Archive for the category “Strategy”

HTML5 Roundup: Interesting Stuff

There's lot of interestingness to report on in the HTML5 universe these days, so to save you a little time, we've put together a little digest of some of the more significant news.

FT HTML5 AppsWe were fascinated by this interview with FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw as he reflected on the Financial Times’ decision to create its own HTML5 web and mobile app. In Lessons shared on FT.com’s HTML5 risks and successes, when asked about the main reasons for choosing to exit the native app stores and publish their own HTML5 apps, Grimshaw states:

"The commission is obvious, 30% less is 30% less. The direct relationship with the customer is more complex. But if you think about it, if you don’t know who your customer is, then your ability to control churn and retention and upsell people, market other services to them, etc., disappears. Without that, we reckon you lose another 35%. So the result is a much less attractive business."


Does the future of mobile content belong to apps or the web?At the paidContent Live 2013 event in New York, a panel of industry experts responded to the question, Does the future of mobile content belong to apps or the web? The definitive answer was - - It depends! See the video of the entire session. During the discussion, Ryan Spoon, SVP, Product Development at ESPN, stated:

"The back of every ESPN business card reads: 'Serve fans anytime anywhere.' That means going to where the users are and having content both in native apps and on the web. It depends on content: what you want to build, how you want to monetize it."


Nerdclustr HTML5 mobile appHave you come across the the HTML5 Hacks project?

What started out as a collaborative book on tips and tools for creating interactive web applications and a set of companion code repositories, has grown into a group of HTML5 evangelists and makers that enjoy pushing the limits of modern web technologies and the JavaScript language.

We highly recommend the Battle of the HTML5 Hackers video from SXSWi 2013 in Austin and the wonderful Nerdclustr, an HTML5 mobile app that helps nerds find other like-minded nerds at conferences events (shown in the screenshot).


The HTML5 Developer Conference 2013Did you miss the The HTML5 Developer Conference in San Francisco?

Too bad, but there are already some videos here to get you in the mood to start coding your HTML5 mobile app today!

On the incredibly resource-rich sessions page you can find slide decks, github repositories and links to the blogs and projects of the many accomplished presenters. Highly recommended.

If you'd like to see how far the world of HTML5 apps has come in just a few years, check out the archives from the The HTML5 Developer Conference 2011. Impressive.


Are you a developer already working on HTML5 mobile apps? Interested in getting wider distribution and integrating 1-click carrier billing into your apps? Or are you just getting started and wondering how the whole thing works? Signup to AppsFuel today — we've got lots of news and goodies for you in the developer zone. And check out the latest AppsFuel marketplace to see what's on offer...

HTML5 Mobile Apps and the Hype Cycle

HTML5 Hype CycleEven if you're not familiar with Gartner's Hype Cycle, you have certainly been through it countless times before. You know the drill – something shiny and new is introduced as the next huge thing (Technology Trigger) and everyone is talking about how it will change everything (Peak of Inflated Expectations)! Then, as reality sets in, people realize that everything has not magically changed and disappointment sets in (Trough of Disillusionment). The shiny, new thing starts to look dull. As time goes by, smart people look at the real opportunities for the shiny new thing (Slope of Enlightenment) and learn how to build solid businesses with the not-so-shiny-and-new thing (Plateau of Productivity).

In the 2012 publication of their Hype Cycle, Gartner placed HTML5 near the Peak of Inflated Expectations, predicting that it will take about five years for HTML5 to climb back up to the Plateau of Productivity.

We think that Gartner got this one wrong. And we're not alone. Other commentators have written that HTML5 is on very solid ground as it continues to grow and thrive as a development environment. It appears that the Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity are much closer than five years away. For those of us working in the field day in and day out, we are already emerging from the Trough of Disillusionment!

Our reasoning is based on a few fundamental realities of HTML5 – it's being actively supported and implemented by the largest players on the web (including the mobile web, obviously), namely Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox and Opera. Facebook, despite the "anti-hype" that we reported on back in September 2012, is still investing heavily in HTML5.

And developers (the toughest audience of all), when asked about their views about HTML5, have responded very positively.

