What bothers me about Google trying to acquire WhatsApp

I don’t think WhatsApp requires any introduction since most of us are already on it and sending messages to friends and family using this app. Over the past few days, the news vine has been flooded with rumors that Google is looking at acquiring WhatsApp. Let’s first see why Google thinks this messaging platform is good for their product line.

What’s in it for Google?

Let’s start with what WhatsApp has to offer. They have a very popular platform with users from across the globe on a variety of platforms. They also have a hugely scalable application and infrastructure in place. In fact, did you know that during the New Year eve, they processed more than 18 billion message in a day! That goes to show how successful their existing platform is.  One reason for their popularity is the variety of smartphones and feature phones the app supports.

They are currently monetizing their platform, which means they are making money, whether it’s enough or not, they’re still able to rope in some cash. They charge a nominal annual subscription of 0.99 per year, and the industry estimates that they have around 200-300 million active users. The actual revenues may be less, given that they do give a year’s worth of free access to first time users. Nevertheless, if Instagram, a company with no revenue stream can be bought for around $1Billion, WhatsApp with their ability to monetize should command more. The question is whether Google actually needs this revenue?

Screenshot_08_04_13_11_48_PM

Google’s competitior, iOS from Apple already features a iMessage, which allows users to send unlimited text messages over WiFi, but this is limited to only iOS users and Google really needs something like WhatsApp preloaded  and integrated with Google’s platform on the Android to catch up with iOS. (Thanks to Cherian for pointing this out in the comment below)

Boosting Google’s sagging Social Network Portfolio

Google is looking at boosting their Social Network portfolio to compete with the likes of Facebook. Their Google Plus network and Hangouts are being used, but not at the scale Facebook operates at. Google still has a long way to go to get adoption on their platform. Even today I still don’t see many of my non-tech friends active on Google Plus, which means that I still have to keep in touch with them on Facebook.

To top it off, Google still doesn’t have a messaging system for the mobile. Of course, there’s Google Talk and Hangouts, but they are not really easy to use on the mobile, especially when one has to setup a predefined group and communicate with that group. There’s also the problem of cross-platform compatibility, chatting or hanging-out with friends who are on Blackberry, iOS, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone just doesn’t work seamlessly.

Even their biggest rival, Facebook was missing this aspect of social interaction on mobile, and they’ve been quickly and fervently working on bridging this gap. They’re now trying to promote downloads of their Facebook Messenger app which tried to integrate text messages along with Facebook Messaging.

So Google needs WhatsApp now!

Trouble Brewing?

Of course a lot can go right with WhatsApp if Google does agree to buy them out, but it’s what *can* go wrong which people should think about. Here’s some probable scenarios:

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  • Cutting out Platforms – Google could always decide that some platforms are not worth developing on and discontinue support for Symbian variant, Blackberry and who knows Windows Phone? Given the recent history with Google and Windows Phone, Google’s really not bothered about following their  ‘Don’t be evil‘ motto. I just don’t trust Google as much these days.
  • Deciding to Merge WhatsApp into a totally new App – People are used to their WhatApp! Google may just decide that their Messaging platform, Babel,  is better (even if it isn’t) and merge WhatsApp users over their new shiny app.
  • Leave WhatApp to rot in it’s current state with no more updates – This is a possibility if Google realizes that they don’t want to invest time and money in further development of this platform after they buy it. A classic example of this kind of move from Google is Feedburner, the feed distribution service. Google bought Feedburner, made a few minor updates over the years and now it’s rotting with no updates and users are awaiting Google’s decision to axe the service.
  • Close down WhatsApp – There have been a lot of news buzz of the recent decision from Google on discontinuing the Google Reader service. There are chances that WhatsApp can go down this route as well, leaving all users of the app stranded, and hopping to other similar apps.

[divider]

I just don’t want to loose my favorite Messaging Platform if and when they’re bought by Google. What are your thoughts on this? Do let us know by commenting below.

The Giant List of Text Messaging Replacement Apps – OTT Messaging

Depending on where you are and who your mobile service provider is, text messaging is either so cheap that you don’t worry about it or so expensive that you barely use it. Texting is still one of the most popular methods of communication though , which means someone somewhere is always on it. Of course, sending texts across continents and countries is still expensive.

There are ways around that though, if you’re willing to use your data connection of course. The benefits? Lower cost (especially if it’s an international message) and added features like pictures, videos and more. Of course, that requires an Internet service, and a mobile device that has the app available on it. Oh, and you need to have other people that use that app.

