Is iBeacon’s future in mobile gaming?

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When Apple activated iBeacon back in December, the retail world instantly saw the huge potential of millions of smartphone users with the ability to receive in-store mobile messaging via low-energy Bluetooth transmitters.

But is there a way for the tech to also enhance the world of mobile gaming? (more…)

Mobile apps news roundup: KakaoTalk, Flurry, Game Insight and more

kakaotalk-logo-roundupKakaoTalk surpasses 10 million downloads in Japan – While Line Corp’s (a new company operating under NHN Japan) messaging app Line remains the king of messaging apps in Japan, with nearly 50 million domestic users, Korean messaging app KakaoTalk recently made some headway, surpassing the 10 million download mark in Japan on March 24.

apple-logoApple implements age rating tags to Apple App Store – Apple this week modified the descriptions for apps in the Apple Store, adding a recommended age rating box that’s located below an app’s developer credits.

flurry80 percent of time spent on smartphones is spent in apps, Flurry says – Mobile app analytics firm Flurry released a report earlier this week, which showed that, among U.S. users, 80 percent of time spent on smartphones is spent in apps and 20 percent on the mobile web. 18 percent of time spent in apps came from the Facebook app, which is a figure larger than any other individual app.

weamigo-tapjoyLogoNon-gaming apps integrating with Tapjoy – In an effort to support apps outside of its core gaming base, Tapjoy announced that non-gaming apps like Top Chef University, FreedomPop, Pinger, University Wallpaper and others, have integrated with Tapjoy’s value exchange-based advertising platform.

ludiaLudia brings Popeye Slots to iOS – Ludia, in partnership with Sarbakan and King Features, launched Popeye Slots, a slots game for iOS that’s themed after the cartoon character Popeye. The game will later launch on Android and Facebook.

zing-games-logo-roundupApp Icon Quiz hits the Apple App Store – Independent video game developer Zing Games launched App Icon Quiz for iOS this week, a quiz game on the surface for users, but an app icon testing and app promotion service for mobile game developers underneath. Basically, users play the game, and then the app collects data that is shared with game developers to help them figure out how their icon design is liked and understood. Zing Games believes as more users play App Icon Quiz, the more traffic and installs will be generated for mobile game developers’ games.

chillingoChillingo launches Dram Chase for iOS – Electronics Arts-owned mobile game publisher Chillingo launched Dream Chaser earlier this week, an endless runner featuring 26 story-driven missions. The game is available now on the Apple App Store for $0.99.

Disney Interactive logo roundupDisney launches Mittens for iOS – Disney earlier this week launched its latest game Mittens, a physics-based puzzler from developer MetroGames. The game is available for iPhone for $0.99 and iPad for $2.99. Read our positive review of the title here.

game-insight-logo-roundupGame Insight releases Battle Towers for Android – Game Insight, which recently released Dragon Eternity for iPad (review), released Battle Towers for Android this week, a fast-paced strategy game.

Apple revamps iOS Podcasts app

mzl.bgqndydp.320x480-75Apple has recently revamped the iOS Podcasts app to version 1.2, hastily followed by a version 1.2.1 update to address a few issues that some users were having. The new version of the app is available now as a free Universal download from the App Store.

When Apple launched its Podcasts app last year, it was not received particularly well. Some users disliked the fact that podcasts had been pulled out of the iOS music player facility and consequently could no longer be added to playlists; others disliked the fact that their audio was no longer all in one place. Others still disliked the admittedly rather unnecessary and self-indulgent reel-to-reel tape recorder animation and unintuitive interface, with some outlets such as CNET going so far as to say it was “the worst app Apple ever made.”

Podcasts version 1.2.1 is a significant enough upgrade to the previous versions to warrant a re-examination, and Apple’s promotion of the app’s new version on the App Store front page shows that it believes it has created a superior experience to past iterations.

The new Podcasts app is split into two distinct components, each of which is subdivided into other categories. Firstly, the Library section of the app houses the user’s podcast subscriptions, downloaded episodes and custom “stations,” which effectively act as podcast playlists. From the Library section, the user may also browse the podcast top charts from the iTunes store and select additional episodes or shows to add to their lineup.

