New Phones & Tablets ‘ChaCha & Salsa’ Across Stage @ Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress (MWC) and International CTIA Wireless are unarguably the world’s largest mobile industry shows today. It’s Day 2 of MWC and big news from mobile’s heavyweights are capturing headlines across the tech world. To read about the industry leaders stealing the show, see below!

HTC’s ‘Facebook Phones’ ChaCha & Salsa

The two phones have been ‘built to be entirely social,’ according to the press release.  The devices, which run on Google’s Android operating system, come with a ‘context-aware’ Facebook button that lights up when it recognizes the opportunity to share content on Facebook.  Users can share photos, websites, music, check-ins to different locations, status updates, and other options with one click.

Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone

The Xperia Play is an Android phone where the slide-out keyboard has been replaced by slide-out PlayStation controls for easy gaming. Yesterday, Sony announced the Xperia Play would be available sometime this spring worldwide; in the U.S. it will be carried on Verizon. Some 50 games, many of them classics from the PlayStation One, will be ready at launch, according to Sony Ericcson. You’ll be able to buy them through a virtual PlayStation store, accessed via the Android Marketplace.
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Symbian And BlackBerry Hangin’ Tough as Android Takes Over

According to Mashable and research firm Canalys, Android overtook Symbian to become the world’s most popular smartphone platform in Q4 2010.

Out of the 101.2 million Q4 worldwide shipments of smartphones, Android claimed 33.3 million compared to Symbian’s 31 million. Apple’s iOS took the bronze with 16.2 million smartphone shipments, followed by RIM with 14.6 million, and Microsoft rounds out the list with 3.1 million devices shipped.

There is no denying that, just as Apple’s iOS revolutionized the smartphone category, Android has come on the scene and made major waves as well. Take a look at the graphs and the article here, both courtesy of Nielsen, to see this impact in vivid color.

How will the recently launched Verizon iPhone impact smartphone market shares? It’s not clear right now, but if pre-order reports are any indication, it could be quite significant. And what about the impact of Windows Phone 7 OS? Still too early to tell.

What is clear, is that some of the one-time industry leaders are being challenged and even surpassed. Unless they respond with new and better versions, they’ll be left on the sidelines to watch as the new kids on the block (no, not the real NKOTB) take over. All we can say for those who are looking up at the leaders is to keep “hangin’ tough.”

Is 2011 The Year Of The Mobile Enterprise App?

We write a lot about the latest and greatest apps on smartphones, tablets and other devices. But what about enterprise apps? We haven’t taken a look inside the enterprise for signs of a mobile app uptick (support or implementation) in quite sometime. That’s why this study conducted by Kelton Research really struck a chord.

Yesterday, Kelton Research announced the results of their study on mobile enterprise apps, and I think they may shock you. According to Kelton, a whopping 90% of U.S. and UK IT managers surveyed will implement new mobile apps in 2011! 250 IT managers in the U.S. and UK at companies with revenue of $100MM+ were polled.

At first, I thought these stats seemed slightly inflated, but the more research I did, the more surveys I found that indicated that 2011 is indeed the year of the mobile enterprise app. In fact, ABI Research expects worldwide enterprise mobile data revenues to reach $133 billion by 2014.

With new apps for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and Android making deep in-roads in healthcare, finance, education, media, and retail, employees are using mobile apps to access everything from CRM systems, to financial results, to marketing campaigns, to tracking orders, etc.

Another very interesting finding in the Kelton study… Saving money is the most popular reason (63%) for deploying mobile apps (chart above). I agree with Eric Lai of ZDNet who said, “It’s heartening, as it shows that mobilizing appears to be a fiscally sound strategy, not something with a pie-in-the-sky ROI.”

Some other interesting stats from the study include:
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The Verizon iPhone: Testing Challenges

A wise man once said that “if it’s on the internet, it must be true.” News that Verizon will finally carry the iPhone is all over the net, ipso facto….

But while the pundits discuss how this new alliance with affect user stats, downloads and stock prices – and while AT&T and Verizon exchange jabs – I wanted to take a minute and discuss the implications it has for mobile app testing. The practice, that is, not the website.