So here’s a list of quite a few of the so called OTT (over the top) text messaging replacement services, with the pros and cons of each.It isn’t a review of the app or service though, and it isn’t a complete list by any stretch. Let us know what we missed and we’ll get around to adding them to this list.

Whatsapp

Whatsapp is one of the oldest ones out there, and as such it’s got a wide base that it works on.

Pros – multi platform (available on everything except Bada. Oh, and Symbian UIQ). Yes, it supports S40 too (and they aren’t smartphones). Media transfer (photos, videos, contact info, Location Data). Group Messaging (upto 20 users per group). Simple setup and use (linked to your phone number, no other login needed).

Cons – Photos are down scaled. Videos have to be under 12MB. There is no confirmation of Message Read status (One green tick-mark is for sent, two is for delivered). Group messaging needs more features/controls (Quiet time for the really talkative groups, Better management of users in that group).

[button style=”5″ caption=”Whatsapp” link=”http://www.whatsapp.com/”][/button]

Kik

Kik was the app whose service supposedly pulled blocked by RIM and then got back onto the Blackberry Platform. It’s simple to use, it’s fast, it’s almost like BBM. And now it’s available on most major smartphone platforms.

Pros – Fast. Really Fast. Login with user created account, so the same account can be used simultaneously on multiple devices. Sent, Delivered and Read status (for those who want to track that). Available on iOS, Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Has plugins (like sketchee) for more functionality.

Cons – User Created account (now that’s another thing you have to remember). Group Messaging controls. The Symbian app is quite limited at the moment, and there is no S40 app.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Kik” link=”http://kik.com/”][/button]

Ebuddy XMS

Ebuddy has been around for a while as a web and mobile based IM client. XMS is their take on the OTT messaging service.

Pros – Multi Platform (Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, Android, Blackberry & J2ME). Group Messaging. Media Sharing. Facebook Login to setup the account and pull in contacts. Web version available.

Cons – Broadcast option is missing.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Ebuddy XMS” link=”http://www.ebuddy.com/”][/button]

PingMe

 PingMe is another messaging service that seems to focus more on interaction (Media Content) and on meeting new people.

Pros – Neat interface that brings Media content up front and centre. Group Messaging. Registration with just your phone number.

Cons – iOS and Android only (they dropped Blackberry and Windows Phone support a little while ago).

[button style=”5″ caption=”PingMe” link=”http://pingme.net/”][/button]

Hookt

Hookt has been around for a couple of years now, has a few common features present in the other platforms (Group Chat, Stickers, Emojis), but it has two “features” that kind of set it apart. A) It syncs across platforms (send a message on one device, platform, it’ll be there on all the others that have your account). B) Desktop and Mobile Web Support (handy for platforms that aren’t supported)

Pros – Unique ID. Syncs across Platforms (Supports iOS, Android and Blackberry (Not BB10), desktop and mobile web.

Cons – No Windows Phone Support.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Hookt” link=”http://www.hookt.com/”][/button]

ChatON

ChatON is Samsung’s own cross platform messaging service, that has a lot of the features that other services have, including cross platform sync. It also has the ability to create an animated message or picture. It seems to have a little bit more detailed profile management, kind of like a Social Network (no it isn’t one)

Pros – Unique ID. Syncs across Platforms (Supports iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Certain Samsung Non-Smartphones, and desktop. Animated Messages.

Cons – No ability to actually manage notification tones (I could not find a way to turn off the tone!). Clunky interface (there are a lot of features, you just have to find them).

[button style=”5″ caption=”ChatON” link=”https://web.samsungchaton.com/”][/button]

Wechat

WeChat is one of the newer entrants. It’s developed by Tencent. The service has grown massively of late, mostly in China and South East Asia.. It has apps on most platforms (No BB10 yet) and a couple of things that it has over the others are Video Chat and what it calls “Drift Bottle” – you literally throw your message out there and wait for someone to pick it up. It’s also one of the fastest growing services, in Asia at least.

Pros – Sign in using phone number of Facebook Connect. Find Friends from FB. Symbian, Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone and Web clients.

Cons – No timestamps, delivery notifications & read reports.

[button style=”5″ caption=”Wechat” link=”http://www.wechat.com/en/”][/button]

Line

Line is a service by Japanese company Naver and it’s got everything but the kitchen sink! It’s available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (No BB10 yet), for the Mac, Windows and Windows 8. Apart from the usual messaging, it has other services available (some as in-app purchases), like audio calling, video and audio messages, social gaming, stickers and more. In Japan, it has more active users than facebook!

