Android Tops iOS In Game Sessions

For a while now, many mobile experts believed that gameplay sessions for Android devices would top those for Apple’s iOS ones — and it appears that finally happened.

A new report from Chartboost indicates that Android devices have finally topped iOS devices in mobile game sessions, not only in the United States but also South and Central America. Both formats were neck-and-neck back in December, but at the beginning of the year, Android managed to press forward with 51 percent of game sessions, compared to 49 percent for iOS.

It only got better for Android in February, as its lead extended by three percent, for a total of 54 percent of game sessions on mobile devices.

That’s a small victory for Android, even though Chartboost indicated that iOS gamers still tend to spend more money on their game sessions, with popular titles like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Soda Saga.

As you can see from the chart above, iOS and Android have gone almost opposite directions in success since August 2014, with IOS having the lead with 56 percent and Android behind with 44 percent. It’s easy to see that the tables have turned.

Now the question is what’s next — and Chartboost’s CEO and co-founder Maria Alegre believes that more developers could make the switch to Android as the first target for games in the future. “While iOS has typically been where game developers start with user acquisition, we see the window of exclusive focus on iOS shrinking,” she explained.

While iOS will continue to have a stronghold over the market, Alegre believes that Android should become more relevant. The ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for both iOS and Android games are becoming a bit more parallel, instead of Apple’s devices simply taking the lead. “That combination of higher traffic and smaller difference between ARPU will make Android overall a more attractive business opportunity,” she said.

Provided it can make all the right business moves, this could be a big year for Android as the gameplayer’s mobile OS.

Counting Down ION’s Top Techies

Technology changes quickly, ensuring there’s virtually always something to talk about. Some top YouTubers are self-professed experts on the subject, covering anything and everything from household hacking and tips to destroying expensive precious iPhones. Whatever you’re looking for, YouTube is sure to have it.

Smart Marketing For Educational Apps

Educational apps for children are a growing market, and a new business model looks to bring tablets, educational apps, and kids together in a brand new way with great potential. Findaway has debuted the Playaway Launchpad, the first ever secure, pre-loaded learning tablet that’s explicitly designed to be circulated by libraries and in classrooms. It’s a brilliant way to bridge the digital divide and bring educational software to children who would otherwise be unable to use a tablet.

Anyone who’s ever watched a kid being introduced to a tablet or a smartphone understands the immediate, magnetic attraction touchscreen devices have. They are tactile, colorful, animated, fun, and intuitively easy to easy. The difficult part is usually removing a smart device from a child once they’ve had some time with it. This is an obvious market opportunity, and one that potentially has terrific beneficial effects for kids as well as publishers. The educational software market was once measured in the billions, but declined in the late 1990s for a variety of reasons.

Findaway’s Launchpad “delivers high quality,ad-free learning apps grouped together by subject area, theme, grade level and age,” according to the company. An important feature is that the tablets are pre-loaded with these apps and are secure, so there’s no way for kids to access unintended content. The tablet is also durable, with a rubberized protective case that will help it withstand the rigors of being handled by multiple users in a variety of tough environments. A one-touch reset feature erases previous user data and readies the Launchpad for the next person to check it out.

“We’re incredibly excited to debut Playaway Launchpad and change the way tablets are circulated within libraries and schools,” said Jennifer Leombruno, VP, Playaway Pre-Loaded Products Group. “Launchpad directly addresses the common pain points of retail tablets, offering a turnkey solution for staff wanting to provide access to a high-quality, interactive learning tool in a safe, fun, and affordable way.”

Launchpad is powered by an Android operating system and features a 7″ high-definition touch screen, external speaker, universal audio jack and a durable, protective bumper. The tablet is free of Wi-Fi and camera capabilities, ensuring a controlled user experience. Starting at $99 and sold exclusively through Findaway, Launchpad comes with everything needed to easily build a library or classroom collection including a shelf-ready circulating case and a USB/AC power adaptor. Additional accessories are sold separately.

Early adopters of the new learning tablet include Baltimore County Public Library, Cambridge Public Library, Chicago Public Library and Nashville Public Library. Each library system will be among the first in the nation to circulate Launchpad to their patrons at multiple branches. More information on the Launchpad can be found here.

Findaway has partnered with leading app developers and Fingerprint Digital, a prominent app aggregator and technology partner, to custom-curate thousands of best-selling apps selected and quality-tested just for children. The content collection spans subject areas from math and science to critical thinking and creativity, and features themed learning packs including animals, princesses, fantasy, nature and more.

The Launchpad presents a new marketing opportunity for educational developers to reach a previously inaccessible audience. Fingerprint’s expertise with children’s software and unparalleled range of connections in the industry lends additional weight to the marketing benefits for developers. All that, and you get to do something fun and educational for kids.

Mealnie Dawn Waller

The [a]listdaily sat down with Fingerprint senior producer Melanie Dawn Waller to to discuss the tablet and how it promises to benefit kids with access to top-notch software.

Tell me about the Launchpad. Why is this important?

We’re the first preloaded tablets, and we have over 100 different packs. Each of the devices has a theme or subject-oriented pack of different apps on it, 10 different apps in each pack. It’s a way for developers to get their content out to kids. It’s going to be in schools and libraries, thousands of them all over the nation.

How does the Launchpad work for the kids?

You go in and create a new avatar, choosing one of twelve different characters. You land right on the games page, and it gives you information on how you can earn points that you can use to customize your avatar. There are ten different games in a pack, each pack goes on a device, and there are over 100 different packs. There’s a full range of curricula, with math, critical thinking, STEAM, language arts, creativity, science and others. We also have theme packs, like the princess pack, the fantasy pack, the nature pack, and so on.

We also have a parent’s section, and as you play all the games it shows what games they have played, and the different subjects that have been covered across the pack. So Mom can come on and look and see what they’ve done. They can play this pack, then take it to the library and get another pack.

The idea, then, is that kids will be able to get a Launchpad from libraries or at their schools, right?

Yes, schools and libraries. It’s crossing the digital divide, so that anybody can really have it. If you don’t have a device, or can’t download, you can get access.

What’s the business model for the Launchpad?

The libraries purchase them from Findaway. They actually have some up on their site already, where you can see the different packs that are being offered. The libraries will decide which packs they want. The fact that they sell for $99 or $129 is really important.

This will give the software developers much better exposure for their product, won’t it?

They’ll get huge exposure for their product. We’ve partnered with all of these developers from all over the world that we’re working with to bring on the apps for those packs. We have an in-house content team assessing and designing the packs to make sure we’re giving out the best apps, so parents can really trust what we’re giving out here. Every app is assessed and tagged, age-categorized, and then determined which content pack it will go into. When you see a math pack here for a certain age grade, you can trust that it’s going to be good for your child. From a developer’s perspective, you’re getting your app in front of those parents from a trusted source, which is important to parents.

Can parents also find these apps directly from Fingerprint, if they want to access them on their own devices?

We have our own platforms, where you can come in and access a lot of the apps. There’s Samsung Kid’s Time, which is now in Asia but is coming to the US. Then we have Sylvan Learning, which we’ve partnered with, so there are apps on that platform. We’ve also partnered with Corus Entertainment.

Media Companies Love Snapchat, and Here’s Why

In the past, we’ve discussed Snapchat’s somewhat pricey advertising plans, and how some companies were hesitant to jump on board — especially for a daily $750,000 asking price. Lately, though, there seems to be more reasons why companies should jump on board its social program — and most of that comes from its young demographic.

A report from Re/code states that media companies and advertisers alike would benefit from the Snapchat audience, mainly because they’re getting harder to track down in other forms of media. comScore recently posted a report indicating that the user demographic has a strong reach on the social app, with 71 percent of its users falling within the 18-34 age range. Out of those, the number of 18-24 year olds are slightly smaller at 45 percent, but that’s still a high count that shouldn’t be ignored.

The chart above breaks down demographic composition across age groups for all social sites, and, as you can see, the 18-24 range leads by a larger number on Snapchat than on other sites, dominating at 45 percent while other sites range from 15 to 28 percent.

With that, despite paying incredibly high fees to advertise on the site, companies have a better chance of reaching said audience through “flash” ads and other types of programming for Snapchat. And the app’s new Discovery platform makes it easier for certain ads to be seen, making the investment worthwhile.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that more companies are hopping on-board the program — in fact, we suggested in a recent article why brands need to hop on the app’s bandwagon. With its young audience still going strong, and more people discovering both the main app and Discover every day, it’s likely to continue its success. Granted, that could mean even higher rates as its popularity grows, but, as suggested by comScore, investment would be a wise idea when it comes to a campaign’s outreach.

You could say that companies should, ahem, “snap” to it . . .

The Must-Know Tricks for Growing Your Audience on YouTube

by Jessica Klein

When it comes to growing your audience on YouTube, there are several important things you have to consider. First and foremost, YouTube fosters an incredibly personal environment, where, unlike TV audiences, viewers will get to know you or your brand on a more intimate and interactive level. This means you have to actively and directly engage your fans instead of sitting back and hoping they’ll get engaged all by themselves.

Other than that, you have to get to know the video platform. It offers plenty of tools aimed at helping video creators succeed. From various analytics to subtitles, embrace what YouTube has to offer. Also, make sure that you have a holistic vision of your channel. Make yourself recognizable, and then just make great content. As long as you’re doing at least that, you’re off to a good start.

Once you’re off to that start, here are some other tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube:

The first step—get to know your viewers:

  • Ask Yourself the Right Questions

Start off by stepping into the YouTube viewer’s shoes when assessing your videos’ effectiveness. Think about whether your content will leave viewers with the desire to visit one of your stores/website, the ability to recognize your brand in different venues, and the drive to recommend your products (or even just your funny video!) to their friends. If you don’t think it will do any of the above, try something else.

  1. Know Your Audience

Get to know what kinds of videos your target demographic like to watch and how frequently they’re on their cells. If they troll Facebook twelve hours a day, that’s another important thing to know (although, we hope they don’t)! The “Playbook for Brands” mentions some Google tools to help you answer these questions, like the YouTube Trends DashboardOur Mobile Planet, and Google Think Insights.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

A Hands-On Approach To Virtual Reality

Playing virtual reality games is one thing, but playing virtual reality games will full involvement of your body is another.

While experiencing a game like Doom 3: BFG Edition while wearing an Oculus Rift headset and a controller can be thrilling, some players prefer the “full” virtual reality experience, using body tracking to implement their entire selves into the game, so they actually feel more of said experience, instead of “just another game.”

A report from Re/code indicates this, as the site explains that making a mount for the player to wear just isn’t enough for a gaming experience, especially with developers trying to make more involved applications.

With that, Leap Motion has begun work on a new virtual reality-based experiment, one that hand-tracking sensors that implement their usage into certain games and applications. Many OEM’s are already on board with the project, including Razer, which introduced its Open Source Virtual Reality headset earlier this month at the Game Developers Conference.

The original headset, dubbed the “hacker dev kit,” is set to ship this June for $200, although those who want to use Magic Leap’s hand-tracking technology – probably a wise decision when it comes to app development – can opt to pay around $280 instead, even though the price isn’t finalized.

With the technology, Leap hopes to focus more on the virtual reality front. “Reaching into a computer, grabbing an object and having it move exactly as if you touched it – there’s something magical and powerful about that,” said Leap CEO Michael Buckwals about the technology. “VR is now a mature enough market that it probably is our top priority, and it’s because it’s the truest form of that original vision.”

Various types of controls may be used with VR, but CTO David Holz added that hand-tracking really is the best bet when it comes to the ultimate experience in VR. “If you want to play a racing game, having a wheel and pedals is probably going to be the best experience, or if I’m playing a shooter, having some kind of gun thing,” he explained. “But I’m not going to use the gun thing for the driving game. I’m not going to use the driving wheel for the gun game.”

The company has already put an “interaction engine” into play with the hand-tracking software, where users can “grip” onto items in an environment. No word yet on how this will be implicated into app usage, but developers are sure to find a way.

Other OEM’s could partner up with the technology down the road, but for now, Magic Leap simply wants to perfect hand-tracking. We’ll have to see where this goes – virtually – over the next few months.

