a slightly different, and more complex picture of the competition between the mobile market’s two horses.

For one, Android may lead with pure active devices, but iOS is still leading with App Market Share. What that means is that whilst there are more Android users, iOS users are using more apps and spending more time inside them than Android. At one point Android and iOS were closely matched in this aspect but the iPad 3rd gen pushed iOS back out in front and it has stayed there ever since.

So there’s a certain disparity between device share and app share. Flurry reckon that this is due to a couple of different factors:

“One is that at least up until now the two dominant operating systems have tended to attract different types of users… A second possible reason for why Android’s share of the app market lags its share in the device market is that the fragmented nature of the Android ecosystem creates greater obstacles to app development and therefore limits availability of app content.”

Essentially it boils down to iOS users went out and bought their iPhones because they wanted to run apps, and the apps are given pride of place on iOS. The whole reason they own the phone is to run apps, so it makes sense that they would use more apps. The other of course is the big stumbling block for Android, fragmentation. Due to the split nature of the platform, Android developers find it hard to push their apps to the entire Android customer base, even if it is bigger than iOS. iOS on the other hand, is relatively streamlined and gives developers a greater chance to reach a wider audience and earn more revenue.

The conclusion here is that both OS are no longer competing for the same crown. Android is likely to keep winning on pure device numbers, but iOS is likely to continue to be the strongest in terms of apps and generating revenue for its developers.

Whichever OS you develop for though, Kumulos have you covered with our Mobile Backend as a Service that we can guarantee will make your app development easier, faster and more efficient. If that sounds good to you, get in touch with us and see what we can do for you today.

iOS Still Platform Of Choice For Business Says Forrester

mobile commerce

In way, this shouldn’t really surprise many who work in the mobile industry, but it makes for interesting reading all the same. Forrester have just released their latest report on spending in the mobile markets and iOS once again is the favoured platform for making purchases. According to the report iOS users are roughly 30% more likely to make a purchase on their phones and 15% more likely to use their phone for research than Android users are. Firmest signal yet that iOS Backend as a Service will become the default infrastructure to power enterprise mobility.

(UPDATE 2017: Still holding mostly true, as this report shows that 77% of purchases were made in iOS in 2015.)

This isn’t exactly a shocking turn of events, iOS has long established itself as the primary purchase platform. The gap between iOS and Android purchasing has shortened considerably in the last couple of years as Android becomes more and more dominant in terms of device numbers but iOS is still ahead. The recent NSA scandle that Apple has been trying to distance itself from at every opportunity will probably affect these numbers, but overall iOS should stay in the lead.

What this translates into is businesses who are looking for apps are going to iOS first. 99% of all businesses surveyed who were wanting an app said they were looking at iOS. Money talks after all. That doesn’t mean that Android is being left out in the lurch though, with 96% of businesses saying they were also considering an app on Google’s platform as well. Between the two giants, in terms of commercial interest, there really doesn’t seem to be much difference. Everyone wants a piece of their app-le pie (puns never get old).

The same cannot be said for Windows Phone or Blackberry though. There is apparently a very steep cliff of interest once you go past the two fortresses of iOS and Android, with only the biggest companies considering the two smaller OS for business apps.

This comes from the ebusiness sides of companies only having a (relatively) small budget, and when you factor in two high end apps on iOS and Android, there’s not a lot left usually for the other OS to be there at the party. The model seems to be splitting a little, with iOS and Android becoming so big that even if you wanted to develop for other OS, the inherent costs and extra effort required inhibits many from going for it.

This is where HTML 5 and hybrid apps will come into their own. There is a big debate on the performance of these apps compared to native, but as the mobile OS market expands outwards, it will make more and more sense to invest time into building cross platform rather than narrowing it down.

Luckily, Kumulos supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone, so if you’re looking to build an app and need a Mobile Backend as a Service, we’ve got you covered. So why not get in touch with us today?

App Development Strategy, Do You Go For The Shotgun, Or The Supercell?

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The app development world is in its prime at the moment. Smartphones have, for the first time, outsold feature phones globally, we have hardware that is more powerful than some mid-level computers and there are currently more than 1.5 million apps just shared between the major app stores. There have been billions of downloads of apps and we are constantly seeing new apps rise up to take pride of place amongst the app greats in their various genres. After all, there has to be a number one, and that crown is constantly being passed amongst apps.