Subscribing to a podcast adds it to the main library view, and by default shows just the most recent episode, with remaining episodes hidden behind a “show older episodes” button. Episodes may be downloaded by tapping on the relevant button, or streamed by tapping on their title. Tapping on the arrow to the right of the entry shows a page of additional information about the episode in question, including the full title, description and other length. This page also allows users to mark an episode as played or add it to an “On-The-Go” station/playlist.

(more…)

Apple pays $8B to developers, up $1B in a month

CEO Tim Cook said during a Goldman Sachs conference that Apple has now paid out $8 billion to developers, up $1 billion from the $7 billion payout figure Apple reported in late January.appstore

In October 2012, Cook announced that Apple had paid out $6.5 billion to developers, and in January Apple announced that the figure had increased to $7 billion, an increase of $500 million in a three month span. From January to February, Apple’s payout to developers increased by $1 billion in only a month, with sales most likely driven by the holiday season.

Apple’s SEC filing for its Q4 2012 earnings showed that 775,000 apps were on the Apple App Store, a number the corporation had already reported in early January. Although, in the Q&A part of the earnings call in late January, Cook said there were 800,000 apps on the App Store. About 300,000 of the 800,000 apps are native iPad apps as well.

“We have over 300,000 apps custom designed for the tablet,” Cook says. “The other guys have a few hundred.”

Apple profits in Greater China jump 66% year-over-year to $6.8B, 26% quarter-over-quarter in Q1 2013

Apple continues to show growth in China, reporting $6.8 billion in revenue in Q1 2013, a 66 percent growth year-over-year and 26 percent growth quarter-over-quarter.china-flag

“It’s clear that China is our second largest region from data that we’ve given you, and it’s clear that there’s potential there,” CEO Tim Cook said in Apple’s Q1 2013 earnings call.

In Q4 2012, Apple generated 5.4 billion and 4.1 billion in Q1 2012. Cook also said that iPhone sales in China doubled over the last year, with triple digit growth.

It should be noted that Apple changed the way it reports revenue for the China region, now lumping mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan into a category Apple now calls “Greater China.”

Looking at sales across the globe, international sales, which includes the wider Americas, Greater China, Japan and the rest of Asia Pacific, accounted for 61 percent of Apple’s overall revenue of $54.5 billion, translating to $33.2 billion.

Multiple sources earlier this month reported that Apple is possibly looking into a cheaper iPhone, which would be aimed at emerging markets like China.

Apple reports record-breaking quarterly revenue of $54.5B and $13.1B in profit for Q1 2013

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In a record-breaking quarter, Apple announced today it has sold 47.8 million iPhones, 22.9 million iPads and 12.7 million iPods, breaking sales records for both iPhone and iPad and iPad and have sold half a billion iOS devices to date. Overall, the company reported $54.5 billion in revenue, good for net profits of $13.1 billion during Q1 2013.

Overall, revenues were up 51.4 percent over the previous quarter’s sales of $36.0 billion, and 17.7 percent year-over-year. Net profit was $13.1 billion for Q1 2013, the same net profit a year ago at $13.1 billion. Keep in mind that Q1 2012 results included 14 weeks of sales while Q1 2013 only had 13. Earnings were $13.81 per share.

Overall, Apple sold 83.4 million iOS devices during the quarter, up from Q4 2012 when the company sold 46.2 million iOS devices. iPhone sales were up 77.7 percent from Q4’s numbers, spurred on by the holiday surge. iPhone sales were also up 29.1 percent over the same time a year ago.

iPad sales were up 63.6 percent quarter-over-quarter and 48.7 percent year over year. iPod sales declined year-over-year, falling 17.5 percent from the same time a year ago.

Although Apple wouldn’t detail a breakdown in sales between the iPad and iPad Mini, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “for last quarter, we had strong sales for iPad and iPad Mini.”

These figures were slightly below the median estimate among 65 analysts of $55.96 billion in revenue, according to a survey from Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt.

The company’s gross margin for the quarter was 38.6 percent, down from Q1 2012’s 44.7 percent and Q4 2012’s 40 percent.

Apple generated more than $23 billion in cash flow this quarter, and it now has $137.1 billion in cash and short-term and long-term marketable securities.

On Sept. 19, 2012, Apple stock reached an all-time high at $702.10, since then, the stock had dropped below $500 at $485.92 on Jan. 15. Apple’s stock closed today at $514.01 a share. However in after-hours trading, shares dropped more than 10 percent to $459.95 a share.

