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Mobile : Which platform to go for? As a developer.

24 Aug

xcodegraniteincon

P.S. – This post was inspired by this post on Mashable which made me think on this topic.  Since iOS and Android are the dominant platforms I am only bringing these two into the discussion for now. 

In my earlier post I had covered about which platform to go for as a consumer. But from a business perspective, stakes are more high when you are a developer and thinking of extending your existing software or creating a new one for the mobile devices. Making mobile apps and a good one at that takes a lot of time, energy and money(tangible, intangible) so its important to figure out the canvas before you start building.

Choosing that canvas is what I would delve into.

Just to share, I am not a mobile developer, at-least not yet, but I am interested in technology, the mobile space and being a very heavy user of apps on a everyday basis I am very inquisitive of the business side and the scope of innovation it has to offer.

The world of software is rapidly getting replaced by Apps be it on Mobile or on the Browser as extensions.  And more and more people are moving away from Computing on their desktops/laptops and using their mobiles/tablets for all their computing needs.

So its imperative for software developers to also think of having presence on mobile or else their relevance in today’s fast evolving technology will rapidly fade. And it’s no mystery that all things be equal among software providers, it the value addition, its who gives you more value for the buck, which ultimately decides which software provider will be in business and thrive, or even survive to begin with.

The question is fairly simple – iOS or Android?

Sub-question even more simpler – Mobile or Tablet or Both.

I think once you have answered the main question, the sub-question shouldn’t be very difficult.

From my point of view, I would require the following to even begin contemplating to answer the first one,  iOS vs Android, should I choose –

  1. Target market region – continent, country, state : This will help you get some idea of which platform your customers or potential customers are on or will be. For example, if majority of your customers are already using iOS on at-least one device, building an Android app will exclude them right from their start and vice-versa.
  2. User Personas of your existing customers  : These will give you some idea of what devices they are on and whether they own multiples devices such as tablets and if yes then which one.
  3. Your plans of the extent of presence on mobile/tablet : You need to be reasonably clear as to how much are willing to invest in building your app and to what level. If all you want is basic functionality to extend the existing PC software, then there is a chance that you can build on multiple platforms right from the start. If something deeper then you should have as much clarity as possible in choosing a platform.
  4. Your team as it stands or are you willing to outsource the development work(part or in full) : If you plan to build your app in-house then you must assess which platform your developers are comfortable on and why. Since they are ones who will be slogging it out, having their consensus is critical. Even if they are not well versed with the platform being chosen from a business perspective, you may want to have some kind of training sessions to get them going. If you plan to outsource a part or a chunk of it then you need to do some homework on existing developers and shortlist a few to start a conversation. Their history of building apps, coding capabilities, support capabilities need to be looked into before bringing them on-board.
  5. The latest trend as far as usage on mobiles go :
    • Dominant mobile platform region wise along with version statistics – This is to further breakdown which version is in use. Whether majority in iOS are on the latest version or not. If Android then there are multiple versions still running. Why is this important is because, if you are building on the latest version of any platform but if your customers are using old versions then chances are some functionality which you spent so much time on may not even usable on their versions. This needs to be correlated with the regions as per your customer profile.
    • Paid vs free app usage stats on each platform – Which platform is able to sell more paid apps than free ones. You can also have a category wise breakdown, say your category is Arcade Games, then whether more people are ready to pay on iOS or Android for a particular game. It may also help to have usage statistics, for example, whats the % of people who have downloaded the app, but have not come back in terms of using it. How many % of them are on old app versions even when you have updated your app. Whether people update paid apps more frequently than free ones.
    • Developers statistics – Are developers earning more on a particular platform, compared to other platform, is there any particular category where earnings is more even though overall earnings may be less. Like for example, in Games category Android developers are earning more, but within Games, Arcade games developers are earning more on iOS.
    • Commerce statistics on the platform  : Reflects spending habits. A lot of transactions are taking place on mobiles. Whether it is buying movie tickets, shopping, buying travel tickets packages etc. This gives an indication of the user persona of the platform customers. If more transactions happen on iOS, then this info can be useful in certain decision makings viz-a-viz your app. For example if you want to have in-app purchase or your app is a paid one, this info can be very useful.

These are fairly comprehensive data to help you in your decision making.

Some other decisions you will have to make at some point or pivot as need be –

  • Start with Phone or designed not scaled for Tablet or both at the same time.
  • Free or paid ?
  • If paid, should we start with promotions.
  • When to have promotions if at all?
  • App road-map, how often to release updates, release notes.
  • Ads or without ads
  • Marketing the app(a whole new subject of discussion all-together and may be a blog post)
  • Other topics like UX, UI which is more of going into the blueprint, design etc.

