IDC today was the latest to publish its numbers on smartphone market shares after the major handset makers released Q1 earnings, and like Gartner, Strategy Analytics and the rest, it underscores the power of Google’s Android platform at the moment: Android OEMs shipped 162.1 million handsets in the quarter, giving the platform a 75% share of total worldwide shipments, while Apple’s 37.4 million devices put it at an increasingly distant second position at 17.3%. Microsoft’s Windows Phone, driven primarily by its partner Nokia (79% of all WP shipments), grew the most of all platforms, with a rise of 133.3%, but that still puts it at a single-digit share, 3.2% on 7 million devices shipped.
That meant that Microsoft has now overtaken BlackBerry, which declined by just over 35% with 6.5 million shipments, ending with a 2.9% market share.
Important to note that IDC specifies that this is devices shipped, not sold. Some analysts have told me that the two are effectively interchangeable terms, but shipped is also potentially a more optimistic figure: it points to how well retailers and carriers think certain models are likely to sell in the quarter ahead. Occasionally these can lag compared to how well certain handset makers are actually doing if a device ends up selling worse than expected.
What “shipped” numbers like IDC’s say is that Android and iOS continue to, more or less, remain the only games in town in terms of how confident sales channels feel about shifting devices, with other platforms relegated to niche status. This is something that companies like BlackBerry are trying to change, as evidenced by a recent deal to extend a $256 million loan to Telefonica for purchasing BlackBerry devices.
IDC’s numbers show that together these two platforms accounted for nearly 200 million units (199.5 million) shipped, up 59% over a year ago. The smaller players are not to be dismissed, though. Not only is Windows Phone the most rapidly rising of all platforms at the moment, but IDC notes that BlackBerry’s BB10 new range have hit 1 million shipped devices this quarter.
But turnaround will only come with that kind of growth being sustained. “Given the relatively low volume generated, the Windows Phone camp will need to show further gains to solidify its status as an alterative to Android or iOS,” writes Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC.
For the time being, the message to users, and to app developers, is that these are the platforms where you want to be. Considering how key content has been as a route to attracting users to these devices, that will continue to pose a challenge for the smaller players.
As with Strategy Analytics’ numbers yesterday detailing the profitability of different smartphone platforms in the quarter, IDC notes that Samsung is by far the “clear leader” in Android. It notes that it had a 41.1% market share. As a sign of the ongoing fragmentation of players on the platform, no other single OEM had more than a single-digit percentage market share after that, “and an even longer list of vendors with market share less than one percent.” The fact that it’s still “free” to license Android, and relatively easy to modify it for a more custom experience, will mean that it will continue to be the platform of choice for OEMs looking for more revenues from the ongoing boom in smartphones.
As we saw in Apple’s earnings earlier in the quarter, the company’s sales of iPhones are at an all-time high, but in comparison to the growth of the rest of the market, it’s actually off, with market share down nearly six percentage points. There is some feeling that part of this is due to the fact that the platform appears stale compared to all the change going on elsewhere with software and hardware features, news handsets and more. “Although demand remains strong worldwide, the iOS experience has remained largely the same since the first iPhone debuted in 2007,” IDC notes, pointing to a “massive overhaul” that appears to be on the cards with iOS 7.
IDC also notes that over the last year, shares of the biggest platforms have fluctuated, although Android’s current 75% is the highest in a year. Against that, the last time that Android approached 75%, in Q3 2012, Apple’s share was only 14.5% as people held out for a new iPhone model. That shows that Apple’s growth this quarter was at the expense of declines for other smaller platforms.
At its I/O developer conference, Google today announced a new Maps API for mobile developers, updates to Maps for Android and iOS and a completely refreshed Google Maps experience on the desktop. After the main keynote, however, Google also announced a major visual refresh for sites that use its Google Maps API.
The refreshed look, with new base map tiles, default markers and window style, will become the default in the Google Maps API experimental branch (which, despite its name, is actually the most-often used branch) on August 15. Developers can also opt in to use it today by just changing a single line of code.
It will roll out to the release branch, which is used by most Maps for Business customers, in November. The company said that more than 1 million sites use the Maps API, and all of them will get this visual refresh over the next few months. These sites reach about a billion users every week.
This is what it’ll look like:
Google says it “carefully designed the change to work seamlessly with all existing sites,” so developers don’t have to make any major changes to their existing sites.
Here is a full list of all the major changes:
- Newly designed base map tiles.
- Markers, info windows, and map controls have been redesigned.
- The Scale control now appears on the bottom right, instead of the bottom left.
- The default fonts used in labels and UI elements has changed.
