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Archive for the ‘Angry Birds’ Category

App makers: take this lesson from the music industry

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

smartphonesHow can app makers charge more for their downloads?

App makers have muddied the water – they have trained consumers to expect low prices – resulting in limited profits despite lots of value, according to a new survey by Simon-Kucher & Partners, the world’s largest pricing consulting firm.

But all is not lost for apps.

“Apps today are stuck where music was a few years ago and newspapers were until recently,” argues Andre Weber, partner at Simon-Kucher. “The music industry made a bold move on the assumption that people would pay more, and it worked wonderfully.

Not pioneers

App makers are not pioneers in convincing consumers to pay for content. They need to learn from what’s worked and act accordingly.”

The survey by Simon-Kucher & Partners investigated which apps consumers want, how much consumers will pay for apps and how app makers can turn apps into cash.

Lessons from the music industry

A few years ago the music industry was nervous about what would happen to sales if single prices went beyond $0.99; today nearly all top singles sell for $1.29.

Similarly, a large majority of consumers in Simon-Kucher’s survey believe that $1.99 or more per month is an acceptable price to pay for an app – far higher than most app makers charge today.

The figure was highest for streaming video, followed by games, and magazines.

The rise of tablets: blessing for the app industry

digital devicesThe rise of tablets is good news for app makers because people are willing to pay a premium to put content on premium devices.

Kyle Poyar, senior consultant at Simon-Kucher, commented: “If you buy an expensive new TV, you’re willing to spend the extra money on HD and premium cable. We’re seeing the same thing happen with tablets and apps. The question is – why aren’t app makers capitalizing on this extra value?”

Tablet owners on average download more apps than smartphone owners, according to the survey. Tablet owners are also more likely to be paying for apps today.

Most users have paid for an app

Angry Birds

Angry Birds has both free and paid versions of its popular game.

Three-quarters of tablet owners and more than half of smartphone owners have already paid for an app despite the abundance of free and freemium apps on the market.

Games and publications were the most popular categories of apps on tablets. The average tablet owner downloaded nine games and four publications.

If publishers price their apps at parity or sell them as an upgrade to print, they will create a tremendous revenue opportunity. If they price too aggressively, though, they may end up making much less money than they do today.

Looking ahead: Is freemium the industry’s salvation?

App makers have hailed freemium pricing as a best of both worlds strategy. Half of the consumers Simon-Kucher surveyed rank price as the most important factor they weigh when choosing which apps to download; the other half choose value.

Freemium apps promise to attract the price-focused consumers while still earning money from the value-focused ones. Such apps have been popular with consumers as well: more than two-thirds say they’ve downloaded a freemium app.

Ellen Kan, consultant at Simon-Kucher, cautions app makers against overly relying on freemium to turn a profit. “Freemium isn’t the industry’s salvation,” she warns. “It takes a long time to upgrade free users to the paid product and app makers need to strike a better balance between free and paid offerings. It needs more time and management attention to get right.”

About the Simon-Kucher & Partners 2013 US Apps and Digital Content Study:

The Simon-Kucher & Partners 2013 Apps and Digital Content Study surveyed 1,000 US consumers. The survey examined consumer spending habits when downloading or purchasing apps.

You can find the full study results by clicking here.

Apple may have another hit on its hands with iPad Mini

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
iPad Mini

Phil Schiller showing the new iPad Mini at Apple’s launch event this week.

Apple may have another hit on its hands with the iPad Mini when the new 7.9 inch tablet becomes available for pre-orders today. Bizrate Insights says 15 percent of online buyers across its network plan to purchase it pretty much immediately.

Haley Silver, vice president of Bizrate Insights says, “For context, we saw a lower number in 2011 around the introduction of the iPad 2—with the same top reason cited for not purchasing. These numbers today would indicate that Apple has another huge hit on its hands.”

The top reason cited for not purchasing is a lack of a defined need, as reported by over 39 percent of respondents.

Is the price right?

Introduced this week, the iPad Mini will be available for pre-orders starting today. It features a slightly larger screen than other one-hand tablets, includes the popular Siri voice personal assistant and dictation, front and rear cameras, and access to the massive number of apps available in the iTunes store.

It is priced at $320 for the least expensive model, which some believe may be too high to compete with the $199 tablets available from Amazon and Google. Here’s a CNET review comparing the iPad Mini to the Google Nexus and Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

It has been a long time since we were tempted to buy an Apple product, because for all their beauty and innovative design, we generally find them over-priced.

The iPad Mini temps us, though, primarily because the ability to do many tasks using Siri or dictation instead of a virtual keyboard is what we think will really make tablets more productive and less just media consumption devices.

The Google Nexus also offers a dictation feature, and we have been tempted to try that, as well. But we’re also interested in dipping back into the Apple ecosystem. We even considered buying one of the new iPod touch models, but at nearly $300 for a smaller screen and fewer features than the iPad Mini, we’re not sure that’s such a good deal.

Kindle Fire

A Kindle Fire tablet computer

We love our Kindle Fire, which we bought soon after its launch, but it is primarily a media and entertainment device.

It’s great for media snacking via apps such as Pulse and Flipbook, watching videos, reading books and magazines from our digital Amazon purchases, or playing a quick game of Angry Birds or working a chess problem. But even typing in passwords via a virtual keyboard is a pain.

But we have no interest at all in the new Kindle Fire HD.

Apps are a main reason to buy Apple

Also, many apps still do not run as well on Android as on the Apple iOS and some just do not work right at all on my Kindle Fire. Access to the Apple app store is not a minor reason for buying at least one Apple touchscreen product.

While we are often early adopters when we decide to try a new device or technology, we may wait for the actual hands-on reviews to come out before actually buying that iPad Mini, if we do.

Gizmodo doesn’t much like the iPad Mini screen, saying it’s inferior to the Kindle Fire HD, the Nook HD, and the Google Nexus 7.

How about you? Planning on buying an iPad Mini or any of the other new Apple products just launched? Let us know in the comments. — Allan Maurer

Cybercriminals snaring even tech-savvy users with social engineering

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Angry Birds

Angry Birds was one of many mobile apps that saw downloads peak during the holidays.

Cybercriminals are combining social engineering with more complex malware for PCs and mobile, with Android users increasingly a target, says AVG Technologies’ Community Powered Threat Report. Attacks also target Rovio’s Angry Birds game and the IE and Firefox browsers.