Pros – Sign in using phone number or email. Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone, Mac, Windows/Windows 8 clients, Sync’chats across clients. Free calling, Audio and Video messages, Stickers, games

Cons – Only one smartphone can be used for a registered user (you can use it on one device and on a Mac/Windows computer).

[button style=”5″ caption=”Line” link=”http://line.naver.jp/en/”][/button]

Kakaotalk

Kakotalk is like a Korean version of Line, and it’s been around for a long time now. Just like Line, in Korea, it has more active users than Facebook. It has clients for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (No BB10 Yet) and Bada. It also has other add on services like Kakaopoll, Kakaolink, etc, adding even more modes of interaction. It does not have a desktop client however.

Pros – Sign in using email. Android, Blackberry (no BB10 yet), iOS, Windows Phone, Bada clients. Free calling, Audio and Video messages, Stickers. Pin lock for chats.

Cons – No Desktop Client. Only one mobile number per account.

TU Me

TU Me is an example of a service created by an operator (Telefonica) to catch up with the rest of the OTT service (which operators supposedly hate because of the loss of revenue from text messaging). And on first glance, they’ve done a good job of it. It looks good, has quite a few features and most importantly, you do not have to be a Telefonica customer to use it. It’s iOS and Android only for now, but hopefully it’ll soon get on other platforms. They let you store your chats for a year, after which you have to pay to keep your chat history.

Pros – Sign in using phone number. Audio Calls, Voice and Video messages.

Cons – Android and iOS only. Pay for storage and usage after a limtied period.

Viber

Viber isn’t specifically a messaging service; it started off as a VOIP service which you use to call other Viber users over WiFi or your devices’ data network (kinda like skype). It has had messaging for a while now though, and it doesn’t have much (Group chat for instance), but it does work well with what it’s got. It has clients for iOS, Android, Bada, Windows Phone, Blackberry (no BB10), Symbian and even s40 (like whatsapp).

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Free calling to viber users, messaging & stickers.  iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Bada, Symbian and s40 clients.

Cons – No Group Messaging

Moped

Moped is a startup from Berlin thats aims to rethink instant messaging from the ground up. Moped lets you send IM’s over phone as well as your computer. Available on both Android and iOS platforms, Moped allows you to share messages and pictures privately or in a group in a very twitter-y fashion. You’ll need a twitter account to sign up and and can incorporate #tags, and @’s in your messages. Users can receive messages on their mobile devices, desktops or by e-mail. Moped also comes built in with a very instagram type  functionality –  a series of photo filters for for enhancing photo sharing. With dropbox integration and a chrome extension, Moped is trying very hard to cover all bases between mobile and the desktop.

Pros – Access IM’s over mobile, desktop & email, hashtag and @(mention) integration, Chrome extension to share content with Moped contacts.

Cons – only twitter login, no WP client

Jongla

Jongla is different from the others for one main reason: the target audience. It’s targeted at kids. Well, 15-20 year olds. It’s got most of the “fun” features from the other apps; stickers, etc.

Pros – Stickers, Web Login.

Cons – iOS, Android and Web only. Beyond stickers, there’s no other “fun” content sharing options.

Hike

Hike is another example of a service created by an Operator (India’s Bharti Telecom and Japan’s Softbank telecom provider) to try and catch up with the rest of the crowd. A standard IM client with one extra feature, 100 Free SMS/user/month for those times when you have flaky internet connectivity.

Pros – All platform IM client(BB coming soon), 100 free SMS/month and other rewards and incentives for stuff like connecting with you Facebook and twitter accounts

Cons – very low user base

Relay

Relay is all about the GIFs. It lets you share animated content from your own gallery, or you can search the web and send animated content to your buddies. Unfortunately, it’s an iOS only app.

Pros – GIFs! Animated!

Cons – iOS only.

GroupMe

GroupMe has been around for a while now. It started off as a messaging app with the focus being on creating groups and staying in touch with them (set up a group when you’re out at an event or conference, with people you have as contacts and others). It recently got updated with some really neat features, including what they call “Split”. You can track the expenses in each group, or add expenses and have others chip in. It also lets you message people who do not have the app, say, someone without a smartphone. It just sends them a standard text message that they can reply to. GroupMe is meant to be a bit more serious, at least when you compare it to some of the other clients out there. It is owned by Skype after all. Which in turn, is owned by Microsoft.

Pros – Sign in online. Manage and edit groups from any device or from the web. iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry (no bb10) and Web clients. Texts sent to phones that do not have the client. Split – expense tracking and management per group.

