Архив метки: Windows Mobile

Android And iOS Still Lead In Smartphone Market Share, But The Race For Third Rages On


Nielsen released another of their periodic looks at the U.S. smartphone market today, and aside from the revelation that two-thirds of U.S. phone purchasers went for smartphones in Q2 2012, the results are as you’d expect.

Android still leads the pack in terms of pure penetration — as of this past June, it accounts for 51.8% of smartphones in use (up from 50.4% in Q1 2012) with Apple’s iOS right behind it at 34%. Don’t feel too bad for Apple though, as they still have the highest manufacturer share by far (34% in Q2), with Samsung at a distant second.

That those two platforms still hold first and second place shouldn’t come as surprise, and their slight gains come at a cost. Nielsen has RIM still clinging to third place despite another quarterly drop, as it now accounts for 8.1% of smartphones in use. Meanwhile, the rest of the competition languishes below 5% as of Q2 2012.

It’s that part of the market that seems the most interesting right now, as there’s still plenty of room in the market for a third strong mobile ecosystem to emerge while Apple and Google continue to slug it out. The question though is what that third platform will be, and there are no clear indicators to be found in Nielsen’s data.

RIM looks like a possibility, considering it has managed to hold on to a its tenuous third, though it’s tough to say how their recent performance will affect this figure going forward. CEO Thorsten Heins noted during the company’s somewhat contentious shareholders meeting that their current and forthcoming BlackBerry 7 devices would comprise the company’s low and mid-range product tiers until it can push out a full slate of BB10 hardware next year.

Still, RIM had best gird itself for a long(er) transition period, as its split focus between platforms may not do it any favors. The process of shifting users from older devices to new ones will take a considerable amount of time, especially as the company focuses on getting existing BlackBerry users to upgrade right now.

Of course, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is set to make its official debut this fall, putting it well ahead of RIM’s nascent “computing platform.” That’s not to say a head start is all that it takes to win in a race like this — there’s something to be said for how well a company can capture new customers (or upgrade older ones), and Microsoft seems to have had some issues with that. Nielsen’s data still puts Microsoft’s aging Windows Mobile platform (3% of the market as of Q2 2012) ahead of the much-newer Windows Phone (1.3%). With any luck, Microsoft has learned a few things and garnered enough developer support to put Windows Phone 8 higher up in the rankings, but only time will tell whether or not either of these companies has the savvy to make real contenders of their forthcoming mobile operating systems.

Android And iOS Still Lead In Smartphone Market Share, But The Race For Third Rages On

Startups Vs. Startups: App Developer Gets Sued By Lightbank-Backed WhosHere


So here’s a story that hopefully will be an eye-opener for entrepreneurs and startups, while providing a painful peek into trademark harassment and the importance of due diligence. It goes a little something like this: About two years ago, software engineer Brian Hamachek decided to build an app first on Windows Mobile (how some horror stories have been known to begin), then on Windows Phone, that enables location-based chat — and calling. In other words, call and chat with new friends who live close by, for free. He called it Who’s Near Me Live.

Long story short: A Lightbank-backed startup called myRete own and operate a similar app called WhosHere, which was founded two years earlier. Well, they didn’t like the name Brian had chosen for the app — claimed it was too similer — so they asked him to change it. At first, he said “why no thank you,” but then they hit him with a C&D and then a lawsuit, so he acquiesced. Sounds like standard stuff for startup vs. incumbent, right? Well, it doesn’t end there.

Remember, this account is one-sided, and only tells Hamachek’s side of the story. We’ve reached out to WhosHere co-founder and COO Stephen Smith as well as WhosHere PR and will update when we learn more. After having slowly built his user base to about 400K (with limited revenues), he decided to expand and launch an iPhone app. Fellow writer and awesome person Sarah Perez covered the app’s launch for TC. According to Brian’s account of events, that’s when things turned sue-y — or, sour, if you prefer.

But don’t blame TechCrunch. Brian had changed his app’s name to WNM and moved all appearances of “Who’s Near Me Live” under the more prominent “WNMs” on the homepage, social channels, etc. The name still appeared, but Brian made it clear that the name was now “WNM.” WhosHere had apparently thanked him and things remained gravy for about a year — until the TechCrunch post. Seeing that WNM was getting some coverage, WhosHere slapped him with a federal lawsuit, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquating, and breach of contract.

They apparently gave him two choices (paraphrased, put simply): Hand over all your assets to us, or shut everything down completely. (See Brian’s description here.) Obviously, the WNM founder wasn’t particularly thrilled with either of those ideas, but even after exchanging emails with those on the other side, things remained unresolved.

