Archive for the ‘Android’ Category

09.28
15

DreamFactory: Building a better backend for your apps

by admin ·

A free, open source solution for connecting mobile, IoT, or Web apps to backend server data and services

Let’s say you’re building a browser-based HTML5 Web application that’s going to display data from a database on your server. The usual development process involves lots of heavy lifting at both the client front end and the server backend.

Now, the front end is what you really care about – delivering the services and functionality to meet the user needs – but the backend work required to make the front end possible can be a huge time sink. You’ll not only need database access and management you’ll also need user registration, authentication, logging, and management services along with server-side computations, and to connect everything together, you need application programming interfaces (APIs).

While building all of that infrastructure in the long term it’s the APIs that can really cause you grief. Once your logic becomes rich and therefore complex, documenting how your client side apps interact with the server and keeping that information up to date often become a major source of errors, problems, and development and deployment delays.

The problem of how to create not only functional but also maintainable backend services is what the free, open source DreamFactory Services Platform (DSP), published by DreamFactory Software Inc., solves. DSP acts as middleware, automatically creating and documenting REST APIs that connect any client including mobile, Web, and IoT apps to SQL, NoSQL, and server-based files as well as scripting and services external to the server via authentication and security controls all wrapped up in enterprise-grade security.

DreamFactory architecture

APIs generated by DSP can also be customized with pre- and post-process logic using the built-in V8 JavaScript engine and DSP “integrates with Active Directory, LDAP, and OAuth, and takes care of user management, authentication, single sign-on, role-based permissions, and record-level access controls.”

DreamFactory API flow
The generated APIs and associated documentation is based on Swagger, a free, open source API framework used in production by the likes of Apigee, Getty Images, Intuit, LivingSocial, McKesson, Microsoft, Morningstar, and PayPal. Where this feature becomes even more powerful is in the generation of client SDKs:

As each new backend service is hooked up, DreamFactory automatically produces written documentation on the service interface, creates an interactive API browser for exploring the service manually, and generates a dynamic software development kit (SDK) for calling the service.

DSP is written in PHP and can be installed on premises or in the cloud with one-click installers available for Amazon, Azure, Google, VMware, Digital Ocean, and Bitnami, or you can run DSP locally (which makes it really easy to get development started) under Linux, Windows, or OS X.

If you want to start your evaluation as quickly as possible, I’d recommend the free Bitnami DreamFactory installer, Docker image, or virtual machine. I used the installer and had DSP running on OS X in under five minutes. As Bitnami points out, with their packaged solutions you can:

DreamFactory Software offers paid product support packages and commercial licenses. If you want to jump in with serious training and support, DreamFactory Software offers their Jumpstart program starting at $2,000 to get you from newbie to expert really quickly.

This is an amazing piece of engineering and if you’re doing any kind of even vaguely serious app development this DreamFactory Services Platform should absolutely be on your shortlist of service solutions.

 

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12.22
14

11 Android tools for Web developers

by admin ·

Android mobile devices, while not typically thought of as places where development work gets done, can offer surprisingly useful apps to help developers get the job done

Web developer apps for your Android device
As Web developers, most of us love to stay connected to the Web. Now with the help of Android apps, developers can ply their craft on any mobile Android device. FTP, SSH, MySQL, code editors, plus much more are all at your fingertips. And while many of us wouldn’t choose to use these tools throughout the whole workday, it’s nice to know that they are there at the ready should you need to spring into action to save the proverbial day.

These apps are either altogether free or inexpensive and can save your skin should you find yourself cut off from a computer.

Hacker’s Keyboard
This tool shows up on many mobile developer tool lists because many of the apps here work better with a traditional keyboard layout. For tasks like writing code, working with shell scripts or other command line tools, it’s a big time saver and a must-have for the developer on the go.

Price: Free

ConnectBot SSH Client
Much like Putty for Windows, ConnectBot is a free open source app that allows users to connect to any Linux machine running an SSH client. This is a must-have for Linux administrators. Users can transfer files remotely and create remote telnet sessions. Pico and Vi to your heart’s content.

Price: Free

AndFTP
Every Web developer needs to transfer files at some point. Maybe you want to upload pictures to your website from an event or grab data or a document on your Web server. It’s no problem with AndFTP: You simply input your FTP settings, and you’ll be transferring files in no time.

