Tag: cloud backend as a service

The Unstoppable Rise of Backend as a Service (BaaS)

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For any of you skeptics doubting the commercial feasibility of Backend as a Service (BaaS), you should check out Facebook’s acquisition of Parse for a rumoured $85 million (And then the subsequent fallout in 2017). The acquisition enables Facebook to provide their own proprietary backend solution for app and game developers. The integration between Facebook and Parse will enable the social networking company to provide a superior user experience through enhanced responsiveness and reduced latency.

Parse has been described as BaaS (backend as a service) and XaaS (everything as a service). If you’re an app developer, this means you can focus on the front-end design and development of your apps and games, without having to worry about setting up a server. This can enable app developers to manage messages between users, push notifications and storage of apps and games.

Kumulos is neatly listed as a BaaS provider on both Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backend_as_a_service) and the Developer Economics website (http://www.developereconomics.com/sector/baas/). These various BaaS platforms have been emerging now for nearly 7 years and here at Kumulos we’re proud to say we were one of the first. Kumulos was actually launched before the term ‘backend as a service’ had ever been created.

Find out more about mBaaS and Kumulos here.

iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner; real or no?

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We talked yesterday about the iPhone 5C and how, despite being the “ugly sister” of the 5S, it’s the one getting all the attention, mainly cause it’s new. Apple have never done budget before, so we’re all curious to see what it can do with the 5C.

Having said that though, we do still have the 5s on the way, and from what scant details we’ve had, there is highly likely to be a dual LED flash there, as well as; potentially, a fingerprint scanner. Now we’ve been hearing about fingerprint scanning tech in smartphones for years. The way we interact with them it seems almost like a done deal to the imagination.

We’re always putting our fingers on the screens, we don’t need to let anyone else use our phones so we don’t need multiple user accounts and also, it’s some mission impossible style stuff. Having a biometric lock, or using biometrics in general is something that makes perfect sense in a smartphone. Google are already doing it with Face Unlock (not that it works very well, but the sentiment is there) and the Moto X has its “always listening” voice activation.

Apple have always been trend setters and disruptors. If they release a phone with fingerprint scanning tech, it will only be a matter of time before the major Android manufacturers are out in force doing the same thing. Although there is even a rumour that the 5s may even sport NFC, despite Jobs having said that he didn’t see any point in the technology (yeah, cause Apple have been doing a great job of listening to those mantras).

As always, the “s” models of the iPhone are only a stepped upgrade rather than a leap and a bound, but we hope that fingerprint scanning tech isn’t the only thing the 5s brings to the table. After a fairly stale 5 launch and nothing exciting all year, Apple needs something to knock it out of the park. So now all eyes turn to Sept. 10th. We shall see what Apple brings to the fore.

Until then, if you’re an iOS app developer that wants to grab the new 5s excitement but need a Mobile Backend, talk to us at Kumulos. We’ve got you covered with a Mobile Backend as a Service that’s powerful, customisable and there for you in whatever form you need it to be. So why not talk to us today?

Unbuntu Edge crowdfunding breaks record, but that won’t save it

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At Kumulos, reported a little while ago about the Ubuntu Edge, the Linux powered smartphone that, if it gets funding, will be easily the most powerful phone on the market for a good while. The company behind it, Canonical (which also created the Ubuntu Mobile OS), started a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo, to the somewhat absurd tune of $32 million.

There was a lot of skepticism surrounding the crowdfunding project, and understandably. $32 million is 3 times the highest crowdfunding record ever recorded by Pebble on Kickstarter of $10 million. But the makers of the edge continued undaunted and now, they have officially broken the crowdfunding record set by Pebble, pulling in over $10 million.

However, with only a week to go, it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone is going to see their Edge.

This is quite a sad case of too much hope being put in the generosity of strangers, but also an interesting study of where the potential limits of crowdfunding lie. With Pebble and now the Edge topping out at around 10 Million, is it a sign that crowdfunding can only potentially take you perhaps as far as say, $15 million before people’s interest wanes. We all only have so much money after all.