Cons – Focus on Group messaging (can’t really be counted as a con though).

Yoke

Yoke is similar to most other messaging apps, with stickers, scribbles (drawings), etc. It also allows you to edit your message if it hasn’t been read yet, and you can edit it upto 5 minutes after it has been read.

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Edit your chat. Avatars, Scribbles.

Cons – iOS and Android only.

Cubie

Cubie is a new entrant to the social messaging field. It tries to focus on the “fun” aspects of messaging, with a lot of features seen in Line, such as stickers, animations, etc. It does have a few unique features though, enabling you to create your own content, of sorts. You can sketch, edit photos, etc.

Pros – Sign in with phone number. Stickers, Create your own sketches, animations, customize the look of your chat.

Cons – iOS and Android only. Account can be used only on one device. Tied to one phone number, you’ll need to create a new account for a new phone number.

Image credit: rido / 123RF Stock Photo

App Piracy and Mobile Payments: Make them Pay!

Piracy and Content theft (as perceived by various industries and their regulating bodies) is on the top of everyone’s mind nowadays. While there is a major drive towards internet content delivery, a vast majority of the population isn’t online just yet or even if they are, don’t have access to a lot of content. Could this be due to licensing issues, available bandwidth, region restriction or something else?

The most accessible way to get online, arguably, is via a mobile device: be it a Tablet or a Smartphone (or even a not-so-smart-phone). Applications on these devices act as both a conduit to content and as the content themselves (games would be one example where the App IS the content). So would piracy and content theft apply to these mobile platforms too? I guess so. Has anyone come up with a way to lock this down? Valve has tried that on their Steam platform (other game publishers have tried this too), with DRM, online availability requirements to play their games, etc. All of this wouldn’t work of course, if you couldn’t pay for the game. If content isn’t available at your location, even if you were willing to pay for it, what would you do? The usual answer would be that you would get it, by what ever means. This is probably why the Game of Thrones series is the most pirated show in the history of television shows.

How does this apply to apps? Think about the number of sites that give access to versions of paid apps. Think about the Cydia repositories that provide these packages.There are two parts to reducing the number of apps that are downloaded illegally:

  1. Making people aware of the actual value of what they are providing (I usually tell people who are hesitant about buying apps that it’s just the cost of a coffee at any coffee shop). People would be more willing to pay for apps if they can put the expenditure into a normal context (Paying INR 100 or $1.99 for a coffee, a one time purchase, vs the same for an app that you would potentially use multiple times).
  2. Providing an easy way to pay for these apps.

The payment method is something that needs attention. Various payment methods exist and are in use by various companies and providers. But most require a Credit Card as your payment method. This is partially motivated by safety. But what about gift cards, the way Apple does it. Buy a card for a pre-defined sum at a store and use it with your iTunes account. Paypal could be another payment method, except you need a credit card there too, as Paypal doesn’t accept most (Indian) debit cards (at least, not that I’m aware of). It can’t be a pre-defined credit card as is issued in some countries either: the system has to work everywhere.

So what do most smartphones and tablets have in common? The mobile networks that they run on. Mobile payments would make sense then right? As a post paid subscriber, you would be used to paying for usage charges beyond your free use limits. As a Pay As You Go (or pre-paid in India) subscriber, you would be used to adding credit to your account as required. Adding your app purchases to your bill would make sense then. But why isn’t it so prevalent?

Update: An interesting take away from the Nokia Strategy Summit, which Vinu is attending today, is that Operator billing is actually one of the best way to get going on app and content payment. This is a frictionless method to allow users to purchase apps from App stores and have the amount billed to their monthly bill or deducted from their pre-paid balance. No credit card, debit cards required. According to Shiv (D. Shivakumar from Nokia India), operator billing has to potential to increase purchases by up to 5 times, and two thirds of people prefer Operator Billing as a payment option on the Nokia Store.

If people pay for apps instead of getting them through alternate channels, the Application developers benefit, allowing them improve their existing Apps and coming up with the next great App.

Here’s a list of platforms that provide carrier billing (and their limitations, by region, or by type of content)
Table: OS vs Carrier Billing, number of countries and operators (if available)

OS

Countries

Symbian/S4052
Blackberry40
Bada12
Windows Phone7(USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, UK)
Android3 (Japan, USA, India)
iOS0

Note: The number doesn’t reflect the number of carriers from each country that offers the service.

Disclaimer: The data in the table may need correction/updating. Do let us know if you have additional data.

So what does this mean for Apps and Piracy of apps? Well, people will pay, if you give them a means of paying it that doesn’t involve jumping through hoops. Make it easy, and it doesn’t get easier than carrier billing. You can even get Facebook Credits via Carrier Billing now!

Photo Credits: iStockPhoto.com

Nokia announces Microsoft Office Apps for Symbian Belle

If you were frustrated by third-party office application on your Symbian Belle phones, here’s some good news for you. Nokia has just announced that users on their Belle platform can now user Microsoft Office Mobile apps on their phones now. This came out of the blue since most of us expected Microsoft’s Office apps to be available exclusively on Nokia’s Lumia phone series powered by Windows Phone. It’s a good thing to see that Nokia-Microsoft partnership doesn’t stop there, and is inclusive of Nokia’s ‘other’ platform as well.


How you can get this is by heading to the Software Update Client on your phone and downloading the Microsoft Apps from there directly on to your phone. If you can’t see an update using this method, try connecting your phone using Nokia Suite on your PC and getting an update for your phone.  Once you get the Microsoft Apps update installed on your Symbian phone, you’ll get access to the following:

  • Microsoft Exchange Active Sync – To sync contacts, calendars and email from your company’s Exchange Servers directly to your phone.
  • Microsoft Document Connect – To get access and work on  your Word, PowerPoint and Excel files and access your company’s SharePoint sites.
  • Microsoft One Note – allows you to  create notes on your phone and sync them to Skydrive allowing you to access them from the PC as well.
  • Microsoft Lync – lets you join IM chats and audio meetings to take your office conversations on the move.

Pretty much all you need to work on the go. Microsoft Office Mobile apps is currently supported on the following Symbian Devices – Nokia 700, 701, E7, C7, X7, 603, C6-01 and Nokia Oro. Support for the Nokia N8, E6 and 500 will be announced in the coming weeks. Nokia PureView 808 will come with these apps pre-loaded.

You can get more information on how to set up Microsoft Office Mobile apps for your phone from Nokia’s Belle Setup guide and more information on other Microsoft Productivity apps for Nokia phones from the Nokia for Business site.

via Nokia Conversations

Trip Advisor’s Holidaying Mobile App

By using a Smartphone one can be smart enough to find information and take action. Trip Advisor offers not only an informative website for your travel related issues but also an application that can be loaded in your mobile. It makes your life easy, simple and smart. By using Trip Advisor, you can find and learn about new places and comfortable hotels and restaurants all around the world. In fact, you can have first-hand information about your itineraries by participating in discussions, finding photos and videos of the place that you are interested.

 

As you are provided with a wealth of information from all corners, your holidaying will be smooth and trouble-free. You will get up-to-date information about various locations, climatic conditions and will get updates and suggestions on best places and best times to visit. User friendly dashboard will help you go through various sections. You can explore many travel related information from these sections. Global search tool is a shortcut to start a search based on a destination. As soon as you type in the destination, you will be offered with recommendations like best hotels to stay, best attractions in the location and the best way to reach the destination. You can better plan your vacation as you are informed about actual conditions prevailing in the area. This is very important and useful because you can plan your clothing and type of vehicles to use to move from one location to another location.

Each location on the earth offers a unique feature in terms of business, historic value, scenic beauty, valleys, mountains, hills, springs, beach front, exclusive habitat, etc. The application helps you find and reach your favorite destination, plan food, meet new people and enjoy local attractions. These kinds of luxuries are not present to the earlier generations. One single application will help you perform many operations. You can check the available hotel, contact a hotel of your choice (through phone or email or social media networking sites), book your favorite suit and dining table, fix appointments, etc. Another attractive feature that makes very interesting with Trip advisor application is its ability to let you save your searches.

It is quite common that you may be interrupted through a phone call or by meeting a person physically where you want to respond them when you are in the middle of a search for a vacation. In such cases with a single click you will be able to save all the steps that you had covered and can come back later leisurely to the search when you are free. Your search effort is not lost and you can save almost any kind of search like a location, hotel, favorite food or sporting event, etc. You can go through extensive reviews available on the website to get complete information about the place that you are going to visit.

Trip Advisor is a useful application for frequent travelers not only to get information but also to confirm their destinations by being able to book flight tickets. You can set your priorities in ‘things to do’, participate in forums and find attractions near your location. Ability to make street level view of your destination is another important feature that is helpful for visitors. Trip advisor is a reliable application and it is highly recommended for travel related requirements.