Price: Free

ES File Explorer File Manager
ES File Explorer provides users with an easy and intuitive way to browse through the files and folders on your Android device. The app makes renaming, deleting, or moving files and folders a snap. It provides Bluetooth sharing, Samba file-sharing via Wi-Fi, a baked in process/task killer, and built-in support for ZIP and RAR file types. It also offers cloud storage support for most major providers, such as Dropbox, Box.net, or Google Drive.

Price: Free

WebMaster’s HTML Editor
This handy little HTML editor will make a great addition to your developer toolbox. It supports HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. While you may be tempted to save some money here, you should spring for the full version, which allows for full preview and code support. For those looking for a free option give 920 Text Editor a try. While not as feature-rich as Webmaster’s, it consistently gets good reviews and has been around for a while.

Price: $4.99

VT View Source
Ever need to see the code behind that Web page you’re working on? Of course you do. Desktop browsers all have “view source” baked in, but what about when you are on your tablet or smartphone? VT View Source provides support to view HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or XML sources from Web pages or remote files. It provides code highlighting, line numbers, and text wrapping to fit your devices screen. Simply type or paste the URL, or location of your file, and this app will lift the veil on your Web pages to reveal their mysteries.

Price: Free

kWS – Android Web Server Pro
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Android is capable of running a Web server — it’s a Linux based OS after all. kWS – Android Web Server Pro is capable of implementing a Web server running HTTP 1.0 with basic and digest authentication and can support most file types.

Price:
kWS – Android Web Server Pro Free
kWS – Android Web Server Pro $1.99

Open source CMS tools
The following apps are a part of the many open source content management systems that have become a staple of Web publishers around the globe. Using these tools, users can create, edit, delete, and update content as well as receive notifications. You can view stats, manage comments, and run your digital world, all from your Android device.

WordPress
Price: Free

Drupal Editor
Price: Free

Joooid! Joomla for Android

Price: Free

Vcrox MySQL Client

Web developers on-the-go can connect to their remote MySQL databases wherever they have cell access and insert, edit, and delete table rows until the cows come home. Export your data to work on the desktop. Support is available for English and Spanish language users.

Price: Free

SQLTool Pro Database Editor
Do you need to manage a MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Sybase ASE, MariaDB, Derby, or Oracle database from your Android device? Well, SQLTool Pro Database Editor stands at the ready. It supports SSH tunneling to connect, control, query, and manage several types of databases.

Price: $3.99

Google’s Mobile App Analytics
With Google’s app, users can track website data to improve ROI, improve search engine rankings, and identify and analyze audience and traffic issues. Relevant data includes audience acquisition and behavior, technology details, and keywords.

Price: Free

We’re always interested in how you get the job done. Please tell us what Web development tools you use on your Android device.


 

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03.10
14

Android malware detection boosted by university research

by admin ·

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found a way to monitor for Android malware with very low overhead

With smartphones and tablets increasingly at risk from malware, researchers from North Carolina State University have devised a new and potentially better way to detect it on Android devices.

The tool they have developed, called Practical Root Exploit Containment (PREC), is trained to uncover aberrant code written in the C programming language, the language in which they say most malicious Android code is written.

PREC looks for root exploits, in which a program gains system administration access rights to the entire device, which a malicious hacker can use with ill intent.

The researchers detailed their work, captured in the paper “PREC: Practical Root Exploit Containment for Android Devices,” at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Data and Application Security and Privacy, which was held this week in San Antonio, Texas.

PREC uses a well-known technique for identifying malicious code, called anomaly detection. Anomaly detection compares the expected behavior of an application with how it actually behaves when it is running on a device, in terms of the system calls it makes.

PREC is unique in that it can identify calls made to native C code from a Java program, and check to see if such actions fit into the application’s profile for typical usage. The bulk of software programs for Android are written in Java, which other experimental anomaly detectors have focused on.

“We’ve observed that most all of the existing exploits are coming from C code,” said Helen Gu, an associate professor of computer science at NCSU who was involved in the work. “It’s hard, if not impossible, to launch exploits in Java code, because it has to go through the virtual machine.”

With this approach, PREC has been able to reduce the number of false identifications by an order of magnitude, compared to other anomaly detectors. Focusing on native C code gives PREC a more accurate model of how attacks would differ from standard operations.

The researchers tested a prototype against 150 Android apps, of which 140 were benign and 10 contained root exploits. The experiments were run on a Google Galaxy Nexus and on an emulator. PREC was able to identify all of the root exploits with a minimum number of false alarms.

