MediaFile

iTunes apps as holiday gifts? Maybe not this year.

Apple has sold some 8 million iPads since the tablet went on sale in April and, by some estimates, more than 100 million iPhones and iPod Touches to date. That should make iOS apps a satisfying holiday gift for many people, and some people are already offering their suggestions.

But this may not be the right year for apps as stocking stuffers, for two reasons. First, Apple isn’t really making it so easy. As Bob Tedeschi points out in the New York Times, Apple seems to go out of its way to make it difficult for gift givers to choose which apps to give to their loved ones. (Imagine if Amazon.com thought this way.)

Apple does not allow companies to sell iTunes gift cards that are designated for specific apps. But, the iTunes App Store lets shoppers “Gift This App,” wrapping the present in a not-so-lovely e-mail or a printed notification that includes the app’s icon and a redemption code. (Next to the “Buy App” button is a downward-facing arrow. Click and hold that arrow, and you will find the “Gift This App” link.)

Apple is also offering a “12 days of Christmas” promotion, giving away a free app every day, starting on Dec. 26. But as has been the case in past years, the offer is good only in Europe and not in the U.S. Apple likes to play Santa east of the Atlantic and Scrooge west of it.

No worries. Because the most useful and versatile app available for the iPhone is already installed. With it you can find more features and functions than you can on any app for sale in Apple’s iTunes store. And best of all, it’s free. It’s called a browser app, and it comes in Safari and Opera, among other brands.

Apple’s list of top apps offers insight into mobile web

Among the year-end lists popping up around the web, one of the most closely watched is Apple’s annual Rewind lists. It’s almost like an awards ceremony for the things we carry around on our mobile devices, and it’s an especially informative proxy for trends that emerged in the burgeoning market for mobile apps.

Unlike previous years, Apple didn’t break out the top-selling games and non-gaming apps into different categories, making comparisons a little tricky. Even so, there are a couple of interesting things to note. For example, the top-selling iPhone games of 2009 were largely from big gaming companies like EA and Gameloft. Four of the top five were from Electronic Arts alone, including the Sims and Madden NFL.

This year, the most popular free apps on the iPhone games were developed inside small gaming companies: Angry Birds was the clear winner: It was the only app that appeared on the iTunes Rewind free and paid lists. The game was developed by Finland-based Rovio, and its distributor Chillingo was bought by Electronic Arts in October, so EA sort of bought its way onto the Rewind list this year.

from Ask...:

What would you want in a new iPad?

BELGIUM/People are still waiting to unwrap their first-generation iPads for Christmas and news is already leaking about what features Apple plans to include on its next version of the popular tablet computer.

One of Apple's component suppliers confirmed the retooled iPad will come equipped with two cameras, one mounted on the rear for photography and another on the front presumably meant to enable FaceTime video chatting. Another said the revamped model will be slimmer, lighter and boast a better resolution screen display.

A separate supply chain source said Apple was preparing a significantly smaller iPad that is almost half the size of the current model. The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.

GlobalMedia-Baseball exec frustrated, but shies off lecturing Jobs

iphone1One of Major League Baseball’s top executives may not think Apple’s iTunes app store is particularly user friendly, but he’s not about to offer advice to the hottest technology executive on the planet.
    
Robert Bowman, the head of MLB Advanced Media, the league’s Internet and digital business, loves apps. He wants his sport’s games and other content to be on every wireless device out there and think apps will begin to shape how websites are designed. 
    
“We actually think it’s going to invade the website. We think people like apps,” he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit. “They’re easy to understand. They’re compartmentalized. It’s a quick way to get information.”
    
That said, the Apple and Google app stores leave a lot to be desired, Bowman said.
    
“The app stores are not well laid out. The app stores are very hard to figure out. Even Apple … they do a great job, but they’re hard to understand. The Android app store is very hard to understand, so it’s hard for people to find the content.”
 
But, when asked what he would do to improve Apple’s app store, Bowman demurred.
    
“I don’t think I’m going to get very far giving Steve Jobs advice,” he said of Apple’s renowned CEO. “He’s done pretty damn well not listening to me for the first 57 years of his life and so I’m just going to continue to let him not listen to me.”
    
