Ohdio CEO Yoga Nandiwardhana noticed something about some communication apps being green and white.
Something about green and white with communication apps.
Screenshot by Yoga Nandiwardhana
During BlackBerry Live, CEO Thorsten Heins announced the availability of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for iOS and Android this coming summer. To use the free BBM service will require iOS 6 or Android 4.0. Aside from being multi platform, BlackBerry will also introduce BBM Channels which acts as special channels for brands and celebrities to interact with their fans.
According to BlackBerry’s official blog post, BBM users on IOS and Android will be able to participate in real time chats, multi-person chats, share voice notes, and use the groups feature.
This was a surprising development even though it had been subject of previous discussions because BBM had until now been an exclusive messaging platform for BlackBerry. What does the company expect by opening its most popular service to competing platforms? Doesn’t this stop consumers from having to purchase a BlackBerry and simply use their existing iOS or Android device if they need to use BBM?
There’s a number of reasons we can think of but I think that BlackBerry wants to remain the main preference for BlackBerry users to interact with people using other mobile platforms as other messaging services continue their onslaught. BlackBerry claims there are more than 60 million BBM users. This number doesn’t seem to be that many when compared to the number of users on WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk.
As a pioneer in the field of IP-based mobile messaging apps, BlackBerry certainly would like to remain relevant and expects to have more consumers using the service, including those not on BlackBerry.
The question is, what good does it do for BlackBerry if it’s gets to be used by more consumers? BlackBerry might want to prove that its servers can handle the load or are even better compared to its competitors in delivering real time messages. The question is whether BlackBerry ail monetize the service if it becomes more popular.
With the free service, there’s no revenue from BlackBerry Internet Service from BlackBerry 10 nor from BBM apps on other platforms, so one thing that crosses the mind is an in-app purchase scheme such as stickers, themes, or additional features which might draw interest to purchase them.
The Verge says that while it’s interesting, the idea of multi platform BBM is too late because Android and iOS already dominate and alternative apps to BBM is plentiful. Personally I see that outside of the United States, such as in England, Asia, and South America, BBM is still relevant and those are the markets that BlackBerry is after.
In Indonesia, consumers are already moving towards another apps and platforms. Whether BBM apps will receive a positive acceptance can be seen from the list of popular apps on the App Store and Google Plat. Of course, the choice is now on the consumers’ hands, not on BlackBerry, which was still the messaging champion three years ago with its exclusive service.
[Image from The Verge]
Gmail for iOS gets an update which links the app directly to other Google apps, keeping user navigations within the Google sandbox. There’s a reason why the iOS versions of Google’s apps are better on iOS than Android.
Google doesn’t need to get iOS users to switch to Android. Google needs to make its iOS apps really compelling, far better than competing apps to get iOS users to use them, and when that threshold has been crossed, link them all up to keep everything inside Google.
The embrace, extend, extinguish principle is well and truly in effect.
Google Now is finally available on iOS through Google app update, but it’s not yet available in Indonesia apparently.
Are promises meant to be broken? Do you keep your promises? PromiseUp is an iOS app that gives you incentives so you are motivated to keep your word.
Promises are not always easy to keep, especially if it requires a bit of effort to fulfill or accomplish. Whether it is a promise to yourself to eat healthier foods and work out, or a promise to a friend or loved one to call or fix something, sometimes we forget. And sometimes, we intentionally break our promises because they’re just so difficult to keep.
A new mobile app is designed to help us keep our promises by giving incentives for accomplishing them and penalizing us whenever we break a promise. Built by Moscow-based developers, PromiseUP uses a virtual currency called UP dollars to give rewards for accomplishing promises. The app also penalizes users for any promises that are broken.
Upon sign-up, a user is given an initial credit of 1,000 UP dollars. This can be used to determine the “wager” that users bet as an incentive (or penalty) to do their promises. At the end of the set period, PromiseUP asks whether the promise has been accomplished, and will award the UP dollars accordingly.
PromiseUP CEO Ivan Kochetov says promises often end up forgotten or broken, but an app that can help people keep promises will also help solidify relationships. “We founded PromiseUP on the belief that following through on promises solidifies friendships, relationships, and pushes our own goals forward in a meaningful way. Our promise is to give users an intuitive, worthwhile platform to be better connected to the promises they come across daily.”
What makes PromiseUP even more attractive is that UP dollars can be exchanged for real items from PromiseUP’s UP shop. The marketplace currently sells T-shirts, but PromiseUP promises more merchandise to come soon.
The Russia-based startup is funded by TDVF Investments and is part of the RZLTT Accelerator incubator based in Moscow. PromiseUP targets a worldwide audience, though, given that promises are a universal language. According to the developers, the app is seeing the biggest growth rate in Japan than any other country and region, perhaps signifying the value of promises in the local culture in the country.
PromiseUP is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
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Mobile commerce is an important component any online store and that fact hasn’t been lost on Rocket Internet’s Zalora fashion retail site. In recognition of the increasingly mobile behavior of today’s online consumers, Zalora has launched a mobile app for iOS devices.
The app has actually been available on the App Store since the 17th of this month but the company did not make an announcement until yesterday. The app allows Zalora customers to receive notifications of flash sales and new arrivals, browse through the store’s 15,000 products across 500 brands and make purchases on the go. Customers will also be able to add items to a cart for later purchases and pay using credit card, PayPal, or cash on delivery.
The app, which currently remains iOS only, serves customers in all of the eight countries that Zalora operates in and they can easily switch countries according to their locations. TechCrunch notes that Zalora’s decision to launch the app on iOS first despite Android being the prevailing platform in the region is based on internal findings at Zalora. According to the company, its website receives far more traffic from iOS devices than from Android devices. “The iPhone segment is particularly inclined to online shopping with high basket sizes,” according to a statement provided to TechCrunch. Undoubtedly an Android app will also be released but the company has yet to say anything of note. Its establishment of a software development center in Singapore does suggest plans for more software releases.
