Penetration of Smartphones, Tablets Grows Among US Teens (@eMarketer)

Both smartphone and tablet use saw a large leap among US teenagers ages 13 to 17 between 2012 and 2013, according to an October 2013 survey from the nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute (FOFSI) conducted by Hart Research Associates.
The poll found that smartphone penetration jumped to 64% in 2013, from 43% the previous year, among this age group. The climb in tablet use was just as dramatic, climbing to 67% in 2013 from 45% in 2012. The survey also found that smartphone penetration was highest among males ages 16 to 17, at 74%

Line has 300 million users, WhatsApp has a problem (@PandoDaily)

These messaging apps have adopted different strategies to WhatsApp when it comes to attracting and holding onto users. For Line, messaging is a front door to an experience that then opens up to include games, photosharing, stickers, and a de facto app store, which drives downloads of its other apps, including Camera and Tools. Kik is really just a mobile Web browser that hosts its own HTML5 apps, which third-party developers can now build. KakaoTalk has its own virtual eBay. And in China, people use WeChat to pay for physical goods. The messaging part, which is ostensibly these apps’ reason for existence, is actually an easily replicated commodity. It also happens to be all that WhatsApp has got.

At the same time, you could argue that Facebook had an easily replicated commodity as well at the height of the social networking wars. They won out, partially because they didn’t have all of the other intangibles that MySpace, Bebo & some of the other regional networks had. Which speaks to the question of localization and what matters in each country. Part of WeChat’s appeal is as an alternative to desktop-driven services that are largely still behind a firewall in mainland China. It doesn’t mean that people are going to start abandoning What’sApp in droves because they can’t use it as a payment mechanism. Whether or not messaging, on the surface, is easily replicable, doesn’t mean What’sApp is at risk of losing users considering the moat they’ve built up.

The bloodletting at Blackberry continues: COO & CMO out

COO Kristian Tear and CMO Frank Boulben are the latest casualties.

Chen added, “BlackBerry has a strong cash position and continues, by a significant margin, to be the top provider of trusted and secure mobile device management solutions to enterprise customers around the world.

Whatever makes you sleep better at night, I suppose.

H/T GigaOM

Mobile developers losing money on freemium games in China thanks to the absence of Google Play (@wandoujia)

Thanks to the fact that 70% of Android phones in China are isolated from Google Play services available on the same phones in North America and Western Europe, gamers in China are unable to purchase in-game items for select titles, according to new research from Wandoujia. In the latest installment of their China App Index, they point to Clash of Clans, the popular game from Tencent, which had over 200,000 downloads over the last month yet was unable to process a single freemium item transaction thanks to to the in-app billing system being married to Google Play.

Of course, given that Wandoujia markets themselves as a Google Play alternative, it’s not surprising that they’d want to promote this kind of information. But the problem seems to be pretty wide spread for any app developer wanting to enter the Chinese market.

You can find the rest of their slides below or by clicking here.

Uber partnering with auto financing companies to offer discounted rates to potential new drivers

From TechCrunch’s Ryan Lawler:

Instead, the company has partnered with a couple of auto manufacturers — like GM and Toyota — and struck a deal with auto financing companies to ensure that qualified drivers will be approved for financing rates that are better than they could get on their own.

Basically, it’s lowering the cost of entry for anyone who wants to be an Uber driver. Because the company can predict driver income, it’s been able to lock down better rates for those who have been approved to drive on its platform.

In reading first-hand accounts from drivers, it doesn’t sound like a particularly lucrative business, especially in an expensive place like the Valley. But it does sound like a good way to get into a nice car for next to nothing: grab yourself some incentive-driven financing, drive some folks around and at the very least, cover your cost of ownership. (unless the terms of financing are predicated on the driver picking up X number of people)

Why I got Highlight wrong and how Bluetooth Low Energy might save it (@scobleizer)

Scoble overhyping a startup? Naahhhh. 🙂 Seriously, good on him for admitting it though.

Highlight hasn’t gotten that bad, but in talking with tons of users about it I think it tried to solve the wrong social problem: we simply don’t want to meet random people. If we did want to do that we’d just walk up to random people in the street and introduce ourselves.

