Thursday, 27 December 2012

7 Bold Predictions Of What The Mobile Industry Will Do In 2013

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It seems like every year, that darned rodent in Punxsutawney, Pa., predicts six more weeks of winter. Never mind the fact that Groundhog Day is technically six weeks before the official start of spring. We hail Punxsutawney Phil as the seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators. How can you not trust a psychic rodent?
We like to think that Punxsutawney Phil is just giving his best educated guess. Well, when it comes to predicting what will happen in the tech industry over the course of the next year, we too are making our best educated guesses. But, in the end, our predictions are just about as meaningful as those of the famous groundhog.
But, just like Punxsutawney Phil, sometimes we get things right.
For instance, some of my predictions for the mobile industry in 2012 were spot on. I said that Google would only unveil one major version of Android, which it did with its Jelly Bean rollout (even if Google did split Jelly Bean between version 4.1 and 4.2). I also said there would be two different iPad tablets, which was almost true. Technically, there were three, though there was not an appreciable difference between the third and fourth generation iPad. I said RIM would fall on extremely hard times, which did not take a genius to figure out. I said Apple would remain No. 1 with developers, despite the fact that Google chairman Eric Schmidt predicted Android would take over as the primary interest of app publishers. I called the fact that many niche app stores would fold (so long, Verizon App Store).
Yet, I also said we would not see a new iPhone in 2012. In retrospect, that was very dumb. I said that Windows Phone would take off, which also has not happened. I thought this would be the year for HTML5 and it would start crowding out other mobile operating systems and native development languages. Facebook did me no favors there.
All in all, my predictions from last year were not horribly inaccurate. Looking back, they were all pretty safe too. Google taking a greater interest in its app store was easy to identify, for instance.
With all that said, let us take a look into the crystal ball to see what the mobile industry might hold in 2013.

1. Apple Flips Script On iPhone/iPad Release Schedule

I learned my lesson. No more predicting that Apple will not release a new iPhone in any one given calendar year. I have already predicted that we will see a genuine Apple TV product coming in Q1 2013, so I will not rehash that prediction here.
What I do think will happen is that Apple will flip the script on when it announces new versions of its existing product lines. Apple made an interesting choice to offer a refresh of the iPad next to the announcement of the iPad Mini in late October this year. The announcement came about a month and a half after the iPhone 5 announcement. It is then natural to assume that Apple will not make two tablet launches in a row. That means that the next mobile product we will see from Cupertino will be an iPhone. I am predicting it to be announced earlier in the year than Apple has done in recent years, somewhere around July. Apple has been going after the year-end sales for iPhones in recent cycles, but must see that Samsung has done well with the Galaxy S III that was released in July this year and figure that it can replicate that same type of success.
In turn, that means that Apple will save its next iterations of the iPad and iPad Mini until the end of Q3 or in Q4 next year, somewhere between around late September or October.

2. One Major Android Flavor, Android 5.0 With Three Iterations

Google (sort of) slowed down on new flavors of Android in 2012. It only announced one actual flavor in Jelly Bean that came at Google I/O in June, but it was broken into two parts with 4.1 and 4.2. In 2013, I expect Google to do something similar but have a couple different updates.




My prediction is that the next version of Android will not be Android 4.3, but rather Android 5.0. Yet, by the end of the year, the most up to date devices will be running something along the lines of Android 5.1 or 5.2.5 or something similar to that naming scheme. Google will release it around or before Google I/O and update it at least once to fix some issues. It will then come out with another major release, like it did in 2012, towards the end of the year to reveal more Nexus devices.

3. Motorola Makes A Nexus Device

Motorola has never technically made an official Android flagship device for Google. The original Droid on Verizon was kind of the Android flagship when it was released in 2009, but that was before the popular wave of Nexus devices. Google has to be careful with how it manages its manufacturing partner ecosystem, and letting Motorola create a Nexus device may upset some of its current partners like LG, Samsung, HTC and Asus.


The Droid Razr M was one of the best from Motorola this year.


Yet, it might be time that Google really doubles down on Android manufacturing. Hell, it owns Motorola for a reason. And that reason has as much to do with the patents Motorola owns as it does with making money. If Google can put together its Nexus design engineers with the Motorola hardware people, we might see the best Android device ever to be released. It is time for Google to do it and 2013, in my prediction, will be the year.

4. Research In Motion Succeeds With BlackBerry 10

Yes, this might be absolutely ridiculous and we might be looking back on it in December 2013, after RIM has been sold piecemeal to patent vultures, that this was a foolish prediction.
But, I am starting to get a hunch that RIM might actually find a modicum of success with its BlackBerry 10 smartphones. Not the type of success that puts fear into the hearts of Apple executives or Android manufacturers, but enough that RIM is not in danger of going out of business immediately. People will like what RIM has done with BB 10 and many of the loyalists that left for the iPhone or Android will come back into the fold. That will be enough to get RIM back near the 8% to 10% market share of the smartphone industry by the end of the year, though nowhere near the 23%+ it had in 2010 and earlier.