Until now, Apple had made things relatively easy for mobile app developers. I know that may sound absurd to developers who have lost hair and sleep over problems with UDIDs and App Store acceptance, but it’s true. You see, unlike Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and the others, Apple simplified the testing process by having only one device manufacturer and carrier. Sure, you still needed to make sure your iPhone app worked across iOS 3G, 3GS and 4, but the overall testing matrix was much less complicated. Ask any Android developer.

That’s about to change in a big way.

But don’t take my word for it. We recently asked Matt Evans, the former QA Director of the Palm Pre smartphone, for his thoughts on mobile testing challenges in the coming years ahead. Granted this was before the Verizon news came out, but see if you can put 2 and 2 together based on his insight:

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The Tablet Wars Officially Kick Off At #CES

With an impressive 50,000 iPad apps now available, the iPad is one of the fastest growing tablets on the market. Actually, a recent survey that caught my eye, by BI vendor Microstrategy, found that almost half of all enterprises will likely deploy iPad apps in the next two years.

But not so fast, Apple! Very HOT on your heels is the Samsung Galaxy Tab (Android), which recently announced that it has sold a whopping 1 million units.

And just today, Lenovo released the IdeaPad Slate at CES! According to Wired, “What may ultimately separate the IdeaPad Slate from its closest rivals is its embrace of a truly native Windows 7 OS, rather than, say, Honeycomb, the eagerly awaited Android rev expected to power tablets ranging from Toshiba to Motorola.”

The “Year of the Tablet” has officially been kicked off. Motorola, Microsoft and RIM are also expected to release devices in the coming months. To see newly announced tablets from HP and Sony, and some almost-announced tablets, check out this solid roundup slideshow by PC World.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicts that tablet sales will hit about 30 million this year, up from 17 million in 2010, according to Computerworld.

What new doors do you think all these new tablets and tablet apps will open for testing? With as many as 100 different tablets expected to debut at CES, will “the tablet” create its own new and exciting testing space? What opportunities and/or challenges do you foresee?

Mobile Barcode Scanning Up 700%, Android Leads The Pack

As 2010 starts winding down, the mobile app revolution continues to wholly define this year in tech. Every day more mobile innovations are being updated and perfected to match our – the mobile consumers – needs. One such emerging trend is mobile barcode scanning.

According to ReadWriteMobile, a new study by barcode tech company ScanBuy claims that barcode scanning is up 700% in 2010!

Android was the most popular smartphone platform by far with 45% of barcode users, followed by Blackberry (27%), iPhone (15%), Symbian (9%), Java (3%) and Windows Mobile (1%).
Other Key Findings Include:

  • Health and beauty products were the most popular items among 1D (UPC) scans with 21% of users, followed by groceries (14.4%), books (12.6%) and kitchen items (9.2%).
  • Over 45 countries have scanned barcodes.
  • Linking to a website is the most popular action delivered by a 2D barcode scan with 85% of scans.
  • 1D (UPC) and 2D (QR) codes are being scanned equally.

In response to this huge news, I thought I’d have some fun with URL shortening service bit.ly‘s new QR-generation tool that launched a few days ago (FYI: goo.gl launched a few weeks ago too). Go ahead! Scan away and see where it takes you! (Hint: I am the PR Maven ;).)

While barcode scanning isn’t new technology by any stretch, the 2010 mobile boom is driving its increasing popularity. Even Calvin Klein recently replaced its massive billboards in New York and LA with QR codes (pictured above) – not to mention the giant QR codes in Times Square! I wonder what new and exciting mobile app testing doors this will open…

What’s the Best Mobile Operating System? Android FTW!

The mobile wars are heating up! Microsoft is aggressively luring app developers for its Windows Phone 7 OS, while Android quietly gains market share. Blackberry expects big things out of OS 6, while The Big Apple deals with antenna issues, the yellow screen of death and the (remote) possibility of a recall. Interesting times indeed.

As part of our newly-launched “What Do uThink?” series (more on this shortly), we decided to ask our community which mobile OS they considered to be the best. Here are the results:

  1. Android – 38%
  2. RIM Blackberry – 28%
  3. Apple – 16%
  4. Symbian – 12%
  5. Windows Mobile – 6%

“What do uThink?” is a weekly poll, where we’ll be asking the uTest community their preferences and feedback on various apps, operating systems and other technologies. To encourage voting, we’ll be awarding monthly and quarterly prizes to randomly selected participants. This quarter, for instance, we’re giving away an iPod Touch. The weekly polls open every Tuesday afternoon and voting takes place in the uTest Forums available to registered testers) as well as on our Facebook page. Got it?