It’s true. Not just Highlight but it’s the reason why Color and every other “localized” social networking app has failed to catch on en masse. Plus, reaching out to randoms through third party services is always a crapshoot. I don’t like doing it even on established networks like LinkedIn. For me, I find it more socially acceptable to just reach out to the person via e-mail, either myself or through a soft intro. But always through e-mail.

Apple Confirms Acquisition of 3-D Sensor Startup PrimeSense (@AllThingsD)

PrimeSense became widely known in the sensor technology space for its early work with Microsoft’s Kinect gaming product, which uses cameras and depth sensors to capture players’ motions and incorporate them into Xbox gameplay.

In subsequent years, PrimeSense has expanded its product line to include more hardware than the original large, stationary sensor seen in the Kinect, creating new, smaller sensors targeted at more compact devices. The company’s Capri model, for example, seems particularly well suited for the mobile market.

The original iPhone launch & demo in 2007 was perilously close to being a complete disaster

I just started reading Fred Vogelstein’s book about the brief history behind the iOS vs. Android war and what it will mean for future innovation. The first chapter profiles the launch of the first iPhone: what decisions led up to it, why Jobs was originally against constructing an Apple-specific handset, etc. Most of this feels like ancient history. Of course remarkably, it’s still all less than a decade old. The most interesting part about the events leading up to the original keynote in 2007 was how everything around the device and its presentation was in such a state of flux: a very un-Jobsian situation if you’re familiar with Walter Isaacson’s biography that chronicled Jobs’ well-known hyper-meticulousness and attention to detail. Forget the fact that production lines had yet to be set up to produce the device at scale: even the prototypes to be used on-stage were still riddled with faults. Take the phone’s software and the problems Apple initially had getting the processor and cell radio to play nice. From Andy Grignon, one of the iPhone’s first engineers:

It almost brought the iPhone program to a halt,” Grignon said. “We had never seen a problem this complicated.”

Of course looking back at the keynote it didn’t seem that way. But Vogelstein continued:

The iPhone’s problems were manifest. It could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an email and then surfed the web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it did not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks performed in a specific way and in a specific order, that made the phone look as if it worked.

Take a look back down memory lane. Yes, when given that context, you can pick up on nuances that differentiate it from even the first iPhones that came off of production. But they’re awful subtle and certainly, nobody at the time would’ve picked up on it. Then again, the good entrepreneurs are known for faking it sometimes.

You can pick up a copy of the Vogelstein book: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution from Amazon here.

Google Glass in an NFL Locker Room: The Dolphins don’t appear to be fans

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll laugh at the irony of the Dolphins being involved here, considering the Richie Incognito brouhaha. And of course the remarks are similar to the cultural reactions Glass gets everywhere, especially with regards to recording, since the tell signs are more than capable of being obscured, especially in a crowded setting. But I think these questions get especially meaningful when it comes to the relationship between the press and those in the public eye, whether they’re athletes, CEOs, politicians etc. If Glass or some other eyewear-centric wearable computing reaches critical mass, what impact will that have on information sharing in interviews and the like? Obviously, pocket recorders and other methods have been around for generations but the hands-free nature of eyewear computing makes it a bit easier to do something nefarious.

H/T Deadspin

Watch odd exchange between Miami Dolphins coach, player and reporter wearing Google Glass (Palm Beach Post)

Swizzle: E-mail app that consolidates subscriptions into a daily digest (@Swizzle)

Just started playing with it myself. Unfortunately, a lot of my subscriptions are staggered (daily newsletters, weekly newsletters, bi-weekly newsletters & as-needed communications) and are in widely varying categories. So I’m not sure how helpful this may be unless I can create multiple digests. But if you have a lot of content in one bucket that comes in daily (e.g. multiple daily deal services), this might be really helpful for you.

Here’s TNW’s full review, with screenshots

Swizzle: Clean Up Your Inbox

Boombotix Sync: Wireless Music Synced Across Any Phone & Any Bluetooth-Enabled Speaker Set (@boombotix)

With all of the advancement in music access & portability that’s been driven by mobile over the last few years, there’s still been a pretty significant hurdle, at least at scale: how to broadcast music from a central location simultaneously across a wide variety of not just smartphones but through the litany of stand-alone speaker systems in existence. The team at a company called Boombotix thinks they’ve figured it out with a new app they’ve developed for iOS and are turning to Kickstarter to help fund the Android version.

This is the company’s first foray into software. They started out developing a line of ultra-portable speakers in the vein of devices like the Pill from Beats but quickly found out the lack of options for syncing tracks across networks, whether the music was local or on a streaming service a la Spotify. The app they’ve built allows that to take place seamlessly and will function with any Bluetooth-enabled speaker hardware, not just their own line of speakers. You can use the app in two distinct ways: as the central hub (DJ mode) or as a listener to hook up and listen to another DJ’s stream. Their Kickstarter page brings up a number of interesting use cases besides those summer parties at your buddy’s house: synced tracks for group exercise sessions & bike rides, the ability to share music with your friend without having to split headphones, etc.

As of now, they’re almost to their $15,000 goal to develop an Android app, which I think is really paramount to their success to ensure listening experiences are stable across all platforms. Check them out at their Kickstarter page; they have a few more videos that show the app in action as well as some cool swag for backers.

Turntable.fm to shut down

As much as we all love turntable.fm, we have decided to shut it down to fully concentrate on the Live experience. It was a tough decision to make because we love this community so much, but the cost of running a music service has been too expensive and we can’t outpace it with our efforts to monetize it and cut costs. If we also want to give Turntable Live a real shot, we need to fully focus on it.

Dandy: A Crowdsourced App Takes Shape (@dndyco)

It’s a game called Picture Scavenger Hunt

Participate in daily photo scavenger hunts to win bounty. Everyday a new scavenger challenge is posted, for example “police officer eating a doughnut”. The first user to submit a picture of this wins the bounty for the day. The bounty would be cash or even better bitcoin. Users can upvote and downvote submissions. The most popular submission in a given day also wins the bounty. If no one wins in a given day, the bounty is added to the next days bounty.

 

Gartner: Smart watches to remain niche product, tethered to smartphones until 2017 (MobileMW)

“The convenience aspect of using a watch for interaction while leaving the larger-screen phone or tablet in the bag or pocket is something that users can relate to and probably recognize its value,” concludes Zimmermann. “However, there are still several significant barriers to mainstream adoption, including low interest and awareness among consumers, poor design and price.”

A smartphone companion-only until 2017? I don’t know. Plenty of innovation can be crammed into 3-4 years. Bigger question is whether or not we’ll see any innovation in battery life to account for more computing power packed into smaller and smaller packages.

Here’s an example of one of the cheap Android tablets coming out of China at a price tag of $60 USD

http://www.prweb.com/releases/cheap-android-tablets/7-inch-ceros-create-table/prweb11347289.htm

“Chinavasion has rectified that with the release of the Ceros Create,” says Li. A tablet which doesn’t only come with an up to date Android 4.2 operating system, but also 1.6Ghz of dual-core processing power and a price tag of less than sixty US dollars.

Pretty wild. In the release, they refer to a free MS Office alternative called Kingsoft Office. Here’s the Android version of the software from their website. So maybe apps are being utilized to some degree on these tablets: just not the ones that are being used Stateside and in Western Europe. Especially if they involve any kind of upfront payment.

Electro band Metronomy releases single through stargazing mobile app (@springwise)

Very cool.

Starting at 7pm GMT on 11 November, fans have been able to access the track by downloading iCandi Apps’ Night Sky 2, an app that helps users track the position of stars in the sky. By pointing their smartphone in the direction of the Aquarius constellation, users can hear a stream of the single, which acts as a soundtrack to their stargazing.

Snapchat: 70% of users are women (@WSJ)

Snapchat has no revenue, and Spiegel said the company is in no hurry to make money from advertisers. “There are a lot of things in our product that make it appealing for advertisers, but we want to do it right,” Spiegel told a packed room at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, according to the person who was present.

When you have the kind of money they have, with investors (and potential acquirers) beating down your door begging you to take more money, I guess you can be as patient as you want to be.

Benedict Evans: The meaning of really cheap Android (@BenedictEvans)

Ben’s on point in the vast majority of his insights and this case is no different. The China thing is especially fascinating since it’s such a black box. For developers, how do you reach these people, assuming they really are just using these cheap tablets simply as an additional TV? Are there simple, in-market apps that might entice the owner to take the plunge? Or is the aversion just too strong? It’s kind of wild to comprehend using a tablet as just a dumb screen since we’ve been so accustomed to fleshing out our tablet experience with apps.