- The marker property
raiseOnDrag has been replaced by
- All shadows have been removed in the visual refresh. Any shadows specified programmatically will be ignored.
Skift, the travel industry-focused site that was launched in July 2012 by PaidContent founder Rafat Ali and Jason Clampet (who previously ran content and editorial partnerships at Frommers.com), is announcing today that it has raised $1.1 million in additional seed funding.
The new funding was led by Lerer Ventures, with participation from various funds and angel investors (skip to the end of this post for the full list). It brings the total amount that Skift has raised to $1.5 million.
Skift says that it will have more than half a million unique users this month, and that 25 percent of its traffic comes from mobile. It also says its readers are likely to be “executives and managers from leading brands” in travel and related industries, such as Expedia, Priceline, JetBlue, Starwood and others.
When I asked Ali how this growth compares to PaidContent, a news blog on the media industry that he launched in 2002 (it was acquired by Guardian Media in 2008 and is now owned by GigaOm), he said, “Just the velocity of how quickly you can make a mark, that’s changed a lot now.” Ali attributed much of the speed of Skift’s growth to social media — the company says 10 percent of its overall traffic now comes from Twitter.
Ali added that even though Skift’s topic is the travel industry, he thinks of it as a “business information” startup, rather than a travel startup. He said it’s a company where “media and data go hand-in-hand,” and where Skift’s news content can serve as a “funnel” to its other products.
That said, he acknowledged that the data side of Skift’s business is still early. In January, it released its first report, “13 Trends That Will Define Travel in 2013,” and in February it launched SkiftSocial, which offers social media data for travel brands. Ali said Skift will launch its first subscription data products next month.
“We have a big plan for the data part and we will launch these mini products along the way,” he said.
And like most online media companies (including TechCrunch), Ali plans to launch a Skift conference, though he said he wants to focus on “one flagship conference” that has multi-million dollar potential, rather than a bunch of smaller events.
Most of the Skift articles that I’ve read have been related to tech in some way, but Ali said the company’s coverage is broader than that, covering the full gamut of travel industry news, as well as other transportation trends like ridesharing.
“A lot of the traditional players in the travel industry are focused on specific verticals, while the silos are collapsing in travel, as they have in tech and finance and other industries,” he said. Ali also argued that a site covering business news (though to be clear, Skift wants to serve a consumer audience too) “doesn’t have to be boring”: “Travel is the most creative expression of human exploration. How can it be boring?”
Getting back to the funding, Ali said the company will use the money to double its staff from five to 10 and to move out of its current co-working space and into an office. The new funds in the round include Ironfire Angel, MESA+, Advancit Capital, and GrowLab/LX Ventures. The new angel investors include Jason Calacanis, Michael Cunniff, Duncan Jennings, Sean Keener, Shakil Khan, Martin Nisenholtz, Paul Noglows, and Michael Yavonditte.
Skift declined to say whether any of the previous angel investors have increased their investment with this new funding, but those past backers include Chris Ahearn, Luke Beatty, Gordon Crovitz, Craig Forman, Jim Friedlich, Tom Glocer, Vishal Gondal, Jason Hirschhorn, Peter Horan, Alan Meckler,Mohamed Nanabhay, Sanjay Parthasarathy, Amol Sarva, and Chris Schroeder.
I’m addicted to Dots. It’s betaworks‘ new game. 389. That’s my high score. No power-ups. I’m pretty proud of it. The game consumes my time. I no longer browse reddit during my “private times”; I play Dots.
Dots is simple. It’s elegant. The game has restored my faith in mobile game development. But more importantly, it’s fucking addicting. I can’t put it down.
Dots a simple game: just connect adjoining dots of the same color to clear them from the board. You have 60 seconds. Clearing dots by making squares is the way to high scores. Use your dots to buy power-ups. That’s it. That’s Dots.
Like Angry Birds and Temple Run before it, Dots demonstrates that a simple game with replay value is the key to a successful mobile game. I always want to play just *one* more game. And since the game only lasts 60 seconds, I’m assured that I won’t waste that much time. I might not best my high score, but I’ll give it another go.
Dots is simple. That’s important. The first time the game loads, the user has to connect two dots to advance to the next screen. Instructions are not presented. Just two dots. After poking the two dots, users will naturally drag a line between them. And from there, they’re hooked.
When the app launched Jordan called Dots the most beautiful mobile game she’d ever seen. I won’t argue with that statement. The game is lovely. The betaworks title is also very popular and downloaded over 1 million times within its first week.
Dots is the epitome of a good game. The barrier to entry is set very low, but yet the replay value is very high. This is the golden formula that few games have achieved.
