By Michael Kalkowski and Jonas Gebhardt

GameDuell's Michael Kalkowski and Jonas Gebhardt pull apart the problems and myths around HTML5

GameDuellAlthough HTML5 is currently present everywhere in game development, most developers feel that the technology will be an important asset tomorrow, not today. GamesIndustry International recently discussed this topic in great detail with several mobile developers, and James Austin of Turbulenz has also weighed in. As Europe's leading social/casual developer, we felt a need to share our own thoughts and insights that have come from working with HTML5 on several GameDuell projects.

HTML5 may be the future, but it certainly isn't ready to be the main platform of the present. Any serious game developer (especially in the web/mobile field) needs to explore the new language in order to prepare for that future, but there are several obstacles that need to first be addressed and overcome before HTML5 saves us all.

Players First!

No gamer these days wants to be bothered with downloading a game. In fact, we are rapidly approaching an era where players are less interested in downloading a game multiple times on multiple platforms, and even less so in paying over and over to access the same content. As gamers, we want to use our favourite device right now and begin playing immediately.

" Any serious game developer needs to explore HTML5 in order to prepare for that future, but there are obstacles that need to be overcome before HTML5 saves us all"

This no-download, no-install, no-payment, no-waiting culture has evolved over the past few years within the social gaming scene, and looks likely to become the dominant form of games distribution, replacing traditional retail design and mentality.

As a purely web-based platform, HTML5 seems to give publishers endless opportunities to satisfy these customers' needs, at least at first glance. HTML5 enables developers like us to create a game once and release it straight away onto almost any type of device of platform - mobile, web, social or console. All players need is a connected device or web browser (which nearly everyone has) and they are ready to rumble and immediately join the action.

Another key belief is that publishers can easily distribute HTML5 games independently; the 30 per cent commission for platform holders seems to be holdover from the past. HTML5 makes the gaming world a perfect, open place for developers who can instantly get their creations in front of potential players with no barriers.

Does this sound too good to be true? Probably!

What Is HTML5?
We all know that HTML is the coding language for the visual aspects of the web. Since the original version of HTML was invented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN over 20 years ago, the language has gone through many iterations and updates. By 1996, CSS 1.0 and JavaScript were added, which have also undergone a constant series of improvements. But almost a decade has passed since the current version, HTML 4.01, was updated. Let's face it, in the context of the fast moving pace of the internet there hasn't been an update in forever. This has slowly led to the feeling that HTML is far behind the times.

The most critical modern example is the inability to naturally integrate video into HTML. As a result, many companies have developed different methods and unique formats (ranging from WMV to MP4) to play back videos. It's fair to say that all the external plug-ins (such as Adobe Flash) required to run these formats are both annoying and risky, since you are forced to find, trust, download, install and continuously update them.

HTML5 is able to deal directly with videos as well as making several other things possible that were not possible with the HTML language in the past. In the long term, this could lead to a more standardised and consistent web experience across all browsers and devices, which in turn makes life easier for both users and developers.

And here we go again: HTML5 seems to make the world perfect. Does this sound too good to be true again? Probably!

Today's Reality At A Glance
The reality is currently a bit different.

The following points have one word in common and that one word is "yet." HTML5 is going to play a big role in the future of the internet - especially games - but it is simply not ready to take on this role.

"GameDuell is spending merely 10 per cent of our mobile resources on HTML5, with 90 per cent of our efforts geared towards native app development"

At GameDuell, we don't see HTML as a viable alternative to native development for iOS or Android apps yet, especially from a business perspective. After much research and experimentation, GameDuell has decided as a company that now is not the proper time to put all of our focus and energies into developing for HTML5. In fact, we are spending merely 10 per cent of our mobile resources on HTML5, with 90 per cent of our efforts geared towards native app development.

At this point, HTML5 serves more as an addition to native development instead of a replacement, allowing apps to take advantage of traffic that cannot easily be reached via traditional native applications.