Bowman acknowledged that the Android app store leaves him “a little bit more frustrated.”
    
However, the baseball executive is not alone is finding the app stores frustrating.
    
Despite charging $14.99 a pop, baseball has sold nearly 600,000 apps this year between the Apple and Android platforms, he said.
    
Bowman also dismissed questions about the future of set-top boxes or big TVs, saying both are not going anywhere.
    
“I don’t think there’s any history of media dying,” he said. “I still listen to radio in my car.
 
“The big TVs aren’t going to go anywhere. It’s like the automobile,” Bowman added. “We’re a country that likes big TVs. 

(Reuters photo)

GlobalMedia-Gaming giants differ on mobile, social games

kotickMuch of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.

There are already tens of thousands of game apps available for the iPhone and competing Android smartphones, and tens of millions of people playing free games on Facebook.

Still, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) sounded less than enthusiastic about those markets when he spoke to the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Tuesday. And that represented a stark contrast from what Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said just a day earlier

GlobalMedia-iPad cautionary tale: What not to watch, up close

SINGAPORE/Media executives love to go on about their love of the Apple’s iPad. But the tablet isn’t suited for everything. Walt Disney’s Anne Sweeney relayed her recent experience catching up on an ABC  TV show using the  popular tablet.

Sweeney missed the season finale Grey’s Anatomy and, while traveling, decided to watch the show in her hotel room. The episode was particularly gory — several characters were picked off by a aggrieved man who held the hospital at gunpoint.

“It was a massacre,” Sweeney said at the Reuters Global Media Summit. “There’s nothing like seeing that on your pillow. There are some things you might not want to watch that close on your iPad.”

GlobalMedia: EA nabs triple word Scrabble score from Oprah

oprah Forget sports tournaments or new movie releases as boosters for game demand. Electronic Arts’ latest hero is America’s most famous chat show host.

Chief Executive John Riccitiello,  at the Reuters Media summit, went out of his way to praise Oprah Winfrey, whose recent shout-out of Scrabble  gave a new lease of life to the not-so-new word game.

“We’re very thankful to Oprah for mentioning Scrabble on iPad as one of her ultimate favorite gifts. There was a 400 percent pop … on her word.” He said. “I think there’s different grades of favorite so we were happy to be among her ultimate favorites.”

Berners-Lee: Apple, Facebook are enemies of the web

2010 is a great time for the web. Innovation is thriving as new services and content flourish on smartphones and laptops, thanks in good part to industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

But according to Tim Berners-Lee, – often called “ the father of the web” – the open and democratic structure of the web is threatened by sinister forces trying to redesign the web in ways that make it more closed for their own personal gain. These enemies of the web don’t just include totalitarian governments. They include industry leaders like Apple and Facebook.

As the web turns 20, Berners-Lee has written a 3,800-word article for Scientific American celebrating its achievements and documenting threats to its future. Most of his words are dedicated to the threats.

FT hearts tablets so much, it’s spreading the joy among staff

SINGAPORE/It’s not hard to see why newspaper companies, saddled with plunging circulation and big iron presses , are so ecstatic over tablet devices. They bring a form of hope that hasn’t crossed this industry’s path since newspapers dominated classified advertising in the 1980s and 1990s making them fat with revenue and profits. Tablet computers, like Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, just might spark renewed interest in wilted newspapers among consumers and help ease the legacy costs of paper and ink.

Consider News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch who has often expressed his love for the iPad and is busy building a team to produce a tablet-only newspaper The Daily.

The  Financial Times is just as enamored and is spreading the joy offering its employees a nice chunk of change to go toward the purchase of an iPad or other tablet.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg on relationships with big companies

Facebook has had its differences with Google and Apple in recent months. FACEBOOK/

And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried his best not to comment directly on the budding rivalry with the two tech titans during his appearance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

But Zuckerberg did offer some clues about Facebook’s philosophy towards working with big companies that might offer some insight into its relationships with Apple and Google.

“If you’re a very large company and supporting you is going to cost us tens of millions of dollars, then we want to at least have an understanding of how you’re going to use what we’re doing, and that you’re not just going to import the data but also try and contribute back to the ecosystem and make people’s Facebook experience better.”