By Dan Rowinski
This post is part of our ReadWriteMobile channel, which is dedicated to helping its community understand the strategic business and technical implications of developing mobile applications. This channel is sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent.
If you liken app stores to race horses, Apple is the biggest, baddest thoroughbred in town. Google Play is a fine specimen with some distinct qualities but has a lot of work to do in the practice yard before catching up. Everything else is an also-ran. Windows Phone has been growing rapidly, increasing from 40,000 apps in Nov. 2011 to 70,000 at the most recent count. Then there is BlackBerry App World. For all of Research In Motion’s troubles, its app repository is tied with Windows Phone at 70,000, which includes 15,000 specifically designed for the BlackBerry PlayBook. There are no tablet apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, mostly because there is no Windows tablet (well, one worth anything).
German BlackBerry blog BlogBerry.de sent us over an infographic (through its content promotion specialist BlueGrass Interactive) breaking down the “reality” of the native app stores. It quotes RIM VP of developer relations Alec Saunders as saying 13% of BlackBerry developers have made $100,000 or more off their apps. We have heard this song and dance before. Take a look at the infographic below and let us know in the comments what you think of the BlackBerry App World, its quality of apps and whether or not it is a wise business decision to build any apps for the BlackBerry platform these days.
Free is the best way to make money in the app world, according to the IHS Screen Digest Mobile Media Intelligence Service. The market researcher’s latest projection of growth in in-app purchases sees a $970 million market in 2011 growing to $5.6 billion in 2015. IHS estimates that of the billions of apps downloaded in 2011, 96% were free.
The rapid shift to freemium models puts pressure on all app developers to keep the barriers to entry in apps low to nil. “In 2012 it will become increasingly difficult for app stores and developers to justify charging an up front fee for their products,” says IHS Senior analyst for Mobile Media Jack Kent. “Instead, the apps industry must fully embrace the freemium model and monetize content through in-app purchases.” At the end of Q3 2011, “free” downloads represented 45% of the top-grossing apps in the iPhone App Store and 31% of the top-grossing Android Market apps, IHS found. More than two-thirds (68%) of the top-grossing mobile apps included some kind of in-app purchasing.
The freemium model is not just for gaming anymore, although that is the segment that pioneered the format. About 63% of in-app purchases in the iPhone App Store involved virtual currency, used almost exclusively in games. Another 22% of purchases involved additional game features or items. But there is also some purchasing activity in non-gaming apps for things like time-limited navigation, dating and premium access to social networks.
Upselling additional media content remains a nascent format of in-app commerce, however, or at least in the smartphone areas. IHS found that only 2% of top U.S. in-app purchases involved video or TV content, for instance. And in the UK, 5% of the top purchases involved newspapers and magazines.
The IHS data are focused on smartphones in this research. On the iPad the role of media content in purchases is much more pronounced. In the current top-20-grossing apps in Apple iTunes iPad Store, six are media properties, including New York Post, Zinio, Comxiology, NYtimes and The Daily. Kent tells Mobile Marketing Daily that for the last two quarters of 2011 “media content, those with video content from TV companies and newspaper and magazine app as expected performed far better on the iPad than iPhone. Our initial tracking indicates that these types of app accounted for around 8% of the top-grossing iPad app in Q3 and 11% in Q4.”
A. From Wikipedia
Siri (pronounced /ˈsɪri/) is a personal assistant application for iOS. The application uses natural language processing to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to an expanding set of web services. Siri claims that the software adapts to the user’s individual preferences over time and personalizes results, as well as accomplishing tasks such as making dinner reservations and reserving a cab.
Siri was originally introduced as an iOS application available in the App Store. Siri was acquired by Apple Inc. on April 28, 2010. Siri had announced that their software would be available for BlackBerry and for Android-powered phones, but all development efforts for non-Apple platforms were cancelled after Apple’s purchase.
Independent developers claim that they ported Siri to iPhone 4. However, some news sites consider that the videos they posted for proof only show the user interface of the application, excluding any voice commands, to conclude that they did not prove anything.
Siri demeure exclusivement réservé à l’iPhone 4S
Non, Apple n’a pour projet d’adapter Siri aux iPhone 3G S et 4. La fonction de reconnaissance vocale restera réservée exclusive à l’iPhone 4S, a affirmé la firme de Cupertino dans un mail adressé à un développeur.
Depuis l’arrivée de la fonction de reconnaissance vocale Siri avec l’iPhone 4S, nombre de développeurs tentent de la porter sur des iPhone3GS et 4 jailbreakés. Puis une rumeur laissant croire au développement d’une mise à jour parApple a été lancée. Mais il n’en est rien, a affirmé le géant de Cupertino, dans un mail adressé à un utilisateur qui s’interrogeait à ce sujet.
“Siri fonctionne uniquement sur iPhone 4S et nous n’avons actuellement aucun projet visant à l’étendre aux anciens modèles” aurait répondu la firme à la pomme, rapporte le site Apple Insider. Aucune explication n’est fournie pour justifier cette décision, et seul l’utilisation du mot “actuellement” dans cette réponse rend encore possible une lueur d’espoir !
Si certains avancent que ce choix est dû à une incompatibilité d’ordre technique, d’autres estiment qu’il pourrait seulement s’agir d’une stratégie commerciale. Alors que les adeptes de la firme à la pomme s’attendaient à la sortie d’un iPhone 5, Siri fait partie des fonctions les plus attrayantes de l’iPhone 4S.