Trip Advisor is available for Symbian, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone and has a Mobile Web page for other handsets. So download the app and check it out.

Tired of Getting Taken for a Ride by the Auto & Taxi Drivers? Try Suruk!

Autorikshaws, especially those here in Bangalore, are a pain to take for a daily commute. Worse so, if you are from out of town and don’t know your way around the place. Tampered meters, longer routes, and constant haggling for the rates are some of the pain points of a commute in this form of transport.

Luckily, there are quite a few apps on various platforms to find the right fare for your travel. I had the chance to try out an app from Ideophone called Suruk which claimed to help ease out this process.  This app is not limited to just Autorikshaws, but works with with Taxis as well.

Let’s jump to the functionality Suruk provides and see if it helps with the problems we face.

  1. If you have a GPS phone, the app can track the exact fare which you should be paying out to the driver for the travel you’ve done. This helps you find if the guy’s tampered with his meter to extract more from you.
  2. If you’re haggling about the price you should be paying for your ride, you can fire up the Suruk, start the Route Finder. You just have to enter your starting point and destination, and the app gives you an approximate fare for the trip.
  3. The Route Finder does allow you find the shortest route as well and opens up the Map to show you the route. You can use this to see if the driver is trying to gyp you by taking the long scenic route.
  4. You can also check the crowd-sourced data about the Auto or Taxi driver’s conduct based on other’s experience. You can get this by getting to the Driver Conduct screen and entering in the vehicle number to see if there’s data in their system about prior conduct of the driver. You can send in your feedback as well once you’re done with your travel. The Ideophone folks told us they have 2500+ vehicles (autos & taxis) in their current database worldwide, and growing.
  5. The App covers most major cities in India, and in case yours isn’t, you can head out the app’s settings and enter the minimum fare, and the fares per kilometer and customize the app for your location, even if you’re not in India. This app’s already been downloaded in around 140+ countries. Ideophone has a blog post where you can see from which countries Suruk has been downloaded.

From the functionality list, Suruk does manage to have a solution to help you sort out the major gripes with travelling by Autos around the town. You should take a peek at the app and take it for a test drive on your next Autorikshaw ride around the town. For more information about Suruk, check out Ideophone’s site.

This app is available for Android devices and Nokia’s Symbian devices as well. The Symbian version is compatible with all Symbian devices (Symbian S60v3/5, Symbian ^3 and S40).  You can also download this app on any mobile which supports JavaME. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can check out Ideophone’s AutoFare SMS service to get the approximate fare details as well.

Download Links:

Suruk on the Android Market
Suruk on Nokia Ovi Store
Suruk on GetJar for JavaMe compatible phones

Nokia Lumia: What’s in a name?

Seriously.. What IS in a name? Why not just call a dog a ‘dog’? Would you be more afraid of a worm simply because it was called ‘Godzillus’? Sometimes things just are what they say on the tin.. Or are they? Well, as far as naming goes, it would seem the folks at Nokia have hit upon the right idea. For a generation of users struggling to remember the difference between a Nokia C3-00 or a Nokia X3-00, can breath a sigh of relief with the introduction of the New Nokia Lumia and Nokia Asha families.

Even for someone who has been a part of the Nokia brand architecture team, Chris George admits that “the number of Nokia products on the market had become so great that even we were becoming confused by our naming”. The decision to name products by families, rather than individually, was driven by two factors: The success of similar strategies for other technology companies and the complexity of finding so many individual product names each year.

“From an initial list of nearly 200 names only a handful made it through this stage for what was eventually the Nokia Lumia,” says Chris George. Then experts in 84 dialects started work, checking for any negative associations in different languages and assessing how easy they are to pronounce. Some letters like J, L R and V are difficult to pronounce in certain countries. Some languages don’t have certain letters in their alphabet (like Q in Polish). This process is never foolproof – as a couple of comments pointed out lumi, or lumia, is a very old Spanish word, long fallen into disuse.

Lumia has particular meaning in Finland where ‘lumi’ means snow, and ‘lumia’ means snow in plural (they know a lot about wintery weather). The Nokia Asha range has more multi-cultural connotations. Knowing that the Series 40 phones were most heavily sold in emerging markets, the Nokia team worked through a different range of name possibilities. In the case of the Nokia Lumia the team were looking for a name that sounded great when used with the Nokia brand name and ended with a vowel to make it work phonetically. Asha is the Hindi word for hope: it sounds good, and it has meaning.

