Overall mobile happenings seem to have slowed a little since the release of the iPad and then the announcement of iPhone OS 4.0 the week after. That doesn’t mean that things are still happening. In fact, there were some interesting things going on in the space last week, with one story in particular getting some attention from some influential sources.
The big story of the week was centered on location based check-in service Foursquare. It seems that less than one year after receiving $6 million in funding (August 2009), the valuation of the company has skyrocketed. Several VC companies were reported to be interested in further funding the start-up, offering valuations of as much as $80-$100 million, which is obviously great growth over the valuation provided last summer.
Enter Yahoo, who came in with an offer of $100 million to purchase the company outright, however it seems that founder Dennis Crowley may be a little hesitant to head down that road after having sold dodgeball to Google in 2005 and subsequently watching it be discontinued. Yahoo then upped the offer to a reported $125 million, an amount that would provide a huge payoff to everyone involved in Foursquare to date, a number that may be considered.
With any story like this, there are certain to be people on either side of the fence, but in this case, two major names have put together posts urging Foursquare not to sell. Ben Parr of Mashable provides a nice comprehensive overview of the situation along with some thoughts on acquisition and the potential fallout from a decision to sellout. As a betting man, Parr states, “I’d place my money on Foursquare being the next Twitter, rather than turning into the next Friendster”.
In a similar post, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch provided a few reasons why Foursquare shouldn’t sell out now, and especially not to Yahoo. “Yahoo is a horrendous choice for Foursquare. It’s where startups go to die.” In the post, it is clear that Arrington also sees potential in Foursquare, but more than that, wants to see what will happen without the influence of a major corporation. He writes, “Foursquare has a destiny. It may be to go out of business. It may be to go public and be a huge force in our culture. It may be something in between. But selling out now, is like dropping out of college to take drugs.”
I’m not a Foursquare user, but from a purely personal viewpoint, I would rather see them continue to push forward with their own vision, rather than be absorbed into one of the mammoth’s of today’s internet, where the service may continue, or might dwindle into obscurity.
For the Birds
Chirp, the official Twitter developer’s conference was held last week. The big news, the introduction of Twitter’s own promoted tweets advertising platform. Twitter’s popularity is clearly continuing to grow, with the userbase now topping 106 million, and growing by a figure of 300,000 new users per day. Of course, with a valuation of $1 billion, that kind of user growth is pretty much expected, the big question all along has been, when will the revenue start to come in?
Of course, as stated by the Times Online, promoted tweets isn’t likely to stave off critics who say that the $1 billion valuation isn’t justified. For Twitter, this is just the start. In the last couple of weeks the company has hinted at (and actually started to do so) the fact that they will start to “fill holes” in the Twitter platform which to date have been covered by other companies that have been riding on the Twitter platform.
Twitter has already started to do just this. They released an official app for BlackBerry, purchased Atebits (maker of iPhone Twitter app Tweetie) and will have an official app for the Android OS, although details of when are not yet available. Clearly being available for mobile users is a big part of Twitter’s future, and having official apps will be an important part of Twitter’s strategy going forward.
Of course the big question now; what does all of this mean for developers? In their coverage, Times Online suggested Twitter developers have even started to talk about setting up a rival if Twitter doesn’t respond to their concerns. While that may not be a viable strategy at this point, it underscores the fact that there is some dissatisfaction among developers who have been leveraging the twitter platform as a means of creating their own businesses. What Twitter really needs to do is let developers know where they can operate without running the risk of being steamrolled by the company in the near future. Clarity will be key to whether or not developers continue to look at the Twitter platform as something they want to be a part of.
In Apple News
Apple will be announcing their quarterly numbers this week on April 20 and analysts are expecting good things. According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, analysts are looking for a 47% jump in quarterly revenue to $12 billion. The numbers are supported by iPad sales, with over 500,000 units sold in the first week of availability, along with growth from other product categories.
A.M. (Toni) Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst with Bernstein Research, expects that mac sales for the quarter will be 3.1 million, while iPhone shipments will top 7 million, however year over year unit sales of iPods are expected to decline by 10%, despite growth in sales of iPod touch devices. The iPhone is seen by many as the key to continued growth for Apple.
The release of the next iPhone hardware is already something that is being discussed widely, and last week images of the next generation of iPhone hardware surfaced. Engadget posted images of a phone that was purported to have been found in a bar in San Jose, although the authenticity has not been verified. Rumors suggest that the next version of the phone will include a front facing camera and as much as 80GB of storage.
Whatever the case, the release of new hardware, coupled with the availability of the device on more than one mobile network and the introduction of the new iPhone 4.0 OS could definitely position Apple for growth in their share of the smartphone market.
See You Next Week
For some additional reading, check out these articles about video/TV on the iPhone and iPad. Surely, especially with the release of the iPad, being able to watch your favorite shows anywhere you go has some huge potential:
In order to keep this weekly feature fresh, I’d love to hear from you. What am I missing? What would you like more of?
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