But as an app developer, as with anything, there is more than one way to go about creating successful apps, in fact there are multiple ways, but there are two main approaches: shotgun, or supercell.

Shotgun is where you as a developer aim to turn out multiple apps on a constant basis and target them all at different areas of the app market. The hope here being that through sheer quantity of attempts and by your name turning up multiple times through various channels, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of lots of small groups of customers paying for your apps.

The disadvantage here is that you’re going to need a bigger team because all those apps are going to need upkeep on their own (unless you’ve got a policy of culling apps that aren’t performing well). A larger team also means that you’ll be able to make more apps and faster, but then you have to pay them. This creates something of a gambling situation, where you’ll hire developers on the prospect that you’ll be able to support their salaries on the income they are likely to generate; well, that is, if you’re going for aggressive expansion.

A company that has managed this approach very well is Hong Kong based Animoca. They are one of the largest app developers in the world, mostly focusing on Android, and have got more than 150 million downloads across their varied apps. They have over 100 employees and are unabashed about their strategy of flooding the market with various niche apps in an effort to not create mega-hits, but to create multiple streams of revenue across multiple markets.

The other side of this of course is the supercell strategy.

This is where you have a much slower development cycle, but you’re trying to create as close to a perfect app each time so that it has the highest chances of big success it can. Angry Birds is, of course, the most famous example of this. A polished, high quality app that set the standard for success and longevity in the app development world. Dots, a new app just released last week has garnered a million downloads already for similar reasons. It’s polished, it’s a good idea and it’s been thoroughly planned to go viral and get plenty of people playing it.

This strategy is most effective with games as they lend themselves well to becoming big hits and spreading virally. However, as the success of apps like Instagram and, more recently, Snapchat and Vine, show that there are plenty of app ideas out there still to be created and that it’s mostly about your imagination.

That said, this strategy comes with the risk that every project carries, pretty much, your entire development studio with it. Especially when you’re beginning in the app development world, a failed launch of an attempted supercell app could cripple your studio. On the other hand, this strategy lets you keep your costs down in terms of size of development team, heck, you could do it alone and many have. Supercell apps generally are the ones that become the next big thing, but it’s a risk/reward balance. If it succeeds, you’re likely to succeed big, if it doesn’t you’re likely to take a big financial hit.

But as with any business, app development has its risks and its payoffs, and ultimately you wouldn’t be an app developer if you weren’t aware of these. One way you can reduce risk though, is to make sure you have solid infrastructure behind your app. How do you do this? Well, having a solid Mobile Backend for your app certainly can’t hurt, and at Kumulos we have a Mobile Backend as a Service that is designed to make your life as a developer that much easier.

Time is money, and we can save you both, so why not talk to us today?

Apkudo, Making Developers And Carriers Lives That Little Bit Easier

apkudo

Android developers, we have a word for you.

Fragmentation.

Yep, that’s right, we’re going to talk about the much maligned downside to developing for the world’s largest mobile OS. If hearing the word fragmentation didn’t make you cringe a little, you’ve clearly not tried to release an Android app and keep all your various customers happy.

In fact, just for good measure, here it is again.

Fragmentation.

Just picture your fellow developers shuddering at their desks as memories of countless hours spent testing the app to see if it will work across the various versions and handsets available on Google’s little green robot.

Thankfully though, there is a company out there looking to make developers and carriers lives easier. Their name? Apkudo, and they are a research lab that specialises in testing the various devices available on Android to provide information on their capabilities when running different apps. Top tier mobile carriers do this as a matter of course, rigorously testing handsets to see if they’ll work properly, and larger developers can afford to spend some time going through a longer testing phase to ensure maximum capability of their latest app.

Smaller carriers and developers don’t have this luxury, and that’s where the team at Apkudo come in. They run various tests on the devices whilst constantly monitoring all aspects of the performance. They even go to more extreme lengths, like checking for framerate drops during an app’s use by using high framerate cameras. As it stands Apukudo have tested over 1700 devices, although no specific devices can be named, their CEO has said that if you’ve seen a modern handset, it’s likely already gone through the wringer.