What the researchers hope to do is convince app stores, such as the Google Play Store, to create a database describing the typical performance characteristics of all their apps. They could use PREC to build these assessments. Then when a user downloads a new app, the Android device can also download the PREC execution profile for that application, and use that profile to monitor for any unusual activity coming from the app.

While app marketplace operators such as Apple or Google already screen the apps submitted to their stores, malware programmers have learned how to bury their code within an app so it doesn’t execute until after the program has been downloaded, Gu said.

The researchers chose Android over Apple’s iOS because the Android kernel, which is Linux, is open source, whereas Apple keeps the kernel for iOS under wraps. They built PREC as a module that can be compiled into the kernel.

PREC is not the only Android malware detector based on anomaly detection that researchers have created. Crowdroid uses a crowd-sourcing model of determining routine app behavior, and Paranoid Android offloads some of the detection duties to servers.

Both of those detectors require far more processing power on the portable device, compare to PREC, according to the NCSU researchers. Running PREC typically incurs about 3 percent overhead on the system, compared to the 15 to 30 percent overhead incurred by Crowdroid and Android.


 

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12.30
13

App dev 2013: The winners and losers

by admin ·

JavaScript, APIs, and PaaS advance; Samsung tries to stand out; and Java and .Net become legacy platforms

The software development landscape in 2013 saw technologies like JavaScript rise to new heights while others — Java, for example — maintained their prominence out of sheer inertia.

For software developers this year, JavaScript become even more dominant via an ever-expanding ecosystem of frameworks. Samsung tried to establish itself as its own platform in the Android market. API technology, despite a 30-year history, generated a lot of buzz a lot in 2013 as a way to access services and create revenue-generating opportunities for developers. PaaS (platform-as-a-service) cloud computing got a second look this year and is set for big things in 2014, analysts say.

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Meanwhile, the long-established Java and Microsoft .Net software development technologies took a backseat to JavaScript and mobile platforms. But both still are important, and the large base of applications and developers using Java and .Net over many years will ensure they remain prominent.

JavaScript is everywhere
It seems you can’t get into a discussion on software development any more without hearing about JavaScript, JavaScript, JavaScript. Yes, JavaScript has been a big deal for a while, even garnering mentions on “Saturday Night Live” and in a Weird Al Yankovic song parody several years ago.

But in 2013, JavaScript was like a snowball rolling down a mountain, getting bigger and bigger. It is the cornerstone of development frameworks like Meteor, Angular.js, and Famo.us, all which are building developer followings. JavaScript is on Web clients, where it has always been. It is key to mobile development, where much of the software action is today. And it is on the server, via Node.js.

Users of Appcelerator’s JavaScript-based mobile application development platform ranked JavaScript ahead of Java, Objective-C, C#, Ruby, and C/C++ for mobile development, according to a November survey by the firm. Appcelerator customers lean toward JavaScript because it can provide a single code base to work on multiple platforms, says Michael King, the company’s director of enterprise strategy.

Why the surge in frameworks? Perhaps because JavaScript hit its limitations, but its ubiquity fueled efforts to overcome them. “This was a very interesting year because people see the writing on the wall,” says Meteor co-founder Matt DeBergalis. “The ecosystem is still nascent, the tools aren’t good enough, and Meteor is, I’d like to think, part of that story [of improving JavaScript tooling].”

Samsung looks to stand out on Android
Clearly, Samsung wants to set itself apart from other Android vendors. It has created a distinct set of services (Chord instant messaging, entertainment management, and Knox security) and even hardware features, such as pen support and non-touch-based gestures in its devices. And it wants developers to write specifically to them, not just to generic Android. Samsung upgraded its mobile SDK in October, had a developer conference to encourage Samsung-specific apps, and sponsored small hackathons around the world to create momentum.

Other companies — notably Motorola (before Google bought its mobile devices arm) and Verizon Wireless — have tried a similar strategy, with no success. But Samsung has a chance to succeed in 2014, says Andrew Borg, a mobile analyst at the Aberdeen Group. “Let’s put it this way: They began a process that could put them on that trajectory, but I wouldn’t say they were successful in building momentum” for the company’s specific development capabilities.