5. Microsoft Keeps Plugging Away At Windows Phone

Mobile is too important to Microsoft to pull the plug on its Windows Phone 8 platform. Microsoft is often extremely stubborn. See: Xbox.
That does not mean that Microsoft will eventually see the same type of success with Windows Phone as it did by pouring years and year and millions of dollars into marketing for Xbox. Consumers have thus far been very lukewarm to Windows Phone, especially from Nokia, and I do not see that changing dramatically in 2013. Not until Nokia can take a Samsung-like approach and release four different models of the same type of phone to all four major U.S. carriers in one blow, the way that Samsung does with the Galaxy S series. For instance, the fact that the top Windows Phone device from Nokia is the Lumia 920 available only through iPhone-centric AT&T is a very big problem for both Nokia and Microsoft.


Nokia Lumia 920


It is not just distribution that holds Windows Phone back. It is also the user interface. Some people (especially tech media pundits) love how different Hubs and Tiles are. Consumers, on the other hand, have not shown an appreciable affection for it.
Microsoft will continue to build and market Windows Phones for the next several years, but it would ultimately be surprising if it eclipses 10% of total smartphone market share by 2015.

6. Consumer Location Apps Remain Stagnant

In 2011, Foursquare made a lot of noise about reaching 15 million registered users. We have not heard a lot from Foursquare this year in terms of users, but it has mentioned on its blog that it has near 25 million users. This is not the Twitter-like exponential growth that people expected from Foursquare several years ago.
Other consumer-based location apps like Highlight have seen hypes cycles come and then diminish. The “ambient location app” for finding people in your area along with game-based location apps like Foursquare is just not a very big market in the United States. That is not likely to change in 2013.
Note, this prediction does not include maps apps, which nearly everyone uses in one form or another.

7. Mobile Payments Begin To Gain Traction

We keep on expecting a sudden boom in mobile payments, led by NFC-based smartphones and apps. So far, we have been bitterly disappointed that the market has not materialized.
A good reason for this is infrastructure. For NFC payments to take off, brick-and-mortar stores need the proper payment equipment and consumers need smartphones that actually, you know, have NFC. With near 60% of users from the top three U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon) carrying iPhones (which does not have NFC), the critical mass of NFC capable consumers has not yet been reached.
The explosion will not happen in 2013. But, progress will be made as major players in the ecosystem start pushing mobile payments to retailers and startups gain more traction. The early adopter types will be using their smartphones for a variety of purchases by the end of 2013 that will set up success for mobile payments players that will evolve for the rest of the decade.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Twitter photos: Put a filter on it

By Twitter
Every day, millions of people come to Twitter to connect with the things they care about and find out what’s happening around the world. As one of the most compelling forms of self-expression, photos have long been an important part of these experiences.

Starting today, you’ll be able to edit and refine your photos, right from Twitter. The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android introduce a few new ways to enhance the images you tweet. We’re grateful to our partner, Aviary, for powering our filters and effects.


Filters. Apply one of eight filters, ranging from black & white to vintage, to add a new look and feel to your photos.

Take a bird’s-eye view. See how each filter would affect your photo in a single grid view, or swipe through looks to compare your options.

Frame the action. Crop and pinch to zoom in order to focus attention.

Auto-enhance. Make your photos pop with balanced light and colors by tapping the wand.

In June, 2011, we introduced the ability to attach a photo to your Tweet, a first step toward improving the entire photo experience on Twitter. Since then we’ve been making it easier and faster to share and discover and enjoy great photos on Twitter every day:

  • You can expand Tweets to view photos from various photo services right on Twitter;
  • You can preview photos directly in Discover and search;
  • You can quickly swipe through images on Twitter with photo streams in profiles and search results.

We've released this update in Google Play and the App Store. Watch this video to learn more about our photo filters.



Posted by Coleen Baik (@colbay)
Senior Designer



Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Greenpeace Crowdsources Activism (Again) with Shell Oil Ad Contest

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In this guest op-ed Alec Lynch, the founder and CEO of DesignCrowd, a design crowdsourcing website, argues that political groups like Greenpeace are increasingly relying on the creative power of  online ‘crowds’ to drive activity and create media awareness around their agenda.
Crowdsourcing design is a proven way to generate creative ideas – from logo design to t-shirt design – and now, in an innovative twist, Greenpeace are applying crowdsourcing to environmental activism by asking people to enter an’ad contest’ for Shell Oil via a spoof website ArcticReady.com. Greenpeace’s campaign has generated hundreds of entries and a firestorm on social media.
Here are some of the funnier and more popular advertisements created by the crowd:

Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement
Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement
Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement
Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement
Example Shell Oil Crowdsourced Advertisement

It’s not the first time Greenpeace have used crowdsourcing to target an oil company. In 2010, Greenpeace ran a logo design contest to re-design BP’s logo (shortly after the BP Oil Spill) with hilarious results and a big social media impact. Thus, the current Shell Oil ad contest appears to be Greenpeace’s second attempt at crowdsourcing and (given the success they’ve achieved) probably not their last.