What has been said to Canonical is that they should have been seeking more traditional funding as well, VC, Angel Investors and the likes; which makes sense. These rounds of funding can push a project’s budget up immensely in a short space of time.

This isn’t to say that Canonical have had no interest, they’ve been in talks with large manufacturers and have been praised for going straight to the buyers to find the project; as they are the ones who will ultimately be the users.

With a week left to go, it will be interesting to see if Canonical can pull something out the bag that pushes their successful, but not successful enough campaign over the edge (pun intended).

For now though, we’ll just have to see if the all powerful dual boot Android/Ubuntu monster phone see the light of day. Until that time, if you’re an app developer looking for a Mobile Backend as a Service, we at Kumulos have got you covered with a powerful, customisable Mobile Backed as a Service that’s designed to let you the user, get exactly what you want from it.

So why not get in touch today?

UPDATE 2017: If you stumbled on this article and want to know a little more about the whole Ubuntu Edge episode, here’s the Wikipedia page.

The future of Apple, is it really that uncertain?

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There’s been a lot of speculation in recent days about the future of Apple. They have been quiet essentially all year, with the biggest update to any of their products being the the MacBook Pro. Not that that was any slouch, the jet-engine looking computer promising to be a mid-range server instead of a computer in terms of power.

And it’s not like they haven’t got things in the pipeline, the iPhone 5s is almost certainly coming, and the budget iPhone has been heavily rumoured to be in the works; oh and there’s probably some kind of iPad update coming too. So lots of stuff on the horizon, but it’s being met with an overwhelming “meh”.

Don’t get us wrong, there will still be people lined up around the block to get their latest iCrack; a good number of us at Kumulos will be right there with them. Apple isn’t one of the biggest companies in the world for no reason after all. The trouble is that we all want more.

And that “we” happens to include the company’s board of directors, who are getting increasingly antsy with Tim Cook, claiming that the company isn’t “innovating fast enough”. Aside from the somewhat questionable untone that innovation is somehow something you can just control the pace of rather than something that comes in unpredictable fits and starts, there’s also the issue of whether Apple is really doing badly.

The answer is no.

Of course it is, they have more money than half of the developing world. Even if they start to bleed money for a couple of years whilst they look for that next big thing; they’ll still be doing better than Microsoft or Google in terms of pure profit. And if money is the goal, then why is everyone worried?

The unlying issue here is of course, that Apple showed absurd growth during the end of the 00s and they kept doing it for years. Whereas most company growth is only in spurts, Apple kept a consistent push going all the way through from the release of the iPhone to around Jobs’ death. And now they’re still growing, but they’re not growing fast enough. Wall St wants them to be pushing that 80% growth mark still, but since when has any company ever managed to do that? The answer is not one (that we know of at least).

Like an athelete who, due to a perfect storm of events, sets a near unbeatable record during one Olympics, Apple have raised the bar so high that they themselves can’t measure up in the long run. But that doesn’t mean they’re doomed, just returning to a more sustainable pattern of growth. Sure, it’s anti-climactic and a little disappointed, but what do you want? A flash in the pan, or a slow burn that lasts as long as you want it to?

Ashton Kutcher’s acceptance speech for the Teen Choice Awards is worth watching

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Now usually at Kumulos, we like to talk about the tech and mobile industry, because that’s where we work and there’s where our interests lie. But, that’s not to say that something can’t catch our attention outside of this, of course not. One good example is Ashton Kutcher’s recent Teen Choice Awards acceptance speech.

Now, it’s easy to dismiss Kutcher. He started out as a model, moved to being an actor playing a dumb teenager in the 70s before carrying on to play a series of throw away, silly and/or just cringeworthy roles. Oh and he was the presented of Punkd. And he married then divorced Demi Moore. Overall, he’s not had what you could call an inspiring career in terms of inspiring intelligent debate.