APIs coming into their own
APIs built momentum in 2013, giving developers a mechanism to interact with large Web properties. Indeed, APIs have become the new SOA (service-oriented architecture) but offer greater simplicity. “APIs have jumped out of the petri dish of the enterprise,” says Kin Lane, an independent API evangelist. Companies ranging from PayPal to Walgreens, as well as government agencies, have jumped on the API bandwagon.

Technologies like REST and JSON are critical in the API party, in which thousands of APIs have become available. Mobile applications and cloud deployments have been key drivers of APIs, with APIs connecting users to application services. “We can call 2013 a watershed year for Internet APIs,” says Forrester Research analyst John Rymer. “Client interest in the topic is high.” The industry is aware, too, as evidenced by the 2013 acquisition of Mashery by Intel, Axway’s late-2012 acquisition of Vordel, and the constant dribble of new APIs in API broker Apigee’s service.

“The most important and underreported trend we’ve seen around APIs is how enterprise adoption for internal private APIs is skyrocketing, spurred on by mobile app requirements,” says John Sheehan, CEO of Runscope, which provides offers developers services to solve consumption-side API problems. “Companies are building more and more APIs to power their line-of-business apps, then finding that those same services can be used across the organization for all their cross-functional integrations.”

PaaS gets second look
Analysts are bullish on PaaS, the platform service subset of cloud computing. With PaaS platforms like Microsoft Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services, developers build and deploy applications on a cloud already fitted with specific development tools and language capabilities.

The PaaS promise is not new, but it got more traction this year, says Forrester’s Rymer: “Having failed to catch on during the initial wave of cloud platform adoption, VCs and customers gave PaaS vendors another look in 2013.”

Analysts at 451 Research also see improved prospects for PaaS. “For 2013, we are projecting well over 50 percent growth over 2012,” says 451 analyst Greg Zwakman. The research firm expects PaaS usage to grow 41 percent each year through 2016, to account for 24 percent of total cloud revenues.

“PaaS has come to mean integrated middleware and services developers use to run cloud applications,” says 451 Research analyst Michael Cote. “The tools and practices behind devops are reaching the mainstream, and the fast rise of things like Docker and mainstream [selling] of Cloud Foundry are all encouraging.”

Java and Microsoft .Net: As trendy as Cobol
2013 continued to see the march of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android as targets for developers. Java and Microsoft .Net, by contrast, remained key platforms for developers, but without the excitement they once generated.

However, Java development serves as the linchpin of Android development via the Dalvik virtual machine. Java Standard Edition and Java Enterprise Edition still have enough developers using them to make sure they remain viable forces for the foreseeable future. Java EE 7 was released this year, focusing on HTML5, batch processing, and an updated Web profile.

But there was no new release of Java SE this year — Java SE 8 is due early in 2014 via Java Development Kit 8 — and desktop Java remained beset with security issues in 2013. Oracle’s initiatives to shore up Java security only brought more negative attention to the problem; Oracle is stuck between a rock and hard place on this one.

Microsoft updated its software development tool set for .Net yet again this year with the release of Visual Studio 2013, offering improvements in application lifecycle management, including new links to Windows Azure. Microsoft improved .Net’s Web development and code editing capabilities as well.

Still, Microsoft’s absence from the mobile battleground — largely an iOS vs. Android affair — has left the company’s .Net software development platform in a similar position as Java: .Net relies on being a legacy, ubiquitous platform rather than on being where the new technology trends are occurring. Indeed, the move to mobile means few companies are targeting Windows PCs and browsers before mobile devices, says 451 Research analyst Chris Hazelton. “Now, you’re seeing companies that are targeting mobile first.”


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06.17
13

OMG KLP – Rumor outs purported details of Android 5.0

by admin ·

Plus, Samsung going heavy metal but light on the updates, Google Glass gets torn up

The Android world is in a weird place, as far as version 5.0 or (supposedly) Key Lime Pie is concerned. After whiffing mightily on our confident predictions that it would be rolled out during Google I/O, we’ve been antsy for new information but understandably gun-shy about prognosticating.

Fortunately, however, the indomitable people over at VR-Zone have stepped up to the plate, reporting that Android 5.0 is coming in October, which will coincide with the supposed release date for the Moto X and an unnamed Nexus device.

The other piece of information that publication reported is that Android 5.0 will be an “optimized” OS – meaning that it will run well even on older phones with as little as 512MB of RAM. (Hopefully, this will help carriers get it out the door and onto everyone’s phone more quickly.)