Apkudo’s testing has started to become sought after with smaller carriers, with many refusing to stock a handset until it’s recieved the “Apkudo Approved” certificate. Many large OEMs are also starting to come knocking at their door, wanting hard, unbaised data on the performance of their devices so they can target upgrades to just the right places.

As for developers, well it means that you can find testing data on over a thousand Android handsets without having to puzzle out their performance capabilities yourself. If you already know what a handset can do, you can usually tell quite easily if its capable of running your app, which cuts down time and stress on your development team. Of course this doesn’t account for any bugs or coding errors in your actual app that could cause problems.

Like most things in the app development world, there’s no silver bullet problem solver for these things, and all Apkudo’s testing won’t neccessarily mean that your app will work any better than it already does. What their data does also mean though, is that for the first time the somewhat labyrinthian aspects of Android’s platform fragmentation are starting to be pulled away. Apkudo are slowly working their way through the, quite frankly huge, list of Android devices and creating a set of highly useful data for everyone involved in creating or selling Android products.

At the end of the day though, as much as Android’s fragmentation causes problems, it’s also one of the reasons the platform is so strong globally. With Android you can get a smartphone on almost any budget and that’s why Android has a 70% market share.

Google’s Changing Role in the Mobile World

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It’s strange to think that all those years ago when Google first arrived on the internet search scene, competing then against giants like Yahoo and AOL for some of the search market, no one could have predicted that they would end up becoming one of the biggest technology and internet companies in the world.

And even two or three years ago it would be strange to think of Google and Android as being one of the major or even the dominant forces on the smartphone market, but with majority share across the board, Google’s OS has managed to become the second horse in the smartphone race.

This has brought them their own problems though; for example, today it’s being reported on multiple tech websites that Google is now getting worried about the power of Samsung in relation to their share of the Android market.

And with good cause really, what with Samsung holding some 40% of the Android market on their own, they are the dominant manufacturer using the OS and as such have an uncomfortable (for Google) amount of leverage over how the platform. How much leverage? Well 10% of all ad revenue brought in through Android goes to Samsung right now, and they’ve made noises to Google indicating they might want more of that cut.

So, understandably Google are getting a little hot under the collar, but this is why they acquired Motorolla, so they would have a manufacturer that they could have direct control over.

In fact, it’s slowly emerging that a lot of what Google has been doing recently, with the launch of the Nexus line, Chromebooks, aquisition of Motorolla and planning to open physical stores in major cities has been a reactionary move to the growing dominance of its various OEM partners. It’s a smart business move, and shows a marked shift in policy from being just the provider of a mobile OS and a powerful search engine into a multi-faceted corporation who’s span reaches from the centre of the internet right to the phone in the palm of your hand.

It’s also the smart move from a competitive point of view.

Apple have long dominated the hardware market because they control the supply chain and production of their products. This means that they have a much more secure position in the market overall because they’re not relying on any other company to create their products for them. The benefits of this are obvious, Apple is the most profitable tech company in the world bar none, and that’s not looking to change any time soon.

Google are now looking to occupy a similar position in the market. No longer being at the whim and whimsy of their OEMs, they will be able to control their products from start to finish through Motorola. It’s already clear that there’s a demand for Vanilla Android devices out there, considering how well the Nexus line has sold (or sold out, mostly). And whilst in relative numbers the Nexus line aren’t making an impact, what they are doing is making Google’s OEMs and even Apple sit up and take a look at what products they’re providing and at what price. Considering the Nexus 4 is retailing for almost half what the iPhone 5 is currently priced at, and is bringing faster hardware to boot, it’s no wonder that many tech manufacturers are, in return, getting a little worried.

After all, why would you bother buying a phone that has less features, is slower and more restrictive and all the while pay MORE for it?

Google clearly think that many won’t, and so are pushing forward with the current Nexus line, and then there’s the “next big thing”. The first Nexus device from Motorola since they were acquired. It only exists in rumour right now, but it’s a good bet that with the update to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy SIV both coming this year, along with Sony now throwing down the gauntlet with the very attractive Xperia Z, Google are going to want to keep their devices in the fight.