Android smartphone users remain a lucrative target as the platform currently has 59 percent global market share and is on track to stay the most shipped mobile operating system until 2016.

Much of this new malware has also been identified as originating from China and targeting users there and in neighboring markets, reflecting the fact that this is now the world’s top smartphone market with over one million mobile web users

New attacks coming from China

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer at AVG, said: “In our experience, an operating system attracts attention from cybercriminals once it secures five percent market share; once it reaches ten percent, it will be actively attacked.”

He added, “It’s no surprise therefore that our investigations uncovered a further upsurge in malware targeting Android smartphones given its sustained popularity, with new attacks focused on rooting the devices to give cybercriminals full control. What’s new this quarter is the significant upsurge in these threats originating from China.”

Consumer scams include Angry Birds

The latest version of the LizaMoon mass injection SQL attack this quarter deceives users into downloading a Trojan or some rogue software by exploiting human interest and hiding inside non-existent celebrity sex videos or fake antivirus websites. Injecting malicious code into legitimate but vulnerable websites, this attack targeted Mozilla’s Firefox® browser and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer® with two attack vectors. In Firefox, users are lured by raunchy videos of socialite Paris Hilton and actress Emma Watson and asked to update their Flash installation in order to view them. Users never get to see the video as the malware installed a Trojan disguised as a Flash update.

In Internet Explorer, users receive a prompt seemingly from an antivirus website which would claim to have found malware on their computer. They are encouraged to download the malware and, once installed, to ‘purchase it’ which would then simply remove the malware in return for payment.

Should the victim decide not to purchase, nag screens would pop up until the rogue was cleaned from the machine. In the most recent version, the malware was updated to enable ‘drive-by downloads’ where victims need only visit the website to become infected and it is no longer enough to close the web page to be safe.

Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds Space’ application was also frontline for consumer scams this quarter. Using the same graphics as the legitimate version, a fully functional Trojan-infected version was uploaded to unofficial Android application stores.

It uses the GingerBreak exploit to root the device, gaining Command and Control functionality to communicate with the remote server to download and install additional malware, botnet functionality, and to enable the modification of files and launch of URLs.

To download the full Q2 2012 Community Powered Threat Report, see: http://mediacenter.avg.com/en/press-tools/avg-threat-reports/avg-community-powered-threat-report-q2-2012.html

 

infographic

BreakOut Award offers $10K for best undiscovered app

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

10,000The BreakOut Award in search for the world’s best undiscovered new software application, is offering a $10,000 cash prize to the winner. The contest is being launched by  CAST, a software analysis and measurement firm, and Dr. Dobb’s, a development content site.

This competition aims to support innovation and uncover the next rising star of the application development world. The BreakOut Award is open to a wide spectrum of developers, from individuals to corporate development teams.

Dr. Dobb’s and CAST have assembled a panel of judges from the global technology community who will combine code analysis and expert commercial assessments to identify the next break out application based on the following criteria: purpose, appeal, quality, and exposure.

Entrants will also have their applications objectively analyzed using CAST’s Highlight application, which provides feedback on the structural quality of their code.

The judging panel includes Dr. Dobb’s editor in chief Andrew Binstock and senior leaders and CEOs from GartnerGoodDataHubspotIBM Global Business ServicesKimberly-Clark, andTechHub.

(Read more about the panel of judges below or on the BreakOut site:http://breakout.drdobbs.com)

The BreakOut competition aims to support developers financially, while providing exposure needed to become the next Angry Birds or WhatsApp.

In addition to receiving a cash prize of $10,000, the winner will be interviewed by J.D. Hildebrand, editor-at-large of Dr. Dobb’s.

The award, open to developers worldwide over 18 years old, opens today and closes on August 28, 2012. CAST and Dr. Dobb’s will announce the winner on September 13, 2012.

To enter, register at BreakOut.DrDobbs.com, download the Highlight Application from the website and use it to perform the analysis on the application and upload the results.

Android has more than half the mobile phone market

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

smartphonesSamsung was the top mobile phone handset maker in the three month period ending in March. Google’s Android operating system continued to grow it’s U.S. share of the mobile market, claiming 51 percent to Apple’s 30 percent. So says comScore’s MobiLens service.

During the period, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices.

Smartphone Platform Market Share
More than 106 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in March, up 9 percent versus December. RIM still held onto 3rd place in operating systems with 12.3 percent. Microsoft has yet to gain really significant market share and languishes at 3.9 percent, although we found its mobile operation system as good or better than the others we tried.

Mobile Content Usage
Text-messaging continues to be the most used function of mobile phones. In March, 74.3 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device.

App downloads are increasing, although not at the blistering pace following the holidays when many people unwrapped new digital devices and downloaded record numbers of apps such as the Angry Birds game.

Downloaded applications were used by 50 percent of subscribers (up 2.4 percentage points), while browsers were used by 49.3 percent (up 1.8 percentage points).

Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 0.8 percentage points to 36.1 percent of mobile subscribers.

Game-playing was done by 32.6 percent of the mobile audience (up 1.2 percentage points), while 25.3 percent listened to music on their phones (up 1.5 percentage points). –Allan Maurer

How mobile games resulted in big business (infographic)

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

If you own a mobile device, whether it is a smartphone, tablet, notebook or laptop, we bet you’ve played one or more mobile games.

They can be compelling. From slingshotting Angry Birds at laughing pigs, blasting away at tanks or bad guys, or trying to dunk a paper wad in an trash can, they’re great time-killers and may even have some beneficial effects on hand-eye-coordination and concentration.

Here’s an infographic from BusinessDegree.com that takes a look at how these little games became such big business:

Little Games Big Business
Created by: BusinessDegree.net

Apple iPhone users ripe for geo-targeted mobile ads

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

While iPad3 crushed sales expectations, traffic levels were small compared to prior device versions, according to Jumptap, a targeted mobile advertising provider.

According to iPad traffic on the Jumptap network of over 107 million monthly mobile users, iPad3 use in the first six days after launch was heavy, but represented just a small percentage of overall iPad use that week.

iPad3 traffic represented .52 percent of total iPad network traffic on the day of launch, peaked at 2.28 percent by day three, and closed out the week at 1.92 percent. iPad and iPad2, on the other hand, each maintained 45 percent or more of the total iPad traffic throughout the week.

