Brands are always looking for new and exciting ways to interact with fans, and Malmö-based Foap is leveraging their crowdsourced stock photo platform to run photo 'missions' for brands. The idea makes a lot of sense. Brands need new content all the time for marketing material, and a crowdsourced contest helps generate excitement and interaction.
As we've covered in the past, Foap is the next generation of a stock photo site, where anyone can submit their iPhone photography, tag it, and make it available for purchase. All photos then run for $10 to license, where the revenue is then split 50/50 between the photographer and Foap.
Spotify has just overhauled its iPhone app interface, making it more similar to their Android version. Gone now is the bottom bar that was responsible for much of the navigation. Instead now everything has moved over to the side bar accessable by a button on the top left.
The app feels fast and responsive, making this update an nice addition, even though it takes some getting used to. Despite these updates, the app is still missing some features like Related Artists, and the search results still force you to dig down into tracks, albums, and artists, which is tricky when you only know half of a song's name, but you do know the artist.
Cobook, our favorite Latvian address book for Mac, has launched a complementary iOS app for you to manage your contacts on the go. The app ties into some Cobook features and has its own dialer, making it a replacement for your current address book or "phone" app, if you're in to that.
The main draw to Cobook's desktop app is its speed. When you get someone's contact details you just type away in the search bar, and everything is added intelligently. On the iOS app you need to be more selective of which categories you are imputing data, but I suppose it's easy enough. The address book also plugs into your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts so you can easily find your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts' phone numbers, if they share those publicly.
I wasn't sure what to think about Malmö-based Foap when they launched in June, but taking a second look they've have a pretty impressive run. The startup allows iPhone users to license and sell the pictures they've taken, so that blogs and businesses can use unique images in their materials. At the time I made a joke about pictures of cats and latte foam-art, but browsing their image bank you can find a selection of high quality photos. Today they announce that they have raised $500,000 (€395k) from Jade Global Investments, based in Asia.
At the Arctic15 I caught up with Lars Hellström, the founder of Helsinki-based LivLiv Solutions, who showed me their new Android solution for the 55-75 demographic. He pointed out that old folks are a rapidly growing and technologically underserved demographic. And it makes sense- we're at an interesting period of time. Smartphones have become ubiquitous in younger generation's life, but there's still a learning curve and layers of complexity to smartphones, which may be difficult for older generations to grasp.
There are a few handset manufacturers out there, like Sweden's Doro, that provide phones with easy-to-use interfaces and big buttons, but essentially you're just getting a mobile phone. But this is the generation that invented the wheel. They may be suspicious of their phone's power, but they're adaptable enough to changes in technology that a dumbed down or completely locked down phone would be patronizing.
Cabforce yesterday released its iPhone app, giving (business) travelers a mobile method to book a taxi in foreign cities. Their value proposition is bring clarity to taxi booking, allowing travelers to overcome language barriers, estimate how much they will pay upfront, and receive receipts that the accounting department will easily accept.
Taxi booking is a large market they're after, Cabforce estimates that taxies between the city center and airport could account for 40% of the overall costs of travel in Europe. Currently the Helsinki-based startup operates in 23 cities in 15 countries.
As people were beginning to wind down for the long midsummer weekend, the Helsinki, Finland based Supercell went on to launch their new game Hay Day. Hay Day is a farming game like no other. One might think that the world has seen enough of annoying farm game advertising on Facebook from the likes of Zynga, but having played Hay Day through out the weekend for about 10+ hours in total I can say that there is demand.
Hay Day is also Supercell's first mobile and tablet only game, meaning it has been designed for the iOS platform. You can play it on your iPod Touch, iPhone as well as the iPad.
According to Ilkka Paananen, the CEO of Supercell, the launch has been quite phenomenal despite the challenging launch date.
Just during the long weekend, the game has shot to #7 in the US iPad listing while pushing to #13 on the iPhone. Paananen also disclosed that according to their own analysis, they are going to be achieving similar places in their key markets in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, UK, Canada, Australia and so on. In many countries they're already in the top three spot.
Apple with the release of Siri for the iPhone 4S has had everyone praising the feature. It is no doubt a great addition to the iPhone, perhaps the only notable one in the new generation of the iPhone. While that goes for the iOS devices, there is one for the Android, Speaktoit. The application comes from Russia and is in for a challenge from Siri and Vlingo.
There is a need for virtual assistants and to be honest, with Siri in the playground we will definitely be seeing a rapid increase in improved versions. I tried my hands with Speaktoit and it does the job fairly well. You can ask questions or commands directly to the Speaktoit assistant on your Android device and the client processes the same, executing what is being requested. Of course this requires that your commands be specific enough for it to recognize and execute.