The bottom line is that entire is built on HTML and HTML5 is the responsive and mobile-ready version of the open standards upon which over 2 billion people (over 34% of the entire global population) rely for news, information, entertainment, communication and social networking. We don't think it's going to hang out in the Trough of Disillusionment for very long! Do you?

Help us build the future, one great HTML5 mobile app at a time. Sign up to our developer zone and learn how we can help you build, publish, distribute and monetize your apps through our Billing API.

Firefox OS – The Web is the Platform

firefoxos

When Tim Berners-Lee came up with the concept of the world wide web, the very first browser he made allowed you to view the source code of the web page. The ability to view-source remains in all popular browsers made since.

Sometimes overlooked and often undervalued, the ability to view the code behind a web-page is one of the keys to the web's success. By allowing a generation of web-developers to build upon the work of others it can take large amount of credit for the rapid evolution of a new and vibrant media.

the ability to view the code behind a web-page is one of the keys to the web's success.

It is with some excitement then, that I read the official announcement back in February 2012 that Mozilla were releasing Firefox OS - a web-based operating system for mobile platforms. True to form - the platform is totally open and you can download the source-code from GitHub. You can change it and run it in an emulator on the operating system of your choice and developer phones are coming very soon. Being web-based, the source-code is simply HTML, CSS and JavaScript - technologies to which millions of web developers are already accustomed.

Developers and Users

For web designers and developers this is all very exciting, freeing their web based applications to access parts of the phones functionality that traditionally could only be accessed by native applications. This could also be very exciting for the average phone user for a number of reasons. Mozilla initially partnered with phone handset manufacturers LG and network operator Telefonica as part of their Open Web Device initiative. Significantly as many as 50% of Telefonica's clients are based in South America. Mozilla have also made a deal with LG to produce a cheap handset. It's estimated that the new Mozilla Phone could cost as little as a tenth of its Android and iPhone counterparts. More recently they announced that leading operators Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor are backing the open Firefox OS as the wider "Boot to Gecko project" is now being hailed.

the source-code is simply HTML, CSS and JavaScript - technologies to which millions of web developers are already accustomed.

Apparently Firefox OS runs just fine on a $60 handset with a 600Mhz CPU and just 128MB of RAM. It is also reported to boot in around 12 seconds. I've also heard anecdotal evidence that battery life is very good too. These are all good things that stem -- I presume at least in part -- from having a web-based operating system.

Apart from the fact that increased competition is almost always good, the release of Firefox OS is timely as it's estimated that many potential users are yet to switch to smartphones because of the price barrier. Indeed this could be many people's first taste of the web!

Of course people like to tinker and the fact that anybody can relatively easily alter the underlying OS could bring about some interesting permutations and as yet unthought-of applications.

Marketplaces

mozilla-marketplace-logo-final

In many ways complementing their new web-based OS Mozilla have launched Mozilla Marketplace an open HTML5 based app store. The view-source mentality and low barrier to entry could mean fantastic opportunities for a whole new generation of web makers. Mozilla like Google and other independent 'web-app-stores' such as AppsFuel have created a mechanism to allow developers to take payment and allow a shortcut to the web app to be placed on the user's home screen.

fantastic opportunities for a whole new generation of web makers.

Mozilla are working on making it easy for users to pay for apps using their own single sign-on and personal identification mechanism known as Persona. A mechanism like this would also simplify the process of synchronising apps and settings between devices.

This appears to be the non-profit's attempt to break the walled-garden approach that Apple -- and perhaps to a lesser extent Google -- seem keen to keep in place.

So what's different about how Apple handles the sale of apps and how Mozilla propose to handle it? Well let's deconstruct the process.

The Apple Way

In order to create, maintain and submit a native iOS app to Apple's app store you must first buy membership of Apple's iOS developer program which comes with Apple's Xcode environment (which incidentally is only available for Apple's OSX), create your app using Apple's propriety language: Objective C -- or use a third-party solution like Phonegap -- and then submit it to the App store for approval. If approved you will feature in Apple's app store.

The Open Way

Create your app using any text editor on any operating system using open and standard technologies such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. You can download the Firefox OS emulator for Windows, OSX or Linux and submit directly to Mozilla's app store ready to run on any HTML5 enabled device. In fact why limit yourself to submitting to one app store.