For now all you can be sure of is that Google are on the path to consolidate their, until now, quite disparate power, and redefine themselves. What this means for the mobile world it’s hard to tell now, but it’s probably going to mean good news for app developers whatever the case.

The Ever Growing Tablet Market And The App Opportunities It Brings

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It’s strange to think that until a couple of years ago, Tablets were nearly exclusively the property of tech heads who wanted the latest shiny toys to play with or the more well off amongst us looking to try out new technology.

How the times have changed since then.

Amazon released the Kindle Fire, the first truly successful budget tablet and kickstarted the 7” market, but it wasn’t until the dual releases of the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 that the tablet market exploded. Suddenly there were powerful, very capable tablets on the market that anyone who could afford a smartphone could buy and have around the house as their screen away from a screen.

Shortly after that of course, came the iPad Mini, which brought a new swathe of customers into the tablet fray who had been unwilling or unable to buy a larger, more expensive iPad but could afford the smaller, cheaper offering from Apple.

Aside from these changes in the budget side of things, there has also been a big push from Android tablets from being lower quality offerings than Apple’s iPads to becoming strong competition.


As you can see in this chart, Android now holds a 41% Market share in the tablet world, with 45% of that share going to the ever dominant Samsung, with Amazon bringing up a respectable 26% with their Kindle Fire and Fire HD. It’s interesting to note that Amazon, despite only having 2 devices on sale, are still taking up a substantial piece of the Android pie.

Apple, of course, still lead, the market. But as with the smartphone market, Android is evening up the share.

It’s important to note though, that despite it being very easy to get pulled into flame wars over which OS is better, it doesn’t matter which OS is winning here.

What does matter is the fact that you as an app developer are looking at an ever growing market for tablet apps which means good things for your prospective app development endevours. After all, a bigger screen and more powerful hardware gives you more options than developing for the majority of smartphones out there right now. There’s also the fact that, for Android, there are not nearly as many devices running disparate versions of the OS as 4.0 ICS or 4.1 Jelly Bean are the standards right now. There is, of course, a varying of power amongst the devices, but most will be at least 1Ghz processors with 1Gb of RAM these days.

 

Xamarin 2.0 – Developing iOS apps on Windows

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It’s no secret that whilst Android may have the most freedom when it comes to developing, iOS still has a prominent edge when it comes to the actual earnings of the app developers who work on the platform. This of course makes iOS an attractive platform to work on for developers who are more business minded and are interested in turning a profit on their apps because iOS is more likely to provide a cash flow than Android, and a larger one as well.

It’s not all plain sailing when it comes to developing for iOS though. For one, iOS apps are coded in Objective C and if you’re used to something a little more modern or flexible, then you’re going to have a bad time. Another problem is, of course, if you’re a new app developer who doesn’t own a Mac of some description, you’re going to have to buy one, and that hardware doesn’t come particularly cheap.

Thankfully though, there are people out there who have seen these problems and have decided to do something about it.

One of these are the people behind Xamarin, and it’s quickly becoming recognised as a powerful solution to many of the problems associated with iOS development. Check out our Integration guide. 

So what does Xamarin actually do? Well it acts as a multi-platform IDE that lets you code apps for iOS, Android and Mac all in the same place, all using C#. It also lets you program iOS and OSX on a machine running Windows, so if you’re a developer looking to get into iOS development but don’t want to shell out for a Mac, here’s your answer right here.

Programming everything in C# also means that you no longer need to fight with Objective C to get it to do what you want and your code will be much tidier.

The great thing is though, that if you like, you can use Visual Studio, with all of the bells and whistles associated with it. So that means you can use the key binding’s, the text editor, the menus and even the debugger that you’re used to, all on your iOS project.

According to all reviews and feedback, despite being quite a complex operation, this system “just works”.

This service is of course an amazing boon to cross platform developers and those who are looking to move into iOS either for the first time or are coming from other platforms. It’s similar to PhoneGap, which lets you develop an app in HTML 5 and then wrap it in whatever outer code you need to make it work with iOS or Android.

Whatever the case though, Xamarin is something that all app developers should probably try out, especially if they are already familiar with C as a programming language.