Advantages of carrier billing

A year since I last looked at the data for BerryReview, Carrier Billing remains a significant advantage for selling apps.

Comparative purchase rates for Pixelated Plus are shown in the above chart for the seven largest carriers in North America. Of these seven carriers, only Verizon and Sprint do not yet support carrier billing. Across all these carriers, customers who have access to carrier billing are 2.14 times a likely to make a purchase.

The measurements in this chart are relative to the number of purchases at Verizon Wireless (the largest carrier), such that Verizon would always have a value of 1.00. The number of purchases is based upon purchases of Pixelated Plus from January-March 2012. Normalization for carrier size was based on data from the free application Pixelated over the same time period. All data was collected through BlackBerry AppWorld at the time of download.

Farkle gets multi-player support

10,000 Farkle has been updated to version 2.0 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This new version integrates with BBM to add the ability to play multi-player games.

How to Play

Farkle gives you six dice to roll and awards points for a straight, three pairs or three or more of the same number. Fewer points ares also awarded for each individual 1 and 5. Any dice that do not score can be re-rolled for additional points. If all 6 dice can be scored, then all of the dice can be re-rolled on the same turn.

The skill in this game comes from knowing how far to push your luck, and which scoring combinations to take, and when to re-roll.

The default game mode gives you 10 turns to score as many points as you can. The 10,000 point mode is the traditional way to play, where the goal is to reach 10,000 points in as few turns as possible. The competitive game modes (“vs Friend”, “vs Computer” “vs BBM Friend”) all use the traditional race to 10,000 points.

BBM Multi-player games

To play against one of your BBM friends, you first need to change the game mode in the menu to “vs BBM Friend”. You will then have the option to start a new game against one of your friends on BBM. It is required for both of you to have the game installed, so there is a second link that you can use to invite your friends who don’t yet have the app, to download it from AppWorld. The game then plays under the traditional rules, with the first over 10,000 points as the winner.

Links & Information

Thoughts on YouMail and BlackBerry

A few days ago YouMail announced their final update to their BlackBerry app. This has generated a lot of (misinformed) attention about the future of YouMail, and BlackBerry.

The main problem is that YouMail forgot to consider how their blog post would be read. At BlackBerry 10 Jam, I am going to be giving a talk on how to support your app after launch, and one of the main points is that everything is marketing. This includes blog posts announcing a new release of your product. With a different choice of words in the post, the stories would be about how YouMail is improving their BlackBerry app.

As a business decision, ending future development for the BlackBerry OS is probably the right move for them. They already have a BlackBerry app that has had 2+ years of development behind it. We know that RIM is not going to release any new API’s or formfactors to their current line of phones. So there isn’t too much of a reason why YouMail’s current app couldn’t be good enough to last for the rest of the lifecycle of the current BlackBerry OS. Especially when they have just released a significant update for it.

But it is still a terrible idea to post a statement that you are no longer working on the app.

You need to think before you speak, and put the proper message out there. A month ago I announced that I was no longer going to be supporting BlackBerry devices running OS 4.x in what was actually a rather similar decision. Sure, I was cutting off support for potentially millions of BlackBerry users, because I had determined it wasn’t worth the time. But because I considered the audience that would be reading it, the post got a very different reaction.

In part it was because I wasn’t cutting off support for current devices, but also because I didn’t try to coddle it in half-hearted feel good, whishy washy language. I actually have yet to hear from anyone bothered by my decision.

YouMail’s CEO Alex Quilici however, went out of his way to made things worse, by complaining about BlackBerry to CNN instead of talking up the new features they had just added. Ending with plea for some help from RIM is unlikely go answered, give the unnecessary bad press that YouMail is giving the company. Instead, Alec Saunders is quite understandably pissed off, and called for Quilici to fold his company. (Have I mentioned that this is why I love Saunders?)

It may make sense for YouMail to focus on iOS and Android over BlackBerry (in the short term), but that doesn’t make it a good idea to turn friends in enemies. Yes, you need to be bold, and speak your mind, but you also need to consider the fall out from of what you say. Everything you do has an impact on your brand, and sometimes a stupid blog post has more impact then your app.

Simple Dice available for OS7 devices

The Simple Dice app is now available for touchscreen devices running OS 7 (or higher). The Bold 9900/9930 is now supported as well as the Torch 9810, and the Torch 9850/9860. This is in addition to support for the Storm 9500/9530/9520/9550, Torch 9800, and Curve 9380 which were all already supported.

About Simple Dice

This is just a simple virtual die that you can have on your phone. This free application is handy if you need a die to play a game, or just need to have a random number between one and six.

Links & Information

BarCamp Rochester tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the free BarCamp Rochester conference. I am planing on grabbing a slot during the post-lunch lightning talks.

The title of my presentation is “Selling Apps is an International Business” and the slides for the presentation are available to be viewed at ebscer.com/BarCampSpring2012/presentation.html

I am going to try and get my presentation filmed and posted online, but if you are in the area, you should really just come and see it live.

