Elisa Wants To Sell Your Services For You

These days most Finnish startup's limited sales force is focused on the whales: big corporate customers that pull in a lot of money, instead of cold calling the long-tail of SMEs in Finland. But there could be a way to plug into the flower shop down the corner. Finnish mobile operator Elisa tells us that they're launching a new app and service store for startups called Taitawa (Editor's Note: This is a working name) through Appelsiini, a company they acquired in 2010.

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Supercell Is Bigger Than Electronic Arts In Terms Of Monthly iOS Revenue

App Annie’s data for November is in and for the first time Supercell is now in first place, surpassing the gaming giant, EA, in terms of monthly iOS revenue.

“I am out of words. Supercell was the largest publisher on the Apple platform in November, measured by revenue. And with just two apps!” was the message on Ilkka Paananen’s , Supercell CEO’s Facebook timeline this morning and rightly so. Electronic Arts, the runner up, has 969 titles on iOS.

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Nordic iPhone App Store Statistics

Lacking a better metrics from official sources, the data analysts at Xyologic have put together statistics on the top paid and free apps in the Android, iPhone, iPad, and WP7 marketplace. These numbers can't be relied upon completely, but should prove themselves to be fairly sound when discussing what's happening at the top of the marketplaces.

Our first coverage of these data-sets will look at what's happening in the paid and free iPhone marketplaces in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, using data from the month of August. Games accounted for about 59% of paid app downloads in the region, with anywhere from 57.1% in Finland to 61.3% in Sweden. This is quite apparent when looking at the top paid app lists, with the following four games consistently in the top 5:

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Swedish App Developers Hit With A Double VAT

The ever vigilant Swedish tax authorities are reaching into the pockets of Swedish app developers with a 25% value added tax, regardless of where the final sale of the product takes place. Starting this month, apps sold in the EU through third party distributors, such as Facebook or Apple's App Store, will be taxed twice - once in Sweden and a second time at the point of sale. Swedish app developers are understandably unhappy, as the double taxation puts them under a severe competitive disadvantage in the apps market.

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The Story Of Wooden Labyrinth 3D

The Wooden Labyrinth 3D was one of the more popular Finnish mobile apps before the arrival of Angry Birds from Rovio. To this date, Wooden Labyrinth has been downloaded some 10+ million times. The app was developed in 2009 by Elias Pietilä in February 2009. We've covered Elias Pietilä before when he ran into problems with a game called Pajazzo with the Finnish Moneygaming Association (RAY). We talked to Pietilä about the success of the game.

Since the launching of the game, it has generated a couple of hundred thousand euros for Pietilä. In the beginning of 2009 the game was immediately being sold for a few hundred euros a day. After giving out the free version of the game, the paid version improved sales as well.

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PhotoPoll Is The Way To Quickly Poll Your Friends

PhotoPoll is a new iOS application being developed by Nils Forsblom, one of our speakers coming to Arctic15 in September. The idea is really simple and appealing: you can create quick polls for your friends to comment with the help of images. Furthermore, if you're a bit more open with your privacy, anyone in the application can comment on your polls.

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Mobile App Download Will Exceed 44 Billion By 2016

mobile_platformsAn app for everything is where we are heading onto as almost everything goes mobile. By mobile I simply point at mobility and not just smartphones in the likes of the Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, etc, although these are the devices that take the cake away the instant you mention mobility. We have witnessed how the app stores have swarmed with applications of all sorts, from those associated to communication, social networking to gaming. You think of it and there is something available, a major reason why there is a crazy number of downloads taking places each instant.

A recent study was published by ABI Research, the gist of which states that the current trend of smartphone apps will continue successfully for at least another 5 years. Before I proceed with the exact download numbers, it would be better to jot down the number of applications available for various mobile operating systems:

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Intern Store: Find An Intern The App Store Style

Intern StoreProbably the biggest issue with fresh graduates is encountered when they need to market themselves appropriately for jobs, even for internships. Especially when it comes to the digital space, where recruiters are more interested in practical work rather than the traditional resume. Students at Hyper Island, a Sweden based organisation focusing on better education in areas all things "digital" have created Intern Store, a method to market themselves in an efficient way for companies to recruit them.

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The Game Trail Leads You To The iPhone App Store's Gems

Discovery and cross-promotion are important buzz words all over the app and gaming world, especially on the iPhone and Facebook where the amount of new product launches is ever increasing. With thousands of new products being launched each day, it is very daunting task for game developers and publishers to try to stand out and drive downloads to their own apps - at least if not gettng any help. It can be also very hard for the users to find out new content they would enjoy from all the noise. Swedish The Game Trail's purpose is exactly to "guide iPhone gamers down the right path to quality games" and thus ease the problem for both sides.

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MoSync Driving A New Cross-Platform App Store Ecosystem

MoSync, a Swedish developer of cross-platform mobile app development tools (previously Mobile Sorcery; see our previous coverage), has big plans for creating a whole ecosystem boosting open cross-platform App Stores. MoSync's new CEO Dusyant Patel, and Co-Founder Tomas Uppgård opened up MoSync's plans for ArcticStartup.

The global revenue from mobile applications, consisting of both paid downloads and mobile advertising, is estimated to increase to $17.5 billion by 2012 from $4.1 billion in 2009. The estimate is based on an independent study by Chetan Sharma Consulting (well, as independent it can be, being commissioned by GetJar). While massive amounts of players in the ICT industry are rushing to their own app store of some kind, developers are faced with an ever increasing burden and business challenges.

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Foodie.fm Helps You Grocery Shop Smarter

Foodie.fm is that obvious thing that I always knew I needed but could not think of. There's about a million different ToDo list apps and cooking apps that help you do partly what Foodie.fm does, but not really.

Foodie.fm enables smart grocery shopping by allowing the user to browse different recipes and then add that meal to their shopping cart. It lets me see different meals and then breaks them down into the needed ingredients in just the right amounts and once I tab 'Add to cart' it ads it to my shopping list on my phone. Now, here's the beauty. Foodie's back end is connected to all the stores in a given chain (They just announced a partnership with S-Ryhmä in Finland) and the server technology learns from what I like to buy and starts to ...wait for it... make recommendations to me when such ingredients or products are on sale in my local store (iPhone lets the service know where I live and recommends me to choose a store as my local shop). You can get the iPhone App here.

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Xiha Launches Developer Program

We just wrote about Xiha closing a $1m seed round as well as adding Jyri Engeström (Ex-Jaiku/Google) to their board. If that's not enough now the multilingual, cross-cultural social network comes out with its own developer program. A developer program is nothing revolutionary in itself, but shows that Xiha aims to innovate right on the heels of the fatter cats like Facebook by giving developers access to their APIs and facilitating embedding new products into XIHA Life.

XIHA developers will receive premium support, including customizing API calls to their needs and help with the integration to maximize the success of their app. Once the integration has been finished, XIHA promises to actively promote the new applications.

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Get The ArcticIndex iPhone App Now!

ArcticIndex, our directory for Nordic and Baltic startups, people, startup jobs and events, just got iPhoned. ArcticIndex iPhone app is developed by Arun Prakash Rajendran, a passionate mobile entrepreneur living in Göteborg, Sweden. You can check out the App at Prakash's app gallery, or get it directly here.

I have used the app for couple of days now and love the ease I can check out the new events listings. Similarly, if you're looking for a startup to join its a whim to check out the latest jobs at ArcticIndex and see what the company is all about from the Index.

We will introduce more features for ArcticIndex soon, so make sure you have your iPhone App ready when that happens.

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GetJar Says Mobile Apps Market Becomes Bigger Than The Internet. We Don't Think So

appsIn an interview with Econsultancy, GetJar CEO Ilja Laurs talked about his vision for apps and how they will take over the internet. We disagree.

GetJar is the world’s second largest mobile app store founded in Lithuania offering over 57,000 apps for all mobile devices and serving over 55m downloads per month. To date they have achieved over 750m downloads and attracted 300,000 registered developers and 50,000 registered beta testers.

In the interview Laurs' says that the battle of the app stores will culminate in a dramatic change to the market over the next 12-18 months, and at least 90% of app stores will fail. Further, the importance of global mobile billing will become critical: Several $10M-a-year mobile app businesses will appear in 2010 as the apps market gathers momentum. The billing processes and agreements will improve in 2011 and 2012, stimulating the app economy and the rise of the $100m app businesses.

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SoundCloud Launches App Gallery, Take Notes

soundcloud_logoMusic and audio sharing service for artists, SoundCloud, today announced the launch of their App Gallery, "a nice home for all the apps using the SoundCloud API." In the process they are demonstrating how startups can develop thriving application ecosystems without the "get rich quick" motivation that drives many developers to create for that other app store.

We've all heard it before, at events, camps, or pitching sessions - to be really successful in the consumer web you have to be a platform. But how do startups, even a funded startup with a rapidly growing user base convince a critical mass of developers to spend their precious time coding for them? In particular, why does a handful of Swedish guys who moved their company to Berlin just because the parties are better, think they can build a dynamic App Gallery?

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Finnish Gaming Monopoly Ready To Sue An iPhone App Maker

PajatzoIt seems that the Finnish gaming monopoly, RAY, is the latest in the game of playing the big bad wolf who doesn't want to play nice. Finnish Helsingin Sanomat reports that they are ready to sue an iPhone app maker Elias Pietilä, for creating a game of the similar concept from one of the oldest coin games in Finland, Pajatso. Elias Pietilä calles his version of the game Pajatzo.

RAY (or the Finnish Slotmachine Association) has referred to the trademark law, law regarding good business practices (laxly translated) as well as the ever-so-famous copyright law. The first odd issue that puts the whole case into perspective is that RAY does not own the trademark to Pajatso, the original game concept.

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Zen Bound Redefines An Interactive Experience On A Mobile Device

zen boundLast week I came across something rather fresh that I had not seen before. This drew our office around the screen to see what exactly this new iphone app was about. It took a while for us to wrap our heads around the new iphone game we were curiously looking at.

The game is developed by a small Finnish game developing company called Secret Exit. They describe themselves as 100 per cent independent game developer company by two guys with some game industry experience and modest merits, who have set up a shop to create refreshingly different, innovative, and -most importantly- fun games.zen bound

This is how the company describes Zen Bound, the game:

Zen Bound is difficult to describe. It is a game as much as a toy or simply an experience.

One user eloquently described the game in an iTunes review: "I thought this would be cool but all you do is wrap string around wood." and his 1-star rating proves that our game is certainly not for everyone.

In a nutshell, you have a wooden sculpture which you need to paint by shifting the object into various ankles as a rope is pulled by a imaginary third party. At the same times as the rope is wrapping itself around the wooden object, it also lays down a track of paint. Goal of course being able to paint the whole scupture. Might sound easy and straight forward, but it can get pretty challenging. There's also no time limit, which makes the iphone app more an experience than a game. You can read a more comprehensive review here, and see a demo below. Pocket Gamer who wrote the review nailed the idea of the game: The emphasis lies in experiencing the sheer joy of the interaction. Similarly, IGN Wireless wrote that with Zen Bound boundaries aren't being pushed here; they're getting shattered. The app sets you back 3.99€ at iTunes App Store.

Secret Exit announces that they target all home entertainment platforms where games can be digitally downloaded, but clearly the possibility to develop for a distribution channel like App Store expands the market significantly. Here's good analysis by an ex-Jaiku developer, Teemu Kurppa on why App Store is a game changer. Not only that, only now that we have a device like iphone we start to see games like Zen Bound that really redefine what is a great mobile app, game or otherwise. Iphone enables, the very first time, truly new innovation and fresh thinking in designing interaction on a mobile device, of which Zen Bound is a perfect example. I believe this one example is just the tip of the ice berg of what's to come. Mix in some powerful computing running the back end in the cloud and streaming it to your iphone and you'll be amazed what we're about to see in the very near future. Decreasing growth in laptop sales numbers will be only the first symptom of this.

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Nokia Launches Ovi (App) Store

Nokia Ovi logo

Nokia has just announced at Mobile World Congress that the company will launch its own app store called Ovi Store, as was rumored. It was expected that Nokia places this service under its global Internet services brand Ovi.

But it will not  be just an "app" store - Ovi Store will serve ringtones, wallpapers, videos, podcasts, applications and games in various languages like Java, Flash lite, widgets. The Ovi Store will thus replace Nokia's previous services like Download!, Mosh, and Nokia Software Market, thus greatly unifying and simplifying the consumer content offering of Nokia. Interestingly, Ovi Store features social discovery, meaning that users will be recommended and promoted content which is used by their social network. Also location aware featuring will be supported by Nokia. The social features will be supported apparently by at least Facebook and MySpace, who both give a statement in Nokia's press release.