We talked about Jongla a couple of years back. The Finnish startup promised to leverage the personal capabilities of the mobile devices and become personal marketing tool. The startup offers smartphone users the ability to send unlimited text messages, videos, images etc across the globe for free. Sounds quite a useful tool for bulk marketing.
The core issues or problem addressed is with the limitations that we have when it comes to the size of the multimedia files we share via SMS or MMS and the quality that we do share is awful by all mean (could be my personal opinion). With Jongla, users are freed of this size and quality limitations with the traditional methods. With Jongla you can share all these files directly to their friends. So this means another application, another setup file, a whole new registration or account association. Well not exactly.
With digital books expanding beyond print, even outside the bulky desktop computers and laptops to the lighter e-book readers and the tablets, book lovers have more than one option to read books. I mean if everything is available on the go, why not books? uTales, a Swedish startup leverages the existing technology to create digital picture books for kids. The bigger advantage here is to make the book reading experience more interactive and thus interesting.
The startup germinates from the founders’ experience with bed time stories, the art of story telling that so many of us have enjoyed in our childhood and want to preserve the same for future generations. The idea is to engage, inspire and educate kids by bringing high quality picture books to the young ones globally. How exactly?
In this day and age, what could be worse than making a phone call to arrange a taxi? It sounds too much of a hassle, and while it might be effective for many, the concept sounds too medieval. This is just my personal opinion, but gladly some firms are keen at bringing Cab facilitation online. The idea is to help ease the task for arranging taxis via one single destination. Yandex has started doing exactly that.
The Russian online giant is leveraging its popularity online in Russia to launch a Yandex Taxi Search Service. Yandex.Taxi sends request for booking a cab to all taxi services and accelerates the process of finding a cab for travellers. To start off, Yandex.Taxi has succeeded in partnering with 11 Taxi Service providers. Currently this service is just in beta and the operations are limited to Moscow alone.
Ambadoo is a new iPhone app coming to you from Malmö, Sweden. The first impression of the service was that it reminds me a lot of Jaiku. But it is a lot better and nicer to use and it's also available for the iPhone. Just tells us how much Jaiku revolutionised the industry with its service, if it's still remembered so many years after Google shut it down.. Having said that - Ambadoo is very much something I could use on a day to day basis.
Games, action, time-killers, fun - there are so many adjectives and verbs that can be instantly associated with games and gaming. With the rapid transformation of smartphones in the last 4 years, gaming turned out to be what it was never before. And this does not include the gaming consoles in the form of Xbox and the PlayStation.
We have seen how the Angry Birds became a sensation in mobile gaming, so much that it has had a movie around its theme, toys, board games, etc. That’s just one game that has done phenomenally well and there are others that enjoy success as well. We came to know about another game that takes advantage of features on your iPhone, iPad or Android devices called Sprinkle.
BrowserTexting is a new startup from Denmark, which enables in a similarly named online service, users to send and receive SMS's from their browser. All you need at this moment is an Android phone to take advantage of the service. The company states that there are no limits on how many messages you can send and also, to how many people - which unfortunately might make it appealing for spammers. Nevertheless, it has interesting features such as the possibility to send group SMS's.
Not everybody works out to stay healthy but everyone definitely thinks or dreams of living that athletic lifestyle. All you need is a little encouragements and there are services dedicated to that end. Endomondo Sports Tracker, a mobile app that makes your smartphone a fully loaded personal trainer, is taking up the task of encouraging Wisconsin residents to buckle up for a ride.
A mobile is no more your routine device for making calls on the go or texting while you are out of office. It has totally evolved from being a mere lightweight wireless communication device to an all- purpose connection to the entire world and lifestyle. Let's not dwell on emphasizing on communication advantages it gives us and focus on the other aspects - entertainment.
An 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:
There is so much good to write about Angry Birds that many people would think that Rovio has always been a record breaker from day 1. It has taken Rovio 7 years and over 50 titles to bring forth this insanely popular game for the masses. By mentioning 50 titles, I simply needed to mention that I myself wasn’t much aware of Rovio before I played Angry Birds (and so did almost all my friends).
We've talked about the legendary Death Rally set to invade the iOS devices back in January. As per our last reports the game was set to release in March and as promised it is now available for download. It runs on your iPhone and the iPad. You can download the game here, just in case you aren’t keen at reading any further.
