App Downloads for Android Sell More than iPhone and iPad Combined

  • App downloads on Google’s Android platform now top iPhone and iPad combined, even in the absence of any competitive Android tablets.
  • The OS accounted for 44 percent of all app downloads for Q2 of this year, according to a recent study by New York-based ABI Research.
  • In the new Steve Jobs’ biography, the Apple founder rails against Android as a “stolen product,” one that he vowed to go to “thermonuclear war” in order to stop its success. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently derided the OS as well, adding you need to be a “computer scientist” to understand Android phones.
  • “But a flood of low-priced handsets this summer has catapulted Android ahead of Apple for the first time in terms of app downloads,” reports the Daily Mail.
  • However, Apple still leads in the per user category. “Android’s app downloads per user still lag behind Apple’s by 2 to 1,” explains Dan Shey at ABI.

Discover App Uses Digital Watermarks for Scanning Images and Video

  • Digimarc moves beyond ‘watermark’ to a ‘desireable consumer experience’ with its new Discover app that “lets users capture visual and audio input with a smart phone and search for related information,” reports MIT’s Technology Review.
  • “Discover combines a variety of media search functions into a single app that will allow users to scan images, audio, video, and even barcodes or QR codes (two-dimensional versions of barcodes) — all without switching between apps.”
  • The CE manufacturers historically objected to installing watermark detectors because the content industry wanted to use them to stop undesired consumer behavior.
  • This app and others like it offer consumers a positive experience that could make that argument moot, and it could support new business models.
  • The free app is available for iOS and Android phones.

New Biography Reveals Steve Jobs had Vowed to Destroy Android

  • According to the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, the former Apple CEO was furious over Android’s strong resemblance to iOS.
  • Jobs told his biographer: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”
  • GigaOm noted that Apple has followed up on this threat: “Apple has not backed down or granted broad licenses to any of the companies it has sued recently over its mobile patents… Apple’s not giving in to make a couple of bucks, the way Microsoft did, and there will be no tacit approval of the patent infringement in exchange for licensing any of the higher-level patents Apple holds.”
  • Jobs reportedly told Eric Schmidt: ”I don’t want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want.”

MoPix Platform Turns Films into Apps for New Distribution Model

  • The MoPix digital platform allows filmmakers and content creators to inexpensively distribute their projects as paid apps.
  • “Filmmakers choose from templates and customizable options to create a DVD-like experience that bridges video content with the interactivity, enhanced features, and extra content of an app,” according to the LAUNCH blog.
  • Filmmakers can target multiple devices including the iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Android devices. The developers charge a one-time fee and a percentage of sales.
  • MoPix will demo the app at the LAUNCH PAD Tablet Conference this Friday in Mountain View, California.

Carriers May Help Close the Gap for Android Enterprise Adoption

  • While Android has so far trailed Apple in enterprise adoption, GigaOM reports that Motorola’s subsidiary 3LM, “has finally launched its security, management, and remote access platform for Android devices” that will enable:
  • “Device encryption of full memory and SD card data; selective encryption of corporate applications; remote wipe capabilities and whitelist/blacklist of applications; and control applications’ access to corporate resources.”
  • “Enhanced security and control of device, OS, and applications; remote installs of critical enterprise application; device tracking.”
  • “Secure remote access to enterprise resources and device health and status checking.”
  • The post also indicates that AT&T has announced “Toggle,” which allows Android users to separate professional and personal use by creating two different modes. This will help keep personal data private from IT managers.
  • Apple has made gains in the enterprise with iPad and iPhone integration, but this news suggests that “with better management tools that augment what already exists on Android, it may help boost Android’s acceptance in the enterprise…”

Amazon Hopes its Appstore will Stand Apart from Android

  • With its Kindle Fire, Amazon hopes to distinguish its Appstore from Google’s Android, even though the tablet’s OS is based on the 2.x version of Android.
  • “It seems that Amazon really wants to make sure that the Fire is a more curated and cohesive experience than most Android tablets,” suggests The Next Web, as is evident in the guidelines for submitting Kindle Fire applications. However, the post points out: “They’re not locking everything down though, as installation of ‘non-Appstore’ apps will be permitted without rooting.”
  • Interestingly, Amazon’s Appstore doesn’t support in-app purchasing. “Because Google’s in-app purchasing technology requires access to Google Mobile Services,” says Amazon, “it will not work on Kindle Fire. We are working on a solution that will let you sell digital content in your apps using Amazon’s merchandising and payments technology. Our solution is currently in Beta and available by invitation only.”