Like with all people though, there’s more to him than appears apparently. He’s spent the last few years investing in some very smart people and ideas such as Airbnb, Spotify, Fab and Uber. He’s also got a real thing for listening to the wisdom that Steve Jobs passed down, no surprise really considering Kutcher looks more and more like a butch version of Jobs as he gets older. And at the Teen Choice Awards recently, his speech wasn’t just a “Thank you for your parents money, good night.”, in it he genuinely tries to impart some wisdom on these kids.

It’s not every day you get a celebrity with some serious clout in the younger demographics talking about how “Smart is sexy” and that everything else is “crap”. It’s quite heartening really. Even though he borrows heavily from Jobs own speeches, what Kutcher is saying is no less relevant. It certainly can’t do any harm for teens to hear someone they admire telling them that they should work hard for opportunities, that they shouldn’t worry so much about being “sexy” and that they don’t have to conform to the patterns set down by those around them.

Whether it has any impact is yet to be seen really, but maybe it’ll inspire more of those who are, whether they like or not, role models, to act like them. And with that linked vid already closing in on 2  million views, we can but hope that it does some good.

This is Kumulos signing off for now.

Internet popularity and gaming the system

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In marketing these days, virility is everything. Why spend thousands on a TV advert that people are most likely to switch off of when you can make something catchy, post it online and bang, you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people talking about you and your company. Just look at Psy (remember him?); despite Gangnam Style seeming to be an accident, it really was nothing of the sort. Go back and watch the video with a neutral eye; it has all the hallmarks of an incredibly clever plan to hook people in.

It’s got a catchy tune, a singer that looks and sounds unique (to western audiences anyways), he’s doing all kinds of zany things that you instantly want to mention to your friends and, of course, there’s a dance that’s as silly as it is fun and easy to learn. Package all that up and you have one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of 2012.

There was no good reason not to share Gangnam Style, and as soon as the shares and the likes started coming, they carried on in a state of perpetual growth. This is the power of social proof at its finest.

Incidentally, Apple understand the power of social proof all too well. Their products are expensive, deliberately so. Sure, the build quality is solid, but that’s no reason to charge an extra $300 for a computer with, let’s face it, average specs for the price. It’s the same with the iPhone. Compare it to any flagship Android currently in terms of tech specs and it falls flat on its face; and yet iPhones are consistently more popular overall. Why is this? To those who value performance over pure aesthetics, it can be baffling; but it’s simple really. Apple is premium, Apple is expensive, and Apple is social proof that you only buy “the best”. It’s the same reason why people buy Sony products for their living room even though, objectively, they are no better than other big manufacturer’s efforts usually.

It’s all about proving yourself to be cool, in the end.

And if you’re trying to market online, this is something you need to tap into. Recent research by Sinan Aral has found that by posting a link that’s already supported by a few likes or other shares, he could artificially boost its popularity by up to 32%. This is supported by the idea that, generally, we want to share things that are positive and/or if they are negative, they’re funny about it. After all, no one wants to be seen as a constant downer.

So if you’re marketing your latest app, bear all this in mind, you never know what will become the latest viral sensation. And if you’re still developing your app and you need a Mobile Backend, look no further than Kumulos.

The trouble with internet journalism

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Internet journalism. It’s pretty big business these days, everyone’s doing it. Hell, we’re doing it right now. It’s come to the point where the scales have definitely tipped away from print being the bastion of journalistic power, and this is especially true in the tech world. If a company wants to get its product out there and heard of thee days, they know that they have to get in with the tech journalists. If they blogs are saying good things, we’re all more likely to consider the product on offer.

This is where sponsored blog posts come from, companies offering cash for blogs to look at their products. Now, there’s a difference between a sponsored post and a paid review. Sponsored reviews and posts are the company offering the blog money in return for their opinion on the product, regardless of whether they say it’s any good or not. That’s the risk the company takes, that the blog may take their money and then end up not liking what they’re reviewing. The paid review on the other hand, is more of the slip the cash under the table and get a good review regardless of whether the product is any good.

The line between the two is hazy at best, and even then, some are of the opinion sponsored content is akin to paid review, some think they are separate entities.