Hope the above info gives helps you in some way to start your app journey to the mobile/tablet. Let me know if I have missed something or if something needs to be fixed/updated in terms of content.

Anirudh

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Sebastian Thurn on the Universal Law of Innovation

21 May

Seeing such videos charge me instantly and want me to go out and change the world with the help of technology! In life we have many dreams at different phases of our life..my dream for a long time is to work for Google and with immensely(understatement!) talented people like Sebastian and thousands of crazy people like him out to make the world a better place in radical different ways!

Sebastian Thurn has been involved in Google’s Self-driving Cars innovation, then the radical Google Glass(wearable tech) and now onto change how education system works with his online education – Udacity! Hats off!

 

How do you wish a person on their Birthday/Anniversary and Why?

5 May

sms phone email flowers

 

I simply love wishing people on their special occasions. And I get very nervous on my own Birthday as the entire day right from midnight to midnight, I am in the spotlight so as to speak and very lucky to have my small but close circle of friends/family wish me thru out the day! To put things in perspective I am not a voice user on my cellphone. Say out of 100%, 70% I use it for SMS, 25% for Data(Emails, Social Networking)thru Wi-Fi and remaining 5% for calls! On a full charge, my phone battery lasts easy for2-4 days if not more!

So you can take out voice from my much loved and cherished Nokia E-71 and I will still be happy, but then I do need to make some calls(specially to wish people on their birthdays!) and I have an iPod Touch for heavy data usage. (As an after-thought I think I should get an iPhone which will merge both my devices!)

But on my Birthday I need to charge my phone at-least twice if not more! And I hate being made special. But I love making other people feel special and hence my joy of wishing people on their special occasions. Now each one of us have so many days to wish other people, but just one day when the tables are turned and we are being wished. So from my own experience I know that every wish I get on my birthday be it by calls, sms, emails, etc is very very valuable for me! Yes its easy nowadays to NOT forget anyone’s birthday, but still I don’t like to take it for granted as it’s not about remembering it’s about whether anyone wants to remember. There is a significant difference!

Make no mistake, you may not feel much value by wishing other people, but you have just made the other person’s day much more valuable! You have made him/her feel special! In this mad mad world where time is always less, its not everyday people spend time for others –  even if its 60 seconds to send that sms –  and wish you, to make you feel important, to make you feel  a part of their life!

So its very important to me to choose the right way to wish those whom I really care about and want them to have the best day on their very special occasion. For my closest friends, I send them an sms on midnight and then follow up with a call during the day! I also send them a couple of messages, one for reminding them not to forget my treat and a big piece of cake(regardless of whether they are in my city or not!) and a few more asking them how their special day is going so far!

For friends, who are not very close and whom calling is bit chore for me since I really don’t know what else can we converse about apart from the customary wishes, I prefer sending them a sms. I don’t like awkward conversations or calling some one when I have nothing much to talk about. Why waste their and my time. Sms works totally fine!

Since Facebook shows me whose birthday it is – even though that person may be just a casual acquaintance – I do make it a point to go their Wall and wish them. Sometimes instead of sending sms to not so very close friends or rather casual acquaintances, I go the Facebook way!

For friends and family members(relatives) who stay outside my country(sorry people I am a miser 🙂 ) and are not very active on Social Networking sites, I choose the good old Email way! In fact I prefer email than wishing on Facebook, as email takes a bit more effort and it makes me happy to take that effort!

For Anniversaries I have recently started sending a Bouquet of Flowers for those in my country. Needless to say its for very close people and I do wish both of them thru SMS at midnight and separate calls during the day or evening or night. I am a bit cautious of sending Flowers as I don’t know how will the other people react. Also the logistics in cities apart from metros and equivalent to metros is unpredictable at best. So far it has been received very well and I was glad I could do whatever I can in my own small way.

Then there are also people whom I used to wish but then somehow we distanced apart and even though I know its their birthday/anniversary I tend to avoid it. I just cant do something if I don’t feel good about it. And these are personal matters, so best to use my heart instead of my head.

In today’s age, the excuse that you forgot it was your birthday just doesn’t work. There are ways to make you remind, IF you want to, otherwise just accept that you just didn’t bother and that’s fine too! Anything done forcefully will not last long. And no one can wish everyone every-time. So if you are wishing some one, do it from your heart or don’t do it at all.