If you find me I would be more then happy to take some time to talk.

Problems with the PlayBook Android player

While visiting with family for the weekend, my sister had a complaint about her PlayBook. She told me that sometimes the apps “open on top of each other”, and that then the previous apps “is no longer there”. She noticed that it “only does it to some apps”, and was happy to report that none of my apps did this.

Without knowing it she was, of course, talking about the Android app player. And how despite looking like any other app when on the homescreen, launches within the Android app player and acts very different then all other apps when multitasking.

This is a bit of a serious issue when it comes to user expectations and consistency of the interface. As a developer, I understand why these apps act differently, but for the typical consumer it is utterly baffling. When noticing the bar of app icons at the bottom of the android app play (which slides up from the bottom, after you swipe down from the top bezel) my sister noted that it has “all these things open that I haven’t had open in days, and those shouldn’t be open”. As to if those apps were actually still open or not, is a question that even I don’t know the answer to.

This inconsistent user interface is something that should be addressed in future versions of the OS. Or at the very least, RIM needs to be more upfront about the limitations of Android apps on the PlayBook, and start pushing more native technologies.

Posting to Facebook and Twitter

The following code will help you post to Facebook or Twitter from a BlackBerry Java application. This code requires the use of some API elements that were not introduced until OS 7 so you will want to use a different build in order to continue to support older devices. This code was used in version 3.1 of the game Pixelated.

Code for posting to Facebook


public void postToFacebook(String text)
{
JSONObject context = new JSONObject();
MenuItem fb = null;
try
{
context.put(SendCommandContextKeys.TEXT, text);
SendCommand[] sendCommands = SendCommandRepository.getInstance().get(SendCommand.TYPE_TEXT, context, false);

if (sendCommands != null && sendCommands.length > 0)
{
SendCommandMenu scm = new SendCommandMenu(sendCommands, 0, 0);
SendCommandMenuItem[] scmi = scm.getSendCommandMenuItems();
for(int i=0;i {
if(scmi[i].toString().equals("Facebook"))
{
fb = scmi[i];
}
}
fb.run();
}
}
catch(Exception e){}
}

Code for posting to Twitter


public void postToTwitter(String text)
{
JSONObject context = new JSONObject();
MenuItem tw = null;
try
{
context.put(SendCommandContextKeys.TEXT, text);
SendCommand[] sendCommands = SendCommandRepository.getInstance().get(SendCommand.TYPE_TEXT, context, false);

if (sendCommands != null && sendCommands.length > 0)
{
SendCommandMenu scm = new SendCommandMenu(sendCommands, 0, 0);
SendCommandMenuItem[] scmi = scm.getSendCommandMenuItems();
for(int i=0;i {
if(scmi[i].toString().equals("Twitter"))
{
tw = scmi[i];
}
}
tw.run();
}
}
catch(Exception e){}
}

Runaway Trains available for Android

After releasing for the PlayBook last month, Runaway Trains is now available for download on Android devices. The first 25 levels of the game are free, while you can use an in-app upgrade to get access to the rest of the levels for just $2.99 USD.

Runaway Trains is a colorful strategy game for all ages where you must route the trains to the proper station. Each level progresses in difficulty and presents an unique puzzle which you must solve by finding a way to guide the coloured trains causing a collision or running out of track.

This is done by touching the intersections to toggle the open path of the tracks. If at any time the trains crash or end up at the wrong station, you will have lost and have to try again.

Links & Information

Android app on Google Play

Continued rapid adoption of new PlayBook OS versions

The above chart shows the adoption of each version of the BlackBerry PlayBook for each month since June as seen from downloads of the game Pixelated.

Last month saw 95.62% of users running OS 2.0 on the PlayBook. This is despite OS 2.0 launching less then a week before the start of this time frame. At this point you could begin releasing apps that required a minimum OS of 2.0, and it unlikely that anyone would even notice the higher minimum requirements.

March also found 5 users playing Pixelated on devices running either OS 10.0.2 or 10.0.3 which is a good reminder that soon even OS 2.0 will be a thing of the past.

This data was taken from downloads of the popular PlayBook strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2011 through the end of March 2012.

Runaway Trains recives its first update

Runaway Trains has been updated to version 1.1 in BlackBerry AppWorld, and the Nook Bookstore. This version adds an additional 20 levels, bringing the total up to 120. Also support for Spanish was added in this update.

About Runaway Trains

Runaway Trains is a colorful strategy game for all ages where you must route the trains to the proper station. Each level progresses in difficulty and presents an unique puzzle which you must solve by finding a way to guide the coloured trains causing a collision or running out of track.

This is done by touching the intersections to toggle the open path of the tracks. If at any time the trains crash or end up at the wrong station, you will have lost and have to try again.

Links & Information