The article, posted yesterday, details an email he received from LG:

“So enjoy this, LG. The G2 is now tainted and will probably sink. I’m no crusader nor am I innocent of past crimes but this is terrible form.

Hi TechCrunch team,

This is REDACTED from Burson Marsteller Korea and we currently represent LG Mobile as its PR agency, handling the global PR for LG Mobile.

I’d like to inquire possible options on media tie-up opportunities with TechCrunch as LG is launching its new smartphone, the LG G2 in August.

To briefly explain, what kind of topics we are looking to put out:

1. Overall product review on the LG G2 (Display, Design, UX, etc): This can be a series of feature articles

2. In-depth review on a specific feature of the phone (For example – Battery or Display)

3. Product review of the LG G2 in comparison with competitor’s products: 1:1 comparison or 1 against many, including a torching test

It would be great if you can propose the types of sponsored packages as well as a rough pricing information on them.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

REDACTED

REDACTED

Senior Associate”

The comments section on the article is, predictably, riven somewhere down the middle, but the whole thing just brings to light a certain trouble with internet journalism. It’s such an open forum, and now has so much real power over the zeitgeist, that it’s becoming difficult to work out where the hack journalism stops and the real journalism begins. Like we said, everyone and their dog is blogging these days, the internet is awash with usually well written, but unidentifiably researched articles.

The question remains, we all know that companies want coverage, and are willing to pay for it, so where is the line? If an article is clearly labeled “sponsored” is it still a “paid review”? Is the writer of the above mentioned article practicing his own form of internet policing, or is he actually breaking his own journalistic integrity because he’s posting what are probably assumed to be private emails in public to name and shame the company he feels has done things wrong?

It’s tricky, but at Kumulos we’re going to have to come down on LG’s side. Asking for content for your new product, paid, is not wrong. It smacks a little of wanting a cheap ad, which is essentially what a review is, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in that e-mail that stipulates that the writer do any more than they normally do with new products anyway.

The big irony here is of course, if TC want to be current, they’re going to post a review of the new LG phone anyway.

Backend as a Service: The Latest Market Trends & Drivers

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The global backend as a service (BaaS) market is set for phenomenal growth between now and 2016. The key driver in the adoption of BaaS technologies is the need to make app development less complex. Today we want to explore some of the factors that are creating this demand, such as the vast influx of smartphone and tablet devices. As consumers increasingly shift from desktop PC’s (sales have been down 15% on average, every year for the past 5 years) to mobile, the demand for mobile apps has skyrocketed.

As the demand for mobile apps and devices continues to explode, so too does the demand for BaaS technologies like Kumulos that make the whole app development process so much more intuitive and quick. When running a comparison of backend as a service companies, you’ll find the market has been flooded since 2009 with all types of offerings. With Kumulos, the pricing for using backend as a service is simple, scalable and you only pay a tiny amount when your app actually goes live. We’re tried and trusted by indie developers and app development studios from across the world.

One of the key things to look for when conducting a review of backend as a service technologies, is understanding how quickly and easily you can access your data. With Kumulos, there’s no minimum tie-in and you can access and retrieve your data whenever you like. But what will the backend as a service market look like by 2016? The mobile landscape and the demand for mobile technologies is growing at an astonishing rate. As the demand for mobile services, apps and devices becomes more vigorous, so too will the need for flexible, scalable and affordable backend as a service platforms.

Kumulos has been developed by app developers, for real app developers. We’re not VC backed and bloated – we’re profitable. Kumulos has been developed in a real world app development studio, helping a dedicated team of app developers to ace their projects, whilst enabling us to test and deploy lots of cool new features. What’s more, is that we have over 2000 app developers and app development studios using the platform across the globe. We’ve been doing this now since 2007, so we understand a whole bunch about successful app development and what’s going on in the backend as a service ecosystem.

Google’s just done an Apple

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So yesterday Google had the breakfast meeting that it had announced a couple of weeks ago. It was heavily rumoured going into the meeting that we’d be seeing the new Nexus 7, and lo and behold, there it was for the whole world to see. Sleek, sexy and a strong upgrade to the older model 7.