Also we have a 24 hour time period to wish, so even the travel or I was sick, etc is a lame excuse. How long does it take to send an sms, to make a call, to send an email, to go on Facebook and wish! No one, not even Barack Obama is occupied for every minute of his 24 hr day!

Wishing some one regardless of the means is a very small gesture but has huge effects…in a positive way! Try it! Make the day even more special for some one and an otherwise ordinary day for you will become special too!

So how do you wish people?

Adios!

Kindle, iPad, iPad2 !

21 Apr

ipad ipad2 kindle3 tablet amazon apple

If you are having Kindle or/and iPad1/iPad2…or if you planning to buy either or both, the following posts should be very interesting in helping you make a choice or re-affirming your choice!

Using iPad to make notes.

3 Questions before you buy iPad2.

Amazon Kindle3 after a month.

Personally I own a Kindle3 since last 5 months and now seriously looking to grab a Tablet! iPad2 clearly seems to be my choice, but Samsung Galaxy Tab is also on my radar. It has a smaller screen size of 7 inches as compared to 10 inches for iPad2, but it all depends what the use is. Bigger is not always better. So do a thoughtful study on what do you plan to use it for and make a prudent choice. Interestingly the author of the above posts, bought an iPad, but with time he realized it was not for him and eventually gave it away!

There are also new models coming in June end for Samsung Galaxy Tab in terms of bigger screen of 8.2 and 10.8 inches. But that would place it directly in the category of iPad2 and it will be one very difficult choice as to which one to pick!

Your guess is as good as mine!

We(Indians) are grabbing Tablets, Smartphones like never before!

16 Apr

So, yesterday I was at Croma at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon(E). For those who are not familiar with Croma, its a retail chain from TATA Group for Consumer Electronics and Durables. I simply love going to these stores, since they are quite huge and have probably every Consumer Electronics all under one roof, be it Laptops, Desktops, Peripheral, Mobiles, Cameras, Tablets, TVs, etc etc. They are quiet spacious, well laid out and unlike many other stores, the salespeople don’t become your shadow just so that they can”close” a deal.  In-fact I have never bought anything from Croma so far, as I found their prices a bit higher(5-10%) than what I may get outside. But its about the experience of getting a “feel” of the product you have in mind before actually buying it.

This time I had gone to inquire about iPhone4 and iPad2. As expected they had no clue as to when either is coming. Though the fault lies with Apple and to their hyper-secrecy about product launches and their release dates. And since Apple has a only-hate relationship with India, it doesn’t make it better.

The other reason I went was to get a feel of  iPad-1 and Samsung Galaxy Tab(since I really want to get a Tablet and thinking seriously about it) and also to check out the latest Android-powered Smartphones which is flooding, literally flooding the Indian market.

I was in the store for about 45 minutes and had an experience which I couldn’t have imagined a few years or even months back. So lets begin –

