Have you ever downloaded a free game on your iPhone and wondered how in the world the developer could possibly be making money with it? As it turns out, the so-called “freemium” business model is actually far more lucrative than charging money, at least for mobile.
The New York Times has an interesting article that throws back the curtain on so-called “freemium” games — the ones you can download free of charge but can ultimately cost users far more in the long run than if they had just paid up front. While free games might come with the stigma “of being low quality or full of annoying ads,” it turns out they’re a great way to hook new users — and keep them coming back.
“When you tell a friend about it and they go to the App Store and it’s free, they download it without thinking about it,” explains Natalia Luckyanova, half of the husband and wife team that created the iOS game Temple Run. “Then there’s stickiness and the addictiveness and people talking about it.”
Luckyanova and husband Keith Shepherd released Temple Run in the App Store last August as a 99-cent game where “players must stay a step ahead of angry apes while avoiding booby traps and collecting coins.” While the first month of sales were decent, it was nothing compared to what happened in September, when Temple Run was offered as a freebie through the Free App a Day website.
Since going free, the app has topped 40 million downloads, and Luckyanova says upwards of 13 million people play Tempe Run at least once every day. Currently perched at Number 14 on Apple’s top-grossing charts, these “freemium” games bait users who might otherwise not spend even 99 cents on a given title — and once they’re hooked, they’ll spend money in “a virtual store to buy new characters, different backdrops and power-ups, or special boosters.”
The concept has proven wildly successful for Zynga, the creators of FarmVille who has expanded beyond their former comfort zone with Facebook and into a billion initial public offering — proving that the drug dealer’s mantra of “the first one’s free” can apply to other types of business as well.
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(Image courtesy of The New York Times)
The Game Developers Conference 2012 in San Francisco is winding down today, and we’ve been on site all week checking out the latest and greatest in games for iOS and Mac. One of the defining themes of this year’s conference has been the powerful response to indie games, often created by very small teams with tiny budgets, and how they’re often dominating the conversation amidst much larger blockbuster console and PC releases. The Independent Games Festival has long been a part of GDC, and all five of the finalists — plus four of the five honorable mentions — for the Best Mobile Game are available on or soon coming to iOS.
Looking for the best recent and upcoming indie games for your iPhone or iPad? Here’s a look at the nine iOS games honored by the Independent Game Festival in the Best Mobile Game category, starting with the winner — a title we conveniently (and glowingly) just reviewed today.Read More...
Just as Lightroom 4 leaves beta and is unleashed to users, Adobe Labs has something new up their sleeves, this time aimed at web developers and designers. Adobe Shadow is an impressive new offering being introduced at SXSW Interactive this week that promises to optimize web experiences across all mobile browsers.
Adobe Labs has just released its latest free public download of Adobe Shadow Labs Release 1, which is making its debut this week at SXSW Interactive. Currently available in English only (but available worldwide), Adobe Shadow is comprised of Mac and Windows desktop software as well as a Google Chrome extension and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
“Mobile compatibility is a top demand of Web designers today, but we were hearing from our community that building sites for mobile devices was a huge pain point in their workflow,” Adobe explains. “The common process we heard was to manually key in the Web addresses on each device (usually 4+ devices) to check the layout and performance of each page of a site design — nothing short of tedious.
“Adobe Shadow aims to alleviate the time and stress of working on websites across mobile browsers,” Adobe’s blog post continues. “Web pros can wirelessly pair multiple smartphones and tablets with their computer and simultaneously view real-time previews of Web content across multiple iOS and Android devices, quickly seeing refreshed website designs with live updates. Adobe Shadow’s synchronized browsing nearly eliminates the need to touch the device, but still provides a true, on-device experience. We heard from the community that emulators and simulators just won’t cut it and it’s absolutely critical that website compatibility is checked on the actual devices.”
MacLife.com was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at Adobe Shadow last week, which promises to revolutionize web development and design by allowing users to work faster and more efficiently than ever, streamlining the preview process while allowing full customization of websites for mobile devices today, tomorrow and beyond. Above, you can see Adobe Shadow running in Google Chrome with remote inspection at the same time on a Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad and Motorola Atrix.
Just how many mobile devices can Adobe Shadow take advantage of? Judging from our demonstration, it’s virtually unlimited — Adobe engineers showed off an image (shown above) of 23 different smartphones and tablets all displaying the same website design at once, courtesy of the Shadow tool. While most web designers may only develop for a handful of devices, Adobe Shadow offers a considerable amount of flexibility, while integrating with any workflow, providing remote inspection and debugging.
Ready to unleash the power of Adobe Shadow on your own web workflow? Adobe Labs is now offering Adobe Shadow Labs Release 1 as a free download, along with the accompanying Google Chrome extension. Free iOS and Android clients are also available for download from their respective storefronts. Be sure to check out Adobe Shadow in action in the embedded video below!