The final stage involves running through the shortlist and working out what sounds best with the Nokia brand name.A shortlist was presented to the Nokia Leadership team and Lumia emerged as the winner.

[source: NokiaConversations]

Nokia and Windows Phone: Notes from Nokia Dev Con

Nokia held the Nokia Developer Conference in Bangalore on Friday (that’s the 4th of November 2011) and it was an interesting event; more so because we were all interested to see how Nokia would engage developers and push forward development for Windows Phone.

We also got to talk with Vipul Mehrotra, Director and Head of Smart Devices business for Nokia India, and Kris Efland, Chief Architect for Location and Commerce Platform Products at Nokia.

I’m not going to talk too much about the developer space, but here’s what we found interesting:

  • Nokia’s push for the Next Billion (Mobile users) is focused on S40: The belief is that as  Nokia Pushes the smartphone platform, more regular users will be introduced to smartphone like features in S40, such as hardware acceleration and GPS enabled devices to provide more location aware services. Since data usage on S40 isn’t that prevalent right now, applications would use binary SMS to bring in small amounts of data to provide the web like experience that smartphone users are used to. It may not be the full application experience, but it brings more data and services to a market that wasn’t really exposed to such experiences in the past.
  • Symbian: Vipul Mehrotra confirmed that Nokia is not dropping Symbian, and that Belle isn’t the end of the road. He mentioned that there was much more coming up for the Symbian Platform in the future (and I hope it’s the near future). Having used Belle, I can say that it’s a completely different experience coming from Symbian Anna and earlier Symbian Devices. Vipul also mentioned that payback to the developers on Symbian had been quite good, especially in markets such as India, where the Nokia Store has the highest downloads.
  • Windows Phone and the Nokia-Microsoft alliance: Vipul mentioned that the reviews that came in for the Nokia N9 were really good, and the hardware design was something that everyone loved. Therefore, the first Nokia Windows Phone device was made using what Nokia is known for (the hardware) and use it to provide a better Windows Phone experience. The process used to make the N9 wasn’t something that you used once and dropped, especially because of the attention to detail on the unibody polycarbonate device, and the curved glass display. Having used the Lumia 800 and the N9, I can say that the tiles interface looked really good on the Lumia 800.
  • Changes to Windows Phone:Vipul did mention that they had a deep partnership with Microsoft, and it was more an Interlock than just a tie-up. As such, Nokia would not call for changes to Windows Phone that would change the end user experience across the Windows Phone ecosystem, irrespective of the Manufacturer device.
  • On NFC: Kris spoke about NFC and the differences that exist right now, because there are no standards as such. The protocols to initiate a connection (the handshake) is pretty much the same, but beyond that, the data transfer, the storage, the secure elements, etc are not the same across devices and platforms. As such Nokia is looking towards NFC standards that would allow all (or most) services to function, irrespective of the platform. This could be data/media transfer or Mobile Payments, or any other use of NFC.
  • Nokia Maps & Bing Maps: Nokia Maps exist for pretty much every (if not every) country, and as such Nokia doesn’t intend to keep it to themselves. Kris mentioned that Nokia Maps would be coming to all Windows Phone Devices, irrespective of the Manufacturer, sometime early next year. This includes the free Turn-by-turn navigation that makes Nokia Maps so brilliant. What’s more interesting is the fact that Bing Maps would be leveraging Navteq and Nokia Maps’ resources in the future, and that rollout would occur across ALL platforms; xbox, pc, web and more.
  • LTE & Pentaband 3G: Going forward, Nokia definitely intends to bring LTE to its handset lineup. How soon is the question though. My guess is, just like apple, they’re waiting for LTE radios on phones to be more battery friendly; Nokia devices are generally pretty good in terms of battery life and standby. Also, LTE isn’t really available everywhere just yet. Regarding the current Lumia phones not having pentaband 3G, something that made Nokia devices unique (and truly global), it sounds like it will make a return in the future; it just depends on the chipset that goes into the next set of Nokia Windows Phone devices.

Will Nokia’s entry into the Windows Phone space help Microsoft? I think so yes. But how much can they do? It’s really nice to hear that Nokia’s going to play fair, and let other Windows Phone OEMs use Nokia Services (some of it at least). Will this help Nokia rise back up to the top of the smartphone list? Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen just yet. Windows Live restrictions are quite irritating, especially the fact that you cannot change the country of residence and therefore, the billing details. If I were Nokia, I’d push for that change. But this is a start.

The first tech post I ever wrote was titled Nokia really doomed?. I’m happy to see them back in the news, and for something good.

