APP FLIPPING:Making actual money from app stores can be tough for developers, so some have found a new, relatively easy route to financial success — app flipping. Developers can purchase the source code on a popular app, give the app’s look a makeover, and cram it full of ads. The idea is to churn apps out at a high volume but with low costs. Flappy Bird, the polarising app that actually pulled in $50,000 in daily revenue at its peak, was just taken down from the App Store by its developer Dong Nguyen. But, savvy developers are already looking to capitalise on the Flappy Bird fever. Several Flappy Bird clones have already infiltrated app stores and are generating substantial downloads.
Flipped apps may yield about $US1,000 in revenue above the average $US500 spent to buy the source code and reproduce, according to game and analytics firm SuperData. That’s chump change for a big app studio, but an easy paycheck for individual developers. Also, should this tactic gain more steam among developers, app stores may become even more crowded and harder to navigate. (Quartz)
CHINA SLOWS DOWN: Strong quarterly growth in smartphone shipments is no longer sustainable for China’s largest manufacturers, including ZTE, Huawei, and Lenovo. Their shipments numbers are expected to decline slightly in this first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter, according to new data from Digitimes Research. A big reason is that the previous quarter included the holiday season, one of the highest consumer buying periods for every consumer electronics market. To meet year-end demand, these China-based vendors ramped up shipments during the fourth quarter, contributing to 13% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter.
Unlike prior years, the drop off in demand from Chinese consumers for new smartphones between the fourth quarter and first quarter has become more substantial. As China surpasses the tipping point in smartphone adoption, the incremental number of new smartphone users in the market will decline, lessening the need for China-based vendors to continually ramp up shipments. For all of 2013, smartphone vendors from China shipped around 314 million handsets, with second-tier vendors like Xiaomi and TCL contributing about 15 million units. (Digitimes)
QUOTE OF THE DAY — “I’ve been paying my bills with iPhones. Not with apps or on bank sites — I’ve been using the Apple hardware as currency.” — Vernon Silver on how unlocked iPhone hardware has become its own currency in regions where the iPhone is expensive, like Europe. (BusinessWeek)
PUBMATIC WORKING ON IPO: Digital ad platform PubMatic is working on an IPO that would put its valuation at more than $US1 billion. PubMatic started as a desktop website ad platform but has more recently gone into the video and mobile app world of automated ad buying and selling. (Wall Street Journal)
Is Programmatic Winning Out In The Ad World? With news of the PubMatic IPO, programmatic advertising is gaining a lot of attention and is coming to the forefront of the ad world. Another major ad network, Federated Media, just sold off its content marketing division to major media network LIN Media. In turn, Federated will continue to operate its programmatic division. (Forbes)
Unforkable: Android really isn’t designed to be forked, argues Peter Bright of ARS Technica. Forking Android simply gives a device maker two choices: give away control of its software to Google and get all of the Google services that make Android valuable, or take control from Google and get no Google benefits. (ARS Technica)
SEMI-ANONYMOUS APPS: Brought on by the popularity of ephemeral messaging from Snapchat, the next wave of messaging and social network apps are about privacy and semi-anonymity. Apps like Secret, Confide, and Wickr let users post anonymously or send private, secure text messages. While Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook 10 years ago so that the whole Internet would be open, this new wave of apps is allowing users to again hide behind the Web’s veil. (New York Times, Business Insider)
KEEPING WARM WITH THE IOT: The cold winter season has unearthed some of the difficulties in maintaining a properly automated home with devices connected to the Internet Of Things, says Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm. As things like snow days and a winter that drags on and on disrupt preprogrammed settings for the home thermostat, and other IOT items, IOT companies will have to highlight how to easily change settings on IOT devices, and make them seamless and easy to maintain. (GigaOm)
LinkedIn has killed its new email service, Intro, after just four months in existence. Intro likely never cultivated a significant audience after its security was questioned by several security researchers. (The Verge)
AOL REVERSES 401K CHANGES: After a major flap last week, when AOL CEO Tim Armstrong cited the family health difficulties of a couple of AOL staffers as part of the need to draw back on 401K contributions, the company has reversed the decision. AOL will continue to contribute to staffers’ 401K’s with every paycheck.
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