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In just 48 short hours, Wednesday’s Apple media event will be a memory, and we’ll be making those important life-or-death decisions. (“Buy an iPad 3? Wait for an iPad 4?”) Tech journalists are having a field day packing in all the last-minute rumors they can get their hands on ahead of Apple’s 10am PST event on March 7, so let’s catch up on those and the rest of the day’s news for this fine Monday, March 5, 2012.
Associated Press Introduces Revamped Universal AP Mobile App
The Associated Press has had a checkered history with iOS users — the news outlet’s iPhone app has run the gamut from good to absolutely terrible over the years, and the iPad version is still a mystery to us, nearly two years later. But that may all change with today’s release of AP Mobile 5.0, a complete reworking of the original app with a new look and feel — not to mention a more consistent experience across devices now that the app is universal for the iPad as well as the iPhone and iPod touch. AP Mobile 5.0 now utilizes a Facebook-style sliding panel for accessing news categories, touting an “Innovative redesigned layout with improved navigation, more compelling AP content, and new features.” Of course, you’ll be the judge when you hit the App Store and download the free 12.2MB app onto your own device.
Facebook Messenger Arrives for Windows, Mac Version Coming Soon
The Verge is reporting that Facebook Messenger has finally come to the desktop — that is, assuming you’re running Microsoft Windows. And hey, there’s some good news for us Friends of Apple, too: “According to Facebook, the previous version of Messenger was ‘a test,’ and is now rolling out to everyone. Also, a Mac version is on the way, but the company declined to give us a timeframe for that one.” That said, if you’re already rocking the iOS or Android app on your smartphone, there may not be much to interest you here — there’s no video chat (Skype or otherwise), nor group chat, which is available from the Facebook website. Other than that, it appears to do its (admittedly limited) job quite well.
iMore Lays Cards on Table, Says 4G LTE Locked for iPad 3
We wouldn’t be surprised to see this come to fruition on Wednesday, but a new report from iMore.com claims that 4G LTE will indeed be part of the next iPad. The website claims this tidbit comes courtesy of the same source who revealed the March 7 Apple event in the first place, which would seem to give the rumor a bit of weight. The question is, with Verizon’s 4G LTE so far ahead of AT&T, will the feature be limited to strictly one carrier? And what about international versions, where LTE is even further behind the United States? Guess you’ll have to find out on Wednesday along with everyone else, folks…
Apple Releases OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update
Having issues restoring your Lion-equipped Mac from a Time Machine backup? Apple may have just the thing for you, courtesy of a 24.55MB download for OS X 10.7.3 users entitled simply Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. So what does it do? Quite literally: “This update resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup. This update is recommended for users running 10.7.3 with Time Machine backups.” Your mileage may vary — we ran the update on our iMac here via Software Update and it was a mere 38KB, with no restart required.
Report: New Apple Air Freight Deal with DHL for iPad 3
The clock is ticking on those iPad 3 rumors, but AppleInsider is reporting that popular international courier DHL may have signed a new air cargo deal with Apple to facilitate getting your new tablet from China to the U.S. faster than ever before. “One person who contacted AppleInsider said that changes to the price of air cargo through DHL have signaled a major planned Apple shipment from China to the U.S.,” the report reveals. “Evidence of this can be seen in a ‘big change’ in shipping costs, as Apple has taken up freight capacity on flights from the Far East to America.” MacRumors is reporting a similar issue, noting that DHL shipping rates increased “as much as 20 percent in one week.” So what does that mean for your precious next-generation iPad? You might be holding it in your cold, clammy hands a few days earlier than last year’s model, but still no word on exactly when that might be.
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Apple fired up the Software Update engines today to push out a new AirPort Utility update (or two!), and as January winds down we’re looking ahead to the inevitable announcement of a new iPad next month, along with a cascade of companion updates such as iOS 5.1 and most likely, the OS X Lion 10.7.3 which has been simmering with developers for a number of weeks. With that in mind, here’s what the tech world has been talking about on this Monday, January 30, 2012.
Amazon Dominating Low-End Tablet Market with Kindle Fire
Apple may still be the king of the tablet jungle, but that doesn’t mean there’s isn’t another device nipping at its heels while gobbling up the low-hanging fruit at the other end of the spectrum. AppleInsider is reporting that Amazon’s Kindle Fire has now shipped something like six million units in the first quarter of the year, which puts it in the neighborhood of the original iPad. Analyst Jordan Rohan of investment bank Stifel Nicolaus called the Kindle Fire sales “quite impressive” and praised how Amazon used its “distribution prowess to define and dominate the low end of the device ecosystem,” particularly when faced with so much competition not only from the iPad itself but also a tidal wave of other tablets running Google’s Android. The analyst predicts that Amazon will eventually use the Kindle Fire to launch a new video subscription service to go head-to-head with Netflix, although the e-tailer will have to expand its horizons beyond its own hardware if it has any chance of succeeding there.
