Monthly Archives: January 2009

links for 2009-01-08

AdMob Adds iPhone Download Tracking

AdMob announced a new feature that will tie advertising to iPhone application downloads. Good news for developers who want to evaluate their advertising budget.

I assume that the tracking can only be done for ads served in other iPhone applications where it is possible to get the UDID and not via ads served over the mobile web. (Present theory being that they use the UDID to tie the ad to the download). I don’t believe Safari provides the iPhone UDID when you browse web pages.

I sent an email to AdMob to confirm whether it works for mobile web as well as iPhone application ads.

Also notable from the announcement is this bullet:

The App Store is an effective distribution platform for free applications. The average acquisition cost for free applications is under $1.00, significantly less than average application download costs on the PC Web.

I had to reread that three times to make sure I read it correctly. I realize there are business models where paying someone to download your free app makes sense. It’s still pretty striking to see it laid out in those terms.

The “On the Go” Myth?

I recently wrote about some metrics that I’d like to see to help clarify how often people really use mobile applications while “on the go.”

Shortly after I wrote that post, I cracked open my copy of Tomi Ahonen’s latest book, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media, and found part of the answer to my question on third page.

Tomi writes:

A study by NTT DoCoMo, the largest wireless carrier (mobile operator) of Japan, discovered that 60% of all wireless data access by cellphone is done indoors, often in parallel with watching TV or surfing the internet on a PC.

Only three pages in and I’ve already found useful information. Can’t wait to read the rest of the book!

I don’t see any reason indoor usage would be substantial different in other parts of the world, but I’d still love to see some definitive information for other countries.

P.S., I highly recommend Mounir Shita’s comment on my previous post. Good insights.

Android: the open alternative to iPhone? Maybe not.

Those developers looking to Android as an open alternative to Apple’s unclear App Store rules might be alarmed to hear about an Android developer with a similar tale of rejection woe.

Nathan Freitas built a simple Android application using the phonegap framework. The application provides a version of his blog as an application that people could download for free. He wrote about the application features, provided some screenshots, and described his motivation on his blog:

“To be honest, I don’t really want or expect random people to download my app… I just want it there so I can demonstrate the possibilities of linking together a few cool pieces of tech to build a rich mobile application….”

His application was in the Android Market for a time, but has now been suspended. Google’s form letter says that it has been “removed from Android Market due to a violation of the Developer Content Policy”

Nathan links to the relevant policy sections and as far I can see, his application doesn’t appear to violate any of them. He writes:

Now, I’ll admit my app is a bit pointless, some may mistake it as shameless self-promotion, but in truth, it was meant as a proof of concept for gluing together the awesome Phonegap SDK (a mobile web appstack enabler) with WordPress and a mobile-friendly template.

Amazing how much that sounds like the developer of the fart application for the iPhone that was originally rejected for not having enough utility. He said he knew it was a juvenile application, but that it was well done and meant to be fun.

It will be interesting to see if there is any appeals process for suspension from the Android Market. My experience with Google’s support has been atrocious even when I’m playing money Google money for an AdWords campaign. I can’t imagine what recourse you would have for a free application by a small developer.

The silver-lining for Android developers is that unlike the iPhone, you can still distribute your application outside of the Android Market. There’s something to be said for that. But you have to wonder how well an application will do outside the Android Market.

In the same way that Apple’s rejection of the fart application for its “utility” gave iPhone developers pause, the Android Market rejecting this blog application for unclear reasons should give Android developers something to think about.

Mobile Metrics I’d Like to See

Nearly everyone who talks about the differences between designing for desktop and mobile talks about how you have to keep in mind that your users are “on the go.”

How true is that? How often are people walking fast down the street looking for a crucial piece of information vs. sitting on the bus, at their office, or on their couch using their phones?

Using a combination of the accelerometer and GPS, we could define some metrics as to whether or not the person is stationary or moving. We might be able to tell if they are sitting (little accelerometer movement) but in a vehicle (GPS changes).

That’s information that goes far beyond the traditional page view or user session and into information that is mobile specific and very useful for user experience designers.

I realize there are both privacy and battery life concerns with tracking this information. It isn’t a simple problem to solve.

But if those obstacles could be overcome, understanding whether or not our visions of how people “on the go” use mobile technology matches how people really use their mobile devices, would be very interesting.

Image courtesy Flickr user rustmonster licensed under Creative Commons.