“A very early read of the data would suggest that iPad3 is stealing traffic from the iPad2,” said Paran Johar, Chief Marketing Officer, Jumptap.

“This trend suggests that iPad2 users may be more inclined to switch to the iPad3 than original iPad users.”

Additional March MobileSTAT Findings:

iPhone Users Love Wi-Fi: Data from the Jumptap network showed iPhone users as more likely to use Wi-Fi than Android and Blackberry device users.

Fifty-eight percent of iPhone users utilized Wi-Fi, compared to 35 percent of Android users and 41 percent of Blackberry users.

This could have been due to the fact that 4G iPhones didn’t exist, so iPhone owners needed a Wi-Fi connection more often than 4G Android and Blackberry owners.

Advertisers take note: iPhone users are ripe for geo-targeted campaigns because Wi-Fi offers strong location data.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds was one of many mobile apps that saw downloads peak during the holidays.

Two Popular Games, Two Very Different Players: Based on third-party data that Jumptap uses to gain insights about its network audience, the characteristics of Angry Birds players vs. Words with Friends players proved to be very different.

Angry Birds players were more likely to be Republican than their Words with Friends counterparts (45 percent vs. 23 percent). They were also twice as likely to be on a tablet as the average mobile user. Words with Friends players were more likely to have an income over $100K (40 percent).

In short, Angry Birds offers advertisers a way to reach a broad demographic and to leverage tablet adverting, while Words with Friends has a higher income, smartphone-centric fan base.

Mobile Travels South for Spring Break:

Data from the Jumptap network, sampled during a small window of spring break, revealed that mobile device owners from across the U.S. visited Mexico and Florida this March.

A look at the states of origin of these devices showed that North Dakota residents were 80 percent more likely than the average American device owner to be in Mexico, and Maine residents were 103 percent more likely to be in Florida.

New Jersey represented the state least likely to visit Mexico or Florida during the sample window.

MobileSTAT (Simple Targeting & Audience Trends) is a monthly view of the top targeting and audience trends in mobile advertising. Jumptap strives to better understand mobile audience and educate the entire mobile ecosystem through its insight reports. MobileSTAT contains analysis of hundreds of gigabytes of log data, run through Jumptap’s analytics technology. To download a full copy of the Jumptap MobileSTAT report, visit jumptap.com/STAT.

Angry Birds Space blasts off to megahit status

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Angry Birds Space, the latest incarnation of the extremely popular Rovio game garnered 10 million downloads in the first three days after its March 22 launch, leading one tech news site to proclaim that it “introduces the age of the mobile game blockbuster.”

The Angry Birds Space game sells for 99 cents on Apple’s iOS devices, and for as much as $10 on Windows devices. The Android version for Kindle Fire goes for $2.99.

If you want to give it a look and learn how to download it free for the iPhone or iPad check out Chris Pirillo’s YouTube piece on it.

We still play the older Angry Birds games, but our addition has subsided. That’s one reason smart game-makers keep releasing new and updated versions of their products – even the most entrancing games get old after you’ve played them from a while. Here’s our initial reaction to the original game: Kill the pigs! Kill the pigs, Angry Birds!

Here’s NASA’s Angry Birds Space video from the International Space Station – which includes physics demonstrations of things you might see in the game:

App economy experiencing radical growth (infographic)

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Frugaldad bagFrugal Dad notes that development of mobile apps has created a half million new jobs, but that’s just part of the incredible growth of the “app economy.”

Anyone using a mobile device, smartphone, tablet, or even ultra books and laptops, these days, sees new apps showing up daily to do everything from keep your grocery list to checking local gas prices. Games are a big deal (how many zombie game apps are on the market – that’s a statistic we’d like to see.)

But so are financial calculators, news fetchers, photo apps and hundreds of thousands of others, with more on the way. Personally, we enjoy the Pulse news app, several versions of Angry Birds, and our social media apps on our Kindle Fire tablet. We are occasionally frustrated by an app (the Tumblr app on the Kindle Fire refuses to sign us in). — Allan Maurer

But all in all, mobile apps free us from the PC while keeping us productive and connected in ways never before possible. Frugal Dad created this inforgraphic to provide a statistical look at this radically growing app economy:

Apps Infographic

Source: frugaldad.com

Sales of in-game items rising with popularity of mobile games

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Mobile gameA growing user acceptance of in-game purchases and a sharp rise in smartphone adoption will push sales of in-game items from $2.1 billion in 2011 to $4.8 billion in 2016, according to Juniper research.

The Continued Rise of Freemium

The report finds that as users became accustomed to the freemium model, particularly purchasing in-game items, the proportion of gamers who purchase these items will increase. This will be most apparent in the Social & Casual genre in which users are increasingly expecting entertaining and immersive gameplay from free or low cost games.

Personally, we haven’t bought any in-game items, although several of the first downloads we made to our Amazon Kindle Fire tablet were free games and they’re also always among the first apps we download to new smartphones we test or use.

Their popularity seems to transcend age and other demographics. The 80-year-old mother of a friend of ours enjoys playing solitaire card games on the Fire, young children love games aimed at them, and we can be seen shooting Angry Birds at laughing pigs at odd moments.

Benefits for Developers

Another driver for this increase is the growth in the number of game developers adopting the freemium model rather than the pay-per-download model. This is due to free games being downloaded in greater volume, potentially making the paying user base much larger. In-game purchases also provide an easy way of reducing piracy as the game is typically downloaded for free, and any purchases must be verified via the developers’ server.

According to report author Charlotte Miller, “An increasing number of games developers are finding the in-game purchase model attractive simply because it provides easy answers. Their piracy rate will drop and the game will see more downloads. However, while some games may generate significant revenues from in-game items, the model doesn’t work with all games and developers have to tread a fine line between encouraging purchases and appearing to be exploitative.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Social & Casual games will account for the lion’s share of mobile games downloads.
  • Mobile games downloads on tablets will increase dramatically, accounting for over a third of mobile games revenues by 2016.
  • Mobile games revenues on featurephones will halve over the next five years.

The Mobile Games whitepaper is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full study.