Sprint Jumps Into the Official iPhone App Pool
Not to be outdone by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, third-place carrier Sprint today introduced Sprint Mobile Zone, the company’s official iPhone app which “offers Sprint customers immediate access to their account online, Sprint News and promotions.” According to SprintFeed, the app works for both Sprint and non-Sprint customers, offering simple device management, Apple and Sprint store locators and help functions, including access to a Sprint care representative. Sound good to you? Then head to the App Store and get your 1.6MB download on today.
Apple Updates AirPort Utility, New Base Station Firmware
It’s been relatively quiet on the Software Update front recently, but that’s all over now that Apple has pushed out not one but two new updates to the AirPort Utility as well as a new 7.6.1 firmware for the AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule. First up is a modest AirPort Utility 5.6 for Mac OS X Lion update, a 13.10MB download which “resolves an issue using network passwords stored in the Keychain.” Strangely, Cupertino has also pushed out the more full-featured AirPort Utility 6.0 for Mac OS X Lion, essentially an all-new 14.13MB download which completely does away with the old look of the utility app in favor of the one used by the iOS version. Coming along for the ride is the AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6.1 which “fixes an issue with wireless performance and provides support for remote access to an AirPort disk or a Time Capsule hard drive with an iCloud account,” which certainly sounds like a tasty little update for this sleepy Monday evening.
Rumors Heating Up About NFC Payment System for iPhone 5
There has been plenty written about Apple implementing a near-field communication (NFC) payment system for the iPhone, and many were disappointed when it didn’t arrive with last year’s iPhone 4S. Google may have gotten the jump on Cupertino with its Wallet app for Android, but it’s been severely limited to a few handsets thus far. According to MacRumors, Apple is still actively looking to add NFC to a future iPhone, suggested by a recent Fast Company interview with a Mastercard executive who grudgingly coughed up some potential clues: “I don’t know of a handset manufacturer that isn’t in process of making sure their stuff is PayPass ready,” the executive said, and when pressed to reveal whether or not that includes Apple, he whipped out the confidentiality clause. “Um, there are…like I say, [I don't know of] any handset maker out there… now, when we have discussions with our partners, and they ask us not to disclose them, we don’t.”
Lottery System Aims to Stem iPhone Scalping in Hong Kong
9to5Mac is reporting that Apple has modified its existing reservation system in Hong Kong in an effort to thwart would-be scalpers who rained on the mainland China release earlier this month. The updated method is described as “a lottery system of sorts for iPhone reservations that appears to target scalpers employing bots from snatching up all the iPhones every day.” That means no more first-come, first-served — customers will be required to provide a government-issued photo ID in order to buy an iPhone. This “lottery” is apparently open only during a three-hour window each day, and handsets are not available to walk-in customers at this time. Successful reservations will receive a confirmation email by 9pm that night with a time to pick up the iPhone the next day.
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Valve just annouced that it’s launching a beta release of the Steam application for your iOS and Android device. The app will enable gamers to chat with their Steam friends, browse communities they’re a part of, peruse user profiles, view screenshots and user-generated content for available on Steam, and check up on the latest game-related news.
Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve, stated in the press release that the idea for the mobile app came after repeated requests from users. “Seeings which of your friends are online and playing a game, sending quick messages, looking at screenshots for an upcoming game, or catching a sale–these are all features customers have requested.” Newell added that mobile gadgets are changing the way that gamers interact with each other and that the move is part of the company’s commitment to be relevant in the mobile sphere.
Not sure how to utilize all the latest innovations in mobile device management? With Apple finally releasing updates to iOS over-the-air, now’s the time to really sink your teeth into this new technology. MacTech is offering a free primer all about it, now available.
The free primer covers topics ranging from a complete overview of mobile device management, followed by how to implement it into your daily computing life, how to configure your favorite devices and more! The primer is written by Senior System Engineer and Apple Certified Trainer Russell Poucher of Creative Resources Technology Group and edited by MacTech’s staff.
And if you’re aching for more on Mobile Device Management, join MacTech’s InDepth conference in San Francisco on December 7. Mac|Life readers can get early bird pricing at just 5–0 off the regular price. Register here!