Zalora’s regional managing director Michele Ferrario said in a press statement, “We are confident that mCommerce can help us grow our market share in the online shopping sphere, particularly so in Southeast Asia – A region with an already high mobile penetration and still even more potential for higher mobile reach as its telecommunications infrastructure develops exponentially.”
With only less than a year of operations, Zalora is on a rapid growth trajectory having established itself across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Its mobile site which was launched in January of this year recently won an award for best m-commerce solution in Singapore.
The company also just announced a reward program as well as same day delivery for select products for its Indonesian customers for deliveries to locations within Jakarta’s primary business areas.
To promote the app, Zalora is giving 20% discounts for products purchased through the iOS app and a chance to win an iPad mini.
Fashion e-commerce site ZALORA has launched its iPhone application, and offers 20 percent discount across the board as part of its launch promo.
Fashion startups are on the rise in the Asia Pacific, evident with the likes of ZALORA, TheHallyu, BerryBenka, LUXA, and Lovvd, among others. Apart from web applications, mobile seems to be the next frontier for fashion startups. ZALORA, for one, has launched its dedicated iPhone application, and along with this is a program that offers big discounts across the board.
ZALORA’s iPhone application is out, and is compatible with the iPhone 3GS onward running iOS 5 and up. The app lets users browse and buy fashion items, as well as get alerts for any new items and deals.
- Get push notifications on new arrivals and flash sales
- Browse for a quick overview of product information, images, ratings and reviews
- Add items to cart and infinitely save them for later
- Pick from multiple payment methods: Credit Card, PayPal, Cash-On-Delivery
Given that ZALORA’s e-commerce offering caters to localized versions for different countries in the region, the iPhone app will also route shoppers to their respective localized catalogs.
As part of this mobile application launch, Zalora is offering a 20 percent discount across the board for all its products bought from the app. This discount is given through an in-app only voucher code. Given that ZALORA usually has a ceiling of 15 percent for discounts, this is a good opportunity for shoppers who want to try out the app and get a good discount for their purchases.
ZALORA gives a 30-day return policy for items, and delivers free to certain markets. The fashion startup owned by Rocket Internet has a presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. ZALORA has also recently launched a loyalty program and same-day delivery for its users in Indonesia.
The ZALORA iPhone app is a free download from the iTunes App Store.
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Asahi Broadcasting Company [J] and Smikie Inc. [J] have released an iOS game application themed on the popular TV series “Dai Kaizou!! Gekiteki Before After” (Great Remodeling!! Dramatic Before and After). Download is free.
In this construction and management simulation game, the player becomes an artisan builder and craftsman by making home improvements and spicing it up by arranging various items around the house. Already a title of the same name is offered for GREE [J], but it has no connection with this and is a separate game of its own. Purchasing items requires coins, but you can raise plants to acquire them in your garden, so free play is possible. Also it has social components where you can visit friends’ houses.
Stickers are coming to Facebook Messenger for mobile devices. Should this be a threat to other mobile IM apps like LINE?
Stickers are apparently hot in Asia, as illustrated by the rise of LINE and other mobile IM apps like KakaoTalk and WeChat. While most other messengers would focus on just chatting and additional features like voice, however, stickers are now gaining popularity among the mainstream crowd.
Facebook has recently released updates to its standalone Messenger application for the iPhone and Android devices. On Android, the latest app supports the “chat heads” feature, which is one of the main highlights of Facebook Home. On iOS, chat heads only work from within the Facebook app itself. Going beyond chat heads, though, it seems Facebook is also getting into the sticker business.
The Next Web reports that stickers are currently a hidden feature on Facebook Messenger for Android, and users can access it through some tricks. First, it’s only accessible through the “chat heads” and not through the usual Messenger interface. Second, you have to tap twice on an invisible area to the left of the “+” sign that brings up emoticons.
On Messenger for Android, one will need to go through hoops to gain access to stickers. And as my colleague Elaine Huang and I have tested, it appears differently on the iPhone Messenger app and on Facebook’s web interface. On Facebook’s mobile app and the web browser, everything seems fine – it appears as a sticker. On the Facebook Messenger app on iOS, however, the stickers appear in the form of a photo.
Elaine, on the other hand, used an iPhone 5 to test out the iPhone stickers and new Facebook interface on iOS. Stickers were a little difficult to find but when you eventually find it, the navigation looks the same as the other chat apps available in the App Store. There are seven sets of stickers available, including the ever-popular cartoon cat, Pusheen. Would Facebook introduce more stickers? Well, our guess is, without a doubt. But what kind of stickers would they introduce? And what can businesses look forward to? If brands can work with Facebook, which has the biggest userbase in the world for a social network, how will this addition of stickers benefit them?
It is not for everyone, as even mobile enthusiasts like myself would find the hit-or-miss approach headache-inducing. But the looming question is this. Facebook already has a market of about a billion users (includes both desktop and mobile). Will the introduction of stickers be enough to lure sticker-crazy mobile IM users away from their other messengers?
We earlier spoke with Arjun Sethi, CEO of MessageMe, and he said that they are not fazed by the likes of Facebook Messenger, since they focus on a different user space — in particular users who would rather go for a simple, direct to the point messaging experience rather than a social network. Messaging is supposed to be intimate, Arjun says, and social networks today are just so full of noise.
Either way, it seems that Facebook is listening to what the market is clamoring for. Stickers are now mainstream and they’re here to stay.
With contributions from Elaine Huang.
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