Assessing App Store Revenue

July 23rd, 2014

benedictevans.pngBenedict Evans has an insightful post comparing Google and Apple app store revenue. Only very recently have Google publicly stated Play Store revenue, I guess because only recently has it become large enough to compare to Apple App Store. The main conclusion is that while Google has about double the number of devices, it pays out about half that paid out by Apple.

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Benedict explains that app store revenue isn’t an ideal way to compare the platforms/stores because the majority of the revenue is for games. I suspect things might look different if games were excluded. Also, the numbers don’t include revenue on other 3rd party app stores such as Amazon. Benedict also asks what will happen in the near future when the Android user base will double but Apple’s won’t.

Whatever the outcome, the key thing for me is that app store revenue is mostly irrelevant. I have observed that none of my clients over the last two years have sold apps - not even via in app purchases (IAP). Maybe this reflects the fact that the majority of app store revenue is for games. Instead, my clients have been more interested in using mobile as a tool for getting important things done. Those ‘things’ have either been a small yet important part of their business or in a few cases have used a specific kind of device, for one purpose, to create a new business. They are not selling apps, they are selling products based on apps.

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New Android 4.3 Quad Core Single Board Computer (SBC)

July 22nd, 2014
udoologo.pngA Kickstarter project came to fruition recently with the availability of the UDOO quad core 1GHz single board computer that can run Android 4.3. The board measures only 11cm x 8.5cm and has 76 fully available GPIOs, HDMI, WiFi, Ethernet, USB, Mini USB and type A USB.

 

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This board is great for experimentation and might even find itself used in Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

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Developer Economics Q3 2014

July 21st, 2014

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VisionMobile has a new free Developer Economics report for Q3 2014. As expected iOS and Android continue to hold the greatest mindshare. The only surprise for me is that Windows Phone has been steadily gaining mindshare and is now at 28% of developers. Two out of three developers still target consumers even though enterprise apps offers safer opportunities…
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I personally think many people don’t really understand the scope of enterprise apps. They think of it as a narrow field of supplying apps for use by employees. Most of the projects I have worked on over the last few years have been enterprise rather than consumer focussed and none of them have been for use by employees.

If you think of enterprise as apps being being sold to enterprises rather than consumers you can probably imagine more business areas. Also think about the use of apps by an enterprises’ suppliers and customers. These can be other businesses or actually end consumers.

Wikipedia says an enterprise can be "Any organization, including businesses, non-profits, and government agencies". This opens things up further to areas such as education, health, government and charities. Enterprise apps tend to have longer lifetimes and hence tend to get updated more. They can also often be white labelled or branded to sell the same thing many times.

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Cross Platform Tools Benchmarking

July 18th, 2014
research2guidance.gifResearch2Guidance have a new post on their Cross Platform Tools Benchmarking 2014 results. The market is becoming increasingly crowded and there now over 150 tools.

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Research2Guidance say…

"CPT vendors put increasingly more emphasis on targeting enterprises."

The sceptical side to me wonders if this is because enterprises are more forgiving of the poorer app UIs and poorer app performance of many of these tools.  Nevertheless…

"30% report they have realized 50%+ time savings thanks to their Cross-Platform Tools."

What of the other 70%? It’s a gamble. I suspect some people invested time with a tool only to find it was too limited and ended up falling back to traditional development.

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Facebook Mobile SDK Vulnerability

July 17th, 2014

metaintell.pngLast week I came across a post by MetaIntell regarding a Facebook SDK vulnerability under iOS and Android "affecting billions of installations". I have used the Facebook SDK in multiple Android apps so dug deeper.

There’s more information on the MetaIntell blog. On iOS, the Facebook SDK is storing access tokens in the app’s .plist and this can be examined by someone who has physical access to the device. I have tried this and it’s possible. However there’s no explanation for Android which stores tokens in the Android sandbox which isn’t accessible to connected desktops unless the device has been rooted. MetaIntell told me it’s a bit more difficult on Android. You need to put the device in backup mode and then backup and restore the token from backup. I am still waiting to hear back from MetaIntell how this is possible. They seem shy on giving more details. If it’s true then any sandboxed information such as databases, files and other settings (SharedPreferences), for any app, would also be accessible.

So, for now it seems it’s a problem on iOS and almost certainly much less of a problem on Android. However, on both platforms this vulnerability requires physical access to the device so while it might affect "billions of installations" it can only affect those users that have ‘lost’ their device. Hence, it’s of low concern given it’s not (yet) a vulnerability that can be taken advantage of from other apps (malware) on the device.

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A New Database For Mobile

July 16th, 2014

realm.pngRealm has just been announced, a new database for mobile. Realm is the first database that has been built specifically for mobile. It claims to use few resources, be easy to use and fast.

Realm also usefully provides migration functionality (from one version of db to the next), an area where some ORM solutions start to become unstuck. It’s also open source so if the people behind Realm disappear you still have something to work with which is another problem I often have with 3rd party libraries and services. Realm is currently available for iOS and Android is coming soon.

By the way, if you are developing for Android and can’t wait for Realm, check out Sugar ORM that offers a great easy to use abstraction over SQLite.

What You Ought To Know About Android WebViews

July 11th, 2014

androidsecuritylogo.pngDo you use WebViews in your Android app? If you say ‘no’, are you sure? What about 3rd party libraries/SDKs that you have included? Many such as ad libraries, Facebook and LinkedIn use WebViews.

In researching references for AndroidSecurity.guru I realised the use of WebViews is probably the area most overlooked when it comes to security. They are usually used to simplify development in that changes can be made at the server without an app re-install. They are also used by the majority of app creation tools because HTML and Javascript are very easy to dynamically create and run (in WebViews).

The problem is that WebViews come with lots of security holes. There’s generally two areas of concern. The first is classic cross site scripting where, for whatever reason (e.g. WiFi man in the middle attack or server side breach), the app ends up using rogue HTML/Javascript. The second problem area is the bridge from Javascript to app Java code which allows all your app programming interfaces to become visible.

I have some suggestions for tightening up WebView security. However, some of the suggestions might limit the functionality required of your WebViews. Also, it’s difficult to apply these suggestions to 3rd party SDKs, especially when you don’t have the source code.

For apps, for example banking and payment apps, that deal with sensitive data and really have to be secure, I’d think deeply if you really need to be using WebViews or 3rd party SDKs incorporating WebViews.

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Latest Market Research

July 10th, 2014
I am still regularly updating my Pinterest-style site on smartphone market research. Some very recently added links include…
  • US Android Users Most Engaged During Evening with 39 percent Share of Daily Activity
  • Samsung and Apple Devices Dominate Smartphone Device Model Top 20
  • How Many Of The Top 200 Mobile Apps Use Deeplinks?
  • Apps Now Drive Half of All Time Spent on Digital
I have increased the depth of the home web page so that it goes back to last March. Click on ‘previous’ at the bottom to see earlier entries.