Nokia Ovi Consumer main imageDevelopers are offered 70 % of the revenue share, similarly Apple App Store. However, the net revenue will hugely depend whether the consumers use credit card or operator billing - they will have the option to choose the method. According to Nokia's experience on N-Gage billing, vast majority of the consumers select operator billing when given the choice. It is unsure whether it would be possible to offer slightly lower price for credit card purchases to encourage this option - it is unlikely, though, given Nokia needs the approval the operators to include the store in the operator phone variants.

I have not been able to try out the actual user experience yet, but if Nokia has taken note from their cumulated learnings with previous services and Apple, this could be a major boost to the company's content business and the S40 and S60 software ecosystem. After all, S60 has been, and still is, the platform of choice for many application developers due to the sheer handset volumes in the market. In the gaming market Nokia has a tough task in competing with iPhone, though.

In the beginning, only selected content providers and publishers are allowed to publish in the store, but Nokia will gradually open up the support to all developers. Developers can register for the Ovi Store at publish.ovi.com.

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MyWidz Aiming To Create A Mobile Widget Community

MyWidz is a Swedish startup aiming to create a mobile widget community and taking user generated content to the mobile phone. The service is currently in early Beta.

The company plans to tab into the mobile marketing market that they estimate to grow into a 19 billion USD market by 2012. I am not quite as optimistic about the mobile marketing as such, but if done right via an innovative community approach it might yield better results than what have been more traditional approaches, namely blind spamming.

MyWidz is a community service that takes user generated content to the mobile phone by aiming to make development, sharing and collection of widgets easy. WyWidz widgets can be developed by anyone with simple step-by-step widget wizard and then get them send to one’s mobile phone. More advanced users can use MyWidz unique script language to write their widgets from scratch, or use other users widgets as templates.

Before one can start using the service she needs to install a Java client to her phone. For me the client did not work that well as I only got an error message after a several tries. I will keep fiddling with the client on my Nokia N95 and hopefully get to work on my first widget soon, but so far I’ve not seen beyond the MyWidz home page.

That said I did see lots of potentially useful widgets on that home page including a CNN News widget, an Aljazeera News widget, a Weather-Stockholm widget, a UK traffic information widget, and even a Find McDonald’s widget. When the MyWidz guys can push the service beyond the early Beta they are facing tough competition from the likes of Nokia Widsets and Plusmo.

As a market the mobile widget area is as hot as it can get even during economic times like these. Just look at the Apple App Store growth figures. The question is how you can beat Apple in their own game call it a widget or an app, and whether the app market will develop into a centralized or decentralized one over time.

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Nokia's Change Of Heart

Just recently Nokia, the Finnish born mobile phone manufacturer, put up a competition to find the most innovative mobile apps. We believe this might be part of a bigger initiative to reach out to startups in the wake of what App Store has done for Apple.

The word on the street is that Nokia is really(!) trying to reinvent themselves. This does not only mean shifting the focus partly from hardware to software such as Ovi service which just launched recently, but also possibly finding new partners in the platform area in order to create an ecosystem similar to what Apple is doing with App Store.

Not only has Nokia been sniffing around in Android developer conferences, but when I recently spoke to a Nokia employee working high up in the organization he was carefully asking around how a platform change away from Symbian would affect the startup scene over here in Finland. This might just be speculation or part of a careful scenario planning exercise from Nokia's part, but then again it might be much more that.

Now, Nokia has put up a mobile app competition (here) which is clearly part of their answer to Apple's App Store. The contest is open for everyone: independent developers, startups, and so on. There are three different categories for submission:

  1. Eco challenge (looking for apps that help make sustainable choices)

  2. Emerging market challenge (apps to empower people in developing countries)

  3. Technology showcase challenge (looking for killer apps which feature cutting edge mobile technologies)

Winners of each contest will receive $25K cash prize, will be able to distribute their apps through Nokia channels, with possibility to meet VCs, showcase their apps in Mobile World Congress 09 in Barcelona.

The big question is that do these pieces add up to something much more than what we're currently seeing. Will Nokia take up Android to challenge Apple's App Store? What do you think?

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