12 marketing resolutions for 2012

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Dave Mastovich

Dave M. Mastovich

As we kick off 2012, MaSSolutions offers these 12 New Year’s Marketing Resolutions to help you and your company:

  • Embrace Social Media as part of your Marketing & PR strategy. Focus time on creating content relevant to your target audiences and on learning about your marketplace. Less Angry Birds and fun Facebook stuff, more content development and information gathering.
  • p,Use LinkedIn as a resource for Pre Call Prep prospecting, networking and competitive analysis. The online professional network is a must for entrepreneurs, marketers and senior leaders.
  • Build a keyword rich LinkedIn profile that tells your story and also enhances Search Engine Optimization.
  • Instead of just signing up and following celebrities on Twitter, organize your followers by category and scan for valuable content. Retweet what you think is valuable and use other information to enhance your marketing and selling efforts.
  • Develop a content strategy for Twitter. Decide what key messages you want to convey and develop a schedule to do so. Continually create an inventory of tweets to increase awareness and follower base.
  • Use Facebook for more than pushing information out. Keep abreast of what interests key target audiences and create two way conversations by asking their opinion. Make customer success stories shareable. Address negative comments quickly and honestly.
  • Contrary to what some may think, email isn’t dead and can be an important part of your marketing and selling strategy. Segment your target audiences and create email messages that show what’s in it for them.
  • Commit to staying current with Social Media tools. It doesn’t have to be a huge time investment–an hour or two a week that’s convenient to you can make a big impact.
  • The tenets of successful messaging apply to Social Media. Tell your story with clear and succinct messages that resonate with your target audiences and stay consistent with your overall brand.
  • Make customers and employees an extended part of your Marketing Team. As Social Media becomes more a part of our lives, we use our online network to share opinions quickly and easily. Manage these relationships and leverage Social Media so customers and employees spread the good, rather than bad, word about products and services.
  • Incorporate Mobile into your integrated marketing strategy. Online purchasing is moving to mobile. Google estimated 44% of last-minute holiday shopping came from smartphones or tablets. Mobile provides a great opportunity to market to unique, segmented audiences at or near their time of purchase.
  • This year, make sure you live up to your New Year’ Marketing Resolutions.

David M. Mastovich, MBA is President of MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm focused on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. He’s also author of “Get Where You Want To Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.” For more information, go to www.massolutions.biz.

Amazon recommends movies, apps, books, and games for those new digital devices

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Angry BirdsAmazon hopes that people unwrapping their Kindle Fires as well as tablets, MP3 Players, mobile phones, and computers this Christmas will head to its new “Best of Digital Store,” to find books, movies, music and Android apps for their devices.

Among their top recommendations: “The Social Nework” in movies, “Angry Birds” in apps, and Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs in books.

We have already downloaded the Angry Birds, Pandora, Atari’s Greatest Hits, MapQuest and the Words with Friends apps for our own Kindle Fire, as well as the Night of the Living Dead zombie game. The Fire does indeed work better since the 6.2.1 software update delivered the week before Christmas.

Historically, Christmas day is the largest day of digital sales on Amazon.com, followed by December 26. Last year, from Christmas Eve through December 30, Amazon customers purchased over three times more digital content, including Kindle books, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, and digital games as compared to the weekly average for the year.

“People everywhere will unwrap mobile devices over the holidays—Kindles, MP3 players, smart phones and tablets—and as soon as they’re out of the box, it’s only natural to want to load them up with great digital entertainment,” said Craig Pape, director of Music at Amazon.com.

“Not surprisingly, we see the largest jump in digital product sales on Christmas and during the week following the holiday. With the introduction of Kindle Fire this season, millions more customers will be shopping for new digital content. This year, we’re making it easier and more convenient than ever to get all the content they want – along with some hot deals on digital – all in one place.“

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Cover of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography.

Here is a preview of the recommended must-haves in the Best of Digital Store. More can be found at http://www.amazon.com/bestdigital

Top ten recommended Kindle books:
1. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Issacson
2. “11/22/63” by Stephen King
3. “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach
4. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor
5. “The Circus Ship” by Chris Van Dusen
6. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
7. “A History of the World in 100 Objects” by Neil MacGregor
8. “The Litigators” by John Grisham
9. “Then Again” by Diane Keaton
10. “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Top ten recommended magazines:
1. Us Weekly
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Vanity Fair
4. National Geographic
5. O, the Oprah Magazine
6. WIRED
7. Glamour
8. Better Homes & Gardens
9. Reader’s Digest
10. Men’s Health
Top ten recommended movies:
1. The Social Network
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
3. Bridesmaids
4. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
5. X-Men: First Class
6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
7. Crazy Stupid Love
8. You’ve Got Mail
9. Cars 2
10. The Fighter
Top ten recommended TV shows:
1. Walking Dead
2. Arrested Development
3. Lost
4. Breaking Bad
5. Sons of Anarchy
6. The X Files
7. Sesame Street
8. Glee
9. Parks and Rec
10. Friday Night Dinner
Top ten recommended albums:
1. Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials
2. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
3. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon: Experience Version
4. Adele, 21
5. Bon Iver, Bon Iver
6. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
7. Foster the People, Torches
8. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
9. Wilco, The Whole Love
10. The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow
Top ten recommended Android apps:
1. ESPN Score Center
2. LinkedIn
3. Quickoffice Pro
4. The Weather Channel for Android
5. EasyTether
6. Exchange by Touchdown
7. Pandora
8. Urbanspoon
9. MapQuest
10. Zillow Real Estate
Top ten recommended Android games:
1. Angry Birds
2. Words with Friends
3. Bejeweled 2
4. Atari’s Greatest Hits (Missile Command Free)
5. Asphalt 6: Adrenaline
6. Plants vs. Zombies
7. Top Girl
8. Fruit Ninja
9. Cut the Rope
10. Little Piano
Top ten recommended digital video games:
1. Battlefield 3
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
4. Dead Island
5. Saints Row: The Third
6. Dungeon Defenders
7. Magicka
8. Disney Universe
9. Sonic Generations
10. The Sims 3
Top ten recommendations for digital software:
1. Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010
2. Office Mac Home and Student 2011 (Family Pack)
3. TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-file + State 2011
4. Norton 360 Version 5.0
5. Microsoft Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade (Home Premium to Professional)
6. Quicken Deluxe 2012
7. Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 for Windows
8. Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-5 Set for Mac
9. PaintShop Pro X4
10. Anime Studio Debut 8

Beware the top ten most dangerous Cyber Monday holiday gift searches

Friday, November 25th, 2011

 The F-Secure  Cyber Monday Cyber-Watch List is an annual compilation of the most ‘dangerous’ holiday gifts to be encountered while shopping online this year based on the prevalence of ‘poisoned’ search results on the web.

