Mac App Store low on freebies, high on games

Posted by Harshad

Mac App Store low on freebies, high on games

Mac App Store low on freebies, high on games

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 03:20 PM PDT

App stores by size.

A breakdown of applications, both free and paid, from various app stores.

(Credit: Distimo)

A new report released by market research group Distimo shows that Apple's now three-month old Mac App Store is off to a slower start than its iOS counterparts in terms of app volume, though is becoming a bellwether for more gaming opportunities on the Mac OS platform.

The report, which tracks data from the App Store on both iOS and on Mac OS, also evaluates Google's Android Market, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, BlackBerry App World, Nokia Ovi, and Palm's App Catalog for the month of February.

According to Distimo, the Mac App Store reached 2,225 applications in two months, which was about a quarter of what the iPad had in app volume during the same time period. Even given the smaller pool of apps, the report found that developers who have their application in the Mac App Store's top 300 rankings generate "half the revenue of a top 300 iPad app on average."

Part of the reason for that centers on pricing. Just 12 percent of applications on the Mac App Store were free at the time of the report, leaving the rest in the paid category. That's compared to a split of 35 percent free and 65 percent paid of iPhone and iPod Touch apps, and a 29 percent free and 71 percent paid split for the iPad.

One very important tidbit about pricing is that the average price of the top 300 Mac App Store paid apps is much higher than their iPhone and iPad counterparts.

"The average selling price of the top 300 applications is seven times higher in the Mac App Store ($11.21) than on the iPhone ($1.57) and almost three times higher than on the iPad ($4.19)," Distimo said.

While the report doesn't spell out why this may be the case, one of the reasons the App Store on the iOS side was so disruptive in the first place was that developers tended to price their mobile applications lower that had been the norm on other platforms--especially compared to desktop software. While there have been numerous cases of developers proving that wrong with lower pricing for App Store apps (including Apple, which charges $80 for Aperture on the App Store, vs. $199 for the boxed version), many still charged the same, with some even going higher to make up for part of the proceeds going to Apple.

Along with the numbers of pricing and application volume, Distimo makes note that the Mac App Store library is venturing in the same direction as it is on iOS, with games seeing a rise in popularity.

"In the Mac App Store, gaming is still less popular than on the iPhone and iPad, with iPad having over 50 percent more games listed among the most popular applications than the Mac App Store," the report says. "However, the popularity of games in the Mac App Store combined with the fact that there are already 646 games in the store, signals the Mac App Store could boost Mac gaming."

By comparison, Valve's Steam platform, which lets users download digital copies of games, has a library of 176 titles available for download. Unlike games purchased on the Mac App Store, these can be played on both the PC and Mac, and pack on social features through the Steam game client. Valve launched Steam for the Mac in May of last year.

The Mac App Store's library now sits at some 2,867 apps according to third-party tracker AppShopper. Of that, Apple's own applications continue to dominate the top 15 paid list, with 99-cent FaceTime leading the way, followed closely by Xcode, iPhoto, Pages, iMovie, Keynote, Aperture, Numbers and GarageBand, with various third-party apps in between.

Originally posted at News - Apple

Amazon putting finishing touches on app store

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 02:44 PM PDT

Amazon is counting on an exclusive Angry Birds: Rio launch to kick off their new app store.

(Credit: Amazon)

The Android Market is about to face stiff competition in the next few weeks once the Amazon's app store goes live. In fact, the long awaited application distribution center may be the biggest competitor to the Google store, even more so than GetJar.

Earlier this week, Android users found that they could navigate their browser to amazon.com/apps where they would see a short list of apps and games. As initially discovered by AndroidNews, the Amazon store offered a few titles at prices lower than the Android Market, some as much as 40 percent less.

While most apps were just a few pennies cheaper than on the Android Market, other titles, such as Scan 2 PDF, were nearly half Google's asking price ($3.99 vs. $6.44). Generally speaking, though, the fifty plus listed apps were priced pretty consistenty.

Another interesting detail is that none of the apps listed on Amazon were free, What's more, the pricing ranges were seemingly random. Whereas one app might be marked at $1.49, another might be $1.50. This is noteworthy because it will be Amazon that determines the costs for apps here, not the developers.