While the fact that VR-Zone’s report cites only anonymous sources – and doesn’t really even give a sense of why they might be in a position to know anything, only that we’re talking about “insiders” – argues strongly for not taking it as gospel, an October launch makes as much sense as anything else, I suppose.

But I’m skeptical of the Moto X release window as supporting evidence – I haven’t heard anything about the X being a Nexus device, so unless Google’s going to shake up the way Motorola uses its operating system, I don’t really get what one thing has to do with the other.

Still, whenever it comes out, the idea of Key Lime Pie being heavily optimized for performance is a pleasing one. While the underlying Android platform itself isn’t generally guilty of this, vendor skins tend to focus on adding dumb new features, regardless of the performance cost. So a move in the direction of efficient, slimmed-down code from Google is very welcome, and could help offset some of the more egregiously clunky OEM software additions.

* Catwig has a really, really interesting teardown of Google Glass that I highly suggest you go and read.
image alt text

A 640×360 screen resolution doesn’t sound very impressive until you remember that it’s coming from a display the size of a rice grain. “The pixels are roughly 1/8th the physical width of those on the iPhone 5’s retina display,” writes Catwig.

* A snippy online war between Samsung fanboys and detractors, centered on the company’s continued use of all-plastic designs, has seen a major shift this week with rumors that the next Galaxy flagship phone will be made of aluminum instead of polycarbonate.

According to Android Geeks, they have a – wait for it – anonymous source telling them that the Galaxy S5 will be created under a new “Design 3.0” concept at Samsung – which apparently entails metal construction.

The sniping over Samsung’s devotion to plastic is often intensely childish and stupid, but, for the sake of completenes, here it is in a nutshell: The haters say all Samsung’s gear “feels” cheap and low-grade because it’s all plastic, and metal and glass are superior materials in every way; ;he fans say there’s absolutely no difference and actually Samsung’s devices “feel” better than others anyway. The fact that this is at least partially a matter of preference seems to be totally lost on both sides.

Still, the anti-plastic crowd may have raised the volume enough to be heard in Seoul, if Android Geeks is to be believed. (For the record, this is a fairly sizeable “if” from where I sit.) There’s no denying that the iPhone 5 and HTC One – both of which are made with metal and glass – are impressive feats of engineering, so perhaps Samsung feels it should give the luxury materials trend a spin.

* Sticking with Samsung for a moment, it’s being Tweeted by the tireless folks at SamMobile that Android 4.2.2 updates for the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 are going to be delayed thanks to some issue related to TouchWiz.

While it’s an unfortunate delay, it does happen all the time, though it seems to be the carrier’s fault in most cases.
(Hat tip: Geeky Gadgets)

* Finally, a word about That Other Smartphone Platform – iOS 7 launched this week and provoked widespread jeering from Android fans, who see the update, essentially, as an admission that Apple’s design principles were inferior to those of Android.

Android

“ Welcome to Android, iPhone,” snarked Redditor EvoBrah. Others ask whether Apple will be sued for ripping off Android design elements. (To be fair, these companies sue each other seemingly every week or two these days, so that might not be quite so crazy.) But really, this is just a small sampling of the Android smugness going around right now.

Don’t get me wrong – the fanboys and fangirls have a point. Ever since the days of “we have a notification bar and Apple doesn’t,” Android has added new and different features consistently, while Apple hasn’t changed much. And a lot of the new features in iOS 7, like the flatter visual style, multi-tasking and heavily customizable interface really have been in Android for some time now.

But even if Apple’s playing catch-up, as they undoubtedly are at this point, iOS 7 is still pretty impressive. Apple’s attention to detail is excellent. They’re still really, really serious competition. Simmer down, everyone.


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03.18
13

NotCompatible’ Android malware rears its ugly head, again

by admin ·

NotCompatible’ Android malware rears its ugly head, again
Mobile security vendor Lookout says Android malware is showing signs of sudden activity

The “NotCompatible” malware, designed to infect Android devices and turn them into unwitting Web proxies, is suddenly showing a sharp uptick in activity, according to mobile security vendor Lookout.

The malware is essentially a simple network proxy, which pretends to be a system update in order to get unwitting users to install it. The idea seems to be gaining access to protected networks through victims’ infected Android devices. It was named for its apparent command-and-control server, at notcompatibleapp.eu.