New 7

The new Nexus 7 has had a modest upgrade to its processing power, now sporting the exact same Snapdragon S4 Quad core and 2 Gb of RAM set up that the Nexus 4 has; which anyone who’s used an N4 will tell you, is more than enough for today’s current app demands. The most notable upgrade however has to be the screen. Moving from a fairly “meh” 1280×800 to a stunning 1920×1200 and keeping the same 7” form factor means that you have one of the highest pixel densities of any tablet screen, including the retina displays in the iPad. The colour capability of the screen has been upgraded which has given the screen a much more vibrant look, something that was a small problem in the old Nexii which tended towards looking a little dulled and greyed out. Connectivity wise, there’s a wifi version and a 4G LTE version, although currently the 4G is only available in the US (here’s hoping it comes over here soon), and there’s also NFC to back it all up and Wireless charging to boot.

 

The basic 16Gb version will go on sale in the US on the 30th of July priced at $229 (£149).

chromecast_dongle

 

Bait and Switch

The other announcement though, took us all by surprise. The Google Chromecast dongle seems like a fairly innocuous piece of tech, but it’s been making big waves. For just $35 you buy the Chromecast, connected it to an HDMI port on your TV and then you have instant access to Netflix, Youtube and Google’s Play services (in the US they also have access to Pandora). It runs Google’s own Chrome OS and you control the dongle with your phone. Google announced that for a limited time, buyers would get 3 months free Netflix, even if they already had a subscription. So obviously they were selling like hotcakes, so fast in fact that Google had to pull the deal because people were buying the ever loving crap out of it.

The most interesting thing about these two releases is how… Apple like they are. Here’s a premium upgrade to an already great product, and a little piece of innovative tech that people want. In a year where Apple have been almost suspiciously silent, Google have clearly been watching Cupertino’s moves and then are looking to copy them. With Google Glass on its way and with rumoured upgrades to more of the Nexus line, this could be an interesting year if you’re an Android fan.

China now 24% of the global smartphone market

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When we talk about app development and the smartphone market, it’s easy to only think of that market as being only the EU and US. But of course, the global market is just that, global, and in that market China is dominating.

Last year Flurry pointed out that China was the fastest growing market for iOS and Android devices, passing the US for the first time in terms of mobile. The knock on effect was of course that many manufacturers started to sit up and take notice of the Chinese smartphone market in a way that they hadn’t before. Apple have been pushing the iPhone hard, Samsung rule the roost and a range of other smaller Chinese companies are snapping at the giants’ heels.

Flurry have continued to track the Chinese mobile app market and have just released a report on mobile activity in China, which is worth its weight in gold to any developer thinking of moving into that space.

Chinese mobile gaming is big

Perhaps not being a huge surprise considering the gaming pedigree that Asiatic countries have (like that guy who died playing Starcraft 2 for 3 days straight), but interesting to know none the less. There isn’t a huge amount of difference between the Android and iOS numbers, although Android does have a stronger gaming contingent, whereas iOS has a higher productivity and news reading side, which points to iPhones being used by more business orientated users.

OS bases are predictably two sided

As with the rest of the world, Android and iOS are easily dominating the market with Android sitting close to 70% of the share. Samsung are the biggest Android manufacturer, as you can see, holding 15% of the market all on their own, with iOS taking respectable 35% over all; which in the Android heavy Chinese market is nothing to sniff at. One interesting tidbit is Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi who have been doing increasingly well and have been touted as the “Chinese Apple” in some areas. In a market as flooded as the Chinese one with different manufacturers, the fact that a homegrown company can grab 6% of the market is impressive and is definitely one to watch in the near future.

It seems that overall China is a market that, as an app developer, you should really be considering. With its growth still through the roof and with the smartphones there modernising and (starting to) standardise away from the endless masses of cheap knock offs and replicas, Western app developers have a solid opportunity to move into a brand new market.