CloudOn updates its mobile productivity app, expands to iPhone with Microsoft Office capabilities

CloudOn announced today that it has updated its mobile productivity app to version 3.0 and launched its iPhone app, the first app to bring Microsoft Office integration to the Apple handset.

For years, productivity in the workplace has been tied to Microsoft Office and PCs. Many people around the world know how to use Microsoft Office products, but now they are more mobile than ever, using different types of devices that aren’t a PC like smartphones and tablets. CEO and co-founder of CloudOn Milind Gadekar told Inside Mobile Apps that was the thinking behind the creation of the company.

“We kind of looked at it and said let’s leverage the legacy and behavior of the billion of workers who already use Office and created billions or trillions of documents all in that format,” he says. “These documents are now being saved in Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive and hundreds of different cloud storage providers. Let’s take Office and make it accessible and usable across all devices.”CloudOn iPhone screenshot

The mobile productivity app, which first launched in January 2012. on iPad, allows users to create, review and edit Microsoft Office and Adobe documents and the ability to share documents via cloud storage providers including Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and now Microsoft SkyDrive as part of the version 3.0 update.

The startup also announced that version 3.0 optimizes the app for Android tablets running the Honeycomb version of Android’s OS, Ice Cream Sandwich (version 3.1 and higher) and Jelly Bean (version 4.1 and higher).

CloudOn is an official partner of both Microsoft and Adobe, which allows the company to use Microsoft Office and Adobe services in CloudOn’s app.

CloudOn has a feature dubbed FileSpace, which captures the events — edits, annotations and more — of a user. Eventually, the company wants to to expand this functionality into a group productivity feature where multiple people can share and collaborate on files.

“We have to create this building block because this is one of the building blocks we need to start capturing events so that once I invite you into my world space, you have full visibility into the full event thread,” Gadekar says. “That’s where it comes to life — in a group productivity environment.”CloudOn FileSpace screenshot

Gadekar says competitors to CloudOn include the traditional productivity giants including Microsoft Office (and Office 365), Google Docs and Apple iWork. Gadekar adds that what differentiates CloudOn from the competitors is its horizontal thinking versus the vertical thinking of the competition. Meaning, each competitor has a vertical productivity solution that doesn’t deviate outside of their solution, while the CloudOn app works on different types of devices and provides multiple cloud storage provider options.

CloudOn, which has grown to more than two million users in 10 months, raised $16 million in Series B funding back in May 2012 led by The Social+Capital Partnership and earlier investors including Foundation Capital and Rembrandt Venture Partners, with total funding raised at $26 million, according to Gadekar.

Looking into the next year, CloudOn plans to figure out how to monetize CloudOn in the first half of 2013, and in the second half, the company plans to start catering its app to enterprise services.

Right now, the CloudOn app is available for free, and doesn’t monetize at all, for iOS, Android and Kindle.

Rumble ready to roll out Nightmare Guardians to tablets, preps multiplatform publishing

KingsRoad developer Rumble Entertainment activates on its multiplatform strategy with a second game, Nightmare Guardians, launching on tablets in early 2013.

The company has an aggressive growth strategy aimed at being both developer and publisher right from the point of launch. Rumble secured a $15 million first round of funding nearly a year ago before any of its games had been released. But, as CEO Greg Richardson tells Inside Social Games, Rumble was already hard at work on developing a suite of titles to straddle mobile, social and open web platforms. By covering all the rapidly growing bases, the company is better set up to act as a publisher of third-party titles on any or all of these platforms.

An interesting use case comes from releasing Nightmare Guardians straight to tablet. Based on research collected by Rumble, tablet players spend an average of 25 to 35 minutes in a game session. In contrast, smartphone players only spend 3 to 5 minutes — which isn’t enough time for most games to do the matchmaking needed to create quality synchronous multiplayer. Additionally, smartphones run on a range of connection types — 3G, 4G, WiFi, etc. — while most tablets tend to run games on WiFi only.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t care about smartphones,” Richardson explains. “We definitely have ambitions for smartphones, but we wanted to hit [tablets first]. Our 3D graphics and production values are better suited to tablet screens.”

Read the rest of this story on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Google unveils new Nexus devices, Android 4.2 OS

Google has expanded its Nexus line adding a Nexus 4 smartphone, a revamped version of the Nexus 7 tablet with options for 3G data, and a new 10 inch tablet dubbed the Nexus 10.