VR, the Future, and Marketing

Oculus’ chief scientist Michael Abrash took the stage at Facebook’s F8 developer’s conference to talk about virtual reality (VR) and why you should be excited by it. Why is Facebook interested in VR Because their mission is to help people share experiences, and VR offers some very compelling experiences.

Abrash quoted from The Matrix: “Real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” said Morpheus. He’s right, Abrash opined, showing a number of illusions to verify to the audience that “reality is constructed by our minds, rather than recorded by our senses . . . Our experience of the world is an illusion, one that has been highly honed . . . All reality is virtual.”

The technology has advanced to the point where we can now hack your perceptions and create compelling illusions. “VR is about driving our perceptions the way they are made to be driven. It’s more real than movies,” Abrash said. VR is now good enough to create this effect, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. That’s why the future is so bright, in Abrash’s view. He provided three main reasons to support this contention:

  • VR is already compelling and shipping soon
  • There is broad industry participation
  • There is long-term commitment to VR

Once Facebook acquired Oculus, the long-term commitment issue was no longer in doubt. What does it all mean to Abrash He sees VR as the next major paradigm shift in tehcnology, perhaps even exceeding ultimately the impact of the Internet and smartphones. It will be a long time before its potential is fulfilled, but it’s well on the way. “VR has the potential to change almost everything about the way we live. No one knows how movies will work or what a Facebook Wall will look like. Sooner or later you will want to be a part of it . . . I’m hoping it’s sooner,” Abrash concluded.

The takeaway from Michael Abrash’s talk on VR at Facebook’s F8 is straightforward: VR is coming, and it has the potential to transform society worldwide. Exactly what shape this will take, it’s far too early to tell. Of course, developers will help shape that future… as will marketers.

Is it too early for marketers to begin considering VR Not at all, as the process is already under way. We’re seeing VR films under development, and plenty of VR games are being worked on. How are these VR experiences going to be promoted. How will people be informed and persuaded Beyond the technology itself, how can VR transform industries or create brand awareness.

For one thing, while the technology is in its early stage there’s opportunity for brands to associate with this exciting new leap. Sponsoring a VR production is one way, and so is using VR to demonstrate at conventions (as film production companies did at ComicCon last year). On the game front, CCP is getting a lot of attention for its EVE Valkyrie VR demo.

For game developers of all sizes, though, Sony’s Project Morpheus looks like a good place be. We already know the time frame (early 2016), and Sony’s got all the pieces in place: it’s driven by the best-selling PS4 console, they have controllers already, and of course the PlayStation Network for distribution. Testing the waters of VR for game developers is a matter of resource, and right now it looks like Sony will make it pretty easy to get into this new medium.

It’s time, though, to start thinking about how VR experiences will be monetized, and where opportunities may lie for advertising. Yes, you don’t want to interrupt someone’s VR experience with an ad . . . all the more reason to get creative now about how an advertiser might be involved in the magic of VR. How about a cool experience brought to you by Marriott? Or a VR experience that takes place partly in a Marriott facility? Or even just the product placement of seeing a Marriott hotel in the Martian landscape as you drive by, pursuing an alien menace across the drifting red sands, under the hurtling moons of the future Barsoom.

Abrash is right to say that we know VR will happen this time, given the technology and the level of commitment already shown. That means it’s time for the creatives to start making dreams into reality, and shaping the future of VR and AR. That’s as much the purview of marketers as it is filmmakers and game designers. Any technology that will have this broad an impact is going to mean massive challenges and opportunities in advertising and marketing, and the prizes go to those who act early with creativity and intelligence.

Twitter Takes On Live Video With Periscope

Video apps are becoming more and more popular these days, providing users with many ways to showcase what they’re doing with clips and live video feeds. Twitter, no stranger to sociality with its popular media-based site, intends to get in on this action with a newly launched video application called Periscope.

The app comes on the heels of Twitter’s acquisition of the site in a reported $100 million deal, and gives it access to a service that its millions of users are likely to latch onto, with live streaming support and other features, according to Variety.

“We think it’s a perfect complement to Twitter, which is why we acquired the company in January,” said vice president of product Kevin Well, in a blog post early today.