Last weekend saw the number of detections for NotCompatible rise to 20,000 per day as of last Sunday and Monday, wrote researcher Tim Strazzere, who said that the malware had been largely dormant since it was discovered in May 2012.

But while the initial discovery saw the malware being installed by hacked websites, the latest wave of NotCompatible is being spread by email spam. The usual subject line is “hot news,” and the infected messages appear to contain links to fake weight-loss articles.
NotCompatible malware
Credit: Lookout Security
The hacked Web page that can contain the NotCompatible malware.

“Depending on the user’s Android OS Version and browser, they may be prompted about the download. Many stock browsers will transparently trigger a download to the device /Downloads folder whereas Chrome displays a confirmation dialog,” wrote Strazzere.

Lookout said there is little chance of direct harm to infected devices, and victims must allow NotCompatible to be installed for it to function, further minimizing the overall threat to the majority of Android users. The best advice for safety is simply to never allow any .apk whose provenance you’re even a little bit unsure of to be installed on your phone.


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02.27
12

Does a Mozilla smartphone/tablet OS have a chance against Android and iOS?

by IT Trainer ·

If Mozilla has teamed up with a hardware partner (or partners) then it’s serious about B2G, and if it’s serious about B2G, then it’s also serious about going head-to-head against Apple and Google.

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If rumors are to be believes, not only will Mozilla take the wraps off the Mozilla Marketplace at next week’s Mobile World Congress, but it will also announce that it has teamed up with LG to bring a developer-oriented mobile device to market.

Does Mozilla stand a chance against the likes of Android, Chrome, Windows Phone (and Windows 8) and iOS when it comes to smartphone and tablet operating systems?

Mozilla Marketplace is the company’s plan to bring apps to Firefox, which will make a debut with Firefox 13 in June. However, Mozilla has also hinted as aspirations to enter the OS market with it’s Boot to Gecko (B2G) project, a OS that runs HTML5, JavaScript and CSS directly on device hardware without the need for an intermediate OS layer.

According to ExtremeTech, Mozilla has partnered with LG and is to announce a developer device that could go on sale as early as next week, and that this device will give developers the chance to start developing apps for B2G.

However, at present there’s really no sign of B2G code, so it’s likely that any devices sold now would sit on desks gathering dust until later in the year. This fact alone makes me suspect that there won’t be a device on sale next week, and that at best this is an announcement.

But either way it’s interesting. If Mozilla has teamed up with a hardware partner (or partners) then it’s serious about B2G, and if it’s serious about B2G, then it’s also serious about going head-to-head against Apple and Google.

And that could be a huge problem for Mozilla. Apple and Google are titans of the tech industry, and by comparison Mozilla is, well, nothing. Even Microsoft is having a tough time breaking into the post-PC device market, and that company has billions at its disposal and enormous reach into almost every corner of the consumer and enterprise IT markets. If Microsoft is having a hard time going up against Apple and Google, what’s Mozilla’s secret sauce?

Mozilla might have been able to outmaneuver Microsoft when it came to offering an alternative web browser, but this is an entirely different thing. Giving away a free browser is very different to trying to sell hardware of a platform. Not only that, but Google and Apple are far more on the ball than Microsoft was when it comes to protecting their markets and threat recognition.

I see this playing out in one of three ways:

Fantasy-case scenario: Mozilla becomes a big player in post-PC hardware with B2G and offers hardware OEMs and carriers an alternative to Google, Apple and Microsoft’s walled-garden approach (yeah, right … ).
Best-case scenario: B2G hardware dies on the vine before Mozilla invests too much money and development time in the project.
Worst-case scenario: Google, Apple and Microsoft tag-team Mozilla in the courts, dragging the company into the ongoing litigation mess that the mobile hardware market has evolved into, and Mozilla ends up hemorrhaging cash.

I see what Mozilla is trying to do here. It’s basically trying to turn every copy of Firefox, no matter where it is, into an operating system capable of running apps. That’s a noble idea (although you might wonder just how fragmented the app market is going to get soon, with everyone wanting a piece of it), but B2G takes it a step further to the point where Mozilla wants to become the platform of its own. And it’s that plan that puts Mozilla on a collision course with the Goliaths of the tech industry.

I’m thinking that Mozilla has bitten off more than it can chew here.