Unveiled today via blog post, all three devices run the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.2. The new version of the mobile operating system adds gesture typing controls, improved dictionaries and text-to-speech capabilities, support for multiple user profiles, wireless display sharing with an HDMI wireless display adaptor, expanded, actionable notifications and improvements to Google Now. Google has also introduced something it calls the Photo Sphere camera — its own answer to iOS 6’s panorama mode.

On the tablet side of things, the brand-new Samsung-built Nexus 10 has the highest resolution of any tablet currently available. The device comes witha 300ppi 2560 x 1600 display, larger the iPad’s 2048 x 1536 Retina display.  The Wi-Fi only device comes with front and rear cameras, 2 GB of RAM and a 1.7 GH dual core Exynos processor. The 16 GB model will cost $399 and the 32 GB model will cost $499, making the Nexus 10 a full $100 cheaper than the comparable models of iPad.

While the Nexus 7’s technical specs remain unchanged, Google has introduced new models with higher storage capacity and added the option for 3G data. Google has also lowered the price on the Nexus 7 line to make it even more competitive against Amazon’s and Apple’s offerings. The Wi-Fi only Nexus 7 now costs $199 for a 16 GB device and $249 for a 32 GB device. An HSPA+ 3G enabled device with 32 GB of storage capacity will cost $299. By comparison, the standard 16 GB Wi-Fi only iPad Mini is priced at $329, and a comparable 32 GB LTE iPad Mini will cost $559.

Finally, the new Nexus 4 smartphone comes with a 4.7” screen with 320 PPI display and 1280 x 768 resolution. The device also has a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 2 GB of RAM, an 8 MP rear-facing camera and is available with either 8 or 16 GB of storage. The phone has both NFC and Bluetooth, but does not support LTE internet. Prices range from $199 for a 16GB device with a two year contract to $349 for a fully unlocked 16 GB device.

The Nexus 4 smartphone and the Nexus 10 tablet will be available for purchase through the Google Play store on November 13. The new versions of the Nexus 7 tablets are shipping now.

Google pushes for higher quality tablet apps on Google Play

iOS may have the lead in the tablet market now, but Google is looking to change that by improving Google Play’s tablet resources. The company has just released a blog post outlining how to create top-quality Android apps for tablets, accompanied by case studies and documentation.

The company’s new Tablet App Quality Checklist is basically a cheatsheet for developers to help them create Android tablet apps that will meet “the expectations of tablet users” — i.e., look as good as those found on iPads and Kindle Fires. According to today’s post, Google is also doubling down on its promotional efforts; the company is creating a new set of Google Play collections specifically to showcase high quality tablet apps.

Its a logical move for Google to try to improve its tablet experience. Until the release of the Nexus 7, most Android-based tablets — with the exception of Amazon’s line of Kindle Fire tablets — hadn’t been able to do much to challenge the market dominance of Apple’s iPad.

Now that Google has its own horse in the Android tablet race, it doesn’t take much of a leap to see that the quality of Android tablet apps has to improve. Not only to ensure that developers want to see the same kind of conversion and monetization they see from iPad apps, but to ensure Android tablets sell at all. With Apple heavily rumored to release a smaller, lower-cost 7” tablet in time for the holidays, Android tablets likely won’t have the advantage of a significantly lower price-point when consumers are looking at their tablet options.

Agawi teams with Microsoft to bring cloud-based gaming to Windows 8

Game streaming startup Agawi, announced today it is partnering with Microsoft to bring its service to Windows 8 devices.

Agawi got its start in 2010 as iSwifter, a YouWeb incubated company that streamed Flash-based social games to mobile devices. At the time, Flash-based games were much more advanced and lucrative than mobile titles, but as mobile gaming evolved many social game developers went into mobile themselves, cutting out the need for middleman services like iSwifter’s.

At the end of August iSwifter rebranded as Agawi, expanding its streaming options to include mid-core games and hardcore games as well as the Flash-based games it originally supported. According to Agawi’s press release users will also be able to play “popular AAA games” through the service in the coming months. The company currently has a userbase of 3 million players, and offers a Flash web browser for iPad owners through the iTunes App Store.

Under the terms of Agawi’s deal with Microsoft, Agawi will use Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform to stream games to Windows 8 devices, a category that includes desktop computers, laptops and Microsoft’s upcoming line of Surface tablets. At last week’s Lumia 920 launch event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the company plans to produce more than 400 million Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices in 2013; if the OS is a hit, Agawi will be well positioned to catch up to its more established competitors in the game streaming market, OnLive and the Sony-owned Gaikai.

Guest Post: For Surface to succeed, app development will be key

Editor’s Note: This guest post comes from Kerry Butters, a contributor for the consumer information site Broadband Genie.  A writer with a passion for all things technology, Butters specializes in security, gadgets and social media.

