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Android / Google Play: Top Free Apps

Messaging rules the app stores these days... as does Facebook. Here is a screenshot of the Google Play Store's Top Free Apps: #1. Facebook Messenger #2. Facebook #4. Instagram (Facebook) #5. Snapchat ... #9. Skype #10. Kik #13. Twitter #16. WhatsApp

Notable others: music has #3 and #11 with Pandora and Spotify, respectively. King has games at #8 and #12 with Candy Crush and Bubble Witch 2. And Netflix is #7.

Android Top Free Apps

Microsoft Deal Strategy from 2009-2012: Yahoo, Nokia, Skype, Nook.

This is the front page of Tuesday May 1st's Wall Street Journal. It's a well done graphic overlaying Microsoft's big-dollar entrances into "markets where it lags behind rivals": - Search: Yahoo (2009): Microsoft's billion-dollar+ deal to power search and ads.

- Mobile OS: Nokia (2011): billion-dollar+ deal to push Windows Mobile OS

- Social / Video: Skype (2011): $8.5B acquisition

- Mobile / Tablets: Nook (2012): $605m investment to bolster tablet strategy

It's an expensive but necessary (?) avenue into three massive verticals that, as WSJ notes, Microsoft is far behind in: search, social, and mobile (OS + hardware). It is marks about one of these big, billion-dollar bets a year (four deals over the 2009-2012 period).

Price aside (Skype in particular feels very expensive unless deeper integrations in Office & on XBox emerge quickly), the Nook deal is is the one that strategically feels odd. Windows 7 users love the product - but the Nook is so far behind iPad and Kindle, that it feels as though Microsoft is better served entering the tablet market elsewhere OR focusing primarily on phones and then paying-up when the 3rd place tablet-provider has greater share. Of course that's my take from a very, very distant seat.

Entering 2011, My Daily Productivity, Work Apps

After yesterday's post (2011 as the year of The Cloud and The Mobile Office), I was moved to list the apps and tools that I use on a daily basis (... at least as of January 2011!). I am trying to capture those utilities that I use most often. This is in no way comprehensive and is not presented in no particular order. What does your's look like?

- Wordpress: and run on it.

- Vaultpress: backs everything up. simple, great product.

- Evernote: committing to diligently using this in 2011.

- Highrise: committed to using it in Q4 2010... and love it.

- Xobni: makes Outlook better. And I live in Outlook.

- Google Apps: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Chat.

- Skype: solely on the iPhone for international calls.

- Google Chrome extensions: I live on them. These are ones I use regularly: - Evernote - Quora - - Gmail Checker - Google Calendar - Web Clipboard - Google Voice - Google Screen Capture

- Google TV: I might be alone, but I love it.

- Tripit: the more I travel, the more I rely on it.

This of course does not include the list of websites and apps that I use daily... like Facebook, Quora, Netflix Twitter, Pandora, etc.

Facebook Integrates Skype Into Friend Finder

Facebook has put a lot of effort into driving more 'friendships' through their Friend Finder tool. And Twitter has had great success with their new, excellent "Who to Follow" tool. Facebook already integrates with GMail, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ Chat, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger... and now Skype. And for Skype, Facebook has specifically promoted the integration very heavily.

These examples are from the last couple weeks (sorry for the delayed post), but notice how prominent the units are. They are placed on the homepage and beneath the header / search bar.

As Facebook attempts to drive deeper usage and more friend connections - they must be running out of partners with any reasonably close scale. Skype makes sense of course because: they are one of the few brands / services to big larger (by number of users) and to be a mix of US and international (big focus for Facebook).

iPhone OS 4: Five Takeaways

Today Apple announced iPhone OS 4 - which ships in the summer for the iPhone and iPod Touch and in the winter for the iPad. Lots of incremental and much needed changes (ie App Folders) but a few significant updates for consumers AND developers:

1. Multitasking. ... and ... 2. Background Tasks (consumers) We have asked for it essentially since Pandora's app launched... you will be able to run background services for: - audio (ie Pandora - a huge winner today) - voip (ie Skype) - location (ie directions, maps)

3. Enhanced Mail (consumers) This is particularly important for iPad users: multiple Exchange accounts, threaded conversation, improved attachments, etc.

4. iAd (developers) We knew this was coming with Apple's recent Quattro acquisition... and it arrived today. Apple will become an ad platform for the app ecosystem: selling and hosting the ads on a 40/60 split (40 to Apple). Ads are fully interactive and done in HTML5 (another big win for HTML5).

Not only is this an opportunity for HTML5 developers and web marketers, it is an opportunity for app developers to reach new users and drive downloads. Powerful.

5. Game Center (developers) Traditionally, mobile apps have not been as 'viral' as Facebook apps... with iAd and Game Center there are new ways for developers to drive adoption. Game Center is Apple's take on Xbox Live: a gallery for players, leaderboards, achievements, etc - effectively a heightened platform to foster game mechanics and drive usage.

More reviews at: Gizmodo / Engadget / TechCrunch / VentureBeat

All We Need is Connectivity: Why the iPod Touch & Netbooks Matter

We have three computers in our household: one desktop and two laptops. Right now, I'm on my desktop with two wide-screen monitors. Every inch of real estate is covered in applications.... all web-based: - Gtalk and Skype - Gmail - Google Docs - Pandora - Dropbox - Twhirl - About 15 tabs within my browser (Chrome)

My computer usage is entirely online - from content to applications. In fact, the only three programs that I use on a routine basis that aren't web-based are Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Powerpoint and Microsoft Excel. There simply aren't powerful enough equivalents at this point. And for every PSD, PPT and XLS file, I move it between computers via Dropbox.

Here's why this is important:

First, while I am not the typical internet user... this is occurring more and more frequently. For me it started with smaller transitions such as from Microsoft Word to Notepad and Notetab... and from those two to Google Docs.

And it's not just the consumer: corporations are also making the shift. Supposedly one-million companies now use Google Apps. At Widgetbox, we are one of those companies. We also use web-applications to track our product process, backlog, QA, business development flow, and so on. It's a remarkable movement.

I think the shift (for consumers and corporations) reveals as much about portability as it does about lightweight, comparable functionality... which when combined, allow me to access content and applications on lighter-weight hardware - such as my iPhone. And this is precisely why the iPhone, the iPod Touch and Netbooks are the future of computing: I don't need a huge processor to do my day-to-day work. Rather, I prefer portability and form factor.

The only thing I need is visual real-estate. If I could my monitors into a netbook.... I'd be more than happy.

Pierre Omidyar Twitters About Skype Acquisition...

This is one of my favorite Tweets ever...

For those who don't know: - Pierre is the founder of eBay - eBay famously acquired Skype for $2.6BB - The acquisition was hotly debated by the press / blogosphere... and now apparently Pierre?

Pierre Twitter Skype