Viva La Blog

A rant about the mobile content industry, from those who have been in the trenches

Apples and oranges


With the iPhone 4s announcement a wave of cheers and sighs has traveled at the speed of light across the world.  People everywhere who once would have had to have waited for next months tech magazine to tell them the news are now instantly informed that the latest and greatest is now insight.

Whether Apple has been able to breach the high water mark it set for itself or not is quite insignificant compared to the reality that smart phones are here , delivering content to users in the way they want it and no new device is going to change that. The iPhone 4S launch marks the point where software has started taking the lead from the devices, as we have come to the situation where although the devices have their differences,  the user can still do the exact same thing on their 4S as their $100 Android handset.

Now that the hype bubble of amazing things to come has been popped we can get back to work building the best applications possible on the devices that are out there now and in peoples hands. It should be comforting to know that no matter what device you think is the best, they are all capable of delivering a highly polished and engaging medium to interact with the world.

Posted by Stephen Kilsby on October 5th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Amazon enters the Appstore Fray

Amazon are preparing an Android App Store

What effect will Amazon have on revenues for Android Apps?

Is this a case of YAAS (Yet Another App Store)??

Amazon is preparing an Android Appstore. So should we roll our eyes and say “yeah yeah, one more…whatever…thanks…” ??

Absolutely NOT. There are several good reasons why this is potentially the biggest news regarding Android app sales to date.

Firstly, it must be noted, that gross Android app sales clearly lag behind iPhone app sales, despite the fact that the increasing number of Android handsets and apps on the market has levelled the playing field for 2011. It just seems that few developers are really making much cash on the Android Marketplace, for reasons that have been discussed previously such as billing issues, poor design, a proliferation of dodgy apps and a poor ratings system

Amazon will not make those mistakes. They have the clout. They know how to sell, both physical items and digital. They have a powerful recommendations, ratings and rankings system in place for eBooks. And the kicker: they have an established billing system with millions of educated, credit-card-enabled users in place from day ONE.

Sounds familiar? It should. When Apple launched their App Store the reason their paid apps flew out the door could be attributed in no small part ot the fact that they had a huge base of iTunes users already set up for micro-purchases.

Kindle Blazes a Trail

So what kind of user base does Amazon have to tap into for buying Android apps? Amazon can thank it’s Kindle here. There are probably over 5 million Kindle Device users out there of which quite a few would possess an Android device, or will in the near future. And god-knows how many Android users have already installed the Kindle Android app (it is ranked #11 on Android Market)! It took just 3 days back in early July 2010 for the Kindle Android App to go from 50,000 downloads to 250,000+ downloads. By now it would be in the millions and many of them will have set up their credit cards in Amazon’s system to enable the one-touch purchase feature.  I’m one of them – I recently made my first eBook purchase through Kindle Android (for the curious, I bought “In Pursuit of the Gene: From Darwin to DNA” by James Schwartz, for $9.99). I would guess that a Kindle user will find it extraordinarily easy to purchase apps through Amazon’s App Store.

An Appley Approach

Amazon are also taking a more Apple-like approach to determining which apps make it onto their App Store and which ones don’t, without being quite so officious about it. The focus will be on quality (i.e. the app works as stated and doesn’t crash all the time)  rather than sheer quantity and perhaps this is what Android needs? I know I know…Android is all about OPENESS!! But when OPENESS is failing to convert to REVENUE, maybe it doesn’t hurt to emulate the other guy…just a little bit.

Lessons from the eBook Market

Amazon are bringing one fairly unique aspect to their App Store: The developer doesn’t set the price, Amazon does. Some developers will find this idea a bit repellent, espcially the loss of control. But they will need to trust in Amazon’s intrinsic understanding of sales patterns. Amazon already does this price-tweaking magic in the eBooks market and it works. For developers they may make less per sale but should see more sales and greater gross revenues.

What does this mean for Google Marketplace?

Nothing really except that they are about to have some serious competition. Which is a good thing. Google are already making some long-awaited improvements to their Marketplace and hopefully in the longer run Android developers will find they can make serious revenue from BOTH channels.


Posted by David Kainer on January 6th, 2011 :: Filed under vision and trends
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What will happen in mobile in 2011? Here’s our predictions


We’ve pulled out the crystal ball for 2011 and gone out on a limb. Here’s what our team thinks will happen in mobile in the next 12 months or so, in no particular order. Agree? Disagree? Comment and let us know!

