Things are rarely quiet around this neck of the woods, but with a record number of stories on our pages and a flurry of new readers in our midst, it's been an historic week here at PG.biz: the home of news and views on the business of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.
For the second week in a row, Apple has been setting the pace across the mobile industry, with the roll out of iOS 5 and launch of iPhone 4S ensuring the Cupertino giant was still making headlines the world over long after the press had fully digested the death of former CEO Steve Jobs.
Indeed, while iPhone 4S's launch went without hitch – a record 1 million pre-orders within its first 24 hours and lengthy queues around the world ensuring they'll be plenty of consumers getting to grips with Siri next week – the roll out of iOS 5 was somewhat bumpier.
As recorded by PG smartphone editor Will Wilson, many found the upgrade progress a somewhat painful experience, with errors aplenty meaning many were forced to stick with iOS 4 a day or two longer than they'd intended.Love for the living room
Whether such hiccups will be enough to force existing iPhone owners into making the jump to 4S to avoid making that one last upgrade via iTunes remains to be seen, although it appears the majority of those queueing on day one were repeat offenders rather than new blood.
Piper Jaffray reported 73 percent of those lining up in front of the tills across the US were existing iPhone owners – roughly equivalent to the number picking up iPhone 4 at launch in 2010.
A testament to the loyalty Apple is able to instil in its consumer base, then, but also a suggestion 4S isn't expanding iOS's userbase, but rather preaching to the converted,
One group getting on board with iPhone 4S and iOS 5 from the get go is developers. All week we sampled their opinion in regards to Apple's next steps, with more than most suggesting Cook and co. have their eyes firmly fixed on your television set.
"I fully expect to see AirPlay certified TVs, and when that becomes ubiquitous, it'll kill Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3," said Mobile Pie creative director Will Luton.
"AirPlay represents one huge leap in penetrating the living room for game developers," added Chillingo co-GM Joe Wee. "The lines continues to blur between console and mobile gaming."
"AirPlay Mirroring will play a major role in iOS 5 releases going forward and will ultimately facilitate replacing the home console," concluded Glu's Mike DeLaet.
The general mood was summed up most emphatically by Przemek Marszal – game designer and art director at Anomaly Warzone Earth developer 11 bit studios.
"Imagine all of the App Store's games hitting big screen – it would be like Wii all over again, albeit with a $2 games," said Marszal.
"Literally, this could stop the hearts of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo's consoles, and they are afraid of it for sure."
Whatever steps Apple takes in the future, however, it's main rival in a mobile sense continues to be Android.
As often seems to be the case, it was a mixed week for the platform – bold predictions by Xyologic suggested Android Market app downloads will surpass that of the App Store on a monthly basis as soon as next summer, while Google's marketplace will edge ahead in terms of downloads to date by May 2013.
But while app downloads on Android still currently play second fiddle to the App Store in terms of official figures, alarming stats lifted from GDC Online 11 in Austin, Texas.
Steven Sargent, executive producer of Appy Entertainment, told attendees the piracy rate of FaceFighter Gold on Android was £70:1 compared to 3:1 on iOS".
He concluded, "That's crippling."
Even for those who manage to get their apps onto devices via legal means, actually monetising them is also proving a problem.
Appscribe looks to offer a solution, serving up a subscription-based service where users pay a monthly fee and install games on set slots on their handsets rather than paying on an app by app basis. The fact such solutions are coming to the fore, however, only proves the difficulties Google is currently having connecting developers with the platform's userbase.
“We’ve spoken to well over 100 developers in the past month alone and the main two things that keep getting brought up are they difficulty they face trying to get noticed on the Android Market and because of this the lack of sales," said Appscribe CEO John Tipton.
"Google has succeeded in bringing a lot of apps to their market, but because of their low barrier to entry, many of them are spam or low quality. This really muddies the market and makes it hard to get noticed for many developers."
Yet Fiksu reports once Android users have purchased an app, for whatever reason, they're far more 'loyal' to it. In short, they're likely to start it up more times than users on iOS before uninstalling it.
"Although the upfront cost of an Android campaign might be similar to an iOS campaign, over time, global Android traffic costs become significantly less expensive," said VP of business development Craig Palli.
"So not only can an Android app global marketing campaign deliver more loyal users, but the acquisition cost will also be significantly lower – indicating a better investment overall."The third place
Outside of the big two – and with only time for the briefest of mentions for Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III: 10th Anniversary Edition announcement – Windows Phone's momentum continues to build.
Microsoft's decision to opt for a staggered roll out for updates to the platform appears to be paying off this time, with reports suggesting 30 percent of the platforms userbase had already upgraded to Mango two weeks after it hit the airwaves.
The first adverts for Nokia's debut Windows Phone device – now dubbed Nokia 800 – were also 'leaked', ahead of the phone's official unveiling at Nokia World at the end of October, while Microsoft alsopicked up 'Splosion Man studio Twisted Pixel.
The outfit has never made a move on mobile, but signalled an intent to tap up iOS following the launch of Capcom's overly-familiar-looking MaXplosion earlier in the year. Whether Microsoft will put its talent to use on Windows Phone remains to be seen.
As Microsoft splashes the cash, however, so EA appears to be tightening its belt, with the firm beginning a 'formal consultation process' to close Guildford-based studio Bright Light.
Formed in 1995 as EA UK, the developer is best known in a portable sense for its Harry Potter outings on DS. Those at the studio may well need a bit of J.K. Rowling's magic if they're to survive this one...