The app store also offered a couple of titles that are currently not available through other channels, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Force Recon. Likely to be a big seller among gaming enthusiasts, it's possible that Amazon will retain exclusive rights to the game. Should that be the case, we may see other games from Glu Mobile or Activision that don't exist elsewhere.

Along those lines, Amazon will be relying on an agreement with a major player in the Android space when the doors open. Officially announced earlier this week, Rovio Mobile will be offering Angry Birds: Rio exclusively through the Amazon store. Also, Android users will be able to purchase ad-free versions of the original Angry Birds and Angry Birds: Seasons, both of which have been previously unavailable.

Things are set to get interesting pretty quickly once Amazon enters the app fray. While the company has no experience in app distribution, it excela at discovery and recommendation. Google, on the other hand, has been doing this for a few years now, but only recently started offering up related apps and discovery. Both will no doubt teach the each other a thing or two with consumers winning out in the end.

I'll be interested to see what happens on a number of fronts. For instance, what about AT&T's restriction on loading apps from sources outside of the Android Market? And as for developers, I'd like to see how the Amazon store is better at helping them earn money for their apps.

Indeed, there are plenty of questions to be answered, all of which should come to a head in short order. Rio opens on April 15 so I imagine Amazon and Rovio will want to launch the game on time.

Originally posted at Android Atlas

RIM launches Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0 beta

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 11:00 AM PDT

Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0 (Credit: RIM/BlackBerry)

BlackBerry-maker RIM hasn't always seen a rosy reception of its Facebook for BlackBerry app, but the version 2.0 beta might change some minds with its much deeper integration.

Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0, which launches today in a limited beta, gets a laundry list of new additions, big and small. There's Facebook Chat, which you can access from the Facebook application or launch from within your BlackBerry contact list. You'll also get notified of new Facebook chat messages in your message list.

RIM has also created a logical new way to get to all your menu items, in the form of a navigation grid of icons overlaid on the screen to help you move around (pictured above). This menu used to appear in previous versions as a strip of menu icons at the top of the app.

Instead, the top of Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0 shows a new notification bar that summarizes your Facebook account and activities, like wall posts, messages, and friend requests. That's in addition to the device notification bar that you can use to see other alerts pertaining to your BlackBerry, like BBM messages and device alarms.

One of the smaller, but equally important, additions involves something as simple as scrolling the news feed and commenting with a single click or tap on the screen. The action fits right into the natural Facebook flow.

Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0's look and feel have changed somewhat, but it still comes across as blocky overall. The additions are definitely welcome, and a long time in coming.

While we continue liking some of the app's BlackBerry features, like the integration of Facebook contacts into the BlackBerry address book, RIM's version of Facebook still seems behind in features and usability compared with Facebook on other mobile platforms, most notably iOS. Let's hope even more changes come in the final version.

As always, feel free to include your own wish list of additions in the comments.

BlackBerry Beta Zone members have a chance of downloading the limited-availability beta of Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0 starting now.

Opera Mobile 11 and Opera Mini 6 coming at CTIA

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 09:54 AM PDT

Opera logo

If you can't get enough of the Opera browser on mobile, there's good news on the horizon. Opera Mini 6 and Opera Mobile 11, both updates to the current fare of alternative browsers, will debut next week at CTIA in Orlando.

Of course, we'll be there to give you the hands-on review.

Opera isn't saying much about what the new features will hold, except that there will also be a version optimized for tablets. In fact, they'll be showing a build of the new Opera Mini running on the iPhone and iPad. The new versions will presumably keep the browser's main features of tabbed browsing, a password manager, bookmark sync with Opera Link, and so on.

Opera Mini 6--the more condensed, speedier, proxy version--will be available on Android, BlackBerry, Symbian/Series 60, and Java (J2ME) phones. Opera Mobile 11--the native, standalone browser--will be compatible with Android, Symbian, Windows 7 (think tablets), and MeeGo.

Device compatibility list corrected at 10:45 a.m. PT.