Google+ is Google Itself: Social Network will be Identity Platform

  • Google intends for Google+ to become an identity platform for its other services such as Android, Chrome and YouTube to develop an “understanding of who you are,” Brad Horowitz, VP of product told Wired magazine.
  • “This comes on the heels of comments that Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt made earlier this year about how Google+ was intended to be an ‘identity service’ for other projects and services that the company either had in place or was planning to launch,” reports GigaOM. “It wasn’t clear exactly what Schmidt meant by those remarks at the time, but putting them together with Horowitz’s comments, it sounds like Google wants to make Google+ the central repository of everything it knows about you.”
  • GigaOM compares Google’s desire to “aggregate as much as it can about you and your interests via all the services it offers” to Facebook’s recent improvements in accumulating data through social apps and “frictionless” sharing.
  • The article contends that “all of this social-activity data and these ‘social signals’ are crucial information that Google needs not only to make its search better — since socially-influenced search is becoming a larger and larger part of how people find things online — but to make its advertising more targeted as well. Google’s giant market share in online advertising has been built on the back of its understanding of ‘intent’ when it comes to search, and without access to the Twitter firehose and Facebook’s walled garden, Google has to effectively create its own sandbox for social activity.”

Amazon to Unveil the Kindle Fire Today: First Real Competitor to the iPad?

  • Amazon is expected to announce its long-awaited Android tablet this morning at a press event in New York City.
  • The 7-inch backlit Kindle Fire is expected to launch by the second week of November, just in time for the holidays. “The iPad has many challengers, but analysts say Amazon’s could be different — it has a chance to be more than a wannabe,” reports The New York Times.
  • Amazon built its own custom version of Android, has included a streaming video service, and will feature the Amazon MP3 service and the Kindle bookstore.
  • In related news from The Hollywood Reporter, major magazine publishers — including Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith — have signed deals to sell digital versions of their publications. One big holdout is Time Inc., but it’s being reported that a deal could be reached “hopefully by the end of the year.”
  • One publisher with an Amazon deal said: “You’ve got beauty and design with Apple, which we love. But with Amazon you have marketing, and ease of use. We’re very optimistic.”
  • Amazon’s terms seem to be similar to those offered by Apple. Publishers get 70 percent of Amazon sales while the retailer shares customer information with the publisher. But, the report notes that those numbers could fluctuate depending on the title and customer offer.
  • We’ll have more on this story following the press event…

Pandora Embraces HTML5 as Key Enabler for Connected Devices

  • Pandora now claims more than 100 million registered users. CTO and EVP of Product Tom Conrad credits the success of his company’s Internet radio service with the decision to embrace both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating system. Conrad spoke at this week’s GigaOM Mobilize conference.
  • However, Pandora had a rocky start regarding growth on mobile platforms until the iPhone came along to help turn things around. And at one point, Conrad had little interest in Android. Pandora shipped its app through the iTunes store and watched its user base explode from 13 million to what it is today.
  • “Conrad has also since made peace with Android, about which he had previously said that he needed the platform ‘like I need a hole in my head,’ referring to the confusing state of Android fragmentation. On Monday, Conrad didn’t want to go into the specifics of Android vs. iOS market share amongst Pandora users, but he called Android’s growth ‘nothing short of remarkable.'”
  • Now Pandora is embracing HTML5 as it looks to what’s next.
  • “The company launched a new HTML5-powered website last week, and Conrad said that using HTML5 helped to both dramatically increase the performance of the site as well as implement new social features,” reports GigaOM.
  • Conrad calls HTML5 a “key enabler for connected devices,” hoping that it will provide opportunities for Pandora on connected TVs and car dashboards.
  • Currently, 70 percent of Pandora’s listening occurs on mobile devices. “In the future, the majority of Pandora listening will happen in the car and on the connected device,” predicts Conrad.

Future of the Internet: Do Web Technologies Need an Owner?

  • Software engineer Joe Hewitt proposed in a recent blog post that Web technologies may need an owner, and the assumption that the Web must not be controlled by anyone is a dangerous one. “The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS,” he writes, “except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.”
  • He also suggests that “the arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering” since they “place ideology above relevance.”
  • Standards bodies cannot create the kind of cutting edge platforms developers need like they are doing with iOS, Android and Windows.
  • “My prediction is that, unless the leadership vacuum is filled, the Web is going to retreat back to its origins as a network of hyperlinked documents,” writes Hewitt. “The Web will be just another app that you use when you want to find some information, like Wikipedia, but it will no longer be your primary window. The Web will no longer be the place for social networks, games, forums, photo sharing, music players, video players, word processors, calendaring, or anything interactive. Newspapers and blogs will be replaced by Facebook and Twitter and you will access them only through native apps.”