Cyber Monday, the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season online, will occur this November 28, 2011, bringing with it throngs of Internet shoppers on the hunt for the best deals and hottest products.

Unfortunately, the period also brings with it a similarly motivated group of cybercriminals targeting unassuming shoppers as they use search engines to find gifts for their loved ones.

Google search results for products often include links to ‘poisoned’ sites, or malicious websites that can infect an unsecured computer with viruses, worms and other malware, putting one’s personal and financial information at risk.

The more popular an item is, the more likely it will attract a dangerous search result, which could lead to malware or an unreliable merchant. Here are the products we anticipate will be targeted by cybercriminals this holiday season:

ipad41. Apple iPhone 4S 
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 DVD 
3. Angry Birds: Knock on Wood Game 
4. Steve Jobs biography
5. Fijit Friends Willa Interactive Toy 
6. Michael Buble ‘Christmas’ album 
7. Apple iPad 2 
8. Kindle Fire tablet
9. Silver ‘Heart’ pendants 
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Here are three tips from F-Secure to ensure you stay safe while shopping online this Cyber Monday, and throughout the 2011 holiday season:

  • Visit retailers’ websites directly if possible (e.g., www.amazon.com vs searching ‘Amazon’ on Google)
  • Use Internet security software that features browsing protection
  • Always check a site’s URL before making any purchase (look to make sure you’re at the correct online store and that the page URL begins with https://, which means it’s secure)

For more advice on staying safe online, check out F-Secure’s Safe & Savvy blog.

F-Secure’s list of the ‘most dangerous gifts’ was compiled based on Amazon’s Most Gifted items. An analysis of Google Insights has shown items on this list typically spike in search volume during the holiday season.

Kindle Fire a good value for the money

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Kindle Fire

At $199, we think the Kindle Fire is a good buy for the money

By Allan Maurer

I spent the weekend running my new Amazon Kindle Fire through its paces, using the much-ballyhooed cloud-based browser, downloading apps and games, reading books, watching videos, and listening to music.

I also read a number of early reviews in other tech publications and generally, I suspect some of the more negative ones reflect too little time spent testing the device by the users. Or, some of the problems they encountered, such as browser sluggishness, may have been associated with their connections.

The good stuff

Let’s start with the good stuff. The 7-inch screen is bright and its images and text sharp, although like other tablets and LED screen-devices, it isn’t something I”d want to use in full sunlight outside often. I still prefer my WiFi Kindle with its e-Ink technology for reading a book to reading on any LED screen.

Before it arrived I wondered if the 7-inch size would be adequate for watching videos and playing games. It is though. I watched Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dance on YouTube, listened to an online tech show, and played chess, a zombie shooter game and Angry Birds. The screen size is just right for a handheld device. 

It is surprising heavy and solid for its size, weighing in at 14,6 ounces, but unlike larger tablet computers such as the 10-inch Xoom or the iPad, it’s fairly easy to hold in one hand and I have small hands. It has 8 Gigabytes of built-in memory and allows you to keep books, videos, and music in the Amazon cloud or on the device.

I barely strained the memory in mine with half a dozen books, five games, and a dozen free apps from Amazon’s AppStore (Apple Inc. is taking action to get Amazon to change the name, alleging it owns the “AppStore” name).

Touchscreen quirks

The touchscreen has some quirks, but honestly, I have yet to use a touchscreen device of any sort that didn’t. The worst problem, which other reviewers have noted, as anyone who uses a Kindle Fire will, is that it seems overly sensitive to accidental thumb touches if you hold the device with your thumb on one side as is natural.

On the other hand, the screen is not always as sensitive as one might wish when you’re trying to access controls to get back to the home screen or to get a link to work or to navigate the Carousel that provides access to your books, apps, and tools. The Carousel itself takes a bit of getting used to. It really whips the content by, but after a while I was able to stop where I wanted without overshooting.

Some early reviewers complained about that, but I suspect many of the complaints about the Fire are a result of inadequate time using it to learn its rhythms and peculiarities. I fell into that trap reviewing devices in the past, which is why I used mine several days and rather heavily before writing this one.

I’ve already adjusted the way I hold the device to compensate for the problem with those accidental thumb touches – which do result in the screen suddenly doing all sorts of things you don’t want it to.

Adjusting to the device

Using the virtual keyboard has never been my favorite way to type, either, and the one on the Fire gave me as much trouble as any of them. Again, however, all digital device require a certain adjustment to its peculiarities and as I use it, I get faster and more accurate. To some extent, it’s about placing you finger properly (a bit off-center to the left to get the right letter or number works for me.)

It’s not that different from learning the dynamics of a digital game such as Angry Birds. I did, I confess to my shame, actually drop a bird from the slingshot before firing it at those snotty pigs using the Fire. That’s one Kindle first I hope doesn’t repeat itself, but you know, it’s a minor detail. Dern pigs are still laughing at me.

In a perfect world, the device would adjust to you rather than you to it. But I use a large number of digital devices, and they all require getting used to the way they work.

Get a case

The Fire has a rubberized back that makes holding it easier, but I do think a case that let’s you set it up on a surface will be useful for this (and probably for any tablet). It’s also a good idea to protect it.

Some reviewers had problems with the browser, but mine worked smoothly right away. I have learned the touchscreen trick of expanding the copy (when that can be done) before trying to click on a link. Otherwise, it is really easy to hit a different link and go back and forth, back and forth trying to get the right one to respond. I have the same problem with touchscreen phones of all makes and operating systems.

Others mentioned problems with Google apps or reading email. I had no trouble signing into my email via the browser or the gmail app I downloaded (free) from the Store. It’s not ideal for answering email any more than a phone is, but it never ceases to surprise me how we adapt to technology.

I’m a reader, so I buy a lot of books from Amazon, among other things, particularly music. I love having my music (which is a memory hog) in Amazon’s cloud, but I also downloaded the Pandora app and signed in. The speakers provide really decent sound for a small device – better than my mp3 player’s built-in speakers and on a par if not better than my Acer laptop’s. You can also plug in earphones.