11.12
11

Minuscule Mobile Presence Puts IE Market Share Below 50 Percent

by [email protected] ·

If you look at the numbers a certain way, it appears that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser has fallen to below 50 percent of the overall browser market, according to figures from Net Applications. That figure, however, takes into account mobile market share, and mobile is area in which Microsoft could soon grow thanks to its ties with Nokia.

Net Applications’ browser market report for October continues to track Internet Explorer’s steady decline, from 60.99 percent in October 2010 to 53.39 percent in September 2011 to 52.63 percent in October 2011.

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Some caveats must be included in these numbers, though. For starters, these figures just refer to desktop use. Some 6 percent of the browser marketplace is now mobile — where Internet Explorer doesn’t have much of a presence at all.

Here, Safari reigns, holding a 62.17 percent share of the mobile market. Android’s browser follows with 18.65 percent.

Add these numbers together and the end figure is not pretty for Microsoft: It holds just under 50 percent of the total browser market.

Two Different Beasts

That is not how Net Applications calculates it though, EVP Vince Vizzaccaro told the E-Commerce Times.

“We track desktop market share versus mobile market share, and on the desktop Internet Explore is still at 52 percent.”

It is not wise to count Internet Explorer out even though its market share is in a decline, Vizzaccaro added, for several reasons, starting with the fact that the mobile market is still very much in play.

“With Windows Phone starting to get out there, especially with the deal with Nokia (NYSE: NOK), I believe there is significant room for growth for Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) IE.”
Business Versus Consumers

Another reason why Internet Explorer has staying power, he added, is that it is a staple of the business community.

“The browser market is still very much a dual-user community, divided between consumers and businesses.”

Oftentimes the same user who wouldn’t think of deploying Internet Explorer at home — preferring instead to use Firefox or Chrome — can’t use anything else but IE at work.

The reason for consumers’ preference for Chrome and Firefox are obvious, Vizzaccaro did acknowledge: Both Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Mozilla have taken a rapid upgrade, rapid feature-enhancement approach to their respective products.

“That plays wonderfully at home but in the corporate world it falls flat,” he said.

Businesses want to see a much longer deployment cycle, want to know that there was a lot of testing done, want to make sure that the browser is completely safe for business machines, he said.
Usability on Par

Internet Explorer does suffer from a perception problem, Vizzaccaro added, which is unfortunate because all of the browsers are on par with each other in terms of usability and features.

“Because Chrome is the new kid on block, it is gaining some mind share but I don’t see a big difference in usability in any of the browsers,” he concluded.

Not that Net Applications is reflective of that. Besides Internet Explorer’s decline, the research firm’s monthly stats also chronicles Google’s Chrome Web browser ascending star. It has cracked 17.6 percent market share after jumping 1.4 percent month-over-month from September and is closely gaining on Firefox’s 22.5 percent. Indeed, Chrome could well pass Firefox by early 2012.

10.31
11

Every Android device now infringes Apple patent: Slide to unlock

by [email protected] ·

Whatever your position is on patent infringement and the never-ending lawsuits in the mobile space, the fact is until the system is overhauled it is the law. I hate that design elements can be patented, instead of actual devices which makes more sense. Apple has been riding the patentability of design elements for a while, and has a number of Android device makers on the ropes as a result. A U. S. patent awarded today to Apple guarantees that every Android phone and tablet ever made infringes Apple’s design.

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Anyone who has touched an Android device has come face-to-face with the slide to unlock feature. The device is inaccessible until a slider or similar control is touched and slid to a boundary, unlocking the gadget. This simple control has now been patented by Apple, removing it from the available design pool to anyone else.

Apple has been picking and choosing its targets for patent infringement litigation carefully, using various patents it owns to go after infringers. This new patent over the simple slide to unlock feature means the company can go after any Android device maker it wants, and likely have success in the courts.

Heck, the control on Windows Phone devices, sliding the lock screen up to access the phone functions, may very well infringe on this patent too. That could extend to the upcoming Windows 8 as early preview versions use this same control to unlock devices.

Apple filed for the slide to unlock patent before the original iPhone was released, and just received confirmation of the patent. That puts every Android device ever made firmly in the infringing category, should Apple choose to get nasty.

10.29
11

More than just sexy phones: how Nokia will help sell Windows Phone 7

by admin ·

Unlike, oh, to pick a random example, Apple, Microsoft has only a very limited retail presence. The company has opened a handful of (high-quality and actually rather pleasant) Microsoft stores in the US, but has little direct consumer reach beyond that. For the most part, it sells its Xboxes and shrinkwrap software on the shelves of other companies’ stores, with the burden of in-store promotion left up to the reseller.

 

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For smartphones, the most important of these resellers are the mobile operators themselves. Particularly in those markets such as the US and UK, where subsidized handsets are the norm, most buyers will never look beyond the shelves of their mobile network’s local store. If a smartphone isn’t promoted in the store, it will struggle to sell well. If the sales staff in the store guide customers away from a particular kind of phone, it’ll do even worse.

Microsoft has relatively weak relationships with the carriers. The carriers don’t buy product from Microsoft. They may be selling Windows Phone devices, but those are all sourced from Samsung, HTC, and LG. That’s where the strongest relationship is.

Nokia, however, has very strong carrier relationships. The company sells hundreds of millions of phones a year, and has fostered close working relationships with network operators around the globe (with the exception of the US).

Microsoft is looking to its partnership with Nokia to solve these marketing problems. And at Nokia World this week, the Finnish company did more than just reveal its good-looking handsets: it kicked off a huge marketing campaign, demonstrating the reach it has that Microsoft lacks.

Nokia’s plan is for its Lumia handsets, and Windows Phone, to be unmissable. Advertisements will inundate the Web, TV, and cinema. The TV and cinema ads are big, bouncy, and brightly colored. Their tagline is “The Amazing Everyday”: using your phone should be fun, easy, and exciting, making every day “amazing.”
Nokia’s TV advertisement

Though it’s varied from market to market, Windows Phone hasn’t really received this kind of saturation marketing before. In the UK, for example, TV spots have been few and far between, and most or all of them came from Microsoft, as part of its “Really?” campaign. In the US, there have been more advertisements from carriers—AT&T, for example, ran plenty of Windows Phone adverts in holiday season last year—but nothing as in-your-face as the Nokia campaign.

In-store promotion is also critical. Microsoft and Nokia need Windows Phones to be highly visible in carrier stores, and they need sales staff to push the handsets, just as they already do for iPhones and Android devices. To that end, Nokia says that it has put more phones into retailers’ hands than ever before, to make sure that the staff knows the devices and like the devices. The company has also demonstrated the in-store concessions that stores will use to promote the Lumia handsets. Importantly, they feature real devices rather than (infuriating and pointless) dummy units, as well as large interactive, touchscreen displays for learning more about the phones.
Real working handsets, instead of the infuriating dummy phones that serve only to enrage putative customers
Enter the vortex

High-profile retailer locations will include big vortexy things in the windows to draw attention from passers by. Outside stores, Nokia will also be installing large arch installations into certain high-end malls to promote the phones.

Nokia says that retailers are backing the devices in a way not previously seen before, with more store space dedicated to the devices and greater levels of staff training. The company also says that carriers and retailers are making three times the level of marketing investment than they have made for prior devices.
Phones, headphones, and a touchscreen computer thingy to learn all about them
Nokia has teamed up with Monster to produce audio accessories that are gloriously colorful

On top of these conventional marketing efforts, Nokia will also be promoting a range of stunts to generate buzz and make people take notice. These include putting fake saunas in bus shelters, performing DJ sets on the street, and dressing people as live tiles. Live tiles are a major part of what makes Windows Phone a little different from its competitors, and accordingly, Nokia is making them central to the branding of its campaign. The company wants to “fill the world with tiles,” so consumers in the six Lumia launch countries—UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain—should expect to see a lot of squares.

The massive increase in in-store promotion will give Microsoft something it didn’t really have prior to the Nokia partnership. Though LG, Samsung, and HTC all made Windows Phone hardware, none of them were fully committed to the platform; for them, it was just one among many. Nokia has put all its eggs in the Windows Phone basket, so is making a much greater effort to promote the platform and devices. The result should be far greater visibility for Windows Phone.

Perhaps the only gap in the promotion and branding is the lack of Nokia and Microsoft stores. Nokia had its own retail presence, with Nokia stores in select areas, but with the exception of a handful of locations in airports, these have been closed down over the past year, and Microsoft’s stores, which already leverage the tile branding to some extent, are only found in the US. In closing its retail properties, Nokia even took the (frankly astonishing) decision to terminate its online store. As a result, the two companies are always going to be heavily dependent on carriers and resellers doing the right thing to promote the phones.