There’s been much speculation that Microsoft’s upcoming line of Surface tablets could be the devices that will finally pose a challenge to Apple’s dominance of the tablet market. Analytics firm Gartner predicts the iPad will retain a 61.4% share for the whole of 2012, a feat considering the stiff competition being waged by Amazon’s Kindle Fire line of devices and Google’s hyped Nexus 7.

The success of any mobile device really lies within its app store and Apple, Google, and to a lesser extent Amazon, have established rich app store ecosystems. In order for Microsoft to make the Surface devices a success, they will not only have to be great tablets with attractive price points, Surface will need to attract developers. As we have seen with RIM, this isn’t necessarily an easy feat — even their promise of a $10,000 bonus for successful developers wasn’t enough to attract more apps to the flagging Blackberry platform.

Currently, iOS supports more than 700,000 apps for the iPhone and the iPad. Google Play, the official Android market has more than 600,000. Meanwhile, although Windows Phone has just passed the 100,000 app milestone, the RT version of Surface will only run Metro apps and the Windows 8 version will only run existing Windows applications.  Surface devices will need an app ecosystem able to rival Google’s and Apple’s, especially if the RT version of the tablet is to be viable. However, according to a recent report from The Register, it seems that only pre-approved developers will be able to make metro-style apps.

Although the report suggests that this restriction may only apply to Windows smartphones, with Microsoft not releasing more developer information until Sept. 12, the company’s actions seem to be indicating that it is prepared to take its time to establish its app ecosystem. Thus it seems that Microsoft’s attitude might end up being the deciding factor in the fate of its Surface devices.

The open, easy to work with Android platform is the most popular mobile OS in the world for a reason — despite its security issues — and Surface will suffer if Microsoft makes it too difficult for developers to make Metro-style apps, considering there will be new coding standards to get to grips with, even for existing Windows app developers.

All-in-all, it’s difficult to see how Surface is going to make a real difference to the market in the short-term, and only time will tell if Microsoft’s venture will eventually dethrone main rival and market leader Apple.

Amazon revamps Kindle with cheaper 7” version, $299 9” HD Model

As widely anticipated, Amazon has refreshed its popular Kindle Fire tablet, revealing a revamped 7 inch model and a new, more powerful 8.9 inch HD model.

Unveiled today at Amazon’s Los Angeles press event, the updated Kindle Fire keeps the original’s 7 inch display and boasts a new, faster processor which will boost performance by 40 percent according to Amazon, twice the RAM of the original model and a longer battery life. The new Kindle Fire will retail for $159 when it ships on September 14, strategically undercutting the price of Google’s fast-selling Nexus 7 Android tablet, which costs $199 for the 8 GB model.

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD is 8.9 inches with a 1920 x 1200 display. Physically, the new tablet is 8.8 mm thick and weighs in at 20 ounces. The processor is a TI OMAP 4470, which Amazon claims can process 50 percent more operations per second than the standard Kindle’s Tegra 3 chip. Amazon has also added stereo speakers and dual band Wi-Fi antennas. The Kindle Fire HD only comes in a 16 GB model. It will cost $299 and a 4G LTE model will also be available for $499. Data plans will cost $49.99 per year and will cap at 250MB of data per month. The Kindle Fire HD will ship on November 20.

Guest Post: Will the Nexus 7 stand the test of time?

Editor’s Note: This guest post comes from Ryan Weber, the co-founder and senior vice president of product management of the user acquisition and monetization company W3i.  He received his B.S. in Computer Science from St. Cloud State University, and was honored with the University’s 2007 Alumni Award for the Graduate of the Last Decade. You can find out more about W3i here

Two thousand years from now, when historians are sifting through dusty iPads and old Inside Network postings, they’ll likely claim 2012 was the beginning of the tablet wars. With Microsoft entering the ring with the Surface and Apple gearing up to launch the iPad Mini soon, the tablet market is hotter than ever.

Recently, Google also made a huge tablet play in launching the much-anticipated Nexus 7 to expand its tablet market share. Although there is a lot of buzz around Google’s latest tablet, it’s not likely the Nexus 7 will have a lasting substantial impact on mobile app developers.

The Nexus 7 may be Android’s current best shot at putting forward a serious iPad competitor. However, the weakness of the Google Play market will make it unappealing to mobile developers in the long run. However, developers may still want to take advantage of the Nexus 7. With minimal additional development costs incremental revenue can be earned.

Since its launch in June, the Nexus 7 has quickly gained a meaningful share of daily active users, relative to other Android tablets. Analyst firms like Chitika are reporting the tablet saw a 33 percent rise in traffic share following its launch. This is the strongest release coming out of the gate that we’ve seen from a tablet since the launch of the iPad.

Although it is the current poster child of the tablet space, it’s likely that the initial consumer interest in Nexus 7 will drop off. This is what happened to the Kindle Fire just four months after it launched.

W3i shows a rapid market share increase in the first two weeks after launch from analytics from the W3i Monetization Platform for Android games.

For the foreseeable future, it appears that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet space. In June, Changewave reported that seven percent of consumers surveyed plan on buying a tablet in the next 90 days, and of that group, 73 percent plan on buying an iPad, eight percent will buy an Amazon Kindle Fire and six percent will purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Apple clearly has the lion’s share of the tablet market—a fact that mobile developers are all too aware of.

If demand for the Nexus 7 does drop off, it could be due to a lack of a strong supporting app store. Although Google Play is showing competitive download volumes compared to Apple overall, this is due primarily to their growth in smartphone market share rather than their tablet growth. Google doesn’t have the legs to maintain the Nexus 7’s current popularity.

It is worth noting that developers should monitor the continued progression of Google Play’s rapidly increasing in-app purchase (IAP) sales, which historically have been well below Apple and Amazon in performance. CCS Insight and Distimo reported that in January 2012 the top 200 highest-grossing apps generated daily revenue of $3.34 million from the iPhone and $2 million from the iPad App Stores.

In comparison, Google Play saw a 31 percent rise in daily revenue, to $679,000 across smartphones and tablets for the top 200 highest grossing apps. This was driven by in-app purchases accounting for more than 60 percent of revenue across the iPad, iPhone and Google stores in the same period. In February, IAP increased to 73 percent for the top 200 highest-grossing Android and iPad apps and 79 percent for the top 200 grossing iPhone apps.

Although Apple still reigns supreme on mobile, there are reports that the diligent Android developer can earn more per user—especially in hardcore games. Here are some numbers on variances by platform. Evernote reported its revenue per user by mobile platform as follows:

  • Android $1.06
  • Windows Phone $1.44
  • iPhone $1.79
  • Blackberry $2.01
  • iPad $2.18

Developers still have a window to take advantage of the Nexus 7. Since the Nexus 7 is the premier tablet on the Android platform, developers would do well to showcase an Android game there. If they can optimize game for the Nexus 7, they’d likely see a significant growth in users from the tablet’s popularity alone.

iPad continues to dominate the tablet space and is used for playing games by 64 percent of tablet users according to NewZoo. According to Distimo, iOS takes 54 percent of the revenues from mobile games, and iOS games gross five times more than Android games in the U.S. The majority of money is spent in-game: 91 percent of revenues for both iOS and Android.

TinyCo revealed that, on its Tiny Village game, Google Play holds 65 percent of the average revenue per user as its counterpart in the App Store. That’s 82 percent if you take tablets out of the equation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that ads and offers remain a strong component of freemium game revenue, and it is growing faster than in-app purchases. As reported by Flurry, advertising makes up about 18 percent of app revenue. Advertising is the fastest growing revenue category with growth forecasted at a range of 23 to 100 percent of total revenue.

Whether you’re betting on Nexus 7 or other tablet platforms, tablets are here to stay.  To increase revenue from mobile apps, developers should check out all the options to monetize before the launch. This will help to capitalize on demand right out of the gate.

HP is back into consumer tablets with new Mobility division, but will face tough challenges

HP has formed a new Mobility business unit to produce consumer tablets, reports The Verge, which has gained access to internal documents detailing the company’s plans.

According a company memo circulated today, former Nokia executive vice president Alberto Torres is joining the company to run its brand new Mobility Global Business Unit, and will pick up the title of HP’s senior vice president of mobility.

The new division will “focus on consumer tablets and will expand to additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers,” according to the memo, and will create tablet devices for consumers, small and medium sized businesses. HP’s still-gestating enterprise tablet will stay within the company’s PC group.

HP exited the consumer tablet and smartphone market almost a year ago today, when it announced it would discontinue its line of WebOS devices — a move that killed off the TouchPad tablet and several models of smartphone that ran on the operating system.

The company had tried to pivot into the consumer smartphone and tablet market when it acquired Palm and its WebOS operating system for $1.2 billion in 2010, but its plans never materialized as expected. WebOS was already steadily losing market share by April 2011, and the TouchPad sold poorly upon its release. HP later tried to sell WebOS for the $1.2 billion it paid for it, but failed to find a buyer and eventually made the entire operating system open source.

Although details are scarce at the moment, it will be a considerable challenge for HP to break into the consumer tablet market. Since it retreated from the space, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and new the Android-based Nexus 7 have made their debuts, both proving to be popular and well received alternatives to the current market leader, Apple’s iPad. Samsung, Asus and Motorola also make popular Android-based tablets. HP will also now be competing with Microsoft, which has announced it will enter the market this fall with its upcoming line of Surface tablets.

The full wording of the HP memo can be read on The Verge.

Mobile app news roundup: Russian hacks, Chinese revenues and aggressive adware

App Store hacked to allow free in-app purchases — A Russian hacker has found a way to circumvent Apple’s App Store security and allow users to get in-app purchases for free reports 9to5mac. The process does not require a user to jailbreak their phone, but does require users to install two certificates and change their DNS record. The workaround sends information about device and the purchase back to the Russian developer.

IMDB’s apps pass 40 million downloads — IMDB’s mobile apps have been downloaded more than 40 million times on iOS and Android Since they were launched last year, reports the company. This week the company revamped the apps, adding message boards, check-ins and other social features.

Many free app contain aggressive Adware — Mobile security company Lookout reports more than 5 percent of free apps come bundled with adware — aggressive software that accesses personal information and changes a device’s setting without asking for a user’s permission first.

Chinese iOS developers don’t see much money – Chinese iOS developers earn just $0.03 per download reports Tech in Asia, citing high piracy rates in the country and a general unwillingness to pay for apps as the reason Chinese developers have a difficult time monetizing at home. According to the Chinese-only App Annie report Tech in Asia translated, Japanese developers earn the most, taking home $.040 per download and U.S. developers take home $0.28 per download. The worldwide median is $0.19. It also reported that the top 10 developers in China generate 90 percent of their revenue overseas.

Urban Airship partners with GamesAnalytics – Urban Airship and GamesAnalytics have entered into a strategic partnership. Under the terms of the deal, game developers and publishers will be able to offer push notifications based on behaviors identified by GamesAnaltyics’ Predict platform.

PlayPhone’s social gaming network grows to 45 million users — PlayPhone’s mobile-social gaming network has grown substantially in the last six months, growing to 45 million users and 4.1 million monthly active users according to VentureBeat.

Chinese smartphone market grows 164% year-over-year — China is now the biggest smartphone market in the world, according to Apple Insider. Smartphone shipments in the country were 33.1 million units in the June quarter, up 164 percent year-on-year. Apple’s share of the market was 17.3 percent.

Tencent invests in Chinese ROM maker — Tencent may be the latest Chinese company to produce its own branded Android phone says Tech in Asia, which reports the company has invested $7.9 million (50 million RMB) in Lewa Tek, a Chinese startup that develops its own version of the Android ROM.

3 billion Blackberry app downloads – The beleaguered RIM reports its app store Blackberry App World has now surpassed 3 billion downloads.

DeNA’s Mobage gets friendly with Facebook — DeNA’s popular Mobage gaming service now allows users to log in with their Facebook accounts reports industry watcher Dr. Serkan Toto. Toto speculates the move was prompted by low user interest in the Mobage network outside of Japan.

Slice updates app to version 2.0 — Mobile shopping app Slice has overhauled its iOS and Android apps to version 2.0, adding new personal finance features in addition to its shipment tracking functions.

iVentureCapital launches games-only advertising network TrafficCaptain – German company iVentureCapital has launched its own advertising network TrafficCaptain. The game-only network will be for mobile, social and online games, and will focus on Western European and North American titles.

Kendo UI adds tablet support — Telerik has added support for tablets and server-side wrappers for ASP.NET to its HTML5 and JavaScript development framework.

Gamevil adds $10 million more to partner fund – South Korean publisher Gamevil has added $10 million more in funding to its publishing partner fund. The fund has been used to publish previous Gamevil hits such as Air Penguin and Cartoon Wars, both of which were extremely popular on Android.

[Funding] Eruptive Games nets $1 million for hardcore mobile games — Vancouver Eruptive Games has received $1 million in funding from Russian game developer Plarium, Kevin Colleran and Guitar Hero creator Kai Huang, according to TechCrunch.

[Funding] The Echo Nest closes $17.3 million fourth round – Music service provider The Echo Nest has closed a $17.3 million fourth funding round according to VentureBeat. The new funding was lead by Norwest Venture Partners. The company has now taken more than $27 million in total funding.

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