HTML5 is not yet a true cross-platform technology that allows you to simply write a game once and run it instantly on any platform and device. While this new HTML iteration is designed to push the cross-platform experience to new levels, there are many hurdles to cross before an HTML5 project can run on individual platforms, making the work just as challenging.

Reaching Users Without A Proper Distribution Channel?
On the plus side, two of the world's largest and most influential internet companies are dead serious about HTML5 and are serious about pushing the technology.

There is no doubt that Facebook believes in HTML5. Even two years ago, they were "excited" about HTML5, creating a dedicated blog and rallying their developers to "build the future with HTML5." While Facebook passively waits for others to develop great browsers that can deal with any HTML5 code, Google has already decided that developing the best browser is the key to success, since browsers will be the future entertainment platform.

With the launch of Chrome OS and Chromebook, Google took direct action, showing its belief that the web is the future, with its goal being to have everything running in the cloud on a simple, clean browser. The big question here: if games and all other apps are running in a web browser and downloading from dedicated app distribution stores suddenly becomes redundant, how can publishers distribute their latest games and apps and reach a mass audience?

Google created its own Chrome Web Store for this purpose, which is a step in the right direction, but not every developer and publisher can build their own stores. Apple's AppStore and Google Play make discovering and purchasing content pretty convenient, giving people a destination to find what they're looking for. That's why today's mobile developers can't afford to launch a game on HTML5 only - developers still have to go "native" as well, in order to aid in discovery.

Positive things have already happened: Facebook's mobile platform began pushing the social discovery of apps created with HTML5. Industry blogs even commentedthat "Facebook could finally be a decent distribution solution for the long-tail of mobile app that don't have a top 100 ranking." Bigger, established game publishers can also leverage viral mobile web traffic. We receive a lot of this traffic to our mobile site directly though mobile web browsers, which is a great opportunity to reach additional users with HTML5 versions of GameDuell's games.

A Fast-Moving Technology

HTML5 is making a lot of progress and in terms of browser compatibility, developers often seem to underestimate its capabilities. HTML5 games are not limited to Chrome alone; our first HTML5 game Solitaire Harmony, runs smoothly on almost all mobile browsers, including Safari, Opera and Silk. We have also learned that the technology works great for casual games (such as card games), and supports many unique hardware features, such as motion sensors that also work on native iOS and Android.

"Limited payment options affect monetisation negatively. There is currently no solution for quick payments through HTML5"

We are also able to do simple animations, like flipping and moving cards. However, we found that the way they flip is different on different browsers: on Android's Chrome they turned around the vertical axis as desired, but on iPhone's Safari browser they flipped horizontally. Well, we took a deep breath, did some extra coding and overcame the issue.

Since HTML5 requires a web browser, games usually cannot be fired up without an internet connection. Once the game is loaded it is possible to cache data, so that playing "offline" is an option, but in most cases if a player does not have a live internet connection they will not be able to access their game.

There's also an issue with audio, which is becoming a major topic with game developers. Games without sound are usually no fun; therefore HTML5 must be able to handle all kinds of audio correctly and allow developers to work their magic. HTML5 sound works well in most browsers, but we have found limitations, especially where it comes to looping music. Another problem is that sound within an HTML5 application cannot be muted by the hardware volume buttons on the iPhone, forcing players to rely on onscreen software buttons. This will almost certainly be fixed in the near future, but for now it is an annoyance that can break user engagement with a game.

100 Devices, 100 Screen Sizes
While audio is certainly an issue, addressing different screen sizes and pixel shapes is much more pressing.

Imagine for a moment that you're a developer, working on the next awesome game that will set the world on fire. You've begun developing your game in HTML5 for desktop browsers because you've been told that adapting it to mobile is easy. Your code can quickly be taken to a mobile device by simply scaling down your graphics with little to no hassle. Turns out this is mostly wishful thinking.

By going this route, you'll end up with a game that looks terrible and requires a lot of extra work in order to make it run correctly. Even something as basic as navigation bars differ from device to device, meaning your on-screen display is going to change on each and every type of smartphone.