It’s unclear what Shell can do in response. It’s probably less an issue related to crowdsourcing and more of a legal question related to using a logo or brand to ridicule that brand (i.e. whether the crowd created these or Greenpeace it doesn’t matter – as soon as they’re published and become popular, Shell will get upset).

What is clear is that the power of the crowd to act fast and generate creative ideas is compelling. While the message is serious, some of the entries are downright funny. It will be interesting to see how the Greenpeace crowdsourcing initiative plays out (while the site be taken down or not). In the meantime, crowdsourcing remains a powerful tool for a range of organisations from small business and big brands to non-profits and activists. Brands and businesses should consider using professional crowdsourcing websites and services (such as DesignCrowd) to manage their crowdsourcing initiatives.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Adobe Delivers New Game Developer Tools in Creative Cloud

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We are thrilled to announce the release of our first Game Developer Tools in the Adobe Creative Cloud, giving developers and publishers access to a powerful set of resources in one central location. Adobe’s Game Developer Tools are designed to streamline the game development process from creation to deployment, and help game publishers and developers reach the broadest possible audience worldwide – over 1.3 billion connected Windows and Mac PCs and over 500 million smartphones and tablets – 20 times the reach of the bestselling Xbox 360 gaming console.

The gaming community is already buzzing about Adobe Scout, an advanced next-generation profiling tool that uncovers granular internal information in ActionScript-based mobile and browser content to unlock significant performance optimization opportunities. We’ve received rave reviews from developers who have been using pre-release versions of Scout to gain powerful insights and who are already enhancing their development processes with our Game Developer Tools.



As a special promotion, we’re including this first release of Scout in a free membership to Creative Cloud, along with the rest of our Game Developer Tools, including the Adobe Gaming SDK, Adobe Flash C++ Compiler, and trial versions of Flash Professional CS6 and Flash Builder 4.7 Premium:

- The Adobe Gaming SDK provides the essential building blocks developers need to create and monetize amazing ActionScript games across browsers and mobile devices, including open source 2D and 3D frameworks (Starling, Feathers, and Away3D), and is a simple starting point for both new and experienced game developers.

- The Adobe Flash C++ Compiler is a new tool chain that allows game developers to take native games and game engines for PCs, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iOS and compile them to run directly on the web across browsers on over 1.3 billion connected PCs using Adobe Flash Player.

- Adobe Flash Professional CS6 is an authoring tool to create engaging animation and games, including support for delivering animated assets ready for use with Starling and many other popular frameworks, and Adobe Flash Builder 4.7 Premium is an advanced ActionScript development environment that can be used to develop high-performance mobile and browser-based games. Flash Builder 4.7 Premium also improves productivity and time to market with support for the new ASC 2.0 compiler and the ability to test and debug apps directly on Apple iOS devices through USB or on the iOS simulator.

Creative Cloud paid membership includes full versions of Flash Professional and Flash Builder and will also include future versions of Scout following the introductory promotion. Of course, paid members also get access to all of the Creative Suite 6 apps, including other popular tools for game design, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

The Adobe Flash Player has been at the forefront of online gaming for years and is used to power the 10 most popular games on Facebook including SongPop, FarmVille2, and Diamond Dash. Adobe’s latest Gaming technologies are the leading choice for social game studios like Zynga, Wooga and KIXEYE and are used by AAA game developers like Ubisoft as well as indie developers like Northway and Damp Gnat to help minimize the cost of targeting multiple platforms and mobile devices – including games for iPhones and iPads. Today’s release of Game Developer Tools makes it much easier for developers to maximize productivity, game quality and reach across PCs and mobile devices.

We’ll be celebrating this launch at our San Francisco office this evening with many local developers and publishers. Please feel free to stop by, or keep an eye out for a recap video in the next few days on Adobe’s Gaming YouTube channel. And, to find out more about the new Game Developer Tools and the Adobe Creative Cloud, visit gaming.adobe.com/getstarted.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Keep the Internet free and open

Keep the Internet free and open: Starting in 1973, when my colleagues and I proposed the technology behind the Internet, we advocated for an open standard to connect computer networks together. This wasn’t merely philosophical; it was also practical.

Our protocols were designed to make the networks of the Internet non-proprietary and interoperable. They avoided “lock-in,” and allowed for contributions from many sources. This openness is why the Internet creates so much value today. Because it is borderless and belongs to everyone, it has brought unprecedented freedoms to billions of people worldwide: the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard.

But starting in a few hours, a closed-door meeting of the world’s governments is taking place in Dubai, and regulation of the Internet is on the agenda. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is convening a conference from December 3-14 to revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote. Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries.



You can read more about my concerns on CNN.com, but I am not alone. So far, more than 1,000 organizations from more than 160 countries have spoken up too, and they’re joined by hundreds of thousands of Internet users who are standing up for a free and open Internet. On an interactive map at freeandopenweb.com, you can see that people from all corners of the world have signed our petition, used the #freeandopen hashtag on social media, or created and uploaded videos to say how important these issues are.





If you agree and want to support a free and open Internet too, I invite you to join us by signing the petition at google.com/takeaction. Please make your voice heard and spread the word.



Posted by Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist