Week that was

PG.biz week that was: Tiny Tower has 1M DAUs, Angry Birds does 6.5M downloads on Xmas day, Samsung booms and Nintendo shoots itself in the foot

The past seven days' news compressed bite-sized

PG.biz week that was: Tiny Tower has 1M DAUs, Angry Birds does 6.5M downloads on Xmas day, Samsung booms and Nintendo shoots itself in the foot
And so it begins... Another week, another year, at the coal face of PG.biz: the home of news and views on the business of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

So let's start with some numbers from the turn of the year.

Clearly, the folk at Flurry don't take holidays, updating its blog on Boxing Day to inform us that 6.8 million new iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas Day.

It followed this up early in the New Year to let us know that the holiday season was first 'power week' with more than one billion apps downloaded - 1.2 billion in total. Of course, both figures are estimates from apps running Flurry's analytics package so shouldn't be viewed as 'official'.

From the horse's Tweetdeck

We got one side of that story, however, from Google's Andy Rubin who tweeted/Google+ed that 3.7 million Android devices were activated over Christmas weekend.

Another company bigging up its performance was Amazon, which didn't provide hard numbers, but said that the Kindle Fire had sold millions over holiday season as the #1 ranked item on Amazon.

Analysts reckon total sales for the $199 Android tablet could be as high as five million.

Rival retailer Barnes & Noble is doing well with its range of Nook e-readers and tablets. So well, in fact, that it's now considering spinning out what it hopes will be $1.5 billion business in FY12.

Doing less well in the tablet stakes is RIM, which is selling off its BlackBerry PlayBook tablets for $299 in North America during January.

Meanwhile, other tablets manufacturers are dealing with the situation by dropping their prices, with entry level devices starting from around $300. Acer's new 10-inch Icona A200 family starts from $330.

Another significant rumour is that Intel will be getting into the hardware business to better promote its new Medfield chip architecture.

It's expected to launch a smartphone running Android Ice Cream Sandwich at CES - something that will be launched in conjunction with carriers in Europe and India.

Millennial steps up

The year has also started well for companies looking to raise investment.

Polish publisher and social mobile gaming platform provider Tequila Mobile has announced it's closed a $1.7 million round, user acquisition tool Playerize secured $1 million in its first funding round, while UK augmented reality startup Blippar received seed funding from Qualcomm Ventures.

The big news, however, its that the largest independent mobile ad network Millennial Networks has filed its S-1 form with the SEC, prior to a potential listing on the Nasdaq.

This reveals the company had sales of $69 million for the nine months ending September and was marginally loss making. It valued itself at $305 million during its most recent stock options round.

Another interesting deal saw German mobile and online games and entertainment outfit Bob Mobile buys Dutch rival CLIQ in a deal worth $71 million. It also bought the remaining shares of Guerilla Mobile that it didn't own.

The combined company, which is floated on the Frankfurt exchange, expects sales of $120 million in FY12.

Prior to CES, there was also plenty of activity in the TV gaming space, with TransGaming buying Oberon's TV games division for $7 million, PlayJam hooking up with GameHouse, which will provide games for its Smart TV gaming platform, and Myriad partnering with AppCarousel to serve up Android app platform for internet-enabled TVs,

Samsung booms

And the numbers will continue to flow as we hit the three week financial reporting period, starting with Apple's Q4 figures on 24 January.

Prior to this, it seems as well as Apple, Samsung will be posting some impressive figures. It released its preliminary Q4 numbers this week, but didn't break out the contribution of Samsung Electronics from the overall total. However, analysts now expect the company to ship as many as 170 million smartphones in 2012.

Less good news for HTC, which although it posted unaudited FY11 sales of $15.4 billion, saw a heavy decline during Q4, thanks in part to competition from Samsung.

Of course, both vendors are heavy supporters of Google's Android OS. New figures reveal that Android 2.3x (Gingerbread) is now the dominant version of the OS, being on more than 50 percent of devices for the first time.

The company continues to invest in the platform, buying 217 more patents from IBM. Analyst outfit Distimo also notes that Android Marketplace now has 400,000 active apps, and looks likely to overtake the daily increase in new apps of Apple's App Store in early 2012.

Nokia back in the USA

The big OEM news of the week was the resurgence of rumours that Microsoft is looking to cherrypick Nokia's smartphone operations: something the company denies.

What is clear, however, is that Nokia's attempt to grow its presence in North America will kick off with the Lumia 900 (an uprated Lumia 800) with dual cameras, and LTE support. It will launch with AT&T and be backed with a $100 million ad campaign.

It's such initiatives that persuaded Credit Suisse to upgrade its guidance on Nokia stock, while metrics from StatCounter show that Symbian ended 2011 as the most popular mobile OS, thanks to its continued dominant in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

And ensuring it will continue to support those markets, it was revealed that back in November 2010, Nokia bought Norwegian turnkey OS outfit Smarterphone for an undisclosed sum. It provides a platform that gives $25 - $75 phones a more smartphone-like experience.

iPad price segmentation?

Apple rumours never end and 2012 started with rumblings about iPad. The current thinking from sources deep within Apple's supply chain is that iPad 3 will launch in March or April with a retina display, which will enable iPad 2 to drop in price to compete better with the $199 Kindle Fire.

More contentious is the rumour that a 'proper sequel' - iPad 4 - will launch in October.

What's not up for debate is the success of the device, which ABI underlined with the news that app downloads on iPad have topped 3 billion in 20 months.

Other Apple news saw it hiring Adobe VP Todd Teresi to head up its troubled iAd division, while iPhone 4S will launch in 22 new countries next week, including China.

Microsoft is looking to new markets as well, with developers now able to submit apps and games for sales in countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, prior to the Windows Phone Marketplace switch on in those countries.

Tiny Tower's growth

But over three years into the app ecosystem, it's not just the big companies that are able to generate significant headlines.

Tiny US developer NimbleBit continues to impress with its Tiny Tower free-to-play game now seeing more than 1 million daily active players, who are clocking up 10 million sessions a day.

Much larger, Korean publisher Gamevil's has done 13 million downloads across iOS and Android, while Epic revealed that its two Infinity Blade games have grossed more than $30 million on iOS.

And the biggest of all - downloads-wise - Rovio let us know that a massive 6.5 million Angry Birds' games were downloaded on Christmas Day; which using Flurry's figures, would be 2.7 percent of all iOS and Android downloads on the day.

The Finnish company is opening a new development studio too, in 150 km north of its Helsinki HQ in Tampere.

Bid up, tear down

Let's end, though, with two intriguing mini-trends.

The first follows the decision of developer Neal Schmidt to sell his iOS game Buckshot on eBay, gaining $16,000 in the process. This has encouraged others to follow suit with Simon Papineau making three of his games available.

The other demonstrates the lack of clear thinking from some of gaming's old guard as Nintendo told UK indie Icon Games to remove the download figures of its self-published WiiWare games from its blog.

The result of this - and other restrictions of Nintendo's current digital download platform - is the company is now focused on Sony platforms.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.