Lightbox, Facebook Acquisitions, and the Curious Volatile State of Apps

Lightbox, Facebook Acquisitions, and the Curious Volatile State of Apps

May 22, 2012

After years of software that was rarely updated or changed, apps have created a new world in which software is strangely impermanent, and an app that someone uses regularly can disappear just like that. Lightbox is one such app: the app for sharing photographs as a photo blog has disappeared from Google Play, thanks to Facebook, who hired away its engineers, seemingly in order to improve their mobile photo sharing product, similar to why they acquired Instagram. Facebook has said that they have problems with mobile, and improving their mobile apps and services is why they’re making such moves. Lightbox is the exception among Facebook’s recent acquisitions: both Instagram and Karma are remaining in their current forms for now.

However, it’s all just a reminder, that these apps from small teams can suddenly change, and possibly disappear because they were too good, or too successful, and someone else wanted their success to be part of them. Or a major update can come along and dramatically change the way an app works. Games tend to go through this a lot. Perhaps every app we use should be used and enjoyed while we have them, because there’s just no guarantee that they will be that way tomorrow, and it’s still just a vastly new and unique thing in the world of software.

Google Buys Motorola Mobility; What Do They Want, Though?

Google made a major splash yesterday, announcing that they bought Motorola’s mobile division for over $12.5 billion cash; the deal was announced by Larry Page on Google’s official blog. Analysts from armchairs to Wall Street have been weighing in on the deal and what it could mean for the future of Android. There seem to be three things that Google wants out of this deal.

1. Google wants patents.

Motorola has a lot of patents, being one of the first mobile phone companies. They have about 12,500 patents issued, with about 7,500 pending. There’s been plenty of legal wrangling over patents like these, now Google can safeguard Android even further by having control over these patents, and being able to license these to other Android manufacturers. Google wanting Motorola’s patents initially was one hypothesis laid down toward why Google mae this purchase, before eventually just deciding to buy the whole company.

2. Google wants to make money off of Android.

Google may be making money off of the deep Google integration in Android devices, either from licensing official Google apps and Market access, money from apps sold in the Android Market, and from mobile advertising, but the actual phones themselves are not bringing a lot in quite yet. By purchasing an actual Android phone manufacturer, and one that holds 29% of the US Android smartphone market, they can now make Android a viable financial proposition for themselves. The other handset makers may feel threatened by an official Google handset manufacturer, but Google seems open to at least leaving the option open for handset makers to continue to support Android. It would behoove Google to keep Android on as many devices as possible, as more users of the platform mean greater incentive for developers to support it.

3. Google wants to make a gPhone.

Sure, Google and Andy Rubin can deny that Motorola would be the manufacturer of the next Nexus phone, and that could possibly be true. However, thinking that Google won’t use their Motorola purchase in order to make a ‘pure’ Android experience the most popular devices out there seems foolish. The point of the Nexus devices are to be stock devices, pure Android experiences. They haven’t been the most popular of Android devices, though. Google could use Motorola’s relationship with the carriers to push their pure Android device. They could possibly pare down Motorola’s various devices to a core set of tablets and phones instead of the wide variety of random devices that currently dominate the Android market.

Report: PopCap to be Acquired For $1 Billion

Report: PopCap to be Acquired For $1 Billion

Jun 23, 2011

Big news from the world of mergers and acquisitions; according to TechCrunch, PopCap is being bought for a $1 billion USD; that’s billion with a B. It is not known who is buying them yet, making this the tech industry’s equivalent of a “mystery team” that wanted to sign professional baseball player Cliff Lee this past winter. Hopefully, the rumors of an unknown suitor turn out to be true in this case as they were in that case.

This number sounds large when considered that their revenue is only in the $100-$150 million range, according to TechCrunch, who broke the story. However, considering that OpenFeint was purchased by GREE for $100 million when their revenues were only in the six figures, this is almost a bargain. As well, PopCap has a range of wildly popular intellectual properties; consider the popularity of Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, then consider that they also make what is likely the most popular match-3 game, Bejeweled. They also release for many, many platforms – Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies, for example, are available on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo DS. So PopCap make games that are popular, and they have the ability to release them on a wide variety of platforms. It makes sense that they would be a popular acquisition target.

The question with PopCap’s acquisition is twofold – first, who is actually acquiring them? Secondly, what would the purpose of doing this be? Zynga is apparently out of the running, as the price tag was too high. EA could be a possibility, though their total valuation is only $7.4 billion dollars. Apple has the money to do so, but buying a game developer doesn’t seem like their style. One likely possibility might actually be Microsoft. Microsoft’s strength with Windows Phone 7 has been with gaming, in particular. Buying PopCap would only strengthen Microsoft’s gaming selection on mobile devices, along with being a potential boon for Games for Windows. There is also the possibility that games could come to Microsoft’s platforms like the Xbox 360 quicker than they have before.

Of course, if a large third party company bought PopCap, and it was one that had a vested interest in a singular platform, then would Android and other versions of PopCap games disappear? Microsoft has released apps for other platforms, but there’s a big difference between an app like PhotoSynth popping up on non-Microsoft platforms and releasing the latest PopCap addiction for other platforms. We’ll likely find out soon who the mystery suitor for PopCap is, and who knows; it could be a real surprise. Or perhaps an Asian company that wants to make a global splash the way that GREE and DeNA have with their acquisitions of OpenFeint and ngmoco, respectively.

Source: TechCrunch