No longer tied to any particular operating system, users win too. Currently if you wish to move from iOS to Android (for example), you cannot take your iOS apps with you. Creating web based apps based upon common standards the idea is that they work on all web-based platforms, which ultimately means more freedom for the consumer.

No longer tied to any particular operating system, users win too.

Detractors will inform you that native apps run more smoothly than web apps and have access to more of the devices's features making for a much superior overall experience. And this is true to a certain extent - especially on platforms like Apple's iOS but also on Google's Android. However, it's just a matter of time until a combination of better hardware and more direct access to it means that responsiveness won't be an issue. Tha handset I played with already seemed to be pretty snappy and the hardware access is being resolved with the provision of new APIs which are ready to be used now and are to be submitted to the W3C for standardisation.

Big Business

According to The Yankee Group Apple's app store revenue for 2013 is projected to be around $12.9 billion up 40 percent on 2012 and set to follow a similar trend in 2014. Native apps are a big money-spinner for Apple.

And let's not forget Google in all of this. Google also encourage developers to write native apps for their Android platform to be sold in the Google Play Store. Although Google's app storebrings in less than a third of the revenue of Apple's, it is growing 10 times as fast Between them Google's Android and Apple's iOS accounted for 91% of smartphone OS in the last quarter of 2012.

Google's Android and Apple's iOS accounted for 91% of smartphone OS in the last quarter of 2012.

It is interesting to note that the one of the biggest mobile browsers worldwide right now is produced by Norwegian browser maker Opera and is especially popular in Africa, Asia and South America. Undoubtedly part of the secret of its success is that it makes browsing cheaper by intercepting web content and compressing it on its servers. If Mozilla and others like them can make entry-level smartphones cheap enough and provide enough web-apps to make the platform compelling we could see the web landscape shift significantly towards the open.

Community

Anyone who has been following the growth of Linux both on the server, desktop and now mobile, will have witnessed the power of open source when it manages to galvinise the development community. Mozilla has managed this once before with their popular Firefox browser and they will hope to do so again with Firefox OS. Already Mozilla have launched a series of worldwide Firefox OS app developer days.

Mozilla has managed this once before with their popular Firefox browser

The key differentiator is that Firefox OS is web-based and there are far more web developers out there than traditional operating system developers. Mozilla will be hoping that the simplicity of customising a web based OS will draw web developers and web designers alike to contribute and kick-start a new and vibrant community of open source phone developers.

Partners

But it's not just users and developers that will find the openness of Firefox OS appealing. Network operators may also see a way to break out of the often restrictive Google/Apple duopoly. Indeed Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor are already on board and the first devices featuring Firefox OS will be manufactured by TCL Communication Technology (Alcatel) and ZTE.

The Browser Gamble

This investment in a web-based OS is a bold gamble for Mozilla, it will need to work well and look slick enough to attract wide scale adoption among the mainstream mobile users and there has been criticism that it doesn't yet meet either of these requirements, that said, this is set to improve and at the expected low price-points the user interface will likely be a secondary consideration for many. It is also notoriously difficult to make a mobile operating system attractive without a substantial quantity of apps for popular services and games. Time will tell whether either of these issues will prevent significant adoption.

Firefox's desktop market share has been waning of late and not coming pre-installed on any mobile operating system it looks like Firefox Mobile has yet to see significant adoption. Mozilla desperately needs a share in the mobile operating system market if they are to stand a chance of gaining browser market share, which through payments from Google for searches made through their integrated search bar is currently their main source of revenue.

This article has been written by Mark Boas

Mark makes, writes about and promotes new and open web technologies. Co-founder of Happyworm - a small web agency and makers of the jPlayer media framework, he enjoys pushing the limits of the browser using HTML5 and JavaScript. Though a generalist at heart, Mark spends much of his time playing with web based media and real-time communications and is actively involved in helping news organisations world-wide as part of the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews initiative. A lover of all things audio, his passion often drives his work and is currently enjoying the challenge of taking audio ‘somewhere new’ with his Hyperaudio experiments. You can follow Mark on Twitter.

Our continuing education – getting to know you (developers)

The developer's brainWe've hardly had a minute to catch our breath since returning from MWC 2013. The craziness started months before the big event.

