Mobile App Roundup: The Rise of Android, Halfbrick Targets China and More

By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Survey Finds iOS is Only Profitable for a Minority of Developers — According to a survey conducted by independent Canadian developer Streaming Colour Studios, 20% of iOS developers take home 97% of all revenue generated on the platform. This isn’t really surprising given the economics of most gaming markets. However, keep in mind that the survey probably excludes responses of the highest-grossing developers who may be venture-backed and can’t disclose sensitive information like monthly revenues. In terms of lifetime revenue, while 25% of iOS developers have seen more than $30,000 from their apps, the money is very concentrated – the top 1% of developers currently account for 30% of all revenue generated by the App store.

Microsoft’s Mango Arrives, Brings Extras — The highly anticipated OS update Windows Phone 7.5 – aka Mango, began a gradual roll-out this week. The updated included a variety of new features that were previously announced, and two that weren’t – the ability to tether internet from a WP7 device to up to five other devices and a web-based marketplace that allows users to browse apps on a computer and remotely install them on a WP7 phone.

Android Phones now Twice as Popular as iPhones, But iPhone 5 is Hotly Anticipated —
The competition between Android and iOS continues to heat up, making BlackBerry and Windows Phones look increasingly like also-rans in the smartphone market. According to a new report from Nielsen, over the last three months more than half of smartphone buyers have chosen Android, rather than iOS. The numbers broke down to 56% Android, 28% iPhone, 9% BlackBerry and 6% other (including Windows Phone 7). However, as TechCrunch notes, with a new iPhone imminent, the numbers could be inaccurate. That conclusion seems to be backed up by the results of a study conducted by InMobi that found up to 41% of mobile consumers may purchase an iPhone 5. RIM fared particularly badly in the survey; up to 52% of BlackBerry users in North America are considering switching to the iPhone 5.

Gameloft Offerings Coming to Mysterious Sony Tablets — French developer Gameloft has signed a deal to bring optimized ports of some of their most popular games to an upcoming Sony tablet line.  Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD, N.O.V.A. 2 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD, Real Soccer 2011 HD, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem HD, and Green Farm HD will all be directly accessible on devices referred to as “Sony Tablet P” and “Sony Tablet S” by in a press release quoting Gameloft’s senior vice president of publishing, Gonzague de Vallois.

Microsoft & Samsung Reach Android Patent Detente — Microsoft and Samsung have agreed to halt legal battles over the use of Microsoft’s patents in Samsung’s Android devices. Under the terms of the new agreement, Samsung will now pay Microsoft a royalty fee for every Android phone and tablet it produces. Microsoft has also set up deals with HTC, Acer, ViewSonic, Velocity Micro and Winstron to license its portfolio of patents. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates that Microsoft will earn about $444 million in licensing revenue from such deals.

[Rumor] Ice Cream Sandwich to Debut on October 11th? — Samsung has announced a press event for October 11th, and industry watchers are betting that the event will see the unveiling of Samsung’s new Nexus Prime smartphone and the next Android OS update, Ice Cream SandwichVideo and photos of Ice Cream Sandwich have already leaked online, hinting that the update will bring interface improvements for notifications and the camera, as well as a slightly redesigned color scheme.

Halfbrick Wants 70 million More Chinese Downloads in Six Months — Fruit Ninja is already a big success for its developer Halfbrick; the game has been downloaded more than 66 million times and has been ported from iOS to Android, Windows Phone 7 and even Kinect, but the Australian developer is looking to China for continued growth. According to Halfbrick’s CEO Shainiel Deo, almost of third of Fruit Ninja’s downloads have come from Chinese users. In a speech at Beijing’s Mobitalk conference, Deo revealed that Halfbrick has formed a partnership with Chinese developer iDreamSky to develop free, localized versions of the game to combat piracy and allow Halfbrick to make money from in game ads and micro transactions.

Aquaria Coming to iPad — Indie developer Bit Blot is bringing its highly regarded game Aquaria to the iPad. The game, originally released in 2007 for PC, Aquaria is a 2-D action and adventure game set in a mysterious underwater world. The game was highly praised upon its release for its non-linear gameplay and impressive atmosphere, and won the grand prize at the Independent Games Festival in 2007.

Lara Croft is Coming to Android, But Only on the Xperia PLAY — Hit mobile game Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is coming to Android in November, but there’s a catch – only on the Xperia PLAY. This week Sony Ericsson announced a partnership with Square Enix that will see several of the developer’s hits come to the Xperia PLAY in the coming months.

Foursquare Revamps Home Checkins to Keep Users Safer — While nobody would ever say they don’t have any concern for their own privacy, according to Foursquare, a significant portion of its users love that they have the ability to check into their own homes. To address the demand, but to improve privacy and safety, the location based service announced that as of September 29th:

  • Only the person who creates a ‘home’ and their friends can see the address on the venue page.
  • On a home’s venue page, only those same people can see the map pin. Everyone else will see a map randomly centered somewhere near the address, with the zoom pulled out a bit.
  • The same rules apply to links shared on Facebook or Twitter.

Users can now also report locations as a home, setting them to be listed as private venues or removing them from the service all together. More details can be found on the Fourquare blog.

[Launch] Minecraft Now Available for More Android Devices — Minecraft, the mega-hit open-world exploration and crafting game from Swedish developer Mojang was released into the open Android market this week, much to the delight of the Android community.  Minecraft Pocket Edition was originally an exclusive title on Sony Ericsson’s Xperia PLAY. According to a video Mojang’s YouTube account, an iOS version of the game is also in development.

[Launch] Firebrand Branch Crawfish Games Tries Social and Mobile with Cutesy and Creepy — New studio Crawfish Games has finished setting up shop and is releasing its first two games, Cutesy and Creepy for iOS. Cutesy is available now and Creepy will be released on October 5th.  The games are targeted specifically at children 5 or older. By solving puzzles, players will be able to collect and share stickers with their friends. Crawfish games was founded as a way for parent company Firebrand Games (a UK developer who specializes in racing games for Nintendo consoles) to expand into the mobile, casual and online game marketplaces.

[Launch] Q&A Service Quora Releases iPhone App — Popular question-and-answer service Quora released a free iOS app this week for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The new app lets users to search for nearby queries, receive push notifications, and “shuffle” questions.

[Launch] Yahoo Unveils Free Flickr App for Android — Flickr users with Android phones finally have access to an official app. The new app allows users to browse albums, take photos, share them, and apply image editing and effects and filters, a direct challenge to services like Instagram and Hipstamatic that have seen their growth from mobile applications. Unlike on iOS, where Instagram has been one of the top 10 downloaded applications in the last year, Android is open territory given that PicPlz forfeited the camera space a few months ago. According to its page on the Android Market, the free app is already doing well seeing more than 50,000 downloads since its launch. Flickr has had an official iPhone app since 2009.