C. Une Alternative sur Android ? (NYT)
October 27, 2011, 12:26 PM
An Android App’s Answer to Siri
I spent much of my recent iPhone 4S review talking about Siri, the incredibly useful speech-controlled “virtual assistant” that’s the best new feature on the phone. I find myself using it constantly—to send text messages, set or cancel alarms, create appointments and create reminders (the GPS-based ones are especially amazing: “Remind me to get my passport when I get home”).
Android phones have always let you speak to type. But they’ve never had anything like Siri—or so I thought.
Then I got this note in my Inbox from a PR guy:
“Android users curious about the Siri have been flocking toSpeaktoit, a free Android personal assistant app that’s already doing many of the things Siri will start to offer. In the past week, Speaktoit downloads have vaulted into the tens of thousands, growing 400% in seven days and adding 3k users a day based on word of mouth and rave reviews on the Android Market.
Like Siri, Speaktoit’s assistants can: send emails, send texts, post to Facebook, post to Twitter, check you in places, look up information, find news, look up traffic, look up weather, call people, take notes, add things to your calendar, translate foreign languages, help you find nearby places like bars (but not without reminding you to enjoy responsibly…), and tons more.
Versions for iOS and Blackberry are coming soon.”
Well! Considering all the fuss over Siri, it would seem only fair to try out an app for Android that purports to do the same thing — especially since it’s a free app.
As it turns out, SpeakToIt is indeed the same idea as Siri, but it’s nowhere near as well done. Part of that, of course, is that it’s a third-party app, not built into the phone. For example, on the iPhone, you can make Siri start listening just by holding the phone up to your ear (if you’ve turned on this option in Settings), or by holding down the Home button for a couple of seconds. SpeakToIt, on the other hand, isn’t built in—it’s an app—so you have to open it manually before you can do any voice commanding.
Once it’s open, you see a cartoon of a woman wearing a halter top and short-cropped hair — an unconventional choice, to be sure (although you can change the cartoon character). She speaks with a synthesized voice, as Siri does, and even makes a little effort at having a personality. She says something like, “Welcome back! How can I help you?”
At this point, you tap the microphone button. And you wait — much longer than you would with Siri — until the “Speak now” logo appears. Here’s what I tried to say, and what SpeakToIt’s responses were:
Me: “How do I get to the San Diego airport?” Her: “San Diego Airport Sedan is the nearest one to you.” (Huh?)
Me: “How many feet are in a mile?” Her: “One mile equals 5,280 feet.” Bingo.
Me: “Are there any good Thai restaurants near here?” Her: “This map will show you the nearest ‘are there any good thai restaurants’ to your location.” (She then showed me a tiny Google Maps map — except that it was blank. Just empty inside.)
Me: “What’s 43 times 7?” Her: “43 times 7 equals 301.” Correct.
Me: “What’s the meaning of life?” Her: “The meaning of life is a bit outside my range of expertise. For now.” Ha! Good one! (Siri has about 10 different answers to that question; SpeakToIt gives you the same reply every time.)
Me: “How are you?” Her: “Lovely, thanks.”
Me: “Remind me to bring my wallet.” Her: “Do you want me to memorize your note or do you want to save them in Evernote?” Me: “Memorize my note.” Her: “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that yet.”
Me: “When was Abraham Lincoln born?” Her: “I couldn’t get an answer at this time.”
Me: “Where is the closest Starbucks?” Her: “These are the nearest Starbucks to your location.” (A Google map appeared, covered with pinpoints.)
Me: “What’s on my calendar today?” Her: “First things first: let’s sign into your Google calendar.” (After we did that, she would show me my appointments.)
Me: “What’s the temperature outside?” Her: “The current weather is clear, 63 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Me: “Make an appointment with Robert for 7:00 Friday.” Her: “I’m going to save ‘with robert at 7:00 Friday.’ Is this right?’”
Me: “Send a text to Casey Robin.” Her: “What would you like to say?” “Me: “I’m running late (comma), but I’ll be there as soon as I can (period). Don’t start the party without me, O.K.? That’d be terrific.” Her: “I’m running a little bit late but I’ll be there soon as I can Don’t start the party without me O.K. Deb terrific.”
Me: “Play some music.” Her: “What song would you like to listen to?” Me: “Anything.” She chose a song at random and started playing it.
Me: “Will you marry me?” Her: “I’m flattered, but surely you can find a better match than a virtual assistant.”
Me: “Wake me up at 8:20 a.m.” SpeakToIt told me that she couldn’t do that now, but that I could download a free update that would add this feature. (The company says that it plans to add new capabilities all the time.)
So I downloaded the update and opened it. But now, whenever I tapped the microphone button, SpeakToIt said only: “Sorry! The application Speaktoit Assistnat (process com.apseaktoit.assistant) has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again.”
I did. I tried over and over, and always got the same message.
Thus ended my SpeakToIt adventure, but I got the idea: SpeakToIt works, sort of. She’s slow and a little bit mentally challenged. She’s less convenient than Siri, less capable, less comprehending, less accurate, less useful, less polished, less classy, less human.
I’m not sure how many Fandroids will really incorporate SpeakToIt into their daily phone lives; the sluggishness and unreliability are a powerful disincentive. But she’s free, she works most of the time, and she brings a taste of the new virtual-minion world to the millions of Android phones.