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DropBox signs agreements with Softbank & Sony Ericsson

31/05 (1320 hrs IST): Dropbox, a well-known Cloud-based storage service provider has signed deals with Japanese mobile carrier Softbank & handset manufacturer Sony Ericsson to preloading its Application in smartphones sold in Europe & Asia, said a report by news agency Bloomberg.

The agreement, terms of which have been kept undisclosed, indicates that the Dropbox App will be preloaded on two phones running on Softbank’s network & Sony Ericsson Android phones. The latter that will be sold in 10 countries including the U.K., Denmark, Australia & Indonesia.


Apple crosses half a million Apps landmark, graphic to mark occasion

28/05 (0425 hrs IST): Early Wednesday last, the Apps that iTunes released had a special significance. With their release, Apple had approved over 500,000 iPhone, iPad & iPod Apps for the company's U.S. store.

To mark the occasion, 3 App companies --  148apps, search company Chomp & game developer Chillingo -- have issued a jumbo-sized infographic. Check out the graphic yourself by clicking here.

More usage of Apps on mobiles than Tablets:Study

18/05 (1545 hrs IST): This could come as welcome news for developers of Smartphone Applications. In an in-depth analysis on Tablet vs. Smartphone usage patterns conducted during April 2011, the Finnish mobile audience mesaurement company Zokem found out that the usage of Applications on mobile phones was much more than that on Apps.
 
In what it called a "360 deg" study on Tablets, the company said it would be sharing the view to the use of Tablets by sharing some of the passive measurement insights from its Mobile Life panels in the U.S. The panels include both Smartphone & Tablet users that have installed the Zokem application in their device. 
 
In Smartphones, said the study, the share of Application usage was overwhelming – it achieved almost 6 times more face time than Web browsing. In Tablets, however, the difference was not so significant with 39% of face time allocated to web browser and 61% to Applications.
 
“It can be speculated that for tablets, the bigger screen and the better overall user experience in browsing contribute to the relatively higher face time for web browsing. On Smartphones, on the other hand, a smaller screen and of course, better availability of Apps, contribute to the apps dominance”, says Jing Wu from Zokem’s research team.

Google News goes local in US market

14/05 (1145 hrs IST): Google News has launched a new feature called "News Near You" for mobile phone users to keep them updated on the latest news, wherever they are. As of now, this is for the US English market.

According to a blogpost by Navneet Singh, Product Manager, Google News, location-based news first became available in Google News in 2008. But today, "there’s a local section for just about any city, state or country in the world with coverage from thousands of sources. We do local news a bit differently, analyzing every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located."

To use this feature, visit Google News from the browser of your Android smartphone or iPhone. If this is the first time you are visiting Google News on your phone since this feature became available, a pop-up will ask you if you want to share your location. If you say yes, news relevant to your location will appear in a new section called “News near you” which will be added at the bottom of the homepage. You can reorganize the sections later via the personalization page.

Makers of mobile game Flight Control, Firemint, acquired for undisclosed price

05/05 (0800 hrs IST): Electronic Arts Inc has announced that it would soon acquire the Melbourne, Australia-based mobile design studio Firemint. The latter is known for designing mobile games for i-Phone & i-Pad. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to a report in the BusinessWire, Firemint was founded in 1999 & had developed over 30 games on commission from publishers before switching over to self-publishing original titles. The  company is best known for its mobile games, Flight Control & Real Racing for i-Phone & i-Pad. Flight Control has in fact become one of the most successful i-Phone games, with over 4 million downloads.

Significantly, the acquisition comes in the wake of EA’s recent purchase of Mobile Post Production, a company that specializes in cross-platform development & porting of games for smartphones. Neither company has disclosed Firemint’s purchase price.

The acquisition is expected to close within the next four weeks.

Goodbye Google, welcome Bing: RIM

04/05 (0800 hrs IST): In a development that has surprised many in the Mobile phones world, Microsoft & Research In Motion (RIM) have signed an agreement to use Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine on RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Thus, Bing replaces Google.

A report annoucing the tie-up appeared in the Financial Post. The report said of the hundreds of first-time attendees at RIM’s yearly 'BlackBerry World Conference'  in Orlanda, USA,  on Tuesday, "none made a bigger splash than Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Steve Ballmer."

It was Balmer who announced the strategic partnership between  his company & RIM. Under it, Bing will now be responsible for Search & mapping functions on BlackBerrys. Devices with Bing will hit the markets by Christmas.

Other online reports said the interesting aspect about RIM partnering with Microsoft was that BlackBerry seemed to be going with Android as it moved into the future. RIM’s new BlackBerry tablet, the PlayBook, has an option of using an Android-emulating “app player” to run Android Apps as well as RIM’s BlackBerry Apps.
 
But a report in Fierce Mobile Content argued that what RIM had done with the PlayBook was not typical. In fact, it said, it may not even be repeated in the near future. According to the report,  RIM’s latest BlackBerry Operating System update, BlackBerry 7, won’t be spreading the Android App cheer to other devices. RIM had recently announced BlackBerry 7, along with two new phones.