Good. Now back to the mobile OS results…

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Mobile Developers: Addicted to Beta Testing?

Safe to say that mobile app development has greatly outpaced mobile app testing over the last few years. In other words, while the applications and platforms have seen tremendous technological advances (iPhone 4 bugs notwithstanding) the same cannot be said of mobile testing methodologies.

Case in point: The majority of mobile app developers remain overwhelmingly reliant on internal beta testing.

Here with proof is VisionMobile, who recently published a fascinating report on the growing mobile app ecosystem – a must-read for anyone involved in the space (developers, marketers, users, etc). From a QA point of view, the report further establishes that although testing innovations will ALWAYS trail those of development, the gap need not be so wide.

Here’s an excerpt that sums the whole thing up:

Internal beta testing is the most popular technique used by the vast majority (nearly 70 percent) of respondents, with beta testing with users and peer reviewing the next most popular techniques. Only 20 percent of respondents use focus groups or research of their own. Overall, North American developers are somewhat more sophisticated in their application planning, with 97 percent using beta testing as a standard part of application development and with broader use of a portfolio of planning techniques as well.

Yet, small development firms have limited means today to beta test and peer review their applications with a crosssection of representative users. Given the hundreds of thousands of mobile apps, we believe that efficient (crowd-sourced) testing of apps in a global market of users is considerably under-utilized. This presents an opportunity for the few solution providers in this segment – Mob4Hire and uTest.com, for example – but also for network operators, who can generate a channel for testing applications with end users, and provide an open feedback support system back to developers.

Other notable findings included:

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Android vs. iPhone Performance

As the smartphone battle heats up, a debate has begun around a seemingly crucial question: which platform is faster?  In a lot of ways, that’s impossible to answer. Performance comparisons depend on many factors, including the tradeoff between performance and battery life.  But that hasn’t stopped some from having the debate anyway, and the battle lines right now are over Android’s JVM vs. the iPhone’s Objective C objc_msgSend().  Let me explain.

Android is a Java based platform and uses a Java Virtual Machine or JVM to execute apps (Android’s JVM is called Dalvik). Historically, Java was considered to be a slow and cumbersome platform.  The joke was write once, run anywhere very, very slowly.

So people are saying that Android is slow, right?  Actually, no.  In fact, Java has been optimized so extensively in the past 10 years that its performance is now incredibly fast.  Dalvik has been optimized even further for mobile devices, so Android is one fast platform. What people are actually saying is that the iPhone is slow.

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MobileAppTesting.com Debuts — Promises To Tell You What’s What In Mobile

Like a rocket ship breaking the bounds of Earth’s gravity… like a bird soaring majestically over the open sunlit plains… like a spit wad hurled from the back of the classroom… today, uTest announced the launch of MobileAppTesting.com.  You can also follow our wit and wisdom on Twitter @mobile_app_test.

One thing that you won’t find on this site are ads, subscriptions, hooks or any kind of commercial agenda (don’t tell our investors!).  In fact, we created this site simply because mobile is the next frontier of app development and testing – and the fastest-growing segment of uTest’s business. So we wanted to give something back to mobile app developers, testers and entrepreneurs — and have a little fun at the same time.

We’ll will work with partners, pundits and pioneers (actively seeking co-conspirators) to create original, thought-provoking content about the entire mobile app ecosystem — from app developers to device makers to wireless carriers.  Whether it’s the apps arms race, the constant carrier battles, or the next must-have device, MobileAppTesting.com will be there with equal parts education and entertainment.

This site features user-generated content, contests, product reviews and guest interviews with mobile execs… stuff you can’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Hard-earned lessons for entrepreneurs, techies and investors who want to create world-class mobile apps
  • Overcoming obstacles unique to developing and testing apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian
  • Breaking news and product reviews (for apps, devices, networks and more) from top bloggers and journalists on the front lines of the mobile app explosion
  • Interviews from people who live it, offering their insights from the worlds of mobile app marketing, design, development and testing
  • Following uTest to mobile industry conferences, networking events, speaking opps and meet-ups

Want to be published on MobileAppTesting?  Have a topic you want us to tackle?  Feel the need to ask what the heck we think we’re doing?  Shoot us a note or drop a comment.