In-App Purchase Revenue Hits Record High

Last January, 53% of all iPhone App Store revenue in the U.S. was generated through in-app purchases (IAP); this month though, that number has reached a whopping 76%. By region, the numbers tell a slightly different story: in Germany it’s only 61%, but in Asia, at least 90% of all Apple app-store revenue is derived from in-app purchases. In the United States, 71% of these in-app purchases came from apps that were free to download but contained virtual goods within them, indicating that putting a price tag on an app is even more of a hinderance to getting curious users to install an app when there are over 800,000 iOS apps to choose from. Even more telling is that the average revenue per app downloaded, even amidst free apps, was $0.99, the base price for all apps. Indeed, the top grossing apps from February 2013 were all “freemium,” indicating that the market share of IAP, particularly free apps, is booming, and that freemium apps are pushing the conventional app business model out of the spotlight. 

iPhone 5 Comes To T-Mobile

T-Mobile announced Tuesday that it will finally be carrying the iPhone starting on April 12th. The iPhone 5 will be compatible with T-Mobile’s LTE network, which was also launched on Tuesday, but older models will not run on this new network. As a part of it’s recently touted “Uncarrier” plan, T-Mobile won’t force users into signing a two-year contract and will allow them to pay full price for the phone, or to spread the cost over 24 months with installment plans – for example a 16GB iPhone 5 will be $99 up front with 24 months of $20 payments, for a total of $579, which is $70 less than buying the phone from Apple. 

Automatic iPhone App Turns Cars Smart

Automatic, a combination app and hardware unit, seeks to fix one of the most fundamental problems in 21st Century life: your car is perhaps the most expensive computer you own, and it’s pretty bad. The app, which launches this may for $69.95, mixes your car’s data with Google Maps and gas pricing information to create a detailed record of your travels, including fuel efficiency, acceleration, and even engine alerts. It works by connecting to an oft-neglected data port – the car’s OBD-II Data Link Connector – which gives Automatic access to fuel, mileage, and engine information, which it communicates via Bluetooth to the iPhone. And the phone completes the circle by pulling in GPS data, fuel pricing, and map information to create a detailed image of every drive. And when you fill up with gas, it uses its database of stations and daily prices to compute your bill. 

Though these maps are at the core of the app, it also creates a fuel-efficiency score that goads the user into more gas-saving driving habits. As well, it has access to the engine alert codes usually pulled by mechanics, so the next time your “Check Engine” light appears, the app can tell you whether you have a genuine issue or whether the car just “needs service,” and can shut the light off from the phone. It even offers OnStar-style crash assistance. If the hardware’s accelerometer detects a crash, it triggers the Automatic HQ servers to dial 911 and provide what details it can. The biggest challenge is to ensure that the app works across all makes and models, with their unique idiosyncrasies. The app has been tested on more than 200 model/year combinations and so far, so good. If it’s successful across the board, this could be the most practical take on cloud-connected car computing to date, and a model to build on for the future. 

Applifier Wants to See You While You Play

Video content speaks volumes, and is great for jump starting social interaction online.  Applifier, the online mobile gaming network, has launched a new feature for its product, Everyplay, which uses the iPhone’s front-facing camera to record the player’s reactions while playing a range of mobile games.  The idea behind Everyplay is to give gamers the opportunity to share their best (and worst) gaming moments with friends, or demonstrate tips and tricks.  Everyplay is currently compatible with 8 games, but given its promising click through numbers, it certainly has the potential to benefit a wide range of game developers…and produce some entertaining viral videos.

Apple Patents Continuous-Shot Photo Process

If you lack zen-like stillness when shooting with your iPhone, or if you haven’t yet mastered the fine art of triggering the shutter in time, Apple’s newly uncovered patent may bring you some relief.  The design uses continuous capture to take a series of full-resolution photos rapidly as soon as the camera app is opened, and place them in a memory buffer.  Once the shutter has been triggered by the user, the most recent images will be scored automatically for quality to present the user with what is likely to be the best image.  As Android and Blackberry tout their advances in mobile photography, Apple could be preparing to launch some improvements of their own with the next iOS release.

Sephora’s Effective Mobile Strategy

For an example of effective mobile strategy, check out beauty supply store, Sephora. Less than three years after first launching a mobile application, Sephora has created two tailored mobile experiences, apps for iPhone and iPad, with different features and  content, to encourage purchases.  The iPhone app incorporates barcode scanning for in-store product research, while the tablet version features articles and branded content paired with product recommendations and purchase links.  The tailoring of the experiences has been highly effective, increasing mobile traffic, orders, and loyalty subscribers dramatically.

T-Mobile To Offer iPhone Without Subsidies

T-Mobile CEO, John Legere confirmed that the carrier will be selling the iPhone and will not be subsidizing the device. The radically different pricing structure offers far less expensive data rates in exchange for ponying up the $650-$850 to purchase the phone. While Europe has embraced this model for years, it remains to be seen whether U.S. consumers will buy in.