We conducted two free ticket contests (yes, two), planned, designed and built our stand and then headed to Barcelona – all the while shipping new features and  populating AppsFuel with cool new HTML5 mobile apps like Memento, Easy Reader and Bust the Dust! Not to mention giving out THE world's coolest luggage tag!

Not that we've stopped galloping along (watch this space to keep up with our new releases and events schedule), but this seems like a good time to take a step back and reflect on a few of the lessons that we learned from our discussions with literally hundreds of mobile apps developers over the past few months.

Even though most of us here at AppsFuel are ourselves developers (a catch-all term to describe the whole range of software engineers that make up our team), the perspective of the larger community of independent developers and developers employed by software houses, publishers and agencies has taught us a lot.

The most crucial thing we learned, by far, is that our primary responsibility is make your life easier! If we expect to achieve success, it must be based on the fact that we are working as hard as we can to insure your success.

As a practical matter, this means making sure that we respect the value of your time. Our developer zone, our APIs and our public presentations are all aimed at getting you up to speed as fast as possible and to meet or exceed your expectations on every level.

The other side of the coin is to pay close attention to what the potentially huge market of HTML5 mobile app consumers want! We are still in the early stages of creating a two-sided marketplace, so our first priority must be to populate AppsFuel with great apps – from games to utilities, from social network apps to newspapers and magazines – before driving traffic and awareness on the consumer side.

After having talked to so many of you, we are more confident than ever that you share our vision and are as enthusiastic as we are about creating a truly open standards future, so that the best apps can compete on a level playing field and that HTML5 mobile apps can be distributed and monetized just as well, if not better, than the currently dominant native app stores.

Join "the movement" and sign up to the AppsFuel developer zone right now. Follow this blog and check out our Twitter feed to keep up on the lastest news and event schedule. We'd love to meet you soon.

Fuel your MWC: the secret sauce of Bust the Dust

AppsFuel - Bust the DustWelcome to the second post in the secret sauce series in honor of our presence at MWC 2013. This series was created for those of you who are really excited about HTML5 mobile apps, but are not sure how to get started. The format is the same, we'll take you from our original idea, through the initial wireframes and all the way to our finished app. It's guaranteed to inspire you to create your own innovative app using nothing but HTML5, CSS and Javascript!

Today's featured app is Bust the Dust, a game all about "cleaning up your act"! Ready?

You'll probably to play the game first before going any further, so here's what you need to do:

The secret sauce! (Here's how we did it.)

Brief

Brief

The idea: Now is the time to do some research, think about the games that you really like to play and come up with an idea that's inspired by those games. Then sit down and think about how you can simplify the project to make the development feasible.

This is probably the hardest part. Unless you are especially creative or very lucky, this phase will take you a bit of time and you will go through a lot of paper! :-)

Wireframe

Sketches

The process: OK, now what? It's time to create some sketches that will guide the development. What will the spaces look like? What functions do you want to include? How will the players engage in the game play? This is where you will begin to work out the potential problems and begin to understand what will be required to make your game work properly and be fun to use.

Here are some examples that were used for this app.

Storyboards

Storyboards

Storyboards: At this point you need to think about your game as if it were a film or comic book. Think about the content of each scene, and how the player will move from one action to another – and through the levels.

At the same time, you can begin to create the graphic look and feel of the game.

Create graphics

Create graphics

Graphic elements: Before going to the coding stage, you will need to finalize the backgrounds and characters, as well as any additional graphic elements that your game will require. If you are not able to do the artwork yourself, you will need the help of a graphic designer.

These elements will serve as your mockups and will be used as a guide for your coding.

Get coding!

Get coding!

It's time to code! Now you are ready to start developing the app.

Depending on the app and your own personal workflow, choose whether to begin with the backend or frontend... but in any case, get your HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript skills ready for the job.

Ready, set...go!

The launch

The launch

The final result: As you can see, it's very realistic for an individual developer or small team to produce a high-quality HTML5 mobile game. You need to start with a strong concept and make sure to include only the essential elements required to deliver an excellent user experience and the best performance possible.

Ready to try your hand at it? Signup to the AppsFuel developer zone and get started today!

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