Recently Bandwidth Blog spent some time with Windows Phone 7 (with the Samsung Omnia 7), and despite a great operating system and user experience, we were critical of the lack South African support – both for customers and developers.
Microsoft has announced a series of brand-new enhancements to its App Hub developer portal as part of the highly anticipated ‘Mango’ release. Windows Phone 7 developers can now publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, including South Africa. In addition to the 16 countries where Marketplace is already supported, developers can now broaden their opportunity for global distribution and competitive app prices.
Clifford de Wit, developer platform lead at Microsoft South Africa, is calling on all Windows Phone developers to submit Mango apps in August, ahead of the Mango release to market. The new App Hub developer portal allows developers to manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone.
“The updated App Hub features enhancements such as greater geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. We’re making great strides in expanding overall demand for Windows Phone applications.”
Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace. Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace.
De Wit says he has no doubt that local developers are in a position to create compelling mobile content for the Windows Phone platform. “We want to attract a new wave of Windows Phone developers ahead of the ‘Mango’ release.”
Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new “Crash Count” report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories – education, kids & family, and government and politics.
Mark your calendars for a bullet-slinging, fruit-slashing party this September because Twisted Pixel’s Kinect-enabled action shooter “The Gunstringer and the highly anticipated “Fruit Ninja Kinect” will be bundled together at retail for R399.00. (See our review of the Kinect here)
Whether you shoot-em-up or slice-em-up, YOU are the controller in these two fun, action-packed titles. The retail bundle will be available in South Africa from 16 September 2011.
In “The Gunstringer”, you control a fiery gun-toting marionette through his adventures, combining solo platforming and shooting mechanics into fun, competitive action with a full suite of collectables, unlockables, abilities, rewards and more. Plus, as a special bonus to celebrate the release of “The Gunstringer,” players can also download a free add-on pack for the game at launch called “The Wavy Tube Man Chronicles” which pits players against the time-traveling son of Wavy Tube Man, the first boss players battle in the game. In this add-on, Wavy Tube Man Jr. steals a time machine to prevent his father’s death at the hands of “The Gunstringer,” and it’s up to players to battle classic western cowboys and futuristic warriors to save the world from destruction.
Along with the disc for “The Gunstringer,”the retail package will include a token code for the full downloadable version of “Fruit Ninja Kinect” via Xbox LIVE.
“Fruit Ninja Kinect” is an amazing evolution of the slice-em-up genre created by Halfbrick, which brings the worldwide mobile gaming phenomenon to Kinect so you can use your arms as blades in an epic battle against the world’s most delicious produce is just beginning.
A rogue computer reseller who sold pirated software to unwitting consumers in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg has been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay compensation to his victims.
Computer shop manager Vikesh Singh, who traded as PE Technologies in Port Elizabeth and later as Vision Technologies in Johannesburg, was found guilty in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Port Elizabeth on June 15 of fraud and multiple contraventions of the Counterfeit Goods and Copyright Acts for selling counterfeit and unlicensed copies of Microsoft software.
Singh also pleaded guilty for contravening the Companies and the Close Corporations Acts by acting as a manager while disqualified, as he had previously been convicted of theft.
He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years, provided he doesn’t contravene the Counterfeit Goods Act or the Copyright Act. He was also sentenced to a fine of R80 000, or four years’ imprisonment conditionally suspended for five years, for contravening the Companies Act and the Close Corporations Act. Singh was also ordered to compensate four customers, who had been sold counterfeit Microsoft software and acted as witnesses in the criminal case, three times the value of their purchases, and ordered by the court to pay compensation to Microsoft of R150 000. (more…)
OK, this infographic is huge, but great for anyone who sees himself in either camp of the Microsoft vs Apple war (if there even still is a war). Made by Manolution, it tracks the timeline of the two companies, with major announcements and the change in shareprice between events. It is pretty scary to see how Microsoft’s shareprice has completely flatlined in the last ten years, despite stellar products like Windows 7 being launched. Apple on the other hand had a very shaky start, but the shareprice skyrocketed in the last few years… But enough with my interpretation, check it out for yourself. Like I said its big, so I had throw it on its own page: (more…)
Last year’s E3 belonged to Microsoft – they showed off Kinect, and people went nuts for it. However this year they showed off a few new games to use the Kinect, and also the new user interface which focusses on the Xbox’s “center of your livingroom” strategy. Good on them, but clearly people were not impressed. Webtrends, an online analyics firm did this great infographic showing off what people spoke about online during E3:
While I am not quite sold on the new Wii U controller, it seems to have gotten people excited. Maybe it is just one of those things you have to use to get a better idea. After the success of the original Wii‘s with a reasonably simple control system, and then the massive success of the Kinect accessory which does away with the controller (our review here), why on earth would Nintendo go for a more complicated control scheme for its upcoming console? Clearly people want less complicated gaming, right? Sure, there is a market for hardcore gamers who will always want their peripherals, but Nintendo grasped the “non-gamer” market, which was very lucrative market. But judge for yourself – if you have not seen the new Wii U, here is a demo video:
So what do you think? Do you see the Nintendo Wii U being a success?
There are a number of great lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs, but this week (at the WWDC 2011 conference) he has left us with arguably one of the most valuable: Do not build on rented land.
A number of startups this week are sitting around looking at one another and asking themselves what they should be doing next. They are doing this because Apple in one sweep cloned all their features into the new iOS update. Everything from Dropbox to Instapaper have now essentially been rendered redundant on Apple devices.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
In the 80′s the world witnessed the rise of the tech giant Microsoft, and by the 90′s as the web emerged as the future of technology and an essential new frontier to conquer. The web browser Netscape ran on the Microsoft platform, but to Microsoft they needed to dominate this new arena. Microsoft quickly launched the now infamous Internet Explorer, they bundled it in together with their operating system free of charge. This essentially crushed Netscape and other browsers at the time trying to compete. Microsoft was also accused of changing their API to give competition a hard time. This ordeal almost meant the end of Microsoft as the US government took them to court for abusing their monopoly.
Since the days of Bill Gates ruthlessly killing competitors in this way, not much has changed… The difference now is that it’s easier to get away with it. No longer do platform owners need to explicitly package a disc into the bag of software they sold in stores. The crime now happens through a simple download or a tweaking on their servers.
“Writing desktop software has become a lot less fun. If you want to write desktop software now you do it on their terms, calling their APIs and working around their buggy OS. And if you manage to write something that takes off, you may find that you were merely doing market research for them.” – Paul Graham (Y Combinator)
Do not build on rented land
Building on someone else’s platform at the end of the day is like building on rented land – you can find yourself having invested tons of resources into something that you do not own and ultimately have no control over. The irony is that in technology, if you are doing very well on someone else’s platform you are most in danger of getting the worst deal. Because if you do well on someones’ platform it means you are filling a gap that the platform owners have an interest in filling themselves.
It happens all the time and on all platforms, think for a second about Twitter. Look at how them launching a retweet button rendered the efforts of TweetMeme wasted and them introducing photos into the stream killed off TwitPic’s hopes and dreams for the future. Something as simple as altering the API call limit can kill off hundreds of clients and apps that depend on Twitter for their bread and butter.
Let’s wake up to the reality that ultimately platform owners are not really your friends, they are your future competitors. Start building applications that are less platform dependent and offer value above and beyond just filling a feature gap.
Today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Microsoft announced new game titles from blockbuster franchises like Halo and Gears of War 3, and unveiled a flood of new Kinect games and entertainment experiences.
The company also introduced voice search with Bing on Xbox and Kinect that will enable people to use their voice to tell their Xbox what entertainment content they are looking for, which will give them faster access to the ever-expanding universe of entertainment available right in their living room.
“Last year, Xbox 360 changed the game with Kinect (see our review of the Kinect here). This year with the power of Xbox, the simplicity of Kinect and the intelligence of Bing, Xbox 360 will change living room entertainment forever,” says Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business. “Combine all that we offer with great partners and a growing audience, and Xbox is poised to register another record year. This year Xbox 360 will go from being the number one selling console in North America to the number one selling console globally.”
At last year’s E3, Microsoft introduced the world to Kinect, which went on to become the fastest-selling electronic device in history. Though Microsoft doesn’t have a singular star like last year’s Kinect to showcase at E3, the so-called Super Bowl of the electronic entertainment industry, Molly O’Donnell, Xbox 360 director of marketing integration, says the company will show competitors, the media and fans that Xbox 360 “has a deep bench.”
“It’s not just winning the Super Bowl,” O’Donnell says. “A great team looks to the future and builds franchises, not just one-hit wonders. We’re going showcase the fun that Xbox 360 is delivering thisholiday and paint a vision of what the future will look like. (more…)
Microsoft yesterday evening previewed the next major release of Windows Phone, code name “Mango,” through a series of media events around the world, including Cape Town with its “Dev Days” event. “Mango” will deliver more than 500 new features to the Microsoft smartphone experience around communications, apps and the Internet. Nokia’s recent adoption of Windows Phone also means that their upcoming devices will ship with Mango out of the box, called Windows Phone 7.1.
The Mango release will be available for free to Windows Phone 7 customers and is scheduled to ship on new phones later this year. Windows Phone 7.1 will also add support for additional languages; expand access to apps by launching Marketplace in South Africa, and partner with new OEMs to enable this expansion. This means that SA Windows Phone developers will not need to use portals like Yalla Apps, and have more control over their app submission process.
“Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more,” said Nazeer Suliman, Consumer and Online Lead at Microsoft. “With Mango, Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the Internet, giving you better results with less effort.”