Yandex recently conducted a survey among the users of its mobile maps application. Turns out the majority of the people use the app for keeping track of traffic to avoid being stuck in traffic jams. Searching for addresses and places is only second on the list and most of those requests appear in the afternoon (between 13:00 and 16:00), which means most of the smartphone users live in populous cities and travel to unknown destinations for work or lunch. The report also gave an insight into the mobile platforms market in Russia. Nokia is the current market leader: Symbian phones are currently the most popular in the Russian market. However, their market share has shrunk by a staggering 12% last year. Apple is on the second position and during the past 12 months iPhone's marketshare has risen as much as Nokia's has fallen - by 12%. Finally, Android's popularity is growing even faster than iOS' - it grew by 14% in 2010.
Zokem, the market leader in mobile analytics, has taken a step further to expand into the Nordics, UK and US. The company has recently announced a partnership with the Denmark's leading market research company Wilke. As part of the agreement, Wilke would run a research panel among 1000 smartphone users utilizing Zokem's on-device solutions. Let us remind you that Zokem's software monitors and measures virtually all aspects of mobile phone use. Wilke is a well-established player in the field and it has operations in other Nordic countries, which brings Zokem's analytics to a whole new level.
On top of that, Zokem announced opening new offices in New York and London. According to Meri Kupiainen, CMO, most of Zokem's users come from those markets and being close to their customers is very important when growing and establishing the company's operations.
Voxtrot is building a free mobile network. The Switzerland based company is headed by Taavet Hinrikus, who happens to be Skype's first employee. There seems to be a lot of activity in the mobile space, not only in gaming but on a deeper level to the way the whole infrastructure works. Earlier this week wrote on Blaast, who is working in a slightly similar space and now Voxtrot is pushing to be your free alternative to traditional operators (though you still need an operator agreement to access the free calls).
Sony Ericsson announced tonight the launch of the new "PlayStation phone", officially called Xperia PLAY, shipping this March. The device will be the first PlayStation Certified Android device, running Gingerbread 2.3. One of the first primary markets will be the US where Sony Ericsson partners with Verizon exclusively, the company announced at a launch event taking place in a hip Barcelona beach club prior to the Mobile World Congress.
Interestingly, the Danish-born Unity Technologies has struck a deal with Sony Ericsson for the new device, in which Unity's technology comes embedded. The partnership is the first of its kind for Unity that hasn't teamed up this way with a platform manufacturer before.
It appears I have booked myself to news on Spotify. But let the truth be known that there is nothing of the sort and like any decent writer, I am just sharing what makes news. The latest from Spotify is its deal with Shazam.
iPad, iPhone that’s where the folks are rushing in and so must I. That is what Wesley Snipes must have had in mind when he signed up for Julius Styles: The International. The game comes from Lapland Studios, a Finnish game developer in association with Elstree Studio Productions and Red 27 Films. The release is set for June 2011 release but with Wesley Snipes as Julius Styles, expect nothing short of kicking and bullet riddled action. Oh there is some puzzle too.
Finnish company Norfello, the developer of the DocScanner app for the iPhone, will be releasing their software for the Mac platform as well. The app was supposed to be made available this month, but Apple has just informed Norfello that they want changes to the app - on the eve of the launch. The app is one of the first and perhaps most useful ports from an iPhone app to the Mac platform.
Last night lots of updates came in through Twitter and Facebook that the latter may have enabled its places service here in Finland and Sweden. Facebook Places is a similar location based service like Foursquare and Gowalla, but it doesn't have any game mechanics built into it. The venues are also better integrated into Facebook's own platform. The service was announced earlier this year available in the US, UK and Japan. It also works in many European countries currently. Last night some users on iPhones and Androids were able to check in to venues in Finland and Sweden. The situation has changed for some in Finland, but reportedly still works.
Guidepal is a Swedish startup that offers city guide apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry devices. The guides are free to download and use, and contain information about sights and attractions, places to go, shopping etc. typical things you might expect from city guides.
The guides are produced by Guidepal's local city experts and writers around the world. There is currently an app for 27 different cities. Guidepal aims to differentiate from the traditional travel guides by supporting a number of digital platforms, and trying to offer wider and more relevant content than other services.
Internet Apps And Native Apps: Why Neither Is Going Away, But The Coming Years Will See A Tremendous Power Shift
People love a good story, no matter what form of content it is they're consuming. Journalists, especially those who cover the technology industry, like to apply the same elements that make up an attractive narrative to their writing, so what most people get today is a tale of two or three competitors, the hurdles they have to overcome to deliver the solution they've envisioned and marketed, and then the demise of the one who couldn't execute properly. No matter how enticing it may be to remove the complexity of the battle for consumer's hearts, minds and wallets in order to make the story easily digestible, reality is often quite different. Take for instance the current obsession with mobile applications and how they're going to eclipse the internet as the delivery platform of choice for services and software.