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Report: Samsung raises iPhone and iPad processor prices by 20%

Technology corporation Samsung is raising the prices for the processors found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices by 20 percent, according to a report from South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

Chosun Ilbo says it’s the first time Samsung wanted to increase the price of processors found in Apple’s phone and tablet devices, but doesn’t add a reasoning for why Samsung wanted to raise prices.

“Samsung Electronics recently asked Apple for a significant price raise in (the mobile processor known as) application processor,” said a person familiar with negotiations between Samsung and Apple. “Apple first disapproved it, but finding no replacement supplier, it accepted the (increase).”

Despite Apple just reporting its best ever September quarter in revenues and profit, the 20 percent increase in cost for the processors that go in Apple’s mobile devices could hurt the company’s gross margin. In 2012 Apple reported a gross margin of 44.7 percent in Q1, 47.4 percent in Q2, 42.8 percent in Q3 and 40.0 percent in Q4. According to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, the iPhone 5 cost in materials is $293, meaning at an average selling price of $650, the handset has a gross margin of 55 percent. A teardown of Apple’s recently released iPad Mini by IHS revealed that the Mini costs about $188 to build, and with a $329 sticker price, Apple would have a 43 percent gross margin for each tablet sold, reported AllThingsD.

The report read that Apple purchases all of its application processors (APs) used in iPhone and iPad devices from Samsung, with 130 million processors coming from the South Korean company last year and more than 200 million this year.

Apple and Samsung have a long-term contract with each other until 2014 that sees Samsung supplying APs to Apple.

iPad Mini, fourth generation iPad doubles first weekend sell-through mark for Apple

Apple doubled its sell-through mark of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only units for its third generation iPad in March, selling three million iPad Minis and fourth generation iPads in three days, according to an announcement today from Apple.iPad Mini

The Wi-Fi only iPad Mini, which starts at $329 and sports a 7.9 inch display, and fourth generation iPad became available for pre-ordering on Oct. 26, and iPad Mini pre-orders are still being fulfilled by Apple throughout the month.

The Wi-Fi and cellular models of both iPad Mini and fourth generation iPad can be pro-ordered now and will start shipping in the U.S. in “mid November” and in other countries later this year.

The Wi-Fi only iPad Mini and fourth generation iPads are available in 34 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Honk Kong, Japan, South Korea and the U.K., and many other countries later this year like mainland China.

Scott Forstall, John Browett to leave Apple

Apple announced today in a press release that Apple senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year at an unknown date. He will remain as an advisor to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the meantime before his departure sometime next year.Scott Forstall headshot

Apple senior vice president of retail John Browett is leaving Apple as well, and while the Cupertino, Calif-based corporation searches for a replacement, the retail team will report directly to Cook.

Jony Ive will be taking over leadership and direction for Human Interface from Forstall in addition to his current role as senior vice president of industrial design. Forstall’s other responsibilities will be divvied up between multiple members of Apple’s executive team. Senior vice president, Internet software and services Eddy Cue will be adding on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps. Forstall, who’s responsible for iOS software, might have taken some of the blame for the Maps app fiasco. Senior vice president, Mac software engineering Craig Federighi will now lead engineering efforts for both of Apple’s operating systems — iOS and OS X. Senior vice president Bob Mansfield will lead a newly formed group called Technologies, which will combine all of Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams across the company into one organization.

Apple reports Chinese Q4 2012 revenues of $5.7 billion — China now 15 percent of Apple’s sales

During today’s Q4 2012 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Cupertino, Calif.-based corporation continues to see strong growth in China, reporting the country now accounts for 15 percent of Apple’s total sales.

Apple made $5.7 billion worth of sales in China during Q4 2012, up 26 percent year-over-year. Interestingly, as a whole, the Asia Pacific region saw its sales decline by 3.4 percent quarter-over-quarter, falling from $7.8 billion in Q3 to $7.52 billion in Q4.

Cook called the country “an extremely exciting market with more and more people wanting Apple products,” reporting iPad sales had increased by 45 percent while iPhone sales had risen by 38 percent.

Cook also revealed that over the 2012 fiscal year, China has been responsible for $23.8 billion in sales, a bump of $10 billion in revenue year-over-year.

Cook also added Apple is expecting to launch the iPhone 5 should launch China during the December quarter, a factor that will likely contribute to the $52 billion the company expects to generate during the period.

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