  • There were 3 demo-iPads for customers to experience it. The entire time I was there, I couldn’t get to even one. There were people drooling over it and many more crowding awaiting their chance to get a feel of this gadget which didn’t even existed and no one heard of a few months back (Yes iPad-1 was officially launched in India only in Feb 2011, almost after 10 months since it came out in US). I was sure it will take a long time for my chance to come and hence decided to move on.
  • I went to the section of iPad/iPod accessories. As I was checking out, I over-heard few conversations people were having on their mobile phones. And no I was not eaves-dropping, neither had the intention of doing it. Just that people were talking reasonably loudly and with so excitement, it was difficult to not pay attention. Each and every conversation was about people asking their friends/tech-gurus as to which Smartphone they should buy, but more importantly whether they should buy a Blackberry or an Android ones, whether they can sync it with their Outlook, whether it has a Google App so that they can be in touch with their emails, maps, calendars and so on! Wow! I was so proud to see my fellow countrymen being up-to date with latest technology and everyone wants to make their life(work, personal) more efficient, more exciting, more moving with the times. I also heard one guy talking about whether Gingerbread is the latest from Android or is it Froyo! Super-cool!
  • Now before people caught me listening to them, it was time to move on. Now I was just walking casually with no particular section/product in mind to go to, when I noticed many people carry something which very closely resembled diary/notebook. I thought may be they were part of the same corporate crowd, who have just come out for some conference or going to one. But when I see youngsters(in casual attire) and many women also carrying it, I felt not all could be attending conferences. And then one women opened her diary and there it was – Samsung Galaxy Tab! So people were actually carrying their Tablets just like they carry their mobile phones! Very very interesting! Though I have to say I didn’t see a single i-Pad, everyone who had a Tablet had a Samsung Galaxy Tab! Tablet didn’t exist not too long ago and it already gained immense popularity that it has become a part of their being just like a Mobile phone! And keep in mind that Samsung Galaxy Tab is not really cheap at around INR 24k($520). So in-spite of the high entry barrier, many people are actually shelling out so much signifies the change in consumer mindset, buying preferences and that if a product is new, exciting, innovative, even if not for the masses, people would buy it if the product/marketers(think of Steve Jobs, he totally makes you believe that you HAVE to buy Apple products and how it will change your lives or make it far more interesting and fun) can create a need for them! Its a very dynamic time to be in, as far as Sales/Marketing professionals are concerned!
  • Now it was time to head to my last section of Smartphones! Even though I don’t change my phones regularly I love to be updated as to what new phones are coming out, what platform they are on, the features and the price bracket! Before there used to be just one section for mobile-phones and within that section a handful were smartphones. But now there is a separate section just for smartphones and the no. of models on display far exceed the non-smartphones. And not a single person was at the non-smartphones section! While I was checking out the Samsung i9003(which is the successor to the immensely popular i9000, but which has been discontinued as the demand far exceeded the supply and the SAMOLED screen which gave it the best display ever was in deep shortage), 3-4 people came and instead of checking out the models themselves asked the sales-person as to which are the models which are 3G enabled, which are the models that support video-calling, which are the models that are Android based and whether the Android version was Froyo or something else! The last query the sales-person was slightly less informed but apart from that he was well aware of the products, which goes on to say that he gets these types of questions every single day! A lot of credit goes to the manufacturers who have been consistently dropping the prices and now you can get an Android Smartphone for under 10k($220)! People clearly don’t mind shelling out a few bucks more if they can get a fully-loaded phone! This is not to say that high-end phones are not worth, as a lot of factors come into play which dictates the price of a phone! Interestingly there was just one iPhone 3GS on display priced at around 30k($650) and expectantly no body seem to be interested in it! Well if you can get a similar phone for half the price, is unlocked why would anyone go for the overly priced iPhone! But then Apple is not known for its reasonable pricing and some may say that, it is exactly what makes it exclusive.
  • My last experience is a beautiful reflection of the Indian culture. There was a family checking out few smartphones(Father, Mother, Daughter and Son). The boy must be around 10-12 years, the girl 15-18. The father and son were busy checking out the phones. The mother and daughter were engrossed spectators. Now 2 models were short-listed(I assume it was a family day out for the son to get a new phone!). Not surprisingly the son liked the model which cost slightly more than the model his father liked! Now came the climax! The son wants the one he liked. The father clearly wants to save some money, but at the same time doesn’t want to disappoint the son by dictating what to buy! As you can see its a very complicated situation! Enter the mother! Even though she has no idea about phones, she magically says something(as they were not speaking in English or Hindi, I couldn’t catch the magic-words of the mother) to her son, her son thinks for sometime and then happily agrees on the model his father had in mind! A difficult situation has been solved rather effortlessly! The entire family is happy!
To sum it up – 
  • People may spend a lot of time trying out Apple products but when its time to buy, to shed some fat off the wallet, very few people buy Apple!
  • Tablets are selling like hot-cakes! Though Samsung Galaxy Tab is easily outselling iPad!
  • The time is in favor of Smartphones and more on the Android platform! Blackberrys are too boring, too outdated, iPhones are too expensive! Android are fun and cheap!
  • There are still families, where the parents decide the gadgets for their children or at-least have a say. This group may be diminishing, but it still exists!
  • There is a demand of 3G and Video-calling is very high. If the service providers can improve their infrastructure, have a reasonable pricing, people would happily pay!
  • There was a time in India, when if it was priced lower it would sell. But not anymore. Price is not the only criteria where buying is concerned.

 

Surfing the net is the #1 activity people do on their Tablets, but there was no Wi-fi or rather not one available for public use inside Croma. So at-least on the Tablets, Wi-fi should be hooked up for to be able to see how the browsing experience is on a Tablet! And the reason Smartphones are gaining popularity is because of apps, this is the primary reason why still iPhone rules overall and where Android is catching up. So even while buying Smartphones people may want to see the App market and the apps available before zeroing in on a particular phone. Wi-fi is must!

 

One more thing, few people asked the sales-person as to which is the latest model from Samsung and repeatedly the sales-person mentioned Samsung Galaxy Tab! It can be used to make calls, but I don’t think it should be categorized as a smartphone for obvious reasons(Size!). Its primarily  a Tablet!

 

Adios!
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