No microphone

It doesn’t have a microphone, which may be a drawback as voice recognition becomes more common ala Apple’s Siri and Dragon Naturally Speaking. Operating these mobile devices via voice seems a natural and inevitable evolution.

There has been a fair amount of carping in the tech community about Amazon using a proprietary version of Google’s Android operating system, which means that not all Android apps are available for the Fire (at least not yet). But my experience with app stores is that their are only a handful of actual app categories, games, utilities, and lifestyle aids, and so forth, each of which has a gazillion different apps for each purpose.

Just how many weight loss or movie time or note-taking apps do you need?

Just as an aside, do download and install one of the free (or paid) antivirus programs. Malware is already a growing problem on mobile devices.

An Amazon fan

As a Web access device, I really like the Kindle Fire. The browser showed none of the sluggishness some reviewers mentioned. I also really like the Pulse app, which provides Web sites in a Cool Iris-like display not dissimilar to the Carousel. It makes checking out many of my favorite sites, from Boing Boing to science sites quick, easy, and entertaining.

I downloaded the Facebook and Twitter apps and used both with few problems, although they require a short learning curve. Typing in my passwords was the hardest part. But by Sunday, after I had used the Fire extensively for three days, my typing was already much faster and more sure, if still not without mishit keys.

I suppose I’m an Amazon fan the way lots of people are Apple fans. That doesn’t mean I love everything Amazon does. But I do like its products and its store.

The company’s customer service is just unparalleled in my experience. I dropped a Kindle that was out of warranty and they still overnighted me a new one – which is probably just smart considering the number of books I buy from them, most of them for the Kindle these days. They are always responsive, it’s easy to get to a real human being, they don’t waste a lot of your time solving a problem and they always solved my problems.

But I think the Kindle Fire is a great deal for the money. At $199, Amazon is selling it slight below the cost to make it, hoping to sell more goods, no doubt. But I’d be willing to bet you’re going to see a lot of these around after Christmas. The Kindle Fire may not be an iPad killer, but it is winner in its own right.

Kindle a good bet to win the e-reader wars

Comparison of Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook spex

 

 

Appetite for phone apps nearly doubled, reflects increasing trend toward mobile

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

PewInternetThe share of adult cell phone owners who have downloaded an app to their phone nearly doubled in the past two years – rising from 22% in September 2009 to 38% in August 2011 – according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The share of U.S. adults who purchased a phone already equipped with apps also increased five percentage points in the past year, from 38% in May 2010 to 43% in the current survey.

When both groups are accounted for—those whose phones came equipped with apps and those who have downloaded their own—fully half of U.S. adult cell phone owners (50%) now have apps on their phones.  In May 2010, that figure stood at 43%.  Looking at all U.S. adults, 42% now have cell phones with apps.

In addition to examining mobile app use on cell phones, the current survey included questions about mobile app use on tablet computers.  It finds that among the 10% of adults who currently own a tablet, three-quarters (75%) report downloading apps to their tablet.

This translates to 8% of all U.S. adults.  The vast majority of tablet app downloaders (82%) have also downloaded apps to a cell phone, thus there is considerable overlap across the two groups.

More than a third downloaded apps overall

Overall, when cell and tablet app downloaders are combined, 34% of adults report downloading apps to one or both of these devices.

These findings are from a survey conducted from July 25-August 26 among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on both landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

An “app” is an end-user software application designed for a mobile device operating system, which extends that device’s capabilities. Apps were first introduced in early 2007 with the Apple iPhone.  Since then, they have become increasingly popular as other smartphone platforms and now tablet computers have embraced this form of accessing content. Indeed, app use has been a core feature in the broader move away from desktop computers toward mobile computing on handheld device.

App downloading is on the rise, but still concentrated in certain demographic groups

While the portion of adults downloading apps has grown since 2009, their demographic profile has not changed markedly, even with the addition of tablet computers to the mix.

SmartphonesApp downloading on cell phones remains concentrated among young adults, those with higher incomes and education levels, and those living in urban and suburban areas.  In May 2010, cell phone app downloaders were also disproportionately male when compared with the full U.S. adult population, but the gap between men and women has decreased.

Adults who download apps to tablets (the majority of whom are also cell phone app downloaders) skew slightly more female and older than cell phone app downloaders in general. They also tend to be from higher income households, and more highly educated.

Apps reflect a broader mobile trend

The growth in apps downloading is a reflection of the broader trend toward mobile devices the Pew Internet Project has identified over the past decade.  Americans have embraced mobile connectivity in the form of laptops, smartphones, tablet computers, and e-readers, while desktop computers have become less popular over time.

In February of 2010, Pew Internet reported for the first time that laptops had overtaken desktops in popularity among 18-29 year-olds, and in the current survey, laptop ownership (57%) has equaled desktop ownership (55%) for the full adult population.

Moreover, in May 2011, Pew data showed that 35% of adults in the U.S. owned smartphones.  Yet app downloading and use, while growing rapidly, is fairly low given the wide range of activities U.S. adults now engage in on their phones.  Because many of these activities require “apps,” one might expect the percent of cell owners who download apps to perform these popular tasks (such as email, playing games, listening to music) to be higher.

Adults regularly use only a portion of the apps they download

Having apps and using apps are not synonymous. In May 2010, Pew Internet data showed that only about two-thirds (68%) of adults who had apps on their phones reported actually using them.

The current survey asked those who reported having apps on a cell phone and/or tablet computer how many apps they use on each device at least once a week.  Among adults who have apps on their cell phone, roughly half (51%) use a handful of apps at least once a week, while 17% report using no apps on a regular basis.

Almost a third (31%) could be called app “power users” in that they use 6 or more apps on a weekly basis.  Among adults who have a tablet computer, 39% report using 6 or more apps on a weekly basis, while just 8% report using no apps regularly on the device.

Apps serve many purposes

Angry Birds

The Angry Birds game is a popular mobile app.

Market data on apps use and downloading indicate that games continue to be most popular and those that adults are most willing to pay for, followed by apps for weather, social networking, maps/navigation/search, music and news. (Rovio, maker of the Angry Birds game, says its bird vs. pig series has exceeded half a billion downloads).

The current survey asked app users if they had ever downloaded nine different types of apps.  The most popular among this list were those that provide regular updates about everyday information such as news, weather, sports, or stocks (74%), those that help people communicate with friends and family (67%) and those that help the user learn about something in which they are interested (64%).