  1. Windows Phone 7 will become a growing force in mobile games

    yes, we’re going out on a limb here and backing Microsoft to succeed in mobile…finally. We’ve had a good play with Windows Phone 7 and it’s pretty impressive. To be honest, it makes the Android on my Samsung Galaxy S feel a little clunky, while iOS 4 feels like last year’s pair of jeans – if you have it you probably love it, but it just isn’t that new and cool anymore. The overall penetration of Windows Phone 7 might remain low, but it will probably usher in a new level of portable games experience.

  2. Nokia will claw back some market share with Meego and Qt

    Nokia will be quick to tell you that they are still the marketshare leader in smartphones. I guess it all depends on your definition of a “smartphone”. My opinion is that just because it has Symbian in it does not mean it is a smartphone by 2010 standards. Indeed Nokia have been taking a pasting from all sides and have lost great chunks of market share in advanced countries. But we reckon they are about to arrest the slide in 2011. Just like Motorola turned around their dismal handset division in the USA through the launch of Android devices, so too Nokia will turn things around (predominantly in Europe) with new Meego / Qt devices. Qt looks like a a well planned development platform and Ovi is turning out to be a very powerful app store that has defied the early criticisms. With the introduction of Meego and Qt Nokia will start looking like a handset company with a vision, rather than looking like a washed out prize-fighter clinging to the memory of victories long past.

  3. RIM and Samsung’s Bada platforms will fail badly

    While Windows Phone 7 and Nokia Qt will pull in developers eager to crack new markets, Samsung’s Bada and RIM’s Blackberry 6 will fall by the wayside. Neither are bad, they just don’t have the cut through in both devices and developer interest compared to iOS, Android and Windows Phone

  4. Android will introduce their own in-app billing system

    The lack of a killer billing system (both for downlaods, and in-app payments) has really held back Android revenues when compared to iPhone. Companies such as Zong and Boku launched their own in-app payment libraries for Android in June this year, but these still rely on much of the time on Premium SMS, a system that sees the carriers hoover enormous chunks of your revenue. Recently, however, Google purchased Social Gold, a well established billing and virtual currency platform. Expect an announcement in 2011 regarding an Android virtual currency and billing system that will hopefully revolutionise the way developers make revenue from the Android market.

    Read All »

Posted by David Kainer on December 6th, 2010 :: Filed under vision and trends
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We’ve got a new Office


Viva La Mobile has new digs. We just moved into our new office last week and decided that it would be themed Badlands 2, our upcoming Dojo multi-player title.
Badlands 2 We have started work on the walls having commissioned the Badlands 2 Game Artist, Lorenzo Bruzzesse to convert
our office into an artwork. The friendly trooper pictured here will be part of the post apocalyptic scene which sweeps around the office. Feel free to drop by and have a look at the installation. Should be finished in time for Chrstmas.

Our new address:

248 Riley St
Surry Hills
Sydney, NSW 2010

Posted by Jamie Conyngham on November 28th, 2010 :: Filed under Uncategorized
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Android Market rating system: how to improve it?


The Ratings Problem

You slave away creating your android app or game. You test it on multiple devices, polish it up and then whack it on the old Android Market and watch the good times role, yes?

Well, sometimes. But let’s assume for the moment that your app is well received and the downloads (free or paid) start rolling in. Users start posting comments and ratings out of 5 stars. If those ratings are good your downloads will probably snowball since other users will often search for apps by rating. If you’re near the top, then you will probably stay there. It’s the old “rich get richer” mechanic. HAPPY DAYS!

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Posted by David Kainer on August 12th, 2010 :: Filed under vision and trends
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Androids march continues


There are two key growth numbers from Commscore’s latest report to the end of May 2010 (USA figures)

  1. Smartphones up 8% since Feb
  2. Android up from 9% to 13% of Smartphones since Feb

So, as previously predicted at Viva La Mobile, Android continues to steal market share from the other smartphone platforms. At the same time overall Smartphone numbers are growing, which points to a double gain for supporters of Android.

What does this mean?