The next great graphics challenge is that a pixel is not simply a pixel anymore. Due to the variety of mobile devices in the market (especially when it comes to Android phones), we suddenly have to support many different physical displays with very different pixel resolutions and densities. To overcome this challenge, density-independent pixels (dips) were invented. Since this new type of pixels have to then be converted back to screen pixels again, complexity in the design process has increased massively. While in the past we had one simple "px" (pixel), in the HTML5 world of today we now need to deal with dpi, dip, dp, dps, sp and sip.

And that's not even the end of it. A few weeks ago, GameDuell was approached by a partner with a plan to display HTML5 games on TVs. We quickly discovered that not only would we have to suddenly deal with thousands of new screen sizes, but also address an all new issue: controls. It's hard enough to teach HTML5 touch gestures and drag-and-drop to new players, but how are we now supposed to get these gestures controls to work with a TV remote?

Well, every day brings challenges - and that's what we somehow love about working with HTML5.

User Retention -A Nightmare Scenario?

How do people find a mobile game? And even more importantly, how do they come back to it again afterwards? Compared to web and social games, mobile faces huge challenges in this area and HTML5 doesn't seem to make things any better.

"Smaller publishers focused on generating revenue must choose native apps over HTML5 development, as HTML5 is far from being on par with native apps"

Since HTML5 games run in a browser, your game is "gone" once the browser is closed. On iOS, developers can at least suggest players add a bookmark button to the home screen, but there's nothing comparable on Android. This is a nightmare scenario for both players and developers.

The second big issue we recently faced while developing Solitaire Harmony for HTML5 was related to viral loops. Due to difficulties with Facebook Connect, social features like gifting and sending requests could only be used in limited ways. Proper retention tools and the support of a huge player like Facebook are still crucial in order to publish successful games.

Native Apps Or HTML5 - Or Both?

Lower retention rates means worse monetisation. Smaller publishers focused on generating revenue must choose native apps over HTML5 development, as HTML5 is far from being on par with native apps. If you are looking to chose between native or HTML5 development, you should absolutely go native.

Limited payment options affect monetisation negatively. There is currently no solution for quick payments through HTML5, unlike the ease of in-app purchases through iOS (and hopefully Android, someday) or Facebook. The harder it is for a user to pay for something, the less likely they are to do so. The other question is whether the 225 million customers that have already shared their credit card details with Apple will share those details again and again with other developers or social networks in order to make micropayments in HTML5 games that are not distributed via the App Store.

If payment providers and developers are able to figure out unique, secure and easy solutions to solve this issue, monetisation with HTML5 games might be, in the long term, much better than native apps, but we're still a long way from that happening. By embracing the open web, publishers won't have to pay a 30 per cent commission to a distribution partner any longer. But before we can get there, we'll have to find all these potential customers and then convince them to use a different payment system. Suddenly that 30 per cent markup to Apple or Google doesn't sound so bad.

HTML5 Remains An AdventureAt GameDuell, we currently view HTML5 development as an adventure and a learning process. On a positive note, this is also why we are optimistic about the future of HTML5. Over the last eight years, we've always managed to find solutions to the challenges that arise during the game development process. Until it's ready for the masses, it will still need time to mature - currently HTML5 is a development dream that is too good to be true.
We have just released our newest iPhone/ iPad app Trade Optimizer available in the app store.

Trade Optimizer is a stock, options and futures trading calculator which helps traders in optimal positions sizing and trade risk analysis. It consists of 14 trading calculators as listed below.