Different types of apps appeal to different demographic groups.  For instance, African-Americans and young adults are more likely than others to download apps that help them communicate with friends and family.  And overall, men are more likely than women to download apps that help them make purchases and those that help with work-related tasks.

About half of app downloaders have paid for an app

The new survey finds that among adult cell phone users who have downloaded apps, just under half (46%) say they have paid for an app at some point; this is unchanged from the 47% of downloaders who said the same in the May 2010 survey.    

Among those in 2011 who report they have paid for an app, about half (52%) report that the highest dollar amount they have paid is $5 or less.  However, 17% have paid more than $20 for an app.  Among app downloaders, the groups most likely to pay for apps are men, adults age 30 and older, college graduates, adults with household incomes of $50,000 or more, and those living in urban communities.

Mobile broadband usage is set to explode (infographic)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Nokia Siemen’s Network points out that mobile broadband usage is “set to explode. The company created an infographic to illustrate by just how much. It shows that mobile broadband” will go from 15 MB per user today to 1 GB by 2020. That’s the equivalent of 1000 e-books or 4000 Facebook photos or 50,000 emails.

By 2015, voice calling will shrink to just 0.4 % of our usage.  While video will skyrocket to nearly 65%. As a result, mobile broadband traffic will increase by 2600%.

broadband Infographic

Rovio’s Angry Birds want to kill more pigs

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Angry BirdsRovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds are not happy. They want to kill more of those pesky green pigs. They have already spawned PC versions for the Google Chrome browser as well as the mobile versions for Android and Apple devices. But, despite more than 300 million downloads of the popular game, Rovio wants a billion players helping its little angry red birds bonk little green pigs.

So, the company is teaming with Medio Systems to help it analyze the ocean of data it collects.

The mega-hit casual game generates an enormous amount of data touching practically every demographic, geography, location, and device. Additionally, Rovio’s offerings are available on a wealth of consumer platforms such as cellphones, tablets, PCs, game consoles, and within Social Networking services like Facebook and Google+.

This all adds up to 1.4 billion minutes of weekly game play–and the data produced by this activity is growing exponentially as Angry Birds is on a path to reach 1 billion downloads. Within that context, Medio’s deep understanding of the mobile ecosystem, location-aware and connected devices, structured and unstructured data, and proven abilities to enrich consumer experiences will aid Angry Bird fans in the discovery of new services, capabilities and game offerings. So says Medio.

Success built on delighting fans

“The success of Rovio is built on delighting our fans and a commitment to innovation,” said Rovio CEO Mikael Hed. “We are pleased to partner with Medio to help further accomplish these goals. Medio has what it takes to help delight our fans.”

As casual games evolve from a cottage to global industry, revenue is forecasted to reach $16 billion in 2015. Consequently, businesses are confronted with the management and application of massive amounts of complex and unstructured data, from hundreds of terabytes to many petabytes. However, these Big Data contain information, that when properly applied to increase fan satisfaction, can provide a significant competitive advantage in the fastest growing category in entertainment.

“Medio’s cloud-based, predictive analytics platform was built for Big Data, location-aware services, and connected devices.” said Medio CEO Robert Lilleness. “Our platform will provide Rovio the tools to make real-time product changes that optimize game play, fan satisfaction and revenue. In this fast-evolving market, the players that get Big Data will win, and those that don’t will disappear.”

 

A third of mobile device users play games monthly, number of older players doubles

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Angry BirdsAlmost one-third of people in the U.S. over 13 play mobile games monthly, and the number of gamers in older demographics more than doubled since 2007, according to Parks Associates.

The international research firm’s new report Mobile/Portable Gaming: Market Updates finds the user base for gaming has expanded into nontraditional segments thanks to the popularity of mobile apps and titles such as Rovio’s Angry Birds.

These changes will also force creation of new business models to generate revenues, with in-app purchases currently the most successful. This model provides the game for free and creates revenue streams by selling expansions or enhancements, which helped Rovio reach over $70 million in revenues for Angry Birds.

“Traditional game companies have expressed concerns about mobile gaming devaluing the market, but in reality, mobile gaming has increased the overall user base and attracted new demographics,” said Pietro Macchiarella, Research Analyst, Parks Associates. “The broad appeal of mobile games such as Angry BirdsFruit Ninja, and Words with Friends and increasing ease with which people can download them have attracted less traditional gamers, including a growing number of older players and females.”

Penetration of smartphones and tablets, competition in app marketplaces, and better payment methods have also fueled growth. The challenge for next-generation portable consoles, the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita, is to appeal to this larger audience.

This whole trend is likely to continue. Testing a variety of smartphones, I found myself playing Angry Birds or other games to kill time waiting in line or in the car (parked) and at odd moments. Many of these games, Angry Birds and its offshoots in particular, are mildly addictive. I did notice that one younger user who has been playing electronic games practically from the time she could figure out which buttons to push, conquered many levels at a rapid rate. That reminds me that specific electronic games do tend to run their course.

Another thing I noticed, though, is how many games are available free or inexpensively. That makes it easy to try them out.

“Low-priced and free titles are incentivizing consumers to try out mobile games,” Macchiarella said. “If popular mobile titles are ported to gaming devices and enhanced, manufacturers such as Sony and Nintendo will be able move loyal mobile gamers to their new platforms.”

Five horse-sense business lessons, no app necessary

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Michael Feuer

Michael Feuer, CEO, co-founder, OfficeMax

These days you can download an app for almost anything. Need to track a delayed business trip flight? There’s an app for that. Need to check on how much traffic the company Web site is getting? There’s an app for that. Want to update an important Word document or Excel file on the fly? There’s an app for that too. Need a workday procrastination break centered on how many levels you can conquer in a game involving some very angry birds? Yes, there’s even an app for that!

Unfortunately (and perhaps not surprising given the silly nature of some of these technological “advances”), there’s still no app for good old-fashioned common sense—that, says Michael Feuer (pronounced “Foyer”), is something no one in business can afford to be without.

“Technology has made many aspects of business more convenient and cost-effective,” says Feuer, cofounder and former CEO of OfficeMax and author of the new book The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business, and Outwit the Competition (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-118-00391-6, $24.95, www.benevolentdictator.biz). “But it certainly hasn’t done anything to lessen the accuracy of the Voltaire quote that goes, ‘Common sense is not so common.’”

