E3 2012 – Trends of the Video Game Trade

While many call the San Diego Comic-Con the industry’s “Nerd Prom”, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) in LA is also known as the video game industry’s “Gaming Christmas”. Each year E3 not only begins with a series of announcements from all the major game companies, but also with a ton of high expectations from gamers themselves. E3 has always been mainly about consoles, and ten years ago, consoles were only about gaming. Hardcore gamers or “core gamers” as they are frequently called, were the most desired audience and everything catered to them.

Then the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles ventured online, set up online networks and everything changed. Some things for the better, some for the worse. Nintendo went out and dragged an all new audience of “casual” console gamers into the spotlight, and the video game  industry was altered forever.

The “core games” segment of the market, while still huge, has become somewhat of a niche market when it comes to “news-making announcements” and PR.  If you are loading up an E3 presentation this week in your browser and expecting a feast of core-gaming news, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. While serious gaming veterans may turn their nose at the mention of streaming video services, premium content, mainstream franchises, and celebrity endorsed games all they like – these are all elements of the modern video gaming business now. Love it or hate it, that is the current state of the industry.

Fortunately for every soul-crushing Usher performance there’s an amazing Watch Dogs video. Gaming caters to everybody and that still includes core gamers. So don’t throw your controllers out the window every time a publisher unveils a dance game or licence that you’re not interested in.

The other trend that is prevalent at this year’s E3 is of course, the iPad though it might always be mentioned by name. Tablets are part of every developer/platform/publisher’s strategy, and there’s no argument that the iPad is the elephant in the room when it comes to gaming on a tablet. Microsoft is introducing “SmartGlass” to move its gaming initiative beyond the Xbox 360 and onto Windows 8 tablets. Nintendo has a more closed eco-system approach with the Wii U gamepads becoming eerily similar to tablets themselves. While Sony is using a different approach and is hedging its bets by integrating it’s Playstation 3 with its portable Playstation Vita and the Playstation Mobile network on Android tablets.

With so many different strategies companies are taking to make consoles offer more than just gaming in the living room and taking on the tablet market, gamers still have a lot to look forward to. For software testers, this means an unbelievable variety in apps and platforms to test. There is no slowing down in the mobile app testing market, and this week, the video game industry just poured gasoline on the bonfire.

Romney App Gaffe Goes VIARL

The Importance of testing your mobile appWhen Barack Obama won the Presidency in 2008, he was buoyed in part by his successful utilization of web 2.0. While John McCain took pride in being an internet “illiterate” who had to “rely on (his) wife” for help online, Obama took to social media to communicate with and mobilize his supporters, especially those falling into the “Gen Y” and “Millennium” demographics.

This lesson has apparently not been lost on the GOP, which has seen increased activity among its membership to the point where Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are now reported to be more effective on social media than their Democrat counterparts. While which side is more effective will likely always be open to debate, one thing is now certain – both sides of the aisle understand how important it now is to successfully engage constituents online, especially via Twitter and Facebook. Which is why what happened to the Romney campaign on Tuesday night is so embarrassing, as Sam Laird of Mashable reports

Mitt Romney launched an official iPhone app Tuesday night — only to find that it came with one glaring, humiliating oversight for his campaign.

Here’s how the free app works: You take a photo, then are able to lay one of 14 “I’m With Mitt” banners over the image. The banners shout slogans such as “I’m a Mom for Mitt.” Then you can post the photo directly to Facebook or Twitter, or email it to a friend. The friend then receives a message reading: “I’m with Mitt Romney in 2012. And here’s a photo showing my support. Check it out!”

The problem? One of the 14 options reads, in fact, “A Better Amercia.” Yes, Amercia. A-M-E-R-C-I-A.

Not exactly the attention to detail one expects from a candidate for President. Especially one with a reputation (deserved or not) for being extremely calculated in everything he does.

The lesson to be learned? Never run for President if you don’t understand spell check. Test your mobile app. Then test it again. And then run regression testing on it. If you don’t, you might release an app that goes viral and gives millions of your opponent’s supporters a legitimate reason to make fun of you. On the internet. For the world to see.

Read the full Mashable article>>>

Site Crash Could Cost You $10,000+

DDoS attacks will cost you businessIt’s Memorial Day – that means it’s time for sales, travel and activities. It’s also one of the worst possible times for your site to go down – something that is the express goal of a DDoS attack.

Unfortunately, the number of businesses being targeted for cyber attacks is growing, according to a recent survey by Internet-analytics company Neustar. According to the study, more than 300 businesses (across industries such as travel, finance and retail) have experienced an cyberattack. From Mashable:

Ted Swearingen, director of information security operations at Neustar, says the number of cyberattacks and the variety of industries affected have increased dramatically.

“We’ve seen a game change in last two years,” Swearingen told Mashable. “It’s significant. The damage that comes with one of these attacks — the thought of being down for a day, not being able to sell goods or services online is just amazing in terms of monetary cost.”

The costs can indeed be high. 65% of businesses said a site outage would cost them up to $10,000 an hour, 21% said it would run them $50,000 an hour, and 13% of businesses would lose $100,000 every hour if their site went down. …

35% of Neustar’s respondants said they’ve experienced an attack which lasted longer than a day, while 11% said they’ve seen an attack continue for more than a week.

Read the full Mashable article >>>

If your business relies on customers’ expectation of security (such as e-tail or financial sites) or if you face a lot of competition (like in the e-tail and travel industries) you can’t afford to have your site taken down from a monetary or a customer experience/loyalty standpoint.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that any business – no matter how big or small – is a potential target for hackers. Be proactive. Security test your website and apps and be sure you have backup server plans in place so you’re not stuck if your business is targeted. When you’re in the middle of an attack is not the time to start thinking about security.

uTest Launches AppGrader for Android

There’s only a few things that can happen when a user downloads your mobile app. Unfortunately, most of them are bad. Here are a few common outcomes:

  • The app crashes
  • The app hangs
  • The app stalls
  • The app works exactly as expected

The point is this: Without proper testing, you’ll never really know how users are experiencing your mobile app. This is particularly true of the Android operating system, with its seemingly countless permutations of devices.

So to help make the mobile app testing process a little less complex, uTest is pleased to launch a new tool that we hope will help you catch some of these problems before your users do. We call it AppGrader, and today we’re launching it as a way to quickly test your Android apps.

What is AppGrader?
AppGrader is a free online tool that can be used to quickly test your mobile application on a variety of common devices. With AppGrader, you can load your application on several devices and get basic reporting about bugs associated with installing, loading and running your application.

Why Does It Matter?
As a proponent of in-the-wild testing, we believe that an application is only properly tested once it has been evaluated by real users, with real devices, in a wide number of locations. AppGrader is a way to provide a taste of in-the-wild testing, by accessing the real devices component (albiet in an automated fashion).

Those who are interested in what AppGrader has to offer will likely appreciate uTest’s full suite of testing services.

What Do You Get?
With AppGrader, you can get a custom score for your application. You’ll also receive a comparison of how well your app works compared to dozens of other popular apps on the same devices. If your app should crash on the device, you can quickly download a crash log to get a deeper look at the problem.

What Devices Does it Cover?
At this point in time, AppGrader is just for Android devices (and yes, we do have plans to launch this service for other mobile operating systems). Devices tested include:

  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Google Nexus S
  • LG Nitro HD
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • HTC Thunderbolt
  • Sony Ericson Xperia
  • Motorola Droid X2
  • T-Mobile My Touch

AppGrader will also evaluate your application on devices across several popular carriers, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

What Does It Cost?
Only your soul. Just kidding. It’s free.

How Do I Get Started?
To get started, simply fill out a brief form and upload your Android APK. Once your results are ready, you’ll be notified by email within minutes.

So what are you waiting for?