Pacman and Tetris are classic examples. Both were massive hits because it didn’t take any skill to get hooked. Just gobble up the dots or line up the blocks. It’s that easy with Dots. My 3 year daughter gets a kick out of connecting just a couple of dots. My 6-year-old got 114 his first time.
Even Bejeweled, the hit game turned bloatware, is a great example. How many of us wasted weeks of our lives playing that game on a PDA or a feature phone?
More recently Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds proved that smartphones can be a legitimate platform for casual games. Even now, years after their release, they’re still widely popular titles. Why? Because like Dots they’re easy to play and crazy addictive.
Sadly my love of Dots won’t last. There will come a day where I’ll move it from my home screen to a folder where it will live out its time on my device next to Words With Friends, Letterpress, Angry Birds Star Wars, and Temple Run OZ. That’s just how these things work.
Eventually I’ll grow tired of connecting dots and listening to the game’s satisfying pings. And then, probably a year from now as I mindlessly clear up space on my iPhone, I’ll delete Dots, not even pausing for a second to reminisce about our time together. But right now, I’m living in the moment, hiding in the bathroom, ignoring the needs of my children and the yells from my wife while I try to best my high score. Just one more round.
Q: Why does a to do list application need $3.5 million in funding? A: Because it’s becoming more than a simple to do app. Today, Any.DO one of the more popular to do list applications for web and mobile, announced a seed round of funding led by existing investor Genesis Partners, with participation from both current and new investors Innovation Endeavors (Eric Schmidt’s fund), Joe Lonsdale, Blumberg Capital, Joe Greenstein and others.
The company had previously announced $1 million in angel funding in late 2011 from Innovation Endeavors, Blumberg Capital, Genesis Partners, Palantir (Joe Lonsdale), Felicis Ventures (Aydin Senkut) and Brian Koo.
For those unfamiliar, Any.DO got its start on the Android platform after the success of the team’s first app, Taskos, which proved the market was ripe for such a concept. That app had grown to 1.3 million users by the time Any.DO arrived in November 2011, and today has more than doubled its install base.
Any.DO, however, has since surpassed it. The company says its flagship application now has more than 5 million users across iOS, Android and web. Referencing data from Onavo Insights, Any.DO claims to be the market leader in the to do list app space. (Its nearest competitor, Wunderlist, announced earlier this month having more than 4 million users.)
Unlike many apps, Any.DO has more Android users than iOS, having initially taken advantage of that platform’s popularity, its need for well-built apps, and the potential built-in install base coming from Taskos, who were encouraged to switch over to Any.DO when it first debuted.
Any.DO is beautifully designed, which has the side effect of making the app appear deceptively simple. But in reality, there’s some heavy lifting going on under the hood.
“We believe the tools you have on your homescreen are going to be smarter and smarter over time,” explains Any.DO founder and CEO Omer Perchik. “In terms of the to do list…it will help you accomplish the things you have on your list, and we’ve developed a semantic engine that extracts intents and tries to find the relevant action,” he says. “And on the other hand, it’s basically predicting what you’ll be interested in doing.”
So for example, if you tell the app today that you want to plan a trip or workout at the gym more often, it will recommend other applications that will help you complete those tasks, including things like Kayak, TripAdvisor, MyFitnessPal, and many others. Also, if you tell the app you need to do something like “pay taxes,” it’s smart enough to start reminding you about that task in advance of tax day, even though you never provided an exact date or time.
In some cases, Any.DO has affiliate relationships with the dozens of apps it points users to, but in other cases it does not. Perchik says that conversion rates are high – more than three times above the market average of 1 to 5 percent, in general.
Asked whether or not the company had the intention of using the funding to further develop Any.DO or to expand its lineup by launching more apps in the personal productivity space, Perchik says “possibly both.” However, the company isn’t heading into other spaces like email or calendaring just yet, he adds.
That being said, Perchik did cite the recent trend in startups developing alternatives to the core applications on users’ homescreens – things like email (Mailbox, Triage, e.g.), calendaring (Sunrise, Tempo, e.g.), and messaging, etc. “There’s a lot of things in the day-to-day personal productivity space that are relevant [to us], but we’re less working towards building something like Google Docs or Office for mobile – we’re focusing more on the individual,” he says, defining Any.DO’s interests.
The company will have some announcements around what its future plans may be in about a month’s time, Perchik also notes.
In the meantime, the 12-person startup is using the funding to staff its new San Francisco-based office where Perchik now works. The R&D and product team remains in Israel, but the new office will hire those on the marketing and business development side of things.
In addition, an update to the Android version of Any.DO is rolling out now which will allow Astrid app users (one of Yahoo’s many recent acquisitions) to import their data in advance of the app’s shutdown.