This is our second post based on Feuer’s book, which is loaded with real world business savvy.

No substitute for horse-sense

Indeed. As any experienced businessperson can tell you, there’s no shortcut or substitute for developing the kind of business horse-sense that can help you avoid angering an investor, mistreating a customer, or making any other ill-advised decision. All you can do is let experience be your teacher—or at least learn from those who’ve walked the business-building path before you.

If anyone knows how to put common sense to good use in the business world, it’s Feuer. He started OfficeMax with almost no money and built a $5 billion company in a relatively short period of time. Now he’s working to build that same success as founder and CEO of his new venture, Max-Wellness, a health and wellness retail chain.

Feuer covers many no-nonsense leadership lessons in his new book, aimed at entrepreneurs and others who simply want to lead like them. The non-traditional, gung-ho guide lays out the leadership methods readers can use to build their businesses or boost their careers, empower their employees, and outwit their competition.

“The main reason to develop your own common sense and to make sure those you work with have it is that its presence covers a multitude of sins,” notes Feuer. “When you have this elusive trait, you don’t have to know everything there is to know about being successful in business. That’s because common sense compels you to think before you act—and you’d be amazed by how few people are able to do this.”

That said, here are five commonsense essentials to master before you do anything else:

Count to ten before hitting “send.” The average executive nowadays receives more than 100 daily e-mails, and spends more than eight hours a week on electronic communications. That said, there’s bound to be a situation when you want to resort to sending a nasty e-mail to get your point across to an employee, vendor, or customer who has upset you. Feuer’s advice: Take a breather before pressing “send.”

“That e-mail you’re about to send is permanent—unlike your momentary anger,” he notes. “Wait until you’ve cooled down and can send a measured, carefully worded e-mail or, heck, go have a face-to-face conversation with the person. You might think everyone knows to do this, but sometimes our hot heads can get the best of us. It’s best to learn to restrain yourself.”

Know what the deal is with your deals. Some of the world’s best entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and salespeople got into their respective careers because they love the thrill of beating out the competition. Unfortunately, that important motivating factor can sometimes be blinding, making it impossible for them to make a business decision based on common sense, notes Feuer.

“Before every sale, new hire, big investment, or any other important business decision, take a moment to make sure you’re going after the best business opportunity and not just so you can say wow or you did it,” he says.

Zip it. Age-old advice lasts for a reason—it’s good advice! That’s why “think before you speak” still holds up today. Again, the same boldness and exuberance that drives successful businesspeople to big wins can also drive them to say some pretty ill-advised things before they stop to think of the ramifications.

“You might be well on your way to a great business deal and talk your way into trouble with an inappropriate remark or other TMI-influenced comment,” explains Feuer. “The bottom line: Say only what needs to be said. Zip it before you talk yourself into trouble.”

Don’t invest in fantasies. Bernie Madoff delivered seemingly impossible gains to his clients, and they proved to be exactly that—impossible. He’s joined by the many bad hires who promised big results but never delivered or the seemingly profitable business partnerships that have been brokered only to end in lawsuits and court battles or simply complete failure.

“If something seems too good to be true, it usually is,” says Feuer. “Don’t invest in fantasies. I’m not saying one should be a diehard cynic in business, never trusting anything anyone says—instead, trust but verify. Research, research, research when you’re about to make an important decision, whether you’re taking on a big customer, making a new hire, or forming a partnership. And remember, if those folks are indeed worthy of your trust, they’ll understand why you want to check them out.”

Always have a fallback plan. Though you shouldn’t let what Feuer calls Fear of Failure (FOF) dictate your every move, you can and should channel it to help you stay one step ahead of potential problems, which, if not avoided, could become painful—or worse. A healthy respect for failure evolves into a discipline that leads to having myriad contingency plans—A, B, C, and, sometimes, D—for when things don’t go the way you expect.

Feuer writes that the initial concept and start-up work for Max-Wellness began in September 2008, at just about the same time as the market started to tank. Real estate values worldwide collapsed quickly, and corporations began dropping like flies. Availability of capital almost instantly dried up. To make matters worse, the supply chain began to splinter as suppliers from big to small experienced a sudden cash crunch. Panic and uncertainty became the currency of the moment.

“The trick is to figure out how to minimize the pain during difficult periods, and then maximize the opportunity that the problem presents,” says Feuer. “In October 2008, I called a time-out on my plans for Max-Wellness, but I wasn’t ready to shelve the idea altogether. My admittedly sometimes skeptical team and I got to work on developing ideas on how to create a funding vehicle that would allow us to forge ahead with our plans. It took a willingness to move from Plan B to Plan C and so on, but we got there, and so did Max-Wellness.”

No doubt about it: Without common sense you risk making costly mistakes on a daily basis. And if you’re thinking it’s something you’re either born with—or not—Feuer disagrees. It can be a learned and developed skill.

“No, it’s not as easy as simply buying a commonsense app,” he concludes. “Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone will ever develop that one. But you can learn from the experience of others, and that’s a resource that’s free (or nearly so). By reading up on success stories and cautionary tales, talking to lots and lots of people, and simply practicing the art of slowing down and thinking things through, you’ll start reaping the benefits of common sense and clear thinking before you know it.”

 

Most mobile apps lack even basic privacy policies, survey says

Monday, May 16th, 2011

FPFAlmost three-quarters of mobile apps on major platforms do not have even a basic privacy policy, according to a survey by the Future of Privacy Forum. It says 22 of 30 paid mobile apps on platforms that include Android, iOS and Blackberry have no policy covering how personal data will be used

Out of the sample tested, FPF found that only one (Angry Birds iOS) had a privacy policy link from within the user interface. Other titles included “Doodle God,” “Vignette,” and “Chat for Facebook Pro.”

FPF noted that “Without a privacy policy to review, consumers may not have the ability to understand and control the use of their personal data by the Apps.  And although privacy policies should not be the only way companies communicate with users about data use, posting a privacy policy is the essential first step for companies to take to be accountable for their practices of collecting and using online data.”

The nonprofit FPF is working with the Center for Democracy and Technology to recommend ways developers can improve privacy and protect consumers.

This lack of even a basic privacy policy is apt to come back to haunt these app makers as the U.S. Congress probes ongoing digital privacy issues.

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