Start up: mobile app freight trains, mobile trumps desktop search, the switcher thing, and more


A freight train. In mobile apps, don’t try to get in its way. Picture by Loco Steve on Flickr.

A selection of 6 links for you. No more, no less. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Why VOIP doesn’t work for emerging markets » The Big Almanack

Alan Knott Craig:

The recent annoucement of WhatsApp Calling got me thinking. If you are receiving a VOIP call you must pay for the data. In other words, unless you’re using an uncapped WiFi connection VOIP means both caller and called-party pays, unlike traditional voice for which only the caller pays.

The average data required for a voice call is about 0,5MB/minute and (in South Africa) prepaid data rates are about 10c/MB (USD). Like most emerging markets, South Africans do not have any options for uncapped mobile data.

All data is priced per MB, and most people use prepaid.

VOIP callers will therefore pay 5c/min for calls received.

This will not work. Poor South Africans do not have enough money to make calls, nevermind receive calls. The average South African living in a township or rural area uses his phone exclusively for incoming calls.

So many assumptions that are trivial in western countries just don’t work in emerging markets.


Well, We Failed. — Inside Wattage » Medium

Jeremy Bell:

The vision for Wattage was a future where anyone could manipulate matter. Where we needn’t settle for the generic, mass-produced things that currently line store shelves. A future where we can easily upgrade our old devices instead of throwing them away. Or reprogramming them to do entirely new and useful things.

We wanted to make it so creating and selling hardware was as easy as writing and publishing a blog post. You shouldn’t need to be an electrical engineer or an industrial designer to create electronic devices. Nor should you have to worry about supply chain or distribution if you wanted to sell them. We believed it was possible to eliminate all of that complexity, so the average person could easily create highly customized hardware without any electronics know-how, all within their browser.

Of course, things didn’t exactly play out that way. But why?

Because it was an impractical idea. Next, please.


Tablet market losing demand » Digitimes

Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai:

Asustek Computer is expected to ship only less than 4m tablets in the first half and is unlikely to achieve its one million unit target and most likely to stay flat from the 9.4m units from 2014 or slightly lower.

The sources pointed out that Apple’s iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 both had unsatisfactory shipment performances, but the iPad mini 2, which received a price cut, had a rather strong demand, especially from China.

For the non-Apple tablet market, US$99-199 devices are the mainstream and models featuring phone function are even more popular. Although several first-tier vendors are planning to release new tablets shortly, they only placed small orders to avoid inventory build up.

Seeing tablets no longer enjoying demand as they used to, many vendors have turned to focus on developing Windows-based 2-in-1 devices or 2-in-1 Chromebooks.


Apple’s iPhone growth opportunities » Re/code

Tim Bajarin thinks there are three reasons why Apple’s iPhone sales will keep growing. The first is China (it’s big).

The second reason is due to what Apple calls “switchers.” During the recent analysts call, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated, at least five times, that demand for iPhones by those switching from other smartphone platforms are very strong. This is not a trivial fact. Our own research shows that Apple is luring millions of Android smartphone users over to the iPhone and iOS, and we have no reason to believe this will not continue for the near future. Many Android smartphone buyers opted for Android phones because of their larger screens, and that was a strong driver for Samsung and others who made phones with five-inch or 5.5-inch screens.

However, our research showed that if Apple had iPhones with larger screens, 40 percent of them would have preferred buying an iPhone over an Android smartphone. Consequently, pent-up demand by switchers has been key to Apple’s iPhone growth. As Android users move out of their two-year contracts, more and more of them will migrate to the iPhone platform. I see switchers continuing to help drive strong iPhone sales at least through early 2016.

Kantar will publish figures today (Weds) which it has hinted will have notable data about “switchers”.


Mobile design details: don’t divert the train » LukeW

Luke Wroblewski:

Polar is a fun way to collect and share opinions by making and voting on lots of photo polls. This is our freight train. We get over 40 votes per user on any given day. It’s where people spend the most time in the app and get immersed in the Polar experience.

We knew this experience could be even better if the list contained polls from people you know. So we added a prominent action in the header that allowed you to find your friends on Polar when you tapped it.

But very few people did. As it turned out, we were trying to divert the train by requiring people to go to a different part of the application to do things like find and invite friends.

So we decided to use the forward momentum of our “train” instead of fighting it. Now when someone is voting, voting, voting… the 20th poll we show them asks “Would you like to find your friends on Polar?”

Wroblewski has so many fascinating insights; this is a site to keep mining.


It’s official: Google says more searches now on mobile than on desktop » Search Engine Land

Greg Sterling:

Last year we heard informal statements from several Google employees that mobile search queries would probably overtake desktop queries some time this year. Google just confirmed this has now happened.

The company says that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” The company declined to elaborate further on what the other countries were, how recently this change happened or what the relative volumes of PC and mobile search queries are now.

Google did tell us that mobile queries include mobile browser-based searches and those coming from Google’s mobile search apps. The company didn’t break down the relative shares of each.

Google groups tablets with desktops. So this is just smartphones and does not include tablets.

According to Amir Efrati, mobile searches had outnumbered desktop for the past two years in the US at weekends.


One thought on “Start up: mobile app freight trains, mobile trumps desktop search, the switcher thing, and more

  1. “Google groups tablets with desktops. So this is just smartphones and does not include tablets”

    And yet when I go to check my gmail account on my iPad via the browser Google insist on serving me a mobile site.

    It’s hard enough for anyone to get a handle on what’s really happening when companies differ in what they define as mobile, but all the more so when it applies to divisions within the same company.

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