Originally posted at CTIA 2011

March Madness On Demand offers free live feeds

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 09:12 AM PDT

OK, so this is footage from last year's tournament, but you get the idea. Free, live NCAA games streamed to your iPhone or iPad!

OK, so this is footage from last year's tournament, but you get the idea. Free, live NCAA games streamed to your iPhone or iPad!

(Credit: Turner Sports)

Today's the day, sports fans. The NCAA men's basketball tournament slams into high gear, with 16 second-round games kicking off at noon ET--and 16 more lined up for tomorrow. Our nation's productivity is about to take a two-week nosedive.

This probably won't help, but I don't care: NCAA March Madness On Demand for iOS streams every single game, live, free of charge. That's a pretty nice change over last year, when you had to pay 10 bucks for it.

The app works on iPhones, iPods, and iPads (sorry, Android users), and can stream over Wi-Fi and 3G. Last night I watched the second half of Alabama State vs. University of Texas San Antonio on my iPad, and was dazzled by the quality of the video--even when zoomed to full-screen size.

You get more than just live feeds, of course. The app includes an interactive bracket and a bracket-game manager that's linked to your NCAA.com version (if you set one up, that is). You also get news, highlights (when available), game alerts, and Facebook/Twitter integration so you can update your feeds while you watch.

And if you want to know where to watch the games on the big screen, just plug in your ZIP code and service provider to get local listings for the four networks carrying the tournament.

I could go on, but what's the point? If you like college basketball, you need this app, plain and simple. It's free, and it's fantastic.

One final note: My beloved Michigan State Spartans had a rocky season, but they're going to shock and awe the tourney by blowing past the first few rounds and landing in the Sweet Sixteen. Go Green!

Originally posted at iPhone Atlas

Boost Android battery life with JuiceDefender

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 09:10 AM PDT

Freebie JuiceDefender does an impressive job boosting battery life, at least on some Android phones.

Freebie JuiceDefender does an impressive job boosting battery life, at least on some Android phones.

(Credit: Screenshot by Rick Broida)

I have two Android-powered smartphones in my house: the Virgin Mobile Optimus V and Virgin Mobile Samsung Intercept. If you asked me to describe their battery life, I'd say mediocre and terrible, respectively. In fact, the Intercept barely lasts a day, even with little use. My wife, the one who's using it, is about ready to chuck it in the pond.

I think I've found a way to save it from that watery grave. JuiceDefender is a free app that promises "extra hours of precious battery life." And you know what? It delivers on that promise.

The app works some simple but clever magic: Whenever your phone goes into idle mode (i.e., its screen is off), JuiceDefender disables battery-draining items like 3G and Wi-Fi. Turn the screen on again and the radios spring back into action.

The app also throttles back the CPU and "manages" your apps, though it's unclear in the free version what's being done to which apps. You'll almost certainly want to invest five bucks in the UltimateJuice companion app, which opens the door to a wealth of power-management options and settings.

But even without it, JuiceDefender works wonders--at least on these two phones. At the end of the day, the Android 2.1-powered Intercept was not only alive and kicking, but showing a good 50 percent left on the battery.

As for the Optimus V, which runs Android 2.2, I unplugged it from its charger exactly 24 hours ago. During that time I used it on and off--mostly to fiddle with the app and check the battery. Current status: 81 percent. Without JuiceDefender, it would usually be down to around 60 percent by now.

(Interestingly, the app reported an incompatibility with the phone's ROM, stating it couldn't control the 3G radio. Even so, it delivered impressive results.)

Your mileage will almost certainly vary. And it's worth noting that if you use apps that involve streaming--like, say, Pandora--JuiceDefender may interfere (one more reason to grab UltimateJuice, which would let you tweak the settings to keep Wi-Fi active for specific apps). Same goes for tethering.

Still, if you're unhappy with your phone's battery life, I highly recommend giving JuiceDefender a try. It's free, so you've got nothing to lose.

In the meantime, if you've tried the app yourself, or you have a different recommendation for improving battery life (I've tried app killers, and they don't seem to do much), share your thoughts in the comments.

Originally posted at Android Atlas


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