Position Sizing:
✓ Fixed Shares - How much will it cost
✓ Fixed Dollar - How much can I buy
✓ Fixed Dollar Risk - Stop Loss based risk
✓ Portfolio Percentage - I want to risk x percentage
✓ Fixed Fractional - Risk % based on Stop Loss
✓ ATR Position Sizer - Average True Range based Stop Loss
✓ Kelly Criterion - Historical performance based risk

Option Trading Tools:
✓ Covered Calls - Buy stock. Sell options. Net risk return
✓ Long Call - Risk and net returns

Efficiency Tools:
✓ Risk / Reward Ratio
✓ Profit / Loss Analyzer
✓ Expectancy - What is my average trade expectancy
✓ Average Down - What is my new avg position cost 
✓ Compounding Power - Watch money grow
Learn more here: Trade Optimize.
Purchase in App Store
By Ingrid Luden, Techcrunch

The onward march for Android and Apple continues apace, and leaves a big question mark for how other platforms can hope to compete, at least in the U.S. market: New figures out fromJumptap indicate that in the month of January, the two combined made up 91 percent of all smartphone traffic on its U.S. mobile ad network — representing a new high for the two most-dominant mobile phone platforms.

But while Apple has seen a huge jump in smartphone users following the launch of the iPhone 4S last year, Jumptap’s figures indicate that in tablets it has a strong competitor in the form of the Kindle Fire, which now accounts for 33 percent of all tablet traffic on the network.

While these numbers do not exactly speak to how many Kindle Fire devices there are in use compared to iPads (we have a bit more on that subject here), it does point to the fact that people are using their Amazon devices for a whole lot of ad-based services.

Jumptap’s numbers indicate that while Apple (at 32.2 percent) and Google (at 58.8 percent) are dominating across its U.S. ad network of 95 million monthly users, the weak appear to be getting weaker: RIM’s BlackBerry platform is at a “new low” of 6.7 percent share of impressions, while Symbian accounted for 1.4 percent of impressions, and Windows Mobile for even less: 0.5 percent.

Jumptap’s prediction is that despite gains that Microsoft may make as a result of Nokia’s new line of Windows Phones, collectively the bottom three will not have more than 10 percent of impressions at any point this year. Still, that is actually leaving room for some growth…

In tablets, Amazon is proving to be a strong competitor, at least in the area of usage. In January, it accounted for 33 percent of all tablet traffic, and as you can see from the table below, that share has risen quickly over the last three months, outpacing even the growth of tablet traffic itself. Apple’s share, meanwhile, is at its lowest in four months, at 48 percent. Ditto the collective force of all of the other tablet makers.

This is a key point, because it indicates that those who are buying the Kindle Fire are also buying into the whole service-led proposition behind it: content is something that Apple has, up to now, been able to say that it does better than any other Android tablet maker, but Amazon’s mix of its appstore apps, plus offerings of streamed content and more besides appears to be giving that idea a run for its money. That also indicates to developers that this is a potentially strong platform to develop for.

What remains to be seen is whether Apple has another “new launch” effect in the coming months, as a result of its news on Wednesday. It’s expected that Apple will reveal a new iPad and in the process could see the same effect on the tablet market that the introduction of the iPhone 4S had on its market share in smartphones last quarter — when, by most accounts, its share jumped quite significantly compared to those of other device makers.

In just two years, tablet computing has gained unprecedented traction.  According to research firm Strategy Analytics, global tablet shipments more than doubled during the last three months of 2011, rising to 26.8 units, up from 10.7 million a year earlier.  And while Apple continues to dominate the tablet category, having sold a record 15.4 million units during the final quarter of 2011, Android OS tablets have increased their share of the tablet category, growing from 29% in Q4 2010 to 39% in Q4 2011.