Amazon Kindle Lending Program Adds New Dimension to Public Libraries

  • Amazon announced this week that it has launched a new lending library initiative, allowing Kindle users to “check out” e-books from registered library websites.
  • Users will be able to rent books on their Kindle from more than 11,000 participating public libraries across the country.
  • Readers will also be encouraged to take notes on the e-books they check out: “Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we’re fixing this by extending our Whispersync technology to library books, so your notes, highlights and bookmarks are always backed up and available the next time you check out the book or if you decide to buy the book,” said Amazon in a statement.
  • The books are available on Kindle devices or through the Kindle app for Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

Flash Player 11 and AIR 3: For HD Video and 3D Gaming on Multiple Platforms

  • Adobe announced this week Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3 software to enable “console quality” 2D and 3D games and scientific visualizations for multiple platforms including Android, Apple iOS (via AIR), BlackBerry Tablet OS, Mac OS, Windows, connected TVs and others.
  • Adobe touts 1,000 times faster rendering performance over Flash 10 and AIR 2 enabling 60 frames per second rendering and console-quality games on Mac OS, Windows and connected TVs. A production release for mobile is coming.
  • Content protection is available using Adobe Flash Access 3 on supported platforms — “including support for mobile platforms,” explains the press release — with support for rental and subscription options “to more than 80 percent of the U.S. pay TV subscribers.”
  • HD full frame video quality can be displayed on iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding to deliver 7.1 channel surround sound.

Will Sony Streaming Player Have the Juice to Take on Roku and Apple TV?

  • Sony will offer its SMP-N200 set-top box next month in the U.S. for $99. The player, introduced at IFA in Berlin, is the successor to the company’s Netbox.
  • The device has been upgraded to support 3D and live content streaming. It can be controlled with an iOS or Android smartphone.
  • “The original featured then-impressive support for local media playback and streaming, but does the Blu-ray-less wonder does it have what it takes in 2011?” asks Engadget. “If it has a UI refresh and access to comparable sources thanks to Sony’s now streamlined Video Unlimited/Music Unlimited media approach then this could play well as a one-two punch with a connected PC, phone or tablet.”
  • The SMP-N200 features DLNA capability and an array of connection options including composite, component, HDMI and Wi-Fi.
  • “The Streaming Player is ideal for consumers who want to upgrade to a connected television, but are happy with the TV they currently have,” said Charles Speidel, vice president of Sony’s Home Audio and Video Group. “Whether using it in the family room or on a secondary television in the house this new set-top-box offers access to the full complement of streaming content available from Sony, without committing to the cost of a new Bravia.”

The Flipinator: Google Propeller Sets its Sights on Flipboard and Facebook

  • Google is working on a social and news reader designed to rival Flipboard, according to numerous sources close to the project. Dubbed “Propeller,” the “souped-up version of similar reader apps” will reportedly allow users to navigate multiple social media feeds through a polished interface.
  • “I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad,” posted Robert Scoble on his Google + social feed. “My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”
  • Flipboard is currently the most prominent company offering this type of service, and even turned down an offer from Google last year to buy the company. (Flipboard is available only for the iPad, although an iPhone version is in development.) Similar apps include AOL’s Editions, Yahoo’s Livestand, Zite and Pulse. Facebook is also creating social versions of publications that enable personalized, reformatted content when users access a pub’s page through Facebook.
  • “All these apps are part of the drastically changing habits of media consumers, helping them better navigate numerous social and media feeds — such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as news sites and more — using handsome interfaces and touch technologies,” reports Kara Swisher in All Things D.

Google Acquires More Patents from IBM in Shopping Spree to Defend Android

  • Google has purchased another 1,023 patents from IBM as part of what Digital Trends describes as Google’s Android defense strategy against smartphone lawsuits from Apple and other companies.
  • The article indicates that the transfers were recorded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, and reminds us that Google also acquired 1,030 IBM patents in July and picked up 17,000 additional patents in its recent acquisition of Motorola.
  • “Indicative of how the patents are being put to use,” reports Digital Trends, “Google recently sold a batch of newly acquired patents to HTC — including some formerly owned by Motorola — in order to allow HTC to sue Apple.”
  • “Google is building an arsenal of patents that the company has said is largely designed to counter a ‘hostile, organized campaign’ by companies including Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. against the Android operating system for mobile devices,” adds Bloomberg.

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