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October 22, 2018

Delhi's air quality improves, experts say may deteriorate due to toxic air from fire at Bhalaswa

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Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE said, as winter approaches, toxic air emanating out of such landfill fires is likely to affect the air quality.

A look at the Android Market (aka Google Play) on its 10th Anniversary

Google Play has generated more than twice the downloads of the iOS App Store, reaching a 70% share of worldwide downloads in 2017, according to a new report from App Annie, released in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Android Market, now called Google Play. The report also examined the state of Google Play’s marketplace and the habits of Android users.

It found that, despite the large share of downloads, Google Play only accounted for 34% of worldwide consumer spend on apps, compared with 66% on the iOS App Store in 2017 – a figure that’s stayed relatively consistent for years.

Those numbers are consistent with the narrative that’s been told about the two app marketplaces for some time as well. That is, Google has the sheer download numbers, thanks to the wide distribution of its devices – including its reach into emerging markets, thanks to low-cost smartphones. But Apple’s ecosystem is the one making more money from apps.

App Annie also found that the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region accounts for more than half of Google Play consumer spending. Japan was the largest market of all-time on this front, topping the charts with $25.1 billion dollars spend on apps and in-app purchases. It was followed by the U.S. ($19.3B) and South Korea ($11.2B).

The firm attributed some of Google Play’s success in Japan to carrier billing. This has allowed consumer spending to increase in markets like South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, as well, it said.

As to what consumers are spending their money on? Games, of course.

The report found that games accounted for 41% of downloads, but 88% of spend.

Outside of games, in-app subscriptions have contributed to revenue growth.

Non-game apps reached $2.7 billion in consumer spend last year, with 4 out of the top 5 apps offering a subscription model. The number one app, LINE, was the exception. It was followed by subscription apps Tinder, Pandora, Netflix, and HBO NOW.

In addition, App Annie examined the app usage patterns of Android users, and found they tend to have a lot of apps installed. In several markets, including the U.S. and Japan, Android users had over 60 apps installed on their phones and they used over 30 apps every month.

Australia, the U.S. and South Korea led the way here, with users’ phones holding 100 or more apps.

The report also looked at the most popular games and app of all time by both downloads and consumer spend. There weren’t many surprises on these lists, with apps like those made by Facebook dominating the top apps by downloads list, and subscription services dominating top apps by spend.

App Annie also noted Google Play has seen the release of nearly 10 million apps since its launch in 2008. Not all these remain, of course – by today’s count, there are just over 2.8 million apps live on Google Play.

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Lime is building its first scooter “lifestyle brand store” in LA

How can Lime differentiate its scooters and bikes from the piles of Birds and Spins filling Los Angeles sidewalks? Apparently with a physical storefront where it can convince customers of the wonders of on-demand mobility. According to a job listing from Lime seeking a “Retail Store Manager”, the startup plans to open a “lifestyle brand store in Santa Monica” that “will place heavy importance on brand experience and customer engagement.”

It seems Lime will rent vehicles directly from the store given the full-time manager’s role includes “monitoring inventory levels” as well as daily operations, and employee recruiting. They’ll also be throwing live events to build Lime’s hype. Given the company is calling this a lifestyle store, the focus will likely be on showing how Lime’s scooters and bikes can become part of people’s lives and enhance their happiness, rather than on maximizing rental volume.

A rendering of Lime’s new office it’s buidling in San Francisco. The design could hint at what Lime wants to do with its retail store branding.

The listing was first spotted by Nathan Pope, a transportation researcher for consultancy Steer, and later by Cheddar’s Alex Heath. We’ve reached out to Lime and will update if we hear back from the company. Glassdoor shows that the store manager job was posted over 30 days ago, and the site estimates the potential salary at $41,000 to $74,000.

The sheer number of Lime scooters in Santa Monica where the store will arise is already staggering. Supply doesn’t seem to be bottleneck as it is in some other cities. Instead, it’s the fierce competition from hometown startups like local favorite Bird that Lime wants to overcome through brick-and-mortar marketing. Often times you’ll see scooters from Lime and Bird lined up right next to each other. And with similarly cheap pricing, the decision of which to use comes down to brand affinity. According to Apptopia, Bird’s monthly U.S. downloads surpassed Lime’s in July for the first time ever, despite Lime offering bikes as well as scooters.

There are plenty of people who still have never tried an on-demand electric scooter, and going through the process of renting, unlocking, and riding them might be daunting to some. If employees at a physical store can teach people that it’s not too difficult to jump aboard, Lime could become their default scooter. This of course comes with risks too, as electric scooters can be dangerous to the novice or uncoordinated. More aggressive in-person marketing might pull in users who were apprehensive about scooting for the right reason — concerns about safety.

As cities figure out how to best regulate scooters, I hope we see a focus on uptime aka how often the scooters actually function properly. It’s common in LA to rent a scooter, then discover the handlebar is loose or the acceleration is sluggish, end the ride, and rent another scooter from the same brand or a competitor in hopes of getting one that works right. I ditched several Lime scooters like this while in LA last week.

Regulators should inquire about what percentage of scooter company fleets are broken and what percentage of rides end within 90 seconds of starting, which is typically due to a malfunctioning vehicle. Cities could then award permits to companies that keep their fleets running, rather than that litter the streets with massive paper weights, or worse, vehicles that could crash and hurt people. Scooters are fun, cheap and therefore accessible to more people than Ubers, and reduce traffic. But unless startups like Lime put a bigger focus on helments and safe riding behavior, we could trade congestion on the roads for congestion in the emergency room.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Oculus co-founder is leaving Facebook after cancellation of ‘Rift 2’ headset

Brendan Iribe, the co-founder and former CEO of Oculus, announced today that he is leaving Facebook, TechCrunch has learned.

Iribe is leaving Facebook following some internal shake-ups at the company’s virtual reality arm last week that saw the cancellation of the company’s next generation “Rift 2” PC-powered virtual reality headset which he had been leading development of, a source close to the matter tell TechCrunch. Iribe and the Facebook executive team had “fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time” and Iribe wasn’t interested in a “race to the bottom” in terms of performance, we are told.

So much has happened since the day we founded Oculus in July 2012. I never could have imagined how much we would…

Posted by Brendan Trexler Iribe on Monday, October 22, 2018

The cancellation of the company’s next-gen PC-based “Rift 2” virtual reality product showcases how the interests of Facebook’s executive leadership have centered on all-in-one headsets that don’t require a connection to an external PC or phone. In May, Oculus released the $199 Oculus Go headset and plans to release the $399 Oculus Quest headset sometime next spring. A Facebook spokesperson tells TechCrunch that PC VR is part of the company’s future product roadmap and that much of what Iribe’s team has been working on will be manifested in future products.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and then-Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe at Oculus Connect 3 in late 2016

Iribe’s exit comes at a time when a number of the founders of Facebook’s high-profile startup acquisitions are leaving the company. Less than a month ago, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced their plans to leave the company in a decision that TechCrunch was told was partially the result of mounting tensions. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left Facebook earlier this year. Iribe’s fellow co-founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook in early 2017, a decision he recently recounted was not a choice that he made.

Iribe came onto Facebook after the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014 where he had been the company’s founding CEO. After a substantial company reorganization in late 2016, Iribe was moved from the CEO position to the head of the company’s PC VR division.

Before co-founding Oculus VR, Iribe was the chief product officer of Gaikai, a cloud-gaming startup that Sony bought in 2012 for $380 million, before that, he co-founded and led Scaleform, a gaming user interface tools startup that Autodesk bought in 2011 for $36 million.

We’ve reached out to Iribe for comment.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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