The increase in market share is due largely to the entry of the Kindle Fire by Amazon.  With Flurry in tens of thousands of Android apps, including many of the most popular, the company estimates that it tracks over 20% of all consumer sessions on more than 90% of all Android devices each day.  A session is defined as the launch and subsequent exit (or pause for more than 10 seconds) of an app.  For example, a consumer may play a game in one sitting for five minutes.  Let’s take a look at the data.
The chart above compares application sessions among all Android tablets before and after the holiday season.   For January, we use month-to-date figures, at the time this report was written.  Since we’re looking at proportions of use, estimating the remainder of January would not change percentages.  For an easier visual comparison, we label Amazon Kindle Fire in orange and Samsung Galaxy Tab in blue.  On the left, in November, we see that Samsung Galaxy Tab dominated application session usage on Android, with the Kindle Fire only having recently launched.   At that time, the Samsung Galaxy Time was widely considered the only viable competition to the iPad, though a distant second.  In January, after the holiday boom in devices and in apps, we see that strong adoption of Kindle Fire, combined with significant downloads driven from the Amazon App Store, resulted in a massive surge in session usage that just edges out the Galaxy Tab.  Unrounded, Kindle Fire represents 35.7% of sessions and Galaxy Tab represents 35.6%.  Remarkably, and from a standing start, the Kindle Fire overtook the Galaxy Tab in just a few short months. Total Android tablet sessions in January more than tripled over November, with Galaxy Tab sessions increasing by more than 50%.  Overall, Android Tablets are growing aggressively as a category.

Amazon Uses Its “Fork” to Eat Samsung’s LunchSo how can a late entrant like Amazon, with little-to-no hardware DNA, waltz in and knock off a consumer electronics juggernaut like Samsung, a company that also enjoyed strong growth in 2011?  This is where we believe things get interesting.  In short, Amazon’s launch of Kindle Fire had more in common with an Apple-style launch than it did with aligning with the Android system.   To date, the Android world has focused on marketing the operating system and the “power” of the devices, with quality of content and the consumer experience subordinated in priority.  With Google managing the Android Market, which lacks content control and a seamless commerce experience, inertia pushes those developers who choose to build for the platform toward advertising models.  Developers who monetize through other means tend to make less on the platform.  To ensure that it could take full advantage of its unique digital store prowess, Amazon forked the Android operating system.

Apple, on the other hand, understands that great content is the key to increasing the attractiveness of hardware.  They learned this hard way during the 1980s when an inferior combination of PC hardware and operating systems overtook Apple computers, primarily due to a lack of software.  This time around, for the iPhone and iPad, Apple created a robust economy in which developers could thrive, ensuring their allegiance to innovating for the Apple platform, ultimately making Apple hardware more desirable, and creating a rare, but powerful virtuous cycle.   To understand how well Amazon might attract developer support, we studied how well Amazon drives paid downloads in its store versus the Android Market through the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab, respectively.   


Internet Marketing Infographic

I love a good infograpic, and this one is one of the best for understanding online marketing. This Internet Marketing Infographic is published by and you can get the whole pdf version which includes a 6 month marketing guide here. I highly recommend you download the the hi res version.

Here is a smaller version which should give you a good idea of what internet marketing consists of.


The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.

You wake up and checkyour email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service.

You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.

This is not a trivial distinction. Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.

A decade ago, the ascent of the Web browser as the center of the computing world appeared inevitable. It seemed just a matter of time before the Web replaced PC application software and reduced operating systems to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers,” as Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen famously said. First Java, then Flash, then Ajax, then HTML5 — increasingly interactive online code — promised to put all apps in the cloud and replace the desktop with the webtop. Open, free, and out of control.

But there has always been an alternative path, one that saw the Web as a worthy tool but not the whole toolkit. In 1997, Wired published a now-infamous “Push!” cover story, which suggested that it was time to “kiss your browser goodbye.” The argument then was that “push” technologies such as PointCast and Microsoft’s Active Desktop would create a “radical future of media beyond the Web.”

“Sure, we’ll always have Web pages. We still have postcards and telegrams, don’t we? But the center of interactive media — increasingly, the center of gravity of all media — is moving to a post-HTML environment,” we promised nearly a decade and half ago. The examples of the time were a bit silly — a “3-D furry-muckers VR space” and “headlines sent to a pager” — but the point was altogether prescient: a glimpse of the machine-to-machine future that would be less about browsing and more about getting.

By Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff  August 17, 2010  | Wired September 2010

Very cool infograph on Andriod app growth since mid 2008. ( source