The app, which is available now for iOS devices through Apple’s iTunes store, allows users to create, edit and post videos up to 30 seconds in length, quintupling the time allowed for Vine videos (six seconds). With it, Twitter hopes to take on the popular Meerkat service, which launched last month to great success with its live broadcasting capability.

With Periscope, users simply need to push a button to activate live streaming, which in turn posts on their Twitter account that they’re broadcasting. “We wanted to create the closest thing to teleportation,” said the team in its recent blog post. “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you some place and show you around.”

Twitter hasn’t figured out the financial side of Periscope just yet, as a business model wasn’t introduced at the time of the app’s launch. Big-name partners could be the golden ticket, as Meerkat currently has the likes of The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon, who uses the app to show what’s happening behind-the-scenes.

That said, the app could be a “positive game-changer for the company,” according to Rosenblatt Securities analyst Martin Pyykkonen. “Periscope enables live streaming video from mobile and other devices, which effectively can mean personalized live video content delivery over the Twitter platform. We think this could have profound implications for usage/engagement on Twitter and be one other challenge for traditional linear media delivery, as users would spend more time selectively watching live-streaming video from people and subjects that they follow as part of their Interest Graph.”

Early impressions from a number of users indicate that Periscope is very easy to use, and even “addictive” in some cases. But some believe that Meerkat will still take a lot to top, especially considering that it just landed $14 million in funding. David Pierce with Wired said, “Meerkat’s already caught on with some important people, and Periscope isn’t so obviously better that it will destroy the competition on impact. Especially not when the competition has a slight head start. For now, having both Periscope and Meerkat on your phone is easy enough, and as people continue to learn about live-streaming in general, each probably benefits from the other. But eventually, as the apps try to build larger and more exclusive social networks, it’s hard to imagine two live-streaming apps both winning out.”

We’ll see how well the app does over the next few months. For now, check out the sample clip below to see how effectively it works, per TechCrunch.

Russia Gets a Free-To-Play Version of ‘Halo’

The Halo series has been a popular franchise for Microsoft over the past few years, and that success is sure to continue later this year when Halo 5: Guardians debuts for Xbox One. However, in the meantime, the company has chosen to expand the franchise, this time as a free-to-play title for an entirely new market – Russia.

GamesBeat is reporting that 343 Industries, the developers of Halo 4, The Master Chief Collection and the forthcoming Guardians, will produce the Halo Online spin-off, which will launch exclusively in Russia this spring. The title is currently in early beta testing, and developer Saber Interactive, alongside information technology company InnovaSystems, will operate the game as an ongoing service once it launches.

The Russian gaming market is actually quite huge, and an ideal fit for Halo Online. It currently generates around $1.5 billion in online games, with WarGaming’s World of Tanks leading the charge, and a title like Halo would easily fit in their gaming demographic.

Halo Online is powered by a highly modified version of the Halo 3 engine and optimized for smooth performance on lower-end PCs,” said 343 in a blog post. “[It] is a learning opportunity for us as we explore ways to welcome new fans to the Halo universe. We’re excited to release a Halo multiplayer-only PC experience tailored for Russian gamers.”

This isn’t the first time that a major publisher has tailored a popular franchise to an exclusive overseas market, as Activision previously released a variation of its Call of Duty series exclusively for China, complete with online play.

With Halo Online‘s release in Russia, the game is likely to cater to other gaming markets, including the Ukraine, Poland and Romania. A report from SuperData Research indicates that spending on games in Russia and its other nations make up about 80 percent of overall spending in Eastern Europe, which actually grew an estimated seven percent in 2014, up from the previous year’s numbers.

We probably won’t be seeing Halo Online outside of the Russian market, mainly for two reasons. Number one, that particular gaming experience is catered specifically to that market, even though its gameplay would certainly be accepted by the hardcore fans of the series. Secondly, and this is probably most obvious, Microsoft doesn’t want to take any focus off of the Halo console releases, especially with Guardians prepping for release this fall. (Activision probably has similar thinking with Call of Duty Online, thus why it remains exclusive to China.)

So, enjoy, Russian fans. This Halo‘s for you.