Somewhere, Steve Jobs must be smiling. That’s because today, Hell froze over and Adobe finally waved the white flag of surrender on its efforts to bring Flash to mobile devices. Pretty amazing when you consider it was only a year and a half ago that Jobs penned that famous “Thoughts on Flash” meme which helped get the ball rolling for Adobe getting more behind HTML5. While mobile device owners savor a moment of victory, here’s what else is making headlines this Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
iOS, Android Taking A Bite Out of Portable Games
See that little pie chart above? It’s bad news for Nintendo (in green) and Sony (in grey) as they watch their portable game market here in the U.S. rapidly erode, with the combined forces of iOS and Android (in blue) growing from 19 percent in 2009 to an estimated 58 percent just two years later. Those are the findings of a new Flurry report, which claims that “no industry has been more impacted by digital distribution than video games,” with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android leading the charge with “free and inexpensive games, distributed across a massive installed base of powerful and networked tablet and mobile phone form factors,” potentially disrupting “billions of dollars of game revenue” from the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS systems. Sorry, guys, your game cartridges just can’t compete with the low cost and instant gratification of the App Store…
Bruji Updates Pedia Apps, Special Discount for Mac App Store Switchers
If you collect DVDs, CDs, video games and/or books, you may have already discovered Bruji’s great Pedia apps for the Mac: DVDpedia, CDpedia, Gamepedia and Bookpedia. This week, the company has pushed out version 5.0 updates for all four apps with a wide variety of new features and changes, and Bruji is also offering a limited-time Mac App Store promotion to celebrate. Whether you’re an existing user looking to upgrade or a first-time buyer, each title is available on the Mac App Store for only .99 (normally .99 each), which is only a few pennies more than the company charges for upgrades direct from their website. Bruji also promises the return of Pocketpedia, their iOS companion app which got booted from the App Store in a dispute with Amazon, who provided a lot of the raw data for the apps. The company has gotten around that dilemma by creating Doghouse, their own media server “built by and for Pedia users.”
Apple Slashing 4Q 2011 Component Orders?
According to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes, Apple has notified the suppliers who make parts and components for the iPhone 4S to slightly slow down the factories and “delay part of their shipments” from the fourth quarter of 2011 into the first quarter of next year. The 10 to 15 percent reduction appears to be partially due to shortages of key components, but the report also notes that “sales of the iPhone 4S have not been as strong as those concluded in the pre-sales period.” You mean like the one in Hong Kong, which one analyst says sold out in a record 10 minutes flat? Seems strange to us…
Hell Freezes Over, Adobe Throws In Towel on Mobile Flash
Following a report this morning on ZDNet that Adobe was about to announce the end of the line for mobile Flash, the company made it official on their blog: Development for the mobile flavor of Adobe Flash is over, and the company is shifting its focus to HTML5, a year and half after Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ famous missive “Thoughts on Flash,” which raked Flash over the coals. “We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations,” Adobe announced today. “Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.” Could the move have something to do with the company just laying off more than 700 employees this week?
Apple Ranked Fourth In Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics
There’s been a lot of love/hate over the years between Apple and the tree huggers over at Greenpeace, but more recently it has been primarily a love-fest. The company just released its November 2011 Guide to Greener Electronics, where Apple ranks fourth with a 4.6 out of 10 rating — a big five-place jump up the charts for Cupertino. “Apple is now a joint top scoring company on green products and relatively strong on sustainable operations, but scores poorly on energy,” the guide notes. Apple is topped by HP and Dell in the first two positions and by Nokia in third, who dropped two places.
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Perhaps in a curious sense of irony, during Senate Judiciary hearings today, former FTC official, and new Google employee Suzanne Michel said that 2/3rds of mobile search comes from Apple iOS devices. Considering the amount of Android units available to the public, that’s a pretty remarkable figure.
She also testified under oath that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! had all bid to become the default search engine on iOS’s Mobile Safari Web Browser. That said, Google won that battle, and more than likely, Apple gets some income from Google for making it its default search engine.
As mentioned above, Michel had mentioned that 2/3rds of mobile search had come from Apple’s iOS devices, before getting cut off. Of course, it should not come as much of a surprise given the vast quantities of iPads available.
While no official announcement has been made as to whether or not the carrier will obtain the iPhone, it seems Sprint may be making some preparations to prepare for the boost in data usage, should Apple’s iOS powerhouse join Sprint’s lineup. A new report has the carrier limiting its mobile hotspot plans to 5GB of data as of October 2nd, and we all know what product is to more than likely make an appearance shortly thereafter!
It had previously been reported that Sprint should see the iPhone in its portfolio of phones when it presumably launches in October. Sprint is hoping to reportedly attract customers by providing unlimited data plans for the new iPhone when it launches, since AT&T and Verizon have since moved from unlimited plans to tiered.
(Image courtesy of SprintFeed)
So it could possibly be assumed that to prepare for a potential influx of subscribers, Sprint is taking a stab at preventing consumers from going through huge amounts of data via their laptops. On the bright side, if the above holds true, it seems as though on-device mobile plans should remain unlimited for the interim.
via Mac Rumors