Read All »

Posted by David Kainer on July 11th, 2010 :: Filed under Uncategorized
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Android in Australia in 2010


I saw my first Australian TV ad for an Android device this week. It’s an ad for the Motorola DEXT (aka CLIQ) and shows off the social network integration features of the MOTOBLUR UI. The ad, which is actually from Optus, does not mention “Android” anywhere while on the Optus website for the device the word “Android OS” is buried deep within the features list.

So where is Android at in Australia now?

Certainly Australian ‘Droidiness is lagging well behind Europe and the USA where carriers have been promoting android devices like the Motorola Droid and HTC Magic for some time, not to mention selling them in large quantities. In the USA Android is the fastest growing Smartphone platform.

Android gaining at the expense of others

I think we will see a similar effect in the Australian market over the next 6 months. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Hutchison are all launching multiple Android handsets this quarter, and it is great to see Optus advertising them (even if it neglects to mention the presence of Google’s OS at all). The variety of designs and advanced apps on offer should give consumers a welcome alternative to iPhone and provide an escape from iPhone me-too syndrome. Yes, that’s right young hipster, you can be unique again!!

My prediction: While no single handset model is likely to have the impact the iPhone has had (possibly ever), the cumulative weight of cool advanced Android devices will be far greater than iPhone in the longer term. As the Android market share rapidly grows here so will the demand for localised apps. This is where the brands and agencies of this country need to be alert and remove their iPhone blinkers. Apple now has company in Australia and ignoring that would be a mistake.

Update: some more android growth info

Posted by David Kainer on April 7th, 2010 :: Filed under vision and trends
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Developing Apps offshore – should you do it?


Interesting discussion currently going on in the cocoaheads Google group. Someone posted the excellent question: I wonder if anyone has had any experience working or getting phone apps developed by companies off shore. Are there any tips, traps or happy or sad stories etc

Personally I have always been skeptical of getting work done by an unknown team in a country such as India. While I am sure there are some excellent software companies over there, the sheer number of pundits implies that there is probably a lot of chaff surrounding the wheat, a lot of rough surrounding the diamonds, a big haystack on top of the needles….you know what I mean.

So as enticing as the bargain basement pricing might seem, is it worth it?

Here is what one reply in the Google thread said:

I’ve seen two projects outsourced to Indian software houses.

The first was a fixed price 3 month project that took 9 months to deliver. The price stayed the same, but overall the extra expense of having a full-time Tester on the job for 6 months longer ended up putting the project over budget.

The second project was various small routines and standalone applications in a larger suite. The rate was cheap – about $1000 per month. However, without exception everything they worked on had to be rewritten.

Here’s another:

the “traditional” model of off shoring to countries
such as India I have *never* seen work. Over the last 6 or so years
I’ve been personally involved in two Indian off-shored projects (both
with large, “reputable” Indian companies) and have seen another two
from outside (with friends on the project), all of them were
disasters, for various reasons. In each case, the code written in
India was thrown away & rewritten, in the last case I’ve seen, the
Indian team were simply not able to understand the problem domain.

It would be interesting to hear from those who have had good experiences where a project has been developed offshore at a discount price and delivered on time and to spec. In the mean time, in my biased opinion, I would recommend using an experienced local development studio for mobile application projects as the complexities involved may push the limits of the offshore model beyond breaking point, resulting in lost time, money and reputation.

Posted by David Kainer on March 30th, 2010 :: Filed under Uncategorized

Wholesale Applications Community (*nods approvingly*)


This is potentially some great news out of MWC 2010 in Barcelona: A whole gaggle of major mobile networks have formed an alliance to bring a consolidated marketplace for apps to their consumers, totalling over 3 billion subs. You can see the details here: Wholesale Applications Community.

Read All »

Posted by David Kainer on February 15th, 2010 :: Filed under vision and trends

Android – a world of love and pain


Hi World.

So, we’ve been a busy little team lately and the new website is starting to take shape for 2010. The mobile apps and games industry has changed an awful lot since we started out in 2003 and it makes sense to start discussing these changes and where things are going. Hence this blog.

What we’d like to do is to not hold back. We’d like to discuss what really is going on, who’s winning, who’s losing, what’s working and what really gets our blood boiling.

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Posted by David Kainer on February 14th, 2010 :: Filed under Uncategorized,mobile development
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