Try AppGrader Today >>>

Why Testing Your Business App is Important

Make sure your app makes senseAs the age of mobile tightens its grip on the world, companies are working double-time to figure out exactly how the use of smartphones and tablets fit into their working world. While some companies have navigated this new terrain fairly easily, many companies are struggling to find the right balance when it comes to mobile programs. Their biggest downfalls are trying to completely recreate a desktop program into a clunky, over-stuffed mobile app and not understanding the tenets mobile design.

In fact, this is such an issue that it’s poised to cost US and UK based companies a pretty penny in the next year and a half. Here’s some research from Antenna Software that highlights the problem (from Computer Business Review):

U.K. and U.S business are planning to spend an estimated £285k on mobile software tools for their employees in the next year and a half, but much of that money will be wasted.

According to research released by Antenna Software, only 25% of IT and business decision makers said their employees had embraced their mobile initiatives. …

According to the Mobile Business Forecast 2012 report, many companies are failing to engage their employees on mobile projects because of poorly designed applications that lack business logic and usability.

“More businesses than ever are now building mobile apps to help employees work more effectively, but it’s clear that a good deal of time and money is going to waste through poor design,” said Ken Parmelee, Senior Director of Product Management at Antenna. “Companies need to pay more attention to the end user and how and when they are going to use the app.”

The important lesson here is that just because your app is free and has a built-in market doesn’t mean you can lower your standards or ignore what end users like. It isn’t enough to take a program employees use on a computer and make it “more accessible” by translating it into an app. You need to fully understand how the program can be useful on-the-go and focus solely on the features that would be handy and increase productivity in a mobile, untethered setting.

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Lessons From the TweetDeck Security-Induced Outage

TweetDeck Taken Offline Because of Security BreachThe recent Tweekdeck issue can teach us two very important lessons: 1. You can’t find all the bugs in-the-lab because there are some issue that will only effect a small, small portion of your user base and those bugs will more often than not only be found in the hands of users, in-the-wild. 2. Security Testing doesn’t just including making sure hackers can’t get into your app. It should also test your app for proper handling of confidentiality, integrity, availability, non-repudiation, authorization and authentication. It’s this last one in particular that caught Tweetdeck off guard. In case you missed the story, here’s a recap from TechCrunch:

Twitter has taken its Tweetdeck app offline after an apparent bug has possibly given some Tweetdeck users access to others’ accounts.

A Sydney, Australia-based Tweetdeck user named Geoff Evason says he discovered today he was somehow able to access hundreds of Twitter and Facebook accounts through Tweetdeck. In an email to TechCrunch, he explained the situation like this:

“I’m a tweetdeck user. A bug has given me access to hundreds of twitter and facebooks account through tweetdeck. I didn’t do anything special to make this happen. I just logged in one day, the account was was slower than normal, and I could post from many more accounts.”

Get more details at TechCrunch >>>

Luckily the person who found this bug, Geoff Evason, wasn’t malicious or a hacker. He could have done cruel things with these twitter accounts and potentially caused even more damage with access to the private information people tend to share on Facebook. Instead, he did a little poking around to prove the bug was valid (like any good tester does) and went about getting the issue addressed and corrected.

The incident was so severe that Twitter (who owns Tweetdeck) took the entire application offline until the issue could be pin pointed and resolved. Kudos to Twitter for treating this as seriously as it did, but the question is, now what? What caused this bug? Was there an update that effected the app? Will Twitter do some comprehensive regression testing to make sure there are no other unnoticed issues? It should probably do some digging to make sure those other facets of security are up to par.

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uTest Infographic: Which Android Devices Make App Users Smile?

