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For developers building mobile and tablet apps, in-app billing is an indispensable monetization tool.
After all, it's often easier and more profitable to give an app away for free and then charge for extra features. This is particularly true for gaming apps.
But there's another monetization tool that many developers, particularly those building content-rich apps, have been eying: in-app subscriptions.
What's cooler than spending $1bn on a mobile photo sharing app?
The answer: spending $1bn on a mobile photo service and then launching your own mobile photo sharing app service weeks later.
Facebook has built a multi-billion dollar ecosystem with its application platform, but much of the growth of that platform has been driven by social games created by companies like Zynga.
In an effort to help the 900m-plus Facebook users discover apps of all shapes and sizes, and create new monetization opportunities for app developers, Facebook yesterday announced the launch of its own app store, the App Center.
While nobody can deny the massive popularity of Rovio's Angry Birds franchise, there are plenty of skeptics who question whether Rovio's cash cow will remain popular forever.
And for good reason: in today's fast-paced and highly-competitive gaming market, which now includes millions of social and casual 'gamers', producing hits is difficult but keeping them hits is often even more difficult.
We have learned a lot about Facebook's $1bn acquisition of photo sharing service Instagram in the two weeks following the deal.
From details of the negotiations to the motivations that drove both parties to deal, a clearer picture has emerged about Facebook's largest purchase to date.
The apps versus mobile websites debate isn't going away any time soon.
It's not an either-or proposition, and companies that get too focused on picking a winner may lose sight of more interesting and important subjects that apps and the mobile web have created.
The Daily Telegraph released its iPhone and Android smartphone apps earlier this month, offering users a free one-month trial of its new service.
Users who sign up can access news content, live financial data and video and picture galleries.
The Telegraph has achieved successful engagement levels on its iPad app so it makes sense to add smartphone apps to its portfolio.
The apps cost £1.99 per month following the free trial, which is similar to pricing models offered by other publishers.
When creating a mobile app one of the key decisions is choosing what functionality to offer your customers.
For example, Comet’s app offered users product information and a price checking facility but didn’t offer customers the chance to make a purchase within the app.
In comparison, Premier Inn’s app allows users to manage their account and make bookings.
Both these apps were created by Grapple and achieved impressive download stats.
With smartphone penetration rising and more and more consumers turning to the mobile web, the opportunity to get your mobile app into the hands of those consumers might seem to be growing by leaps and bounds.
But getting the users you acquire to stick around is proving challenging -- perhaps even more challenging than on the web.
When I was offered the opportunity to moderate the table on Mobile Marketing at Digital Cream Dubai, I couldn’t think of a single reason to not be there; it isn’t every day I’d get to sit down on a table with 10 client side marketers and hear about their pains and pleasure of doing mobile. And it really was equal parts both.
There were a lot of insights that came in from the three roundtables featuring 10 marketers each.
Developers hoping to cash in on the app gold rush today face a harsh reality. Competition is fierce, standing out can seem like an impossible task and well-heeled companies are capable of producing bigger and better apps more rapidly than ever before.
Even so, app store success stories like keep developers going.
While the native versus mobile web apps debate continues to rage, one thing is for sure: mobile browsers are going to get a lot more capable, and that means there will be more development of mobile web apps.
Developers of mobile web apps will face numerous challenges, from performance to monetization. But one challenge stands out perhaps more than the rest: building an app that functions and looks good across multiple devices.