Japanese internet powerhouse Rakuten announced that it acquired Viber for $900 million. Viber has 300 million registered users and is known for its strength in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. The acquisition will no doubt reignite speculation about other mid-tier messaging apps. Behind the powerhouses like WhatsApp and LINE there is a cluster of messaging apps with strong growth and more than 100 million registered users – including two hailing from the picturesque hamlet of Waterloo, Ontario. Both Kik and BBM are on their way to hitting 150 million registered users by the end of 2014. And both have intriguing regional strengths that might make them as valuable — or even more valuable — than Viber. More →
This has been an illuminating month for the mobile application business. Based on its daily download volume (as high as 2 million) and simple banner ad format, Flappy Bird has been estimated to make roughly $50,000 a day. Just recently, a hacker revealed that Supercell is making more than $5 million a day from its two mobile apps, Clash of Clans and Hay Day. According to our industry sources in Helsinki, Clash of Clans is roughly twice as profitable as Hay Day, which would mean that the daily global gross revenue from Clash of Clans alone tops $3 million a day.
And that’s the app industry in a nutshell. More →
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the trippy interview HTC’s chairman gave to Bloomberg this week. The comments made by Cher Wang can only be compared to Ed Zander’s legendary obliviousness in the fateful autumn of 2006 as he argued that betting everything on expanding the RAZR portfolio was the best route for Motorola. What HTC seems to believe is that it can rebound by a.) improving marketing, b.) launching smartwatches and c.) praying that the upcoming HTC M8 will click. More →
Kik is one of those messaging apps that is flying under the radar for old people, but gaining strong traction among teens and college kids. As a sign of its youthfulness, Kik actually zoomed into the iPhone’s top-10 download charts right after Christmas — this is the one period of the year when teens dominate app downloading. It’s a top-50 staple in the UK, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada and various Middle Eastern countries. The relatively broad global spread has enabled Kik to amass more than 100 million registered users. If we assume that means 30 million monthly active users, we are talking about a solid mid-tier messaging app. More →
According to a Nokia intranet post acquired by BGR India, Nokia will not be handing bonuses to its handset unit employees for 2013. Exiting CEO Stephen Elop, however, will still get a $25 million bonus for engineering the sale of the phone division to Microsoft. The news actually comes as a surprise to many Nokia employees. Internally, Elop made a very positive early impact at Nokia, appearing to be a friendly, grounded Canadian dedicated to being a champion of loyal long-term employees. According to discussions with several Nokia handset managers, many of them believed he really cared for mid-level workers who had been at Nokia for 5 to 15 years. More →
HTC and BlackBerry each reported dismal Christmas-quarter results — but they’re both terminal losers. Nokia turned in a shocking sequential smartphone unit decline in Q4 — but that’s another vendor in trouble. We saw LG report a surprise loss in its mobile division — but that company is also a bit wobbly. Smartphone behemoth Samsung even delivered a sequential handset sales decline last quarter… but, umm, maybe that was because Apple did so spectacularly well?
LG just reported a surprisingly large 43 billion won loss in its mobile communications division, despite 54% unit volume growth during the Christmas quarter of 2013. This is particularly depressing, because LG had launched an aggressive marketing campaign to support the well-reviewed, highly sophisticated LG G2 phablet. During the Christmas quarter in 2012, LG was enjoying massive volume growth, strong reviews of a fresh flagship phone and robust carrier/retail support across Europe, North America and Brazil. It wasn’t enough. More →
Samsung’s fourth-quarter earnings report showed a 9% decline in mobile device sales from Q3, mirroring eerily the Nokia smartphone volume decline from autumn to holiday quarters. Of course, the two companies could not be more different… but that’s the point. Both the vibrantly strong, massive Samsung and the tiny, struggling Nokia delivered Christmas quarters that were far weaker than industry expected two months ago. More →
The iPad sales number is the one that’s most likely to surprise us in Apple’s Christmas quarter report, which will be released on January 27th. The consensus expectation has recently converged to around 25 million units, with several analysts exhibiting a herd mentality as they seek safety in numbers. As usual, Wall Street analysts are about 2 million units below the indie analysts. But the thing that is fiendishly hard to forecast is what sort of iPads Apple sold during the quarter. More →
After a couple of quarters of promising growth, Nokia’s smartphone unit sales suddenly shrank from the third quarter last year to the Christmas quarter of 2013. Smartphone sales usually grow sequentially into the Christmas quarter of any given calendar year. The most ominous possibility is that the Microsoft-Nokia announcement may have triggered a sudden consumer backlash against Nokia brand, particularly in the high-end category. More →
The universally expected, steep sales warning for the Wii U console finally happened. So Nintendo has basically acknowledged its latest home console is flopping. Reviving the Wii U now that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have so much momentum is probably impossible. Unfortunately, the Wii U’s dismal flop will not push Nintendo to re-examine its current strategy, because its handheld console 3DS is such a monster hit. The latest Famitsu numbers that detail sales during the industry’s post-New Year hangover give us a good view of what is preventing Nintendo from changing. More →
Best Buy shares dipped by a massive -30% on Thursday morning as the initial reaction to its shocking same store sales decline for the Christmas period hit Wall Street. This really was a genuine surprise. Best Buy reported a same store sales decline of -0.8% despite the fact that its same store online sales soared by +23% from the previous Christmas. Back-to-back declines in Christmas sales now raise the possibility that Best Buy is slowly descending into the same secular decline hell where Barnes & Noble currently resides. More →