Do you play a lot of games on your SEMC Xperia Play? Are you a news junkie with an LG Optimus 2X? How do sports apps work on your Samsung Infuse 4G? Ever get frustrated with the music app on your HTC Thunderbolt? In our newest uTest Infographic we let the Android Market app reviews do the talking to find out which devices reign supreme (and which fall flat) in the  major app categories.

uTest Infograpich 2012

Why Localization Testing is So Important

LocalizationThe No. 1 country in the world for both iOS and Android activation is also the country with the fasting growing app session statistics … and it’s not a native English-speaking country. China has recently surpassed the U.S. in terms of new iOS and Android activations and in the past year the number of app sessions has grown by more than 1,000%. From TechCrunch (emphasis added):

New data from mobile analytics firm Flurry indicates the incredible growth potential of the Chinese smartphone market. The country, which ranked 11th place at the start of 2011 in terms of iOS and Android activations, has now climbed into the number one spot, beating out the U.S., now number two.

In addition, looking at data from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, Flurry found that China led in app session growth as well, increasing 1,126% year-over-year. And the growth is especially notable because China was already the world’s 7th largest country by the end of Q1 2011. …

What this data means is that the gap is now closing between the two countries in terms of installed base, and China, already the world’s second largest app economy, may soon overtake the U.S. as the country with the largest number of smartphone users, too. China today is estimated as having twice the size of the next largest smartphone install base, the U.K., notes Flurry.

Another means of measuring China’s growth comes from examining app session growth. Here, China leads the world with the staggering 1,126% jump on this front over last year. Other emerging markets where app session growth has been climbing, include (in order) Argentina, the Philippines, Russia, Belgium, India, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Turkey.

Flurry also looked at the numbers of app sessions over the past year. Since Q1 2011, the number of sessions in the U.S. has more than doubled, however, its share of total sessions has declined from 56% to 46%. This is a reflection of the U.S. market’s maturity, to some extent: it’s still growing, but other countries are growing more quickly. When combining the #2 through #10 ranked markets (China, the U.K., South Korea, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany and Spain), sessions have collectively increased 3.4 times from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, and session share has gone from 27% to 30%. The rest of the world combined has gone from 17% to 24% during the same time, or 4x growth. …

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uTest Joins the Ranks of Hot Startups on VatorTV [VIDEO]

What does uTest’s Doron Reuveni have in common with Box’s Aaron Levie, Turntable.fm’s Seth Goldstein, AirBnB’s Brian Chesky, Kaggle’s Anthony Goldbloom and Gaia’s Craig Sherman?  They’ve all been interviewed over the past year by award-winning journalist Bambi Francisco Roizen for Vator.tv.

Last week, uTest joined the ranks of these hot, innovative startups by appearing on VatorTV, one of the largest business networks dedicated to entrepreneurship, and the sister site to VatorNews, which is focused on the business and trends of high-tech entrepreneurship and innovation with 400-plus contributors.

Bambi, the CEO and founder of Vator (short for ‘innovator’), caught up with Doron to learn the ins-and-outs of uTest’s business model and what our expansion plans are for 2012 following our recent $17M D round of funding.

The App Store of Malware (I mean, Banned Apps)

Having just finished Steve Jobs biography, and being of the school of gated platforms – at least for my phone, where I don’t want to deal with bugs the way I might in my work laptop (sorry Matt B and the uTest IT team) – I found this concept very interesting.

According to the BI article, “Android Hackers Plan App Store of Banned Apps,” a group of Android Developers are looking to start their own app store for all the banned and rejected apps that didn’t make the cut.  The article includes a quote from the potential founder that, “apps removed from the Market include, one-click root apps, emulators, tether apps, Visual Voicemail apps, and more.”

It sounds great but we already know about the growing number of malware on phone operating systems, the Android especially.  The other alternative for apps is to create mobile-specific landing pages (i.e. HTML5 apps), like Grooveshark (music) and Untappd (beer reviews) have done, making the apps available via your mobile browser.  Since their launch, Untappd has launched a native app for iOS and Android but has not shared details on traffic comparisons.  [It won’t be applicable to most mobile users but we cover some security exploits and common attacks in our Security Testing whitepaper.]

Am I the only one uber-sensitive about the integrity of my phones OS and Apps?  Would you download an app that isn’t scrutinized for security?