Symbian User? Get a taste of Window Phone

Nokia might have moved onto Windows Phone as their main OS of choice, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about their faithful Symbian users. They will continue to support Symbian for a few more years, and still have Symbian handsets planned for release. There are OS updates too (well, Symbian Anna devices need to get updated to Belle).

 

They would like to have you over at the Windows Phone side though. Both the phones unveiled at Nokia World, the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 have 3.7″ displays and 1.4GHz processors. The Metro UI of Windows Phone is slick and easy to use.

To that end, Nokia have launched the Lumia 800 app for Symbian Devices. Download it on your Symbian Device and test drive the Lumia 800. Download it from the Nokia Store, here.

 

Edit: It’s available for a few Symbian Devices only. Thanks, @hussainweb for pointing that out.

 

 

Via: MyNokiaBlog

Mobile Platform Trends Across the Continents

I just read an article today from Steve Litchfield at All About Symbian, which stated that the Symbian was still ruling the worldwide mobile market in terms of internet usage. This got me thinking, now which platforms are popular in the different continents? Is there a wide variation?

Mobile OS Report for the Worldwide market from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for the Worldwide market from Stat Counter

Steve’s  article was partly based on data from StatCounter.  StatCounter is a service which collects analytic data from websites which have their tracking ‘code’ installed. So the data they show is not based on sales of mobile handsets or install base of the mobile platform, but on what users use when they are surfing the web. As Steve stated, in the world-wide market Symbian still rules the roost. Let’s go a little deeper and see which platform is popular in each of the continents of the world?

Symbian is still the worldwide leader with around 32% share.Android has gained quite a lot of ground over the last year where  iOS was the second. As of this month iOS and Android are currently in neck to neck competition, so let’s see which platform gains over the next year. Blackberry usage is on a decline worldwide this year .

In this post, I’ll just concentrate on Symbian, iOS, Android and Blackberry as they are the most talked about platforms. In these graphs, you’ll also see quite a lot of Samsung, Sony Erricson and Unknown platforms and since we don’t exactly know what they are, we’ll keep them out of the picture. They could be the propriety OS which the manufacturers load on their feature phones.

North America

Mobile OS Report for North America from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for North America from Stat Counter

iOS is the top here with a current market share of  more than 36% users, with Android playing catch up. Did you notice that Blackberry is on a constant decline here?

South America

Mobile OS Report for South America from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for South America from Stat Counter

Their neighbors in South America use the Symbian platform most, but that’s on a steady decline in this area. Android users are on the rise out numbering iOS users. Windows CE actually makes the Top 8 list in South America, even though the percentage of users on that platform is miniscule.

Europe

Mobile OS Report for Europe from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for Europe from Stat Counter

iOS users really outnumber the rest here in Europe. Android seems to be eating up some of iOS and Blackberry’s share jumping from just above 10% last year to around 25% this year. Symbian is on a steady decline since last year.

Asia

Mobile OS Report for Asia from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for Asia from Stat Counter

Symbian rules the market in Asia. Android seems to have jumped out of nowhere from 3% last year to around 13% this year. Blackberry fell from 13% market share last year to a little more than 3% this year, the total opposite of Android. iOS seems to be stagnant with only a slight jump from 5.88% to 7.19%, not too impressive growth.

Africa

Mobile OS Report for Africa from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for Africa from Stat Counter

Another continent where Symbian is the leader. Android rose from almost 0 to 3% over the last year, and iOS has been stagnant in the 3-4% range. This is the only continent where Blackberry usage remained constant, even though it’s only around 1 to 2%.

Oceania

Mobile OS Report for Oceania from Stat Counter
Mobile OS Report for Oceania from Stat Counter

Not to forget our folks from the lands down under, Oceania has iOS as the leader with Android on the rise. Blackberry usage went from 1.3% all the way down to  0.6%. Symbian as well has been steadily loosing market share here, but they’re still the 3rd in the Top 8 list.

Conclusions

  • iOS leads in North America, Europe and Oceania. In North America, Android is catching up with them.
  • Symbian leads by a large percentage in price sensitive markets like South America, Asia and Africa. They still do show a slight decline in each of these markets.
  • Android beats iOS in Asia and South America. They are on a steady growth in most of the continents.
  • Blackberry seems to be on the decline worldwide, which is bad news for them.
  • If you noticed, Windows Phone 7 didn’t make it to the Top 8 list of StatCounter.

Want to play around with the data and see how it fares in your country? Check out the StatCounter Global stats.