Locked in a stalemate, WhosHere pushed for a default judgement and sent Hamachek the resulting paperwork. Not long after, he received a notice saying that he’d missed the deadline to file a response to the lawsuit. Unaware of any proposed deadline, he dug around and found that the page that included the terms had been cleverly (or dickishly) removed from the paperwork he was sent.

Now he has 7 days to “lawyer up,” and respond. In his words:

I have less than 7 days to find an affordable, but competent, lawyer, request the default be put aside, and respond to their accusations. The lawyers I have spoken to thus far are asking me for at least a $10,000 retainer just to get started on the process and I don’t have those kind of resources laying around. I have spent 2 years building this project into something of a success, sacrificing my time, sleep, and social life for this app every waking day. I fear without help in the next couple days, everything may have been wasted.

The WNM founder today posted the above, non-abridged story to his blog, asking the startup community for support and advice — and included a “Donate” button should readers want to give to the cause. The post found some traction on Hacker News, and he tells us that he’s been surprised (and humbled) to find a community ready to support him, or at least lob pearls of wisdom from the comment section.

He also tells us that there’s more back story. About two years ago, having devised the idea for Who’s Near Me Live, he contacted Smith. Knowing they were already working on a similar app and service, he wanted to build a Windows Mobile version of WhosHere for them. After a back and forth that lasted about two weeks, Smith decided that they didn’t want to take on Hamachek’s services, but they encouraged him to build it himself and see what kind of traction he was able to get.

According to Hamachek, Smith told him that if the app found a user base, they would consider bringing him on, or taking the next step. (Psych!) It took awhile as Brian worked on Who’s Near Me Live in his spare time, working at cloud storage startup, Storsimple, full-time. But a year later, Hamachek says that Smith reached out to him and asked him politely to change the name. When he refused, he received the C&D letter and a lawsuit.

For entrepreneurs and founders out there, as Johnny_Law suggests in the comment section of Hamachek’s post, it’s at this point that he should have retained the services of a lawyerin’ type. But, understandably, not wanting to pay an armload, and, as he says, believing that two reasonable parties would/should be able to work things out, he declined to do that and just accepted the need to change the name.

He might also have removed all incidences of “Who’s Near Me Live” from the site, but he didn’t do that either. He might also have chosen a better name to begin with, but thinking there was enough differentiation, he didn’t bother. A mistake many would make, and, after all, hindsight is 20/20. (Also why sites like Trademarkia exist.)

In regard to the missing “deadline” from WhosHere’s second, federal lawsuit, as Hamachek has since learned, this can be standard practice for lawyers looking to take advantage of those defendants who are unfamiliar with IP/Trademark law and the litigation process. And it seems to have worked, sadly proving their point.

So, while it’s difficult not to see all this as being a bit underhanded, again, as JohnnyLaw points out, painting WhosHere as the “bad guy” may be a little bit misguided. Although, admittedly, if Hamachek’s account is true, it does seem rought. It could also just be a play for 400K users and some SEO. (Again, we’re waiting for a response from WhosHere.)

While Hamachek says he’s open to fully changing the name and removing any appearance of “Who’s Near Me,” he says that the lawsuits seem to be evidence that WhosHere is no longer satisfied with a name change, they want the whole kit-and-kaboodle. So, as a result, he’s currently looking for lawyers and hopes that they can still negotiate a fair result, although the two parties may be beyond that at this point.

A friend who works at one of the biggest business litigation firms told me that courts usually don’t have a lot of sympathy for those that miss filing deadlines. If that happens because one was improperly served or there was a procedural defect in play, avoiding the default is easier. If, instead, the lawyers can prove they did everything right, it generally depends on the judge. And even if there is a default, WhosHere would have to collect the judgement, at which point they may go back to court, where a judge may be more willing to hear the merits rather than resolve on a technicality.

But, again, the moral is: If someone sticks you with a lawsuit, hire a lawyer. And to the bullies: Listen to Bart Simpson (above).

You can find Brian’s post here and myRete is here.

What do you think? How can both startup get back to building their products and avoid the distraction of litigation?

Below you’ll find the original lawsuit and attachments in one:

Startups Vs. Startups: App Developer Gets Sued By Lightbank-Backed WhosHere

9M Users Strong, MapMyFitness Brings Check-Ins, Advanced Google Maps Integration To Fitness Tracking

Screen shot 2012-05-21 at 6.41.19 PM

MapMyFitness is a veteran of the online health and fitness space, with the first iteration of its website appearing back in the summer of 2005. Since then, the startup has developed a suite of fitness-oriented websites (like MapMyRUN.com, MapMyRIDE.com, MapMyWALK.com, et al) to let users track and store their running, cycling, walking and hiking endeavors, along with accessing a database of international routes, fitness calculators, nutrition tracking, events listings and more. MapMyFitness has long had a stable community of committed users, but over the last year, things have been moving steadily north.

CEO Richard Jalichandra (who joined the startup from Technorati last year) tells us that MapMyFitness recently passed 9 million registered users, and that, collectively, its mobile apps have amassed over 30 million downloads, making it one of the biggest players in the fitness tracking space.

The good news for MapMyFitness, however, has been the recent telescoping growth in registrations (not downloads), with the latest 1 million registrations occurring over the last 40 days. That’s an increase from the 54 days it took for the site to go from 6 million to 7 million users, and the 47 days it took to pass 8 million users. All in all, that’s 3 million new users in the last 5 months, and the CEO says the company is today seeing 25K new registrations a day, significant when viewed against its nearly 7-year history.

It’s based on this recent uptick in activity that MapMyFitness is today launching one of the biggest feature updates the platform has seen since rebranding in 2007. The startup has completely rebuilt its portfolio of websites, and is now beta testing three big new features: Updated routes, personal challenges, and courses, with the main attraction, Jalichandra says, being the latter.

The CEO claims that the introduction of its new feature makes MapMyFitness the only online fitness service to have integrated Google Maps API v3.9 (the latest version of its API) and leverage its full functionality.

What does that mean? While MapMyFitness users could already plan, track, and share their routes, Jalichandra says that Courses adds a notable difference in performance and user experience, enabling users to go beyond the actual route. By incorporating realtime info on traffic, weather, safe routes, directions, realtime elevation, and custom markers, now users can go beyond the route, planning the best Segway route home from work, for example..

Really, the feature is intended to bring MapMyFitness into the gamification/Foursquare era, as it provides both hardcore and casual athletes with both leaderboards and check-ins. Courses offers an automatic “check-in activity” for every exercise logged to track the speed, distance, consistency, and intensity of workouts, ranking users by gender, age, and weigh on the platform’s new leaderboard.

There’s also a group segmenting feature that allows users to compare themselves, leaderboard-style, against specific groups, be they local clubs, friends, or fierce cycling rivals, backed by a points system that incorporates personal best times and monthly consistency, awarding badges to the users with the most overall points on climbing courses, those with the most completions of a course, the fastest time, etc., etc.

Courses will span MapMyFitness’ five primary categories, including cycling, running, walking, hiking and winter sports, as well as hundreds of subcategory specialties (like unicycling) and enables users to create new Courses directly from their iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids, Windows Mobile phones and iPads.

It also helps that Courses leverages the startup’s database of more than 50 million routes, 1 million climbs, and 30K event courses through realtime processing, allowing users to measure fitness and track progress in realtime or over time.

With RunKeeper on a laudable mission to build “the health graph,” alongside an API that’s already attracted 50+ integrations, big funding, and a platform that’s quickly becoming one of the top destinations for tracking and sharing fitness routines, incumbents are feeling a little bit of pressure.

But, as its name implies, MapMyFitness does maps better than most, especially now that it is powering its new features with Google’s latest mapping technology. According to the startup’s CEO, other than Strava, MapMyFitness is the only platform that offers realtime GPS activity leaderboards, and he thinks that components of the service, like route mapping, the ability to send a route to your phone to route with directions, along with the ability to choose from over 40 sports give its service a leg up on the competition.

MapMyFitness also capitalizes on three revenue streams: Media, digital commerce and subscriptions, and enterprise software, with this diversity resulting in the startup’s revenue doubling each of the last four years, the CEO says, and is projected to triple in 2012. This has allowed the startup to avoid raising outside investment beyond its Series A in 2010 and to grow, under its own volition, to a team of 78, giving it an advantage over its competition in terms of good old human capital.

With its deep database of courses, routes and trails, some added stickiness thanks to leaderboards and check-ins, and some big data collection and storage capabilities on the back-end using postGIS, it wouldn’t be surprising to see MapMyFitness continue in its accelerating growth trajectory. And maybe even find a little funding waiting in the wings.

Also, don’t be surprised if MapMyFitness ends up being featured by Google at some point. My guess would be here.

Courses will be available initially through a private beta test for first 100,000 users
who sign up here. iPhone and Android MMF users will only see superficial changes reflected in its new site — now available to one and all — at new.mapmyfitness.com. Widespread access to Courses et al will be offered later this summer.

What do you think?

9M Users Strong, MapMyFitness Brings Check-Ins, Advanced Google Maps Integration To Fitness Tracking

This App Lets You Chat With Nearby Users…And Call Them On The Phone


Palo Alto-based Who’s Near Me Live, abbreviated as WNM Live, is a two-year-old company that’s found moderate success by launching first on Windows Mobile and Windows Phone, before porting its mobile app to the iPhone, where it arrives today with a more limited feature set. The service, essentially a location-based chat similar in some respects to the newly acquired Yobongo, now boasts 400,000 users across its mobile, web and Facebook applications combined. Almost all of that user base is coming from mobile, however.

The most unique thing about this app is one of its least-used features: on Windows Phone, it supports 3G/Wi-Fi calling. Yes, with phone calls with strangers. The new iPhone version, unfortunately (fortunately?) won’t have the same option at launch, so it’s safe to use for now.

The decision to grow WNM Live’s user base first, before heading to the iPhone, was a conscious strategy on the part of founder Brian Hamachek.

“I knew if I had launched this on iPhone right from the get-go, you have to have a user base or it’s just not interesting,” he says. “Instead of launching on iPhone and Android as most people were doing, we looked at Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 because we knew there wouldn’t be any competition, the users would probably be a little more forgiving and would put up with having a little bit smaller user base for the time being.”

Today, about 85% of the users are on Windows Phone and 90% are on Windows Phone or Windows Mobile. The majority (75%-85%, estimated) are in the U.S.

The app, which lets users post updates and reply to those posted by others, is differentiated from the new “ambient location” (i.e., people-stalking) apps like Banjo, Highlight and Glancee, because it’s not about aggregating and tracking check-ins or geotagged tweets, nor is about running the app in the background to ping you when friends are nearby.

In fact, it’s not about tracking your friends at all – it’s about meeting new people.

So, like dating?

No, not that either.

WNM Live, says Hamachek, isn’t geared towards dating, it’s more for “helping normal people meet normal people.” (Oh burn, Skout users.)

It’s also heavily moderated with a zero tolerance policy for spam and inappropriate content to help keep the crazies out, too. This hasn’t apparently been much of an issue so far, as they’ve only had to ban around 1,700 users to date.

Users can post updates which can be cross-posted to Facebook, plus engage in one-on-one IM-like chats and picture message exchanges, although with the latter, the app requires first that at least five text messages have been sent without the sender getting blocked…you know, to cut down on the “here’s a picture of my junk” kind of thing.

There’s also that above-mentioned, pretty out-there feature (or maybe I’m just old) that lets users actually phone other users via the app. There’s no toggle for this, either. You can accept, reject or block a caller, but you can’t turn the setting off. When the app is open, you’re open to calls. On Windows Phone, the calls go over both Wi-Fi and 3G, but Hamachek expects restrictions when they get around to porting this feature to iPhone. It will probably only support Wi-Fi calls at that point, he admits. The feature doesn’t seem very popular right now – the app sees less than 1,000 voice calls per day.

One thing (OK, besides getting calls from strangers) that does concern me about WNM Live’s direction: Hamachek says he doesn’t use the app himself.

“Myself, personally…this isn’t something I have a need for in my life,” he says. “There are use cases for me, like finding a tennis partner. But on a day-to-day basis, I don’t need to find a tennis partner,” he explains. “There’s a use case for someone like myself, but my personal motivation is to build something that’s used by so many people.”

OK, then.

WNM Live is available on iPhone here.

This App Lets You Chat With Nearby Users…And Call Them On The Phone

After 2+ Years Of Serving Apps, Windows Mobile Marketplace Will Die On May 9


What a long, strange trip it’s been. As Microsoft throws their considerable weight behind the Windows Phone platform, they’re running out of love for their still-kicking Windows Mobile OS, and today they’ve driven another nail into its coffin. According to a new email being circulated to users as I write this, the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace will officially shut down on May 9.

The move to kill the Windows Mobile Marketplace (not the newer Windows Phone Marketplace, to be clear) has been in the works for a while now — it began back in June 2011, when Microsoft announced that Windows Mobile users would no longer be able to download apps from the Marketplace website.

Fortunately, apps could still be downloaded directly to a user’s device though that functionality will soon go dark. Microsoft advises WinMo users (all 9 of you, really) to make sure to snag whatever updates you can, because you’ll be out of luck before long. It’s worth mentioning though that while Microsoft is pulling the plug on the Marketplace, there’s still no shortage of communities dedicated to pushing out new (and dare I say cool) apps to the aging OS.

I doubt that the news will break many hearts today, but Windows Mobile was an important stepping stone in the evolution of the mobile operating system. It tried (perhaps too hard) to bring translate the standard PC experience to a different kind of device, and while Microsoft ultimately tried to revamp it with Windows Mobile 6.5, the dual onslaught of iOS and Android meant it was already fighting a losing battle at that point.

Of course, Windows Mobile isn’t completely dead and buried yet. You’ll probably find more than a few WinMo-devices support your local big box store’s stock system, and a nifty mod lets you run Windows Mobile within Windows Phone — a bit of Winception, if you will.

Here’s the full email, just in case you want to save it for posterity:

Thanks @fjeronimo!

After 2+ Years Of Serving Apps, Windows Mobile Marketplace Will Die On May 9