Mobile engagement company mBlox, in association with Millward Brown Digital, has released the findings of a July 2013 survey of over 1,500 mobile users, discovering that users now welcome location-based engagement with companies on their mobile devices.
Messaging app Line surpassed 100 million users in 19 months, according to a blog post on the official Line blog.
Line, an app developed by South Korea’s Naver Corp., is the leading messaging app in Japan. The app is now taking off in other regions, but in the grand scheme of messaging apps, the market is very fragmented with particular apps doing well in a certain country like Tencent’s WeChat in China and Taiwan Mobile’s M+ in Taiwan, and Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik in the U.S.
Line is a free app that allows users to send messages and initiate voice calls for free. American messaging competitors such as Skype have been allowing free calls for years, and recently Facebook added free voice calling to their Facebook Messenger app for U.S. users.
One of the newest messaging players is Digisocial, which is an iOS app that allows users to add audio to an image and to send voice messages for free through Digisocial’s network.
You can read our hands on with Line here.
Austria’s mysms wants to bring iMessage-like convenience to everyone’s communications, combining the best of SMS and instant messaging clients. The company’s independent, multi-platform messaging service allows users to send and receive messages on multiple devices, all through a single, cloud-based account.
On an Android phone, mysms works much like Apple’s iMessage, explains CEO Martin Pansy. When a user sends a message using mysms, the app checks if the recipient is also using mysms. If they are, the app uses an IP protocol to send the message for free even if the user is using cell data and not connected to a Wi-Fi signal, he explains. If the recipient isn’t using mysms, the app automatically switches to sending a traditional text message and carrier fees apply. On iOS, mysms functions more like a traditional instant messaging service, since Apple doesn’t allow mysms to replicate the functionality of iMessage.
What sets mysms apart from iMessage and other alternative messaging apps like Voxer and Whatsapp is that mysms users can send and read messages sent through its service from multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and even a Facebook app. This cloud-based approach allows mysms to blend the functionality of SMS and instant messaging into one universal application.
“People want to have just one single inbox for all their text messages and IM services,” explains Pansy. “For example, if you use Facebook instant messenger you can only use that; if you use Whatsapp, you can only send messages to people who have Whatsapp, and Whatsapp is only on mobile, not tablet or desktop. Same is true for standard SMS, which we only receive on mobile. We want to break up this barrier.”
Although the majority of mysms’ userbase currently comes from U.S.-based Android users, the app is growing fast with iOS users and in markets like Germany and Saudi Arabia. The service currently has over 30,000 users, and altogether they’ve downloaded the mysms more than half a million times between its iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chrome and Facebook apps.
The service currently monetizes through the sale of SMS in Europe, where it can sell messages over IP and offer its users cheaper rates than they would get from their regular providers. In the long term, the company may also go down the freemium route, offering users additional premium features for a small fee.
By the end of the year, mysms is aiming to have 100,000 users, but the goal isn’t to be just another messaging app. In the longer term, Pansy and the mysms team are betting on turning the technology into a communications platform — more Twitter than Voxer.
“Our platform is based on APIs,” says Pansy. “Developers can build applications on top of our infrastructure, it’s something that will interest to us at a later stage, but we’ve been thinking about since the beginning.”
RIM Reports a Decline in Q2 Revenue — Research In Motion has reported a decline in second quarter revenue due primarily to a poor performance of the BlackBerry PlayBook. RIM states $4.2 billion in revenue, a 10 percent drop from $4.6 billion. In terms of PlayBook, only 200,000 units were shipped. The net income was $329 million, a 59 percent drop from the $797 million of last year.
Google Possibly Working on Digital Magazine App — According to tech personality Robert Scoble, a source “working with Google” has noted that the company may be working on a competitor to the popular digital magazine app, Flipboard. Additionally, All Things D says that numerous sources are saying similar things and are dubbing the product “Propeller.”
Google Buys Over 1,000 Patents to Protect Android — Google has purchased 1,023 patents from IBM in order to protect Android from potential lawsuits, reports Bloomberg. The reports from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office note the acquisitions occurring on August 17th, and according to Google, are designed to counter “hostile, organized campaign[s]” from companies such as Apple and Microsoft. In addition to these new patents, Google also acquired 1,030 from IBM in July and will gain 17,000 more with its acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings.
Sony Releases SDK for PlayStation Vita – Sony released an SDK for developers looking to create games on PlayStation-certified devices. The SDK will support the programming language of C# and will work on devices such as the PlayStation Vita and Sony Tablet.
Foursquare Releases Push Notifications API — Location-based Foursquare has released two new beta version push notification APIs, User Push API and Venue Push API. The former allows for third-party apps to opt in to receive notifications when authenticated users check in, while the latter allows for notifications when there is a check-in to a venue run by a third-party app’s user.
Gowalla Announces Guides — Gowalla has shown off the latest version of its app: Guides. Upon checking in, users can view information regarding that particular location or contribute to the guide themselves. The more users check in, the more information they can view.
Buy Mobile App Features With Verious — Launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt, Verious is an interesting new online marketplace in which users can search for and buy pre-built mobile application components (e.g. a color picker, a slideshow component, or translation services).
Red Robot Labs Raises $8.5 Million — Location-based mobile games developer Red Robot Labs has announced $8.5 million in funding from Benchmark Capital and Shasta Ventures. Its first game, Life is Crime, launched on Android a few weeks ago.
MeLLmo Raises $30 Million — MeLLmo, a mobile business applications developer, has raised a round of funding this week worth $30 million from Sequoia Capital. Moreover, Sequoia Capital partner, Greg McAdoo, will join MeLLmo’s board of directors.
GameStop to Create Gaming Tablet — Game retailer GameStop has announced that it has plans to launch its very own branded gaming tablet. According to GamesIndustry.biz, the tablet will make use of the Android OS.
Verizon Relaunches Android App Store — Through the help of Chomp, Verizon Wireless is relaunching its Android app store, Verizon Apps, reports VentureBeat. Using Chomp’s app search engine, users will be able to search for new apps based on type.
Unity Wins Best Development Environment Award — Unity Technologies has announced that its Unity game development platform has won the award for “Best Development Environment” at this year’s CEDEC (Computer Entertainment Developers Conference) in Japan.
[Legal] Samsung Files Apple Complaint in France — In the global Apple vs. Samsung patent war, Samsung has filed a complaint against Apple in Paris. The complaint states that Apple has violated three of its technology patents regarding a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS).
[Legal] AT&T and T-Mobile Merger Goes to the President — 15 Congressional members are asking President Obama to settle the matter. In a letter written by Heath Shuler, they coax the President to approve the merger as it will, as reported by TechCrunch, expand high-speed wireless networks, generate new jobs, and boost the country’s GDP.
Demo Conference Mobile Highlights — The VentureBeat-affiliated conference of Demo, which acts like a showcase for new emerging technologies and companies’ products, occured earlier this week. At Demo several new mobile technologies and applications were featured. Below are some of the highlights detailed on the tech blog.
- Open Mobile App Directory — OMAD grants users with a means to find applications, from one site, from several app stores, including iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. It also states that it has “greater community participation.”
- Text Message Weight Loss Motivation – SMS startup Poosh has launched a new text message mobile service that will help motive users to exercise by sending text messages one to three times a day from “elite athletes.”
- Coaxing Kids to Read — MeMe Tales is a new mobile reading application for kids that will grant more than digital stories, but the ability to play reading-related games or publish their own stories.
- Easy Mobile Prototypes — Web-based FieldTest is a concept that allows users to take any image and assign interactions to create a functioning mobile app perfect for prototype presentations, pitches, demos, or testing.
- More Social Group Messaging — SmartDonuts is a new group messaging app from Inscos that allows users to more securely chat with groups of friends as well as join other groups based on their interests.
- Voice-to-Text Messaging — Qwip is a startup that offers and app of the same name that allows users to record short messages and converts them to text that can be used on Qwip, in private messages, or social feeds.
- New Social & Mobile Golfing App — Teepsy is a new Facebook and mobile app that allows users to brag about their golf game. Additionally, it lets users sign up for discounted tee times at certain golf courses. Players can earn badges for their golf accomplishments and track their scores.
- Build Tablet Websites — A startup out of Brooklyn, ClrTouch, displayed that lets users create a tablet-based website directly from their tablet.
- Power Robots With Smartphones — One interesting demo came from OLogic and its Automated Music Personality (AMP). The robot follows users around and will play music from one’s smartphone or MP3 player. It also comes with a iOS or Android app that lets users control it.
- Earn Discounts With Gimmie — Gimmie is another new startup and its product allows users to use their mobile phones to scan QR codes for things like rebates, coupons, and so on to receive a discount instantly.
[image via VentureBeat]
Angry Birds Hits New Milestone — Rovio Mobile’s game Angry Birds has reached a new milestone today as general manager Andrew Stalbow announced the game has been downloaded 350 million times and sees 300 million minutes of play a day.
PETA Sends Letter to TinyCo — TinyCo, the mobile developer behind Tiny Zoo received a letter from PETA coaxing them to make their next version of the game about rescued animals in sanctuaries rather than in cages. They state that the concept of confining animals within small enclosures is cruel and sends the wrong message to young players.
[Launch] Itsmy Games Launches Games for Web — Mobile and social games developer, itsmy Games, has announced that it has launched its catalogue of over 100 free-to-play titles as mobile web apps. Each game makes use of HTML5 and can be played partly offline.
[Launch] Backflip Studios Releases iOS Game DragonVale — Backflip Studios has released its newest free-to-play game, DragonVale in the U.S. The game is social game in which players manage a virtual space to raise and care for baby dragons.
[Launch] Pocket Gems Releases Tap Zoo on Android — Mobile games developer Pocket Gems has announced the launch of free-to-play game Tap Zoo for Android-based smartphones and tablets. The release also marks the one-year anniversary of the top grossing game on iOS within which it has spent 48 weeks in the top ten.
[Launch] Aviary Releases Photo Editing SDK — Aviary is a media editing company that has released a new SDK this week that allows developers to add photo editing features into any iOS or Android application.
[Launch] Translating Mobile Apps — TechCrunch came across an interesting new mobile app platform from Tethras. The platform is intended to help developers translate and localize their iOS and Android apps for a multitude of different languages.
[Rumor] iPhone 5 Launching October 15th — Stéphane Richard, CEO of France Telecom has stated that “the iPhone 5 will be released on 15 October,” reports TechCrunch.
Twilio, which serves as a backbone for many popular group messaging apps like GroupMe, cut its rate for third-party developers to send SMS to 1 cent per message from 2 cents.
The price cut, which was made several weeks ago and announced today, comes just as Apple announced a free messaging product in the next version of iOS.
The move wasn’t in response to iMessage, but Apple’s product not only has the potential to cannibalize SMS revenues for carriers, it may also threaten the numerous messaging startups that have sprouted up over the last year. The price cut also comes as another competitor Tropo has also cut its SMS rate to 1 cent as well.
While the timing is interesting, it isn’t a first for Twilio, which has been gradually shaving the costs of its service down over the past year. The company originally started charging 3 cents a message, and cut it to two last September. Developers that needed high-volume access to the APIs could, of course, negotiate cheaper bulk deals with the company as well.
“Twilio’s Voice & SMS APIs, as well as phone numbers have all gotten cheaper as we reach new economies of scale and these new prices points make sense for us financially and are a win for our customers,” Morrill tells us.
Twilio offers telephony APIs that make it easier to integrate voice calls or text messages into applications. Many of the most popular group messaging apps like GroupMe and Beluga, which was acquired by Facebook, rely on them to send millions of messages a day. The company has grown to serve about 40,000 developers and raised a $12 million second round last November.
While group messaging was one lucrative avenue for the company, it isn’t the only one. Other startups like Airbnb have used Twilio